This is one of the beers that I loved and I was happy when I was able to find it again after having to get rid of my whole bottle collection :'(. I guess at the time I never had a use for the bottles. Kind of keeping them for nostalgia purposes. I am sure the men and women of New Belgium would be proud but many others just see it as clutter. I hate those people. HAHA! JK! I still wish I had my bottles though.

To this day, I have still never had the Allagash Version of it, but now that I live considerably closer to their brewery... though, I am not counting on finding this "Colabeeration".

Get a Belgian Brewmaster and a Master of Belgian Brewing together and there's sure to be spontaneous imagination that leads to micro-organisms mingling in fermentation bliss! Bliss! BLISS! Allagash and New Belgium are pleased to offer you our CollaBeerAtion Vrienden.
This beer is an ale brewed with Hibiscus and Endive. Very amazing on my first go around so I am hoping it is just as great this time. Though, I know nothing about how it was stored before it came into my hands or how long this beer was even built to last. I guess we will see... right?

Brewed with the slightly fruity hibiscus flower, the aromatic Brettanomyces, and the flavor-boosting Lactobacillus. We recommend pairing it with creamy, soft cheeses and charming Vrienden-That's "Friends" in Flemish. Enjoy.
I did not pair this beer, and I was fairly selfish :p I guess maybe that is a bad thing but only few I know could appreciate something this amazing.

Though, I guess I got to it too late :'(. It still had that sour nose with hints of fruity, lemony, orange peel? Somebody tell me what hibiscus is supposed to be like. Lame, I know. I am missing one of the major aspects of this beer due to inexperience. The sourness is now very mellow. It was never too big before but it kind of dampened off. Not like I remember it. A bit of kick in the back, but nothing overwhelming. It doesn't even really have that funkiness I loved before. It is more dry and spicy now. I guess it is not a full loss, but still. A beer I loved lost to the hands of time. Maybe a rerelease? That would be awesome. Or am I just living unreal New Belgium Fan Boy Dreams?



New Belgium Brewing Company

Has there ever been a time in your life where you did the one thing that you thought you would never do? No matter how small or trivial that thing was. It did not require a lot of extra effort, just being in said place at said time... Well, I personally never thought I would get to New Belgium. The brewery of my dreams was just that. Nothing but a dream. I guess I could have had more romantic or say, exotic dreams. Like actually going out to Belgium, but that is just a bit different. New Belgium has been my Beer Love since the dawn of my Craft Beer life. 1554 quickly became my favorite beer and from then on I made it my mission to taste everything they released. From the Lips of Faith series, to their year round releases. So you know how I felt when I actually got the email...
It is destined: Touring New Belgium is in your near future. On Wednesday, June 06, 2012 at 3:30 PM, we’ve reserved 2 tour tickets under the name Allen.
I could have cried at this moment... Though, I guess I needed to start planning the road trip. I know that this was quite a while back, but it took some time for me to get settled into my new place, so blah! Trying not to be biased, I would have to say this was the best tour that I have been on. Truth!

I mean, what other tour let me pour my own beer? And that was not ever the start of it...

In order to make it to Fort Collins on time I left Seattle at about 9am the previous morning and had one hell of a drive for almost 24 hours stopping only to sleep at rest stops for a few hours at a time. Nothing was going to make me late to this day. When we finally arrived there it was about 10am and we found a motel just a few blocks away and crashed until about an hour before our tour. We got up, got ready, and left because I wanted to have a few beers before it got started. Right as we are getting near the brewery we are held up by a train! Who does that? Runs a train right through the middle of the city? It didn't really affect anything other than my drinking time but I had no idea how long this thing was.

Luckily, my first flight was everything I hoped for and more. Finally I fell into the world of my favorite brewery. I had Ken's Hefe, Valentine's Day Ale, Lost Abbey Brett Beer Collab, and La Folie 2012! La Folie is actually a beer in my 1001 Beers series, but since I have a bottle of 2011, and 2012 in the cellar, I will hold on for that for later. La Folie is actually a beer that inspired me to brew a Flanders Red. But more on that later. All of these beers were amazing. I took crappy notes on them but I was more just into enjoying myself at the brewery than anything else. The lady liked Valentine's Day Ale, so that is a plus and I got a bottle of Brett Beer for home too!

