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Jul 30

Washington State Microbreweries: Seattle

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:

  • Dragonstooth Stout
  • Men’s Room Original Red – This was probably my favorite of the bunch as I ordered another glass once the sampler was finished. The hops were present, but there was a spiciness that helped to alleviate the bitterness. Very well balanced
  • Dry-Hopped IPA - For the hop lovers out there. This has the bitterness up front, the tropical in the middle and a very long finish. Not much other depth, but the went for hops and that is exactly what was there.
  • Loser Pale Ale
  • Bifrost

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.

  • Naughty Nellie (Golden Ale) – Strong wheat characteristics with a very nice hop presence.
  • Pale Ale – A basic entry and would be nice as an alternate to traditional macro-brewery offerings
  • IPA – A bright orange flavor leads into deceptively smooth hops. Multiple flavors add a few extra dimensions that I did not expect on an IPA. Michelle commented that she could drink a glass of this which is a very high complement.
  • Kilt Lifter (Scotch Ale) – Deep, rich flavors. A nice hint of smoke underneath the malt driven flavor. Michelle wanted food to go with this, but still enjoyed it.
  • Tandem (Double Ale) – Very sweet and sugary. Well balanced between the sweet of the candy sugar and the Belgian yeast used.
  • XXXXX (Extra Stout) – Our first split opinion of the tasting. I liked the strong malt flavor and the slight bitterness, Michelle not as much.
  • Monk’s Uncle (Abbey Style) – Light and crisp with honey flavors. Michelle was slightly confused by the combination of flavors.
  • Dry Wit (Summer Wheat Seasonal) – Floral up front with a nice grainy finish spells the perfect beer for Michelle. Hints of lavender, coriander and orange peel all of which were used in during the brewing process.

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:

  • Imperial Hefeweisen – Nice creaminess with a slight bitterness on top of the expected banana and clove.
  • Drought Pale Ale – Nitrogen injected version of the pale ale. The bubbles seem a little more present in this version and there is a nice sweetness. One of the special brewery only releases.
  • Snow Cap – Winter Seasonal amber that was brewed with caramel and wintergreen. Very nice and surprising. I was glad they still had this on an unmarked tap as it was my favorite of the tasting.
  • Lipstinger – Farmhouse ale brewed with peppercorns. Banana and pepper flavors instead of clove. Michelle enjoyed this more than she expected as the peppercorn was very well integrated. We left with a pair of bottles.
  • Dark IPA – This tasted like a chocolate covered hop. Very strange and not exactly my type of beer. I would recommend it to any hop heads out there, but be ready for a beer that defies expectations.

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.

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Posted by Kevin at 8:17 am in Beer, Beer-Guy.net, Travel | Permalink | Comments ()
Jul 29

Washington State Microbreweries: Prosser, WA

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:

  • Honey Girl – A nice light ale brewed with a honey. The honey provides a nice sweetness that works very nicely as my first transition away from wine. This may have been Michelle’s favorite along with the Hefeweizen and the Cherry Stout.
  • Heaven’s Hefeweizen – Very nicely balanced banana up front and clove flavors on the finish combine for a really nice hefe.
  • Mustang Red – Their most popular beer which is not pictured below. Very solid offering that was a very nice amber ale. Good malt characteristics and light and crisp hops.
  • Stallion Stout – Server on a nitrogen tap which is supposed to add creaminess and a richer flavor. Nice roasted coffee flavors but stays lighter and has a surprising crispness and spice on the finish.
  • Cherry Stout – Another beer brewed with a non-traditional additive, this time Washington cherries. The flavor lead with the nice acid and sweetness of the cherry which was followed by the chocolate. It was almost an inverted chocolate covered cherry. My favorite of the tasting due to the bitterness of the cherries and the semi sweetness of the stout.

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.

  • Horse Heaven Hefe (Bavarian-style hefeweizen) – Sweet with heavy banana flavors.
  • Highlander (Scottish-style ale) – Light with caramel that finishes with a toffee flavor. Kevin’s favorite of the list.
  • 11th Hour (Pale ale) – Creamy and light initially that ends with a bitterness. We described this as “Surprise! It’s hoppy.”
  • Over-the-edge (Dry-hopped pale ale) – More hops throughout the entire flavor. Not especially hoppy for a dry hopped ale.
  • Palouse (Porter) – Chocolate and roasted espresso beans. A very nice porter that Michelle did not try and I really enjoyed.
  • D2O Heavy Water (Stout) – Chocolate and malt. Two great tastes that are always nice in a stout.
  • Friar Lawrence (Belgium-style ale) – Sweeter than expected. A very interesting and distinctive beer that was weel worth trying.
  • Friar’s Blessing (Raspberry lambic) – Acid up front was not as integrated as I was hoping. Michelle mixed this with the Friar’s Decadence to create a version that allowed the chocolate to help balance.
  • Friar’s Decadence (Chocolate chocolate imperial stout) – Bitter chocolate with hop flavor hinting through. Nice on it’s own, but really helped to soften the lambic.

