After we left Prosser, we drove a couple of hours west to Seattle. On our first night in the city, we met up with some old friends from Cincinnati and headed over to Elysian Brewing Company in Capitol Hill. Elysian also has a brewpub down by the stadiums, fittingly called Elysian Fields.
Elysian Brewing Company – A short bus ride from our hotel up to Capitol Hill from our hotel was our first stop in Seattle. We had a great dinner with friends and were able to try through a brewmaster’s sampler. Michelle found the Dry Wit (a “guest beer” from Pike Brewing) a better fit for her tastes than the current offerings.
I was able to try:
My notes are definitely incomplete as it was more of a night out with friends, but my overall impression was that Elysian enjoys using hops in varied and creative ways. If hops are your thing, you will not be disappointed by their beers.
The Pike Brewing Company – We stopped for a small lunch here on our last day in Seattle. I had a nice little cheese plate and Michelle had a gigantic bowl of macaroni and cheese that used Washington cheeses.
The six tastes (4-oz pours) rang up at a reasonable $9.00.
Pyramid Breweries – This was our last stop on the way out to the airport to catch a redeye home. One of the oddest experiences that I had on this trip occurred while we were working through a sampling at the bar. The gentleman who sat down next to me also had on an Irish Kevin’s shirt from Key West, FL – and we were both on the opposite end of the country from the original bar. It was weird, but I was able to continue tasting though Michelle’s laughter.
Here’s a quick run down on the beers I tried:
The sampler was a deal at $5.00 for the 5 2-ox pours.
We ended up buying two bottles of the Lipstinger, as the saison style blended well with the pepper. A very distinctive beer that was a hit for both Michelle and myself.
Did I miss anything that I should have tried? There were a bunch of great looking breweries, but only so much time.
After wrapping up the Wine Bloggers Conference, Michelle and I transitioned from wine to Washington’s other known commodity: beer. We had a quick stop in Prosser, then a few brewery visits in Seattle proper before we headed home. We also stopped an snapped a quick photo of some hops growing as we drove across the state. Washington accounts for 75% of the hops grown in the United States, which might account for the number of breweries that we found.
We started off our beer tasting in Prosser, WA, which was roughly halfway between Walla Walla and Seattle.
Horse Heaven Hills Brewery – As the official Kentucky visitors to the Brewery, this one made for a nice transition from wine to beer. This little brewery only sells by the growler and shares the parking lot with the Prosser AutoZone.
We walked on in and sat down at the bar where we tried the following:
We picked up an empty growler for ourselves as Michelle was taken by the image of the horse as well as the story of wild horses roaming the local hills. It was Michelle’s favorite brewery of the trip as she liked most of the beers we tried for different reasons. $5.00 for 4 samples.
Whitstran Brewing – This was our second stop in Prosser and luckily they served food. My burger was excellent and Michelle had no tr0uble finishing her sandwich as well.
Another nice selection of samples (9 for $9.50) was split between the two of us.
Lunch was a very nice at Whitstran and it was worth a stop in Prosser to start making the switch from wineries to breweries. We had a great afternoon and if we had been able to keep the beer refrigerated, I think we would have had a few full growlers as we continued into Seattle. For anyone on the wine trail, I strongly recommend stopping and trying something a little different. From Seattle, I think it would be well worth the drive to the desert to see a little sun.
Appointment television began again for me last night with the return of Mad Men, and of course, Mad Men Mondays! If you’re new to the blog, I try to fill you in a little bit on whatever our favorite ad men had to drink on the most recent episode. Sometimes they disappoint me, and I never catch a name or a label. Sometimes, it’s an amazing selection of potential bottles and cocktails.
Last night fell somewhere in the middle. Everyone was drinking something on the rocks, but it was primarily Don. In the past, he’s definitely been a bourbon and whiskey guy. Last night, they very purposely let us see the bottle of Canadian Club. (Think, for a moment, how liquor brands must be lining up to get their label on this show …)
When I think of Canadian Club, I think of my Grandma. She always had some sitting around (although she was more of a bourbon girl – I take after Grandma). But Canadian Club has been around forever. It was originally created in 1858 in Detroit by distiller Hiram Walker. But even in the 1850s, the winds of Prohibition were beginning to blow. Hiram moved his distillery across the border to Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
Walker aged his whiskey in oak barrels for a minimum of five years, which was revolutionary at the time. By doing this, he was able to pitch his whiskey as a premium drink. It became quite the rage in Gentlemen’s Clubs across the US and Canada, thus becoming Club whiskey. American distillers insisted that the word “Canadian” be included on the label, in hopes to deter people (buy American!). It didn’t work out quite as planned, however, and Canadian Club became an exclusive and sought after beverage. During Prohibition, one of Walker’s biggest clients was Al Capone, who made a fortune smuggling Canadian Club into Chicago from Windsor.
I suppose it’s only appropriate that Don has a bottle of Canadian Club on his office bar.
Roger, on the other hand, is a vodka drinker. Last season he was pretty excited over a bottle of Stoli vodka, another bit of alcohol that’s been around a while. There is, of course, some Stoli on Don’s office bar, apparently just for Roger.
Stoli (or rather, Stolichnaya) was introduced to the world sometime in the mid-1940s, although the actual date is under debate. Produced in Russia, it is fermented with wheat and rye grains, as well as artesian water from the Kaliningrad area. Once fermentation is complete, the spirit is distilled four times before being diluted with more fancy water.
Stoli was pretty hard to get in the 1960s, so when Roger scored his bottle or so last season, it was quite a coup. It wasn’t until the early 1970s that Pepsi struck a bargain with the Russian government to export Stoli to the west on a regular basis.
On a final note about the show, am I the only one really creeped out by little Sally?