The coolest thing I thought before the tour is that the ticket was a 1554 Label... I should have kept it but they collected it pretty much at the start. 1554 is one of my favorite beers of all time. Everything about it is just amazing. I am really surprised I did not have one before we got going. The first beer of the tour was Abbey. I had seriously forgot how good this beer is. It was always one of my favorites but I only picked it up in a Folly Pack. During the first section of this tour they did the usual. Told us about the company and brewing and yada yada yada. You know, the stuff that every beer geek already knows, and those who make beer know even more about. But it was still a good time. They even gave out prizes for answering trivia questions.

The next part of the tour was extremely awesome. This is where we got more in depth information about all of the beers that the company releases. Some were held back for other parts of the tour but we also got to pour our own beer. Fan-Fricken-Tastic. That is where the video from above is. I decided to get myself a Cocoa Mole. I had this beer once and was not really sure what to think. On my second go around... I am kind of stuff in the same boat. It was not bad but it was just so different. I also got a pour of Sunshine Wheat. Another really good beer from this company. I believe they said they brewed this one originally under the name of Wedding Wheat... or something like that but changed the name because only females were drinking it.

Our next stop was the Barrel Room. Again, we got to pour our own beer here, and the beer on tap? Tart Lychee. I had just had this not too long ago and instantly fell in love. This is yet another bottle I have home with me as well. I guess I should show them all off at some point being I keep bringing this up... I really wanted to run around and try to find stuff in here but I am pretty sure that was not allowed. I am really hoping for a rerelease of Le Terrior. Now that would be great.

The next part of the tour brought us to Fat Tire, and 1001 Beers Number 18. This was seriously the best Fat Tire I have ever had. I am usually not a fan of this beer, and maybe being at the source had some magical voodoo over me but just every layer of this beer came through and made me remember why I first started drinking the beer from this company. The biscuit, the crystal, just everything that makes this beer what it is was very well showcased here. I should have taken some of this home with me too. I guess I can easily find it at the store though. Not sure if it can ever taste this amazing again.

The last stop of this tour was around their bottling line area and the last beer of the tour was Somersault. This was my most drank beer last summer. It is great for a nice warm day... or hot because that is pretty much how it always was in the San Fernando Valley. The citrus flavors plays really well on the light body that this beer presents. They gave out a couple of cans of Shift. There was a lot of cool things we saw on the way, the windmills were not one of them :( I guess we were too far away to actually see them but it is alright. They sustain themselves pretty well. Before we finished the tour, we had one last piece of fun... I will never forget this moment.

After the tour I picked up a few more beers. I mean, how could I not? We still had some time before the Liquid Center closed and I wanted to spend every minute possible there. This time around I got a big Valentine's Day Ale for the Lady and a Bier De Mars, Prickly Passion Saison, and 1554 for myself. I also had to get a Cascadian Dubbel and Billy's Beer just to say that I have had every Lips of Faith released and that was possible to get in my area since I got into beer. I love the series and I wish it was easier to get my hands on, but maybe that is part of the allure.

Once I got outside I noticed this cool trailer that was numbered after my favorite beer and pretty much told the whole story of New Belgium from the beginning. It even included a miniature scale of the facility. I wonder what the new one in Asheville will be looking like. We have had some announcements but nothing too big at the moment. I just hope that I can be there opening day. I think the whole moving to North Carolina thing was not such a bad idea in this respect but we will see how the road goes in general.

Here are a few of the bottles I kept talking about and I still have from some time. I hope a few are not past their prime and I wish I could have found others. Like another bottle of Fresh Hop Ale. I plan on turning them all into cups because that seems to be a fad now. If only I did not get rid of my old collection of bottles...

The New

The Old

I wish they would rerelease Sahti, and let Belgo out in that bottle once more instead of the year round one they have now. But anyway, no trip to a brewery, especially my favorite brewery, would be complete without me grabbing some glassware. I was kind of disappointed with the style they had but I guess it works. Each of my favorite breweries had a different style. Deschutes the Euro top, Sierra Nevada the Bulb. I filled this one with Trippel. Another great beer. Again, one I usually only get around the holidays but I did not have it while at the brewery so I had to make sure I got it. I was kind of disappointed that I did not taste Ranger while I was there or Blue Paddle but I guess I just have to make the trip back :D.

983 Bottles Of Beer To Go!



A Brewday From 1134!!!