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.

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Kevin at 8:13 am in Beer, Beer-Guy.net, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1)
Jul 09

Wine and Beer Event – brought to you by Wine-Girl and Hoperatives

We’re having all sorts of events in July. The first one I want to tell you about is a wine and beer event at the Dilly Cafè. That’s right – it’s beer and wine lovers. You simply cannot go wrong.

We here at Wine-Girl are collaborating with our good friends the Hoperatives to bring you a beer-wine-cheese tasting at Dilly Cafè on Tuesday, July 27th at 6:30 pm. The tasting will be led by the Goose Girl herself, Lindsey Shafer of Goose Island Brewery. The cost is only $20.00 and the number of participants is limited to 30. There will be a waiting list if necessary. Call Dilly to make your reservations (513.561.5233).  We were planning today and already people were calling – so give a call to Dilly ASAP.

Working with Chuck and Chef Eric at Dilly and Lindsay from Goose Island, we’ve managed to put together a tentative list of pairings, although keep in mind that it is subject to a little bit of change.

  1. Welcome drink: Sparkling wine
  2. Cheese: Chevre  Beer: Goose Island 312 Wine Type: Sancerre
  3. Cheese: Triple Creme Brie Beer: Goose Island Sofie Wine Type: Champagne
  4. Cheese: Feta Beer: Goose Island Demolition Wine Type: Alsatian Reisling
  5. Cheese: Washed Rind  Beer: Goose Island Matilda Wine Type: Grenache Rosè
  6. Chocolate: Bitter, dark (80-85% cacao)  Beer: Goose Island Pere Jacques Wine: Southern Bell Shiraz

Just to recap:

Tuesday, July 27th
6:30 pm
Dilly Cafè, 6818 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, OH 45227
only $20.00
RSVP (please!) ASAP at 513.561.5233

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Jul 01

Looking for a Great Can Beer

Photo by Steve Snodgrass

As we enter the heat of summer here in Cincinnati, my thoughts turn to heading outside and cooling off. Sadly most of the local pools, lakes, and rivers have a negative view of bottles, even those filled with craft beers. This has led me to my summer project of finding a canned beer to last through the pool parties and canoe trips. Cans have gotten a bad name due to people associating a metallic taste with the beer. As times have changed, so has the assumption that the can is the only reason for poor quality beer. I let none of that deter me from my quest for a great beer in can form.

Up first is the Summer Solstice Cerveza from Anderson Valley Brewing Company. This light cream ale has a lemon meringue quality that makes it nice and light after a hot muggy day of yard work. The overall flavor is sharp and leaves the palate with the hint of lemon that fades to a nice creaminess. Overall, the flavor and mouth feel make this a beer to recommend. The price tag is a touch high ($8.50 for a 6-pack on the Kentucky side of the river) but the quality makes this a great first entry into my attempt to find a nice, well crafted, micro-brewed beer in a can.

Any suggestions for other cans to try that might be difficult to find? Let me know in the comments along with suggestion on where to find them. I’ll be searching for canned beer during our travels as well.

My review:

– Kevin

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Posted by Kevin at 8:01 am in Beer, Beer-Guy.net | Permalink | Comments (6)
Jun 18

Guest Post: Anchor Steam Brewery

One of my dearest friends picked up and moved to San Francisco a few years back. I hate that she’s gone, but it does mean I get to visit with her when I’m in the City by the Bay and I even get to cajole her into the occasional guest post. Jen Rizzo is a great freelance graphic artist (she did the logo and such over at the Hoperatives) and is quite the foodie. In this post, she’s filling us in on her recent tour of Anchor Steam Brewery.

