Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Barley Brown's: A good port in a storm

Last December, driving across the country to temporary quarters in upstate New York, I was barely a day out of Bellingham when I was slammed by one beast of a snowstorm in Oregon's Blue Mountains.  The nearest town to take refuge in was Baker City, and o happy day!, this little city had an excellent little brewery.  Barley Brown's has been gathering medals and critical acclaim almost since Tyler Brown launched the business in 1998.  As a recent article in Northwest Brewing News notes, since they began entering national competitions in 2005, they have won ninety medals at the GABF, the World Beer Cup, and the North American Beer Awards.

The cozy pub (particularly so when two feet of snow have fallen outside) is built around the original and still working four-barrel system. Brown and friends opened a twenty-bbl production brewery and taproom right across the street, which serves a wider population, as far as Portland, 300 miles to the west, and Boise, 100 miles east of here.

The best seller is Pallet Jack, the standard IPA. Brown's makes a nice variety of ales and lagers, included an eponymous Brown Ale.  Their coasters are a clever idea--linked with the taster
flight trays, the coasters have space in the arrows to write down one's choices.  The customer enters his or her choices and hands the coaster to a bartender who fills the order as requested.

This visit was logged on 12/17/15.  Two days later, I had traveled as far as Laramie, Wyoming (the snowstorm that stopped me in Oregon didn't extend that far but the winds across I-80 were something else) and had an excellent dinner at Altitude Brewing there.  I came away with no photos but the card of head brewer Jared Long, who brews in a strict German tradition and who asked me to remember him to the Kempers at Chuckanut when I next got home.

In Canada's other end: Ontario's Silversmith Brewery

  OK, the eastern end of Ontario is not all the way across the country from our B.C. neighbors, but it's still a long ways off.  While catching some plays at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, I happened on one of the new craft breweries in this winery-laden town: Silversmith Brewing.

The pub, pictured here, is in a former church, an Anglican house of worship dating back to 1892 or so.  The brewing business began here in 2011 and it primarily serves the on-premise consumption and sales of bottles and growlers here.
The founders, Matt and Chris, proclaim their dark lager the flagship brew and I found it rich and balanced.  My companion, here for the wine and the plays, tried the hefeweisen and said she liked it.
The brewing system, also on the premises (I defer to those schooled in ecclesiastical architecture to name the room off to one side of the main chapel) looked to be in the seven-barrel capacity range, although the rating would be in hectoliters as is usually the case in Canada.

(Visited 10/09/15)