I honestly should have noticed something was up once I woke up this morning. I planned to get started weighing out and crushing malt at about 0700 but I did not wake up until about 0900. I figured, "Oh well. I had a busy week and I needed the rest. At least I am rested now."... boy, I seriously should have suspected something.

I went out to the store to pick up some Epsom Salt and Baking Soda along with food because I was going to play with my water chemistry on this batch but noticed once I got home I forgot all about the baking soda. Since I have just about every other brewing salt I did not need to run back to the store... Though, I need to get a better scale. I adjusted all my water and was preparing to crush my grain. No issues as of this point except that it was 1300!

When I was weighing it all out I noticed I was missing something very important... THE RYE MALT FOR MY RYE ESB!!! I swore I bought it. That was the main reason I went to the homebrew shop. I searched everywhere for it but just could not find it. This was originally supposed to be a double brewday so I had all the ingredients for a second batch, no issues. The next batch on my list was the Nut Brown Ale. I need figure out a name for this one but brewing will continue.

Now, just as I think things are finally back on track, I hit the perfect mash temp, perfect volume, think I'm going to be a little short at the finish, but that is an easy fix, the mash is finishing up and I go to drain my first runnings... My line out of the mashtun clogs... I am sitting here thinking, "How the hell can this thing clog?" I grab my spoon and start to stir... I then dig deep and what do I pull up? My damn hosebraid!

This sucked like hell because there was no way to get to the bottom of the mashtun without disrupting the grain bed or avoiding burning since I do not own any high speed Blichmann like gloves. I just decided the best thing to do was to thread the outside through my mash tun and use the spoon to try and lift it out of the mash. I then found the hose braid and reattached it. Pretty sucky. It was even so bad that I had to take apart my whole braid set up to remove the grain that got caught into the line. Though, from here on not much got in my way. Ran off the wort, got it into the kettle and avoided any boil overs. I probably used my most efficient chilling set up this time around as well... I really want a brewing sculpture.

I guess since my fermentation chamber/keezer build is not finished yet I can't really complain about fermentation temperature too much for this brew. It was a bit higher than I wanted but oh well. I made my decision about this thing. The good part of the day though was taking the other 5 Gallons of Summer Starlifter and putting it onto fruit! The chosen were Cherries, Strawberries, Apples, and Peaches. Cutting them up and sanitation were my only concerns with this part but meh. We will see how this all turns out. I'm just expecting tasty beer!



Iron Brewer Batch 3 Round 2

I am blogging live from Iron Brewer Batch 3 Round 2!!!!! Though, I am not really sure if I can call it blogging live being I will not be posting this until after the tasting is over... hmmm..., well either way. It is time to get this underway!

Just as a recap, this is what Iron Brewer is straight from Peter Kennedy himself.
After a hugely successful Simply Beer Brew-off , Batch #1 & #2 of Iron Brewer™, we are going to charge head on into Batch#3 of Iron Brewer™! Same concept like the Iron Man Triathlon which features 3 unique events combined into 1 competition. The concept is simple, there will be 3 unique ingredients and you’ll need to combine them into a a one of a kind, unique, and most importantly delicious homebrew.
The ingredients for this round were C120, White Wheat Malt, and Faulkners Flight hops. You can check out all of the recipes here. These were simple ingredients but the use of them is what made it special. Creating something unique is a bit of a challenge when you are all under the same guidelines and restraints. Each brewer is different along with their experience, style, and taste in beer all together and that is what makes this competition unique. It is also really cool that you get direct, immediate feedback from the participants rather than just a score sheet in the mail. This is my first "competition" of sorts and it was interesting because I also had to judge myself.

The first beer of the night was a very interesting one. Glen by Phil Cutti. The first thing that caught my attention when I pulled it out of the box was the awesome label. It made me wonder why I couldn't do something like this. So very simple and personal. Loved it. I felt the hops for this beer was very heavy on the nose. But what was great about that is that they smelled amazing!!! I guess they were not really that heavy, a bit of the malt still came through. Some of the key points to this beer that I liked was how its dryness... I guess maybe I should tell you the style. It was an Imperial Common. Check out the recipe, or use your imagination to determine what that means but he went ahead and fermented the lager yeast at ale temperatures. It was a bit fruity and bready. The ingredients came together well in this beer. I liked it very much. It is not anything that I would have brewed myself, though, I wish I had at least one or two more bottles of it just to have around.