__

I have always been a big believer in drinking locally. It’s just better. You’re supporting local businesses and decreasing your carbon footprint. Even above those two very important things, it connects you to the local flavor and allows you to explore some new options. If I’m in a new city, I always want to know what their local craft beer is like. I’m originally from Kansas City, where we have the lovely Boulevard brewery. It is probably surprising to no one that a brewery out of Kansas City specializes in wheat beer – but you can find it everywhere. The most divey of all dive bars will at least have bottles of Boulevard Wheat. When I lived in Cincinnati, I threw down Bell’s like it was candy. (The Two-Hearted and Oberon were my favorites, but I try to not discriminate.) And, of course, I had the pleasure of living in New York during the winter, so I had my share of Brooklyn Black, which is still among my favorite reasons to travel east during the holiday season.

Here in San Francisco, we are incredibly spoiled with the Anchor Steam Brewery.

The Anchor Brewing Company first opened its doors in 1896, and was purchased by Fritz Maytag in 1965. He learned west coast beer from the ground up, and eventually settled on the brews we have today. Recently, Fritz sold the brewery to a holding company a few miles north of San Francisco (owned by two former Skyy vodka representatives), which sent our beer world into a little bit of a panic. Fritz Maytag is greatly respected for his accomplishments in craft brewing, and a lot of us are on the edge of our seats anticipating what comes next. When a friend told me she had an extra ticket to an Anchor tour, I jumped at the chance. The Bay Area Beer Socials group takes this specially-organized after-hours tour once a year, but the organizer fears that this may be the last year for it due to the brewery changing hands.

Anchor produces both seasonal and year-round beers. Anchor Steam is their flagship beer. It’s rich and a little hoppy – a classic west coast beer. (When I was still living in Cincinnati, Northside Tavern kept it on draft, but I’d have to defer to the Hoperatives as to who has it now.)

“Steam” beer was originally a term used to describe west coast brews, but is now a trademark of the Anchor Brewing Company. There are many stories about where the name “steam beer” came from. My favorite is that around the turn of the century, there was no way to effectively chill the beer after boiling, so San Francisco breweries had large, shallow, open-top tanks on the roof to allow the climate to cool it naturally. When beer was being brewed, clouds of steam rose off the top of the buildings – hence, steam beer!

Today, Anchor replicates the process by using these open-top tanks inside:

The beer sits in these tanks for three days, at which point it’s nearly flat. It’s combined later at about an 85/15 ratio with beer that’s only sat there for one day and isn’t quite done, so it balances out in the end.

Liberty Ale is like Anchor Steam’s big brother. A little hoppier, a little richer, a little higher in alcohol content. (6%, compared to Anchor Steam’s 4.9%.) Its name honors Paul Revere’s bicentennial ride, but the recipe stems from older variations of Our Special Ale, their winter seasonal. Anchor Porter is their darkest offering. Dark, rich and roasty with a hoppy back to it, it’s one of my favorite porters. Not too malty, not too smoky. Old Foghorn is a barleywine-style ale. A little lower in alcohol content than most barleywines, at 8-10% (Anchor claims it varies), it’s still the heftiest of the Anchor brews. A little sweet, incredibly rich, and a little bubbly. On draft, it’s particularly lovely, but it holds up pretty well in its bottled version. If the Liberty Ale is Anchor Steam‘s big brother, Anchor Small Beer is Old Foghorn’s little brother. At a teeny tiny 3.3%, it’s created from a second running of the mash used to make Old Foghorn. Even though they come from the same place, they couldn’t taste more different. Small Beer is light, but rich, and takes on a much more bitter flavor than any of Anchor’s other beers.

Anchor makes four seasonals – Our Special Ale, their winter offering, Anchor Bock, for spring, Anchor Summer, and the newest addition, Anchor Humming. Humming Ale was originally created last year to honor the 30th anniversary of the current location. Bars in San Francisco snatched up what they could, since it was intended to be a limited run. About the time that everyone was running out of it, Anchor announced that they would be bottling it as their new autumn seasonal.

Brewery tours are available by reservation during the week.  If you’re in the San Francisco area anytime soon, it’s a wonderful piece of history. Plus, the tour wraps up with a tasting, so you can choose your favorites! (While you’re in the area, do what we did and trek up the hill a couple blocks to Goat Hill Pizza, where you can get a pitcher of Anchor Steam as well as sourdough-crust pizzas. Thank me later.)

- Jen Rizzo
Photos © Jen Rizzo, 2010

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Posted by Michelle at 8:01 am in Beer, Beer-Guy.net, Guest Writers, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1)

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