Kevin and I really enjoyed our time in Washington state at the end of June. I’m completely in love with the place, from the gorgeous mountains, waterfalls, and lush green-ness around Seattle to the desert, sun, and heat in the southeast corner where so many vineyards exist.
I took way too many photos, which is not unusual for me, and I have them in two separate slide shows. You can also view the photos individually on Flickr.
The first pack, which covers the conference itself, includes a lot of vineyards. We visited Reynvaan Family Vineyards, the Walla Walla Community College, and Spring Valley. The photos include Walla Walla itself, which is definitely one of the cutest towns in the US and the streets are lined with tasting rooms. Finally, we took an all-day excursion to the Red Mountain AVA, which turned out to be absolutely beautiful. The vineyards and the scenery were positively breathtaking.
The second pack starts out with a visit to my beloved Airfield Estates Winery in Prosser, Wa. If you’re in it for the wine, stop there. We very quickly make the switch over to beer, with visits to the remarkable Horse Heaven Hill Brewery and Witstran Brewery. We even stopped and took photos of hops growing along the highway.
The photo pack diverges into our vacation shots, which include shots of food and beer, shots of Seattle in general, waterfalls and mountains, the space needle, Pike Place Market, and even some road-side oddities.
Enjoy! We fell in love with Washington and I hope to go back soon, and wrap in a trip to Oregon as well.
Every year at the Wine Blogger’s Conference, we partake in Live Wine Blogging. Basically, winemakers move from table to table, telling us about their wine in 5 minutes or less. We get to make a snap judgement and blog about it. It’s sort of like speed dating for wine and it’s equally as exhausting.
This year the Live Blogging sessions were split into two: Whites & Rosés on Friday and Reds on Saturday. Because we had so little time to learn, ask questions, and type, the notes aren’t the best. They should, however, give you a general idea of how we felt about the wine. The reds, in general, were consistently more impressive than the whites.
Wine #1: Desert Wind Ruah, Merlot blend: 46% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc
Soft and silky with structure throughout. At $20 would go great with Steak or heavier food.Little bit of tartness on the middle.Lighter tannins and acid makes this a drink sooner rather than later. A little too green for Michelle.
Wine #2: Duck Pond Red Blend: 52% Merlot, 29% Syrah, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon
Wahluke Slope, Washington (Columbia Valley)
Slightly tannic, ready to drink now and rather fruit forward. ~$15
Wine #3: Mollydooker Velvet Glove, 100% Shiraz single vineyard
Nice and well rounded. Surprisingly, much lower in alcohol than other Mollydooker wines. 2010 Velvet Glove will join the rest of the Mollydooker line with a screwcap. Wine is thick and coats the glass, but the fruit is not as up front as a more traditional californian shiraz. Drinking this ruins your glass for anything else, it’s so thick. It’s also not an easy wine to get through – better off sipped over a period of time. Coffee and chocolate flavors. $185/bottle
Wine #4: Trio Vintners 2007 Riot Red Table Wine: 52% Sangiovese, 36% Syrah, 12% Mourvedre
Columbia Valley, WA
Light, easy-drinking, pleasant berries. Strong acid and nice overall flavor. Mouvedre smooths out the Sangiovese. Well done Italian blend. Different from others, yet tasty..
Wine #5: Ponzi 2008 Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Almost a little effervescence and bubbles on initial taste. 11 Mo in French oak. $35 a bottle.Kind of a basic level Pinot. Newly bottled and not the best. Everyone agreed later that there was something wrong with this wine. It shouldn’t have been bubbly. From Michelle’s perspective, it was definitely too bright and fruity for an Oregon Pinot Noir, lacking earth.
Our review: Review withheld due to the fact we believe it was a bad bottle.
Wine #6: Stoller JV Pinot Noir 2007
Dundee Hills, Oregon
Heavy terroir and earthiness on the nose. Sustainable winery that is an old turkey farm that was transitioned to winery. Burgundy was referenced as a similar area. 10 mo in oak, mostly neutral. This is a great example of what new world grown pinot noir can taste like. Turned earth and subtle cherries all over the palate. $25
Wine #7: Cornerstone Stepping Stone 2008 Napa Valley Cabernet Franc
Tons of tannins and acidity. Acid is flavor, tannins are a feeling. According to Craig, “Acidity is what makes a wine live.” This would age well (might even benefit). Very balanced with lots of tannins and acid, but happily lacking in vegetal flavors. $30 bottle. 600 cases.
Wine #8: Sequel by Longshadows 2007 Columbia Valley Syrah (98%syrah with 2% cabernet)
We have very few notes on this one – just a rating. It’s worth mentioning that we did pick this up at a charity auction (and paid a pretty penny) because the Sequel line has such a great reputation.
Wine #9: Solena Estates 2008 Pinot Noir
Hyland Vineyard, McMinnville, Oregon
Solena Estates was Michelle’s big find at the Conference. She fell in love with the consistently earthy pinot noirs they produce. 2008 is set to be best vintage ever from Oregon. Earthy with an acidic finish, but still plenty of fruit up front. Single vineyard designates is primary focus. Volcanic soil. $50
Wine #10: Concannon 2007 Petit Syrah
Livermore Valley, CA
Nice bing cherry and acid on the finish. Big wine – called the “little monster.” 12 mo american oak. plus 6 months in large 58 year old large barrels. 4 months since bottled, but still ready to drink. Bottle itself seems to weigh a ton. Vineyard is in a conservancy land trust near the San Francisco Bay. Made us crave steak. $15/bottle
Wine #12: Jordan 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon blend: 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot., 5% Petite Verdot, 1% Malbec
Napa Valley, CA
Decanted. Balanced and not as fruit forward as we first expected. Earthiness is in the mid palate with fruit up front and tart fruit on the finish. $52
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