The second beer of the night was White Falcon from Robert French. When I first looked at this beer... and first smelled it I was expecting a total hop bomb, wheat IPA... This beer was none of that... It had a really big nose. I mean, once you open the bottle the whole room fills up with hops. Insane. I have no other way to describe it, and me, not being one huge on IPAs unless they meet my "standard" was honestly looking down on this beer already. On my first sip, I was hooked. This is seriously one of the best beers I have ever had. It was not the wheat IPA I was expecting. It was a very tamed, while still having some bitterness and a lot of flavor, creamy textured, glass of awesome. I really don't know how else to describe it. I looked over his recipe and it was really simple. I mean stupid simple. The majority of it was wheat malt, a little bit of base, the C120 and then the hops and yeast. Not saying you can't make a good beer with so little, I'm just saying he knew exactly what to do with the little he used.

The third beer we had during the tasting was, well... Mine! Summer Starlifter, BY ME! I pretty much took this opportunity to do something I always wanted to do. Brew a Saison. My first instinct when getting the ingredient list was to brew a wheat ale but I thought that would have been too simple and too common. This recipe was born shortly after. I pretty much just took a few things I wanted to showcase and go went for it. Probably the least amount of time I took to write a recipe. I have this beer on tap at home but I thought I would fill a bottle for the tasting. I thought it was funny how clear the beer was in bottle. It was cloudy the whole process, even the ones I have aging on fruit right now but upon my pour, it was crystal clear. I was not expecting this... Oh well. The thing that stood out the most to me was the citrusy flavors. They were really hard over the top. When I was talking to my buddy Louie about it a few weeks ago I described it as,
A LOT OF LEMON! lol I wanted more spice and maybe more wheat.
The wheat was lost to the background pretty much and it was hard to pick out the crystal. Which is sad because that is my favorite crystal to play with. I use it in everything lol Not really, but I use it quite a bit. Just like Special B. I love that one too.

The Fourth Beer of the night was Cranberry Wheat from Rob Kriegel. This was another interesting one because I am not usually too keen on Fruit Beers... Then again, I have a record of all the fruit beers I have had, and liked, so I guess maybe I like them more than I think I do. Though, this one did not seem like your typical fruit beer. He only added some extract at the time of bottling to get a bit of that flavor into it. The cranberry flavor was actually pretty light. It was almost hard to pick out on the initial pour. It took the beer warming up a little bit for it to really come out. Though, I could really feel the dryness that it left behind. I thought this recipe looked really good when I was checking it out on the website. It really didn't come together like I thought it was going to though. I guess that is part of the different brewers, different style thing... or maybe I am not that good at anticipating what something is going to taste like lol It was a really good beer though. Funky hops up front, a bit of citrus to follow and light bitterness before you get the cranberries and the malt backbone. Very nice.

The last beer of the night was from Pat Walsh. It didn't come with a name so I don't know what to call it. One of the things that was really hard for me and this beer is the use of the Nelson Sauvin hop, I believe it was. There are several commercial beers out that that use it that I did not like. Then again, there are a few that used it and I did... I am not sure it is this hop, but now that I have had it and know for a fact that this was it, I kind of believe that it was. I did not expect this beer to come out so dark though. I guess maybe I should have paid attention to the recipe to see that it had about 2 pounds of C120 in it. That is pretty insane if you ask me. Though, it did not seem to complicate this beer at all. The hops and alcohol nose is what stood out most to me at the start. It was hard for me to get past the Nelson though. It did not present as I thought it would have and I was able to drink it down. Still tasty, but it just lingered with me. I don't know what else I could have done.

Anyway, at the end of the tasting it came down to the judges and all of the brewers to pick a winner. They asked us for our rank of the beers. Mine was White Falcon, Cranberry Wheat, and Glen for number 1, 2, & 3. It kind of sucked that 2 people fell out of this round, but what can you really do about that. Overall, great feedback was received by all about all and from the judges. It was a great help for me since I plan to start entering into competitions. The feedback that was given was not just, "Oh, your beer is good yada yada yada..." They actually hit on points that I feel are important to know. I honestly thought my beer may have been a little undercarbed but they all agreed that it was more so over than anything. I guess it is just a case of, The more you know... Anyway, the winner by majority vote was White Falcon by Robert French. A great beer. Seriously. I am glad to have had it.



