Monday, June 29, 2015

In the Shadows: Granite Falls gets a brewery

     First off, Granite Falls is not on the way to anywhere.  The road from Arlington to Darrington, SR 530 via Oso and much in the news last year, bypasses Granite Falls on its tour of the Snohomish County outback.  But it was on my map since I had a pint of a delicious basil-flavored ale at the nano brewers' night at the Local several months ago.  Made by In The Shadows Brewing, with an address in Arlington but a physical location here in Granite Falls.  Opened last October and open by appointment only, so, cell phone in hand, I went there and asked if I might stop by.  Access granted.
My host, the brewer and co-owner of In the Shadows, is Cole Rinehardt, pictured here in the center of the 240 sq, ft, brewhouse he built in the back yard of his home, on the banks of the South Fork of the Stillaguamish.  As Cole tells the story, "I'd been home brewing for a number of years, kept upgrading equipment and buying more exotic ingredients, until my wife Sarah said one day, 'we have more outgo on your brewing every year--isn't it about time we see a little income from it?'  So we raised the money--I even sold my '69 Mustang. one sweet car, to set up a commercial grade brewery."
   So Cole set out to do just that.  He brews 37 gallons per batch, a barrel plus a sixtel. He keeps his day job, an engineer at Boeing in Everett, and shows his engineering skills in some of the features of his system.  Over Cole's shoulder is his wort chilling apparatus, an array of double copper pipes with warm wort flowing one way through the inner pipe and cold water passing the other direction in the outer pipe.
In the yard. otherwise the play area for the couple's two young sons, Cole is growing hops on three trellises.  East Kent Golding is thriving in the foreground and Cascade hops are also doing well out toward the street.  These will be picked and used come harvest time.
The standard rotation is an IPA, a pale, and an amber ale.  That basil treat I had earlier this year? A seasonal, the full name being Honey Basil Lemon, a pint of which I enjoyed just as much this visit as the first time.  Cole bottles most of his production, in 12s and 22s, for about a dozen current retailers: the Barbecue Bucket in downtown Granite Falls tries to keep the 12 oz bottles on hand all the time for on-premise consumption. 
     Cole and Sarah opened In the Shadows last October, and when a first anniversary rolls around with fresh-hopped ales, I wouldn't be surprised if the income side of the ledger is looking pretty healthy. 
(Visited 06/25/15)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Wash. Brewers Festival, 2015: fine weather, fine beers

     The big state brewers festival, in Redmond's Marymoor Park again, had 105 beer-brewing entities setting up their booths under glorious sunshine last Saturday (the weather has not always been kind to this Fathers Day weekend event).  The real news is the sheer numbers.  Five years ago less than one hundred breweries even existed, and McMenamins and RAM each had a half-dozen locations licensed to swell the totals listed in the Northwest Brewing News.  Today, I dare say last week's 105 was less than half the beer making entities brewing today.
     The Friday evening part of the program was must-be-21 and the booths staffed mostly by brewers themselves.  The Saturday program was family-friendly, and strollers and other kid-carriers were all over the place.  Most of the booths were still run by brewery staff members, and in some cases the brewers were back.  I had a chance to chat with Nigel from Outlander on the Fremont-Ballard border, learning that his Honey Basil Ale is his most requested keg at nearby taverns.  I wandered over to Port Townsend Brewing's stand for a taste of Yoda's Green Tea Golden, and again I lobbied Kim to move this delicious brew from the seasonal category to the regular rotation.  Saw some auld acquaintances like Mari from Chuckanut and Jim from Foggy Noggin and newer acquaintances like Chad and Colleen from Wander.  Great time, got home with several bus connections.
(Visited 06/20/15)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Now for some serious heartland: Dempsey's Brewery in Watertown, South Dakota

   A side trip on the way home included soup and a pint in Watertown, S.D., pop. about 21,000 and a few miles from the Minnesota border. Farms, looking green in early June, are the main thing, Among other attractions, Watertown is  home of Dempsey's Brewery. founded in 2000 and thus the second oldest brewery in the state.
Founder and brewer Bill Dempsey says the locals are not keen for the hop bombs so popular on the west coast.  A pale, a stout, a blonde, a lager, and my choice, a Valkyrie Red Ale (5.4% abv per the chalkboard, nice balance with a bit of hoppy tang in the finish) were in the rotation.  Behind the restaurant a brick oven for pizza baking could be seen, and son Sean Dempsey was listed as the only certified pizzioli crafter in the state, based on a course he took in San Francisco.

The beers are brewed on a ten barrel system, parts of which Bill was able to re-source from other uses in the food and dairy business.  Fifteen years sounds like a long enough time to conclude that the Dempseys will be selling good beer for this end of South Dakota as long as they wish.  As the folks here at North Sound Brewing and any others with a good Irish theme, Slainte'!

(Visited 06/09/15)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Where the "Heartland" brews in the Big Apple: on the way home v. I

Manhattan, 5th Ave & 34th St.  The Empire State Building, rising o so hi and being the wrap scene for Sleepless in Seattle, King Kong, etc.  Right down at the corner, craft beer flows from a dozen taps of the parent Heartland Brewery.
They brew in Brooklyn and serve up pints in five or six locations around the city, including this classic spot.  Penn Station is just a five minute walk from here, and with an hour and a quarter between Amtrak trains, it was easy to stop in for a pint.  The older daughter up in Albany gave me a Heartland t-shirt a couple of birthdays  back: it lists the beers they make all year, like Cornhusker Lager, Indiana Pale, and Farmer Jon's Oatmeal Stout.  You'd expect a tractor parked in the pub with all this country theme stuff, but alas, the Midwest is only celebrated in the beer names.  Well, cockle doodle do me, I had time for a pint of Red Rooster Ale and then it was back to the train station and on to Philly.
(Visited 06/06/15)