Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New thoughts from the Pierce County outback

     Coming back from Mt. Rainier a few days ago, I wended down toward Buckley in the early afternoon. Stopped at a pub in the town as I knew Elk Head Brewing did not have a kitchen.  A pint of local brew?  Sorry, Elk Head is not selling to bars or restaurants.  Hmm.  Settled for a Mac & Jacks with my sandwich and then went off to check out this story.
     True. according to Al Garrison, running the taps at the brewery taproom.  Elk Head can turn out just enough beer to satisfy taproom customers here and at its Ocean Shores alehouse, and to keep the growlers filled, a few kegs for individual customers, and now the new 32-oz. can they brought out.
Here it is next to a regular quart growler.  They put four of their fourteen styles (at the moment, including some seasonals) in these cans and sell them for $7.  A bit more than most brewers are charging to fill a quart growler, but then one need not worry about the 48 hour shelf life on a growler fill.
Plenty of breweries make enough for what they can sell on their own premises and seek no wider markets,  But they are almost always part of a restaurant or eatery of some form, whether part of a chain like McMenamins or RAM or single operations.  This is the first production brewery I have seen with output all consumed on the premises.
      A few miles south of Buckley, in a spot near Graham and Orting, I went back to the M.T.Head Brewery, still operating out of the erstwhile garage of Tim and Renee Rockey as it was four years ago, the only other time I had visited.  Gone was the old jury-rigged half-barrel system, though, and Tim was now brewing on modern equipment fabricated down in Vancouver and turning out about five barrels per batch.  He had signed up with a new wholesaler, Alpha Distributing out of Kent, a partnership organized in 2011 and now handling several south Sound breweries. One of them is Airways Brewing, and Airways and M.T. Head will soon be pouring each other's brews in a pair of guest taps.
     The lineup here was adventurous.  I tried a Triskell Lager--Triskell being a French hop, not often seen in these parts.  Tim also encouraged me to try a sample of his Tantric Wheat IPA, a somewhat hazy, balanced ale, made with a single hop in the boil but a potpourri of fourteen hops dry in the fermenter.  Unusual and tasty.
(Visited 07/18/15).

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