1001 Beers: Juniper Pale Ale and Mocha Porter

Before this day I have only ever had a few brews from one of the most Popular West Coast Breweries out there, Rogue Ales. One of which being The Bacon Maple Ale, the others, a couple variations of Dead Guy, and a few John John Ales. It is unfair for me to judge the brewery based on those beers alone but I have had a... meh?... impression of them for as long as I have known about them. Luckily my favorite bottle shop in North Carolina, Bottle Revolution, gave me the chance to get a feel for what these people can really produce. I picked up a bottle of Juniper Pale Ale, American Amber, Hazelnut Brown Nectar, and Mocha Porter. I figured this would be a pretty good set up being they are essentially new to me and I never hit any of their breweries before moving out this way and a couple of them are part of my 1001 Beers Series haha!

The first one I took a taste of was the American Amber. It was a decent beer, very clean. The flavor was sweet, a bit like toffee with the hops really coming through in the finish. Again, decent. I know I shouldn't have but upon first taste I was like, "This is nothing like Fat Tire...".

Next I moved onto the Juniper Pale, Beer Number 16. It actually has a cool story behind it and kind of put some expectations into my mind... on the good end and the bad end of the spectrum.
Juniper Pale Ale was first brewed to commemorate the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.
I really appreciate that, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth as well. Was this brewed to appeal to the masses or for the love of beer... and adding juniper berries to it. Actually, one of the John John Beers I had, was the John John Juniper, and I loved that so I was expecting good things from this one. I don't feel that it lived up to that one, but then again I looked at them as two different beers. This one had an odd sweetness to it. I want to attribute that to the juniper but I have no way to reference it really. I thought it was pretty light for a Pale Ale, even with my "It should be assertive but not like one of those mass produced IPAs" stance. I guess being it is a "Winter Ale" some things are to be expected? It was a nicely brewed beer for sure. I actually preferred this one over the amber as of this point. But I was ready to see what else they had.

I don't know why but I chose the Mocha Porter next. Figured it made more sense to do a brown before a porter, but hey, what are you going to do? This is Beer Number 17. The thing that stood out to me on this one was the dark malt nose and the length of time the head lasted. It was kind of coffee-esque, but assertive nonetheless. Very impressive I thought, then again, that is to be expected from someone like Rogue?
The Mocha is a prime example of the U.S. porter style, a beer that was inspired by its English cousin but has burst out of the blocks with plenty of Yankee twist.
I thought this beer was really light for a porter and maybe I do not properly understand the U.S. style but it was nothing like porters that I feel represent it, i.e. Deschutes Black Butte. It went into my mouth like water. The dark malt bitterness creeped up at the end and a burnt, dry, coffee flavor lingered in my mouth. I was kind of disappointed with that one. Porter is one of my favorite styles and while I know they are not all great, this one just kept me wanting more. The beer grew on me more as I drank it but a lot of what disappointed me followed from sip to sip.

Finally The Nut Brown. This was my favorite of the bunch. It had a nice assertive bitterness but light and sweet at the same time. It was almost everything I look for in a brown ale. The malt did not come across as too dark, the light flavor working with the medium mouthfeel just set this thing completely right. This is for sure a beer that I would revisit. This whole time I was thinking that there would be nothing significant from Rogue that in this selection.

984 Bottles Of Beer To Go!




Here are a few of the Krieks that I tried one day with my wife. She really enjoyed this one and I was drinking quite a bit with some of my buddies so I did not really take any tasting notes.

One in particular tasted a bit like soda. Which I thought was interesting but I remember thinking all of these were quite decent. I guess I will have to try them again and actually pay attention this time.

Soda Kriek



Flying Dog

Since moving to North Carolina, I have been wanting to learn more about the beer from this side of the country. I have been checking out bottle shops for local beers and things that I am not accustomed to on the West Coast. Well, I decided to check out the whole line from Flying Dog. I guess technically, they are not local being they are out of Maryland and they do distribute out to where I was, but I made my decision this is when I was going to start checking them out.

I learned quite a bit about them as well. Some stuff that made me think upon discovery. The origins of Flying Dog go back quite a bit. Back to about 1983, but that whole story is here. Take a read. Other things that caught my attention was the fact that the original brewpub and brewery were out of Aspen, Colorado back in the early 90's. Now, that was way before I first got into beer... or was even old enough to walk across the street by myself... but then they made the move to their current home, Frederick, Maryland.

