Thursday, April 24, 2014

Port Angeles--sorting out the Peaks, and Barhop

   Been wondering why the state beer commission's Washington Beer Guide (2014) lists three breweries in Port Angeles, out on the Olympic Peninsula, two of them named Peaks and Twin Peaks,  I traveled out there April 22 and got it figured out.  They're the same people really, Ed and Wanda Smith, who've been running Peaks Pub downtown with a small brewery since 2005.  They opened up Twin Peaks Brewing and Malting Co. in a new location, out by the airport, for a couple of years.  The third week in April they wrappped up a sale of the downtown site to Jan Robison, who is rebranding the spot at the Lazy Moon-a Craft Tavern.
The Smiths have taken the 2.5 barrel brewing system out of this site and moved it to the Twin Peaks space and set it up next to the new 8-barrel system there.
  The Lazy Moon, now a regular tavern, has ten taps for local beers.  Five are running Twin Peaks brews and three of the other five were carrying other locally brewed suds: Two from Dungeness Brewing in nearby Sequim and one from The Hops Crew, also in Sequim. (Dungeness is listed as Fathom & League Hopyard in the WBC guide).

   The Smiths made renowned chili at this location and I ordered some to see if the torch has been passed.  This was a bowl of smokey pork chili, nice and chunky and pretty good.  The pint behind it is the Dungeness folks' Agnew Amber, the ale they call their flagship.  Agnew, I hasten to add, is a little village near Sequim, and the name has nothing to do with Richard Nixon's first vice president.  This amber is made with three hops, the three C's (Chinook, Cascade, Centennial) but none to excess, it comes out at 6.4% abv and just slightly to the bitter side of balanced.
   The Hop Crew is a nano-scale operation that orders in, yes, hops, in sufficient quantities to crank out a high octane IPA.  Something in the 100 IBUs, I was told. I passed on that, this trip.

  I drove a couple miles out of town to where you can see the Elwha River flowing free again, around the dam that was intentionally breached in 2012. The dam was built a hundred years ago, with no provision for salmon to  migrate past it, against the law even then.  Glad I did, because that sets up a couple of the beer names at Twin Peaks, on the way back into town.

This is where the Smith family, Ed and Wanda, son Evan, and brewer Jeff Abbott, are brewing now. Not malting yet, they put that in the name to allow for that option in the future.
The names. Wandafuca is a golden ale, a play on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, that part of the Pacific you see looking north.  Elwha Silt is brewed as a pale ale but is not particularly hoppy; there is a dry-hopped version that does perk up in IBUs.  Bogachiel Brown, Mt. Pleasant Porter also represent local landmarks and those beer styles.  Evan's Last Dam Beer is a recipe concocted when the dam was breached.  I should note that a number of the more popular styles, such as the Trainwrecked IPA, were not available due to the move.

   This is part of the new system in the back of the building.  A fair amount of plumbing and welding remained to be done to integrate the two systems under one roof.  They do some bottling on-site, and self-distribute to various locations around the peninsula.  "Hand-crafted, hand-bottled, hand-distributed," Ed Smith says with a laugh.
   The taproom does not cook food but has nuts and munchies to sell.

   The other relatively new brewery in P.A. is Barhop Brewing, right down on the waterfront, across a street from the terminal for the ferry to Victoria.  The strait is one busy shipping channel, as all the shipping bound to or from Vancouver, B.C., Seattle, and Tacoma must pass this way.

Barhop's brewer-owner, Tom Curry, started commercial brewing behind the Harbinger Winery out toward the Elwha, and moved his 2.5 barrel system into this building (originally a rail-side fruit warehouse) three years ago last December.  Co-owner and taproom manager Natalie White says the entire output of the brewery is needed just to keep the taps flowing here, so they have no off-site accounts and do no bottling at present.  A band is scheduled most every evening in the ample space.

Mainstay beers here include Hugh Hefeweizen, PA Pale, and of course the IPA, here called Fn A' IPA at 6.2% abv and a sizzling 116 IBUs.  I tried a seasonal, Bourbon Porter, brewed to 6.2% also but with a rich malty flavor and light bourbon notes from the barrel it aged in.

   A griller behind the bar can cook up brats and other hot snacks.

(Visited 4/22/14)

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