I guess it is only fitting looking over all of this that I first check out the beer that probably made Flying Dog who they are. In 1991 Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale was bottled and ended up winning “The Best Pale Ale in America” at The Great American Beer Festival. I had no idea this was even a category. But I guess things have changed a bit since then.

Style. As innate as its brother Cool, it can't be learned. Buried deep beneath the relics of awkward trends and hip nostalgia, the truth remains-- the moment you lay claim to having IT... it's gone. But rest easy, young soldier. What you have in your hands is all the style you need.
I would say that this beer has nailed everything it set out to do. It had a nice balance of flavor and bitterness. It is kind of exactly what I look to as I have a pale ale. Not many get it right. I find they are either a tad too hoppy, or under bittered. I got that it was a little fruity and then cut by the citrus. The balance with the flavor and the body for this beer really worked to keep it from being just another beer. I wish I was able to have some of it back in 1991 when it won the award but I can see how it did. For sure this beer has to become a regular.



Twin City Taps

So I know my experience with festivals is very limited but I would say that this is the best one I have been to thus far. When I first heard of Twin City Taps North Carolina Beer Festival, the thing that got me excited was the fact that it was being held in a baseball stadium. What could be better than that? Well, it was sad news to hear that nearly last minute the festival may have to be cancelled due to various issues at BT&T. One of the sponsors, Ziggy's, stepped up and decided that the even could be held at their venue. They were already involved in setting up the musical acts, and that is what the place was known for, so why not combine the two? I think it was a good call.

Being new to North Carolina, Twin City Taps gave me the opportunity to find out what this state has to offer. Coming from Los Angeles, Seattle, & Portland, I guess you can say I am kind of spoiled when it comes to beer but there is still so much out there that I have not had. I really appreciated the fact that the festival was North Carolina beer exclusive. It is too easy to call up a distributor and ask for what is big, rare, and popular but this was a change to let the locals shine. I know people always say drink local and others say that not all local beer is good beer but this event was seriously like a showcase for why North Carolina is heading the direction that it is. Asheville is being called "Beer City USA", but the state as a whole deserves recognition.

While talking to the people behind the various breweries, I found out that the majority of them were brand new breweries. The ones pouring were from their respective breweries as well. They were not just random servers they pulled off the street so you could actually get into a decent conversation about the beer and the brewery. Some were there that have been around for a while, like The Carolina Brewery and The Duck Rabbit Brewery but I was talking to the head brewer of NoDa Brewing and found out that they have only been around for about 7 months. The youngest brewery that I can remember said they have only been around for 3 months. Just the range of experience and what was being presented was amazing. One of the coolest things there was the fact that a homebrew club, The WortHawgs, was pouring as well.

I really need to learn to play this game. It's at every festival ever... why is that?

One thing I did not really care for at the festival was the ticket prices. I am not saying I thought it was over priced or anything. For the time I had and what was there, it was totally worth it. They offered 2 ticket prices, Regular Admission and VIP. The prices were $35 and $60 respectively. I purchased the VIP ticket. The difference between the two was The VIP ticket got you access to a room with food and cask ale. Cask ale is what made my decision immediately. I guess maybe I got caught up in the whole CAMRA movement and as a Craft Beer Enthusiast, things like this are supposed to excite me. I was not expecting too much, but when I found out there were only 4 cask, I was kind of disappointed. The food was decent, but again, if that were the only difference I would not have went with it. Don't get me wrong, I had no issue paying the price. Especially since it went to benefit the NC Brewers Guild and I for sure ate my fair share of food, which if I purchased it, would have more than made up for the cost with vendor prices. But I was still just expecting more in the way of Cask Ale.

All in all though, it was a great event. Really introduced me to the beer of North Carolina and I met a lot of cool people. I guess I don't have to worry about finding local favorites being that there is so much good beer around me. Though, there is still so much here for me to discover.




I knew nothing about Yuengling Traditional Lager until I saw one of the most influential documentaries that I have seen since I got into craft beer, Beer Wars. It went into some depth about, and even went and visited the brewery. The story behind it was enough to make me want to find this beer, especially being you could only get it on one side of the country. Now that I am out here, it was one of the first beers that I had to taste.

One of the hotels I stayed at had the beer available on tap at the bar. I actually had to get another one after finishing my first and heading out for the night. Between the two beers, I am not really sure if one pour had more than the other but I like the glass type from my second glass. The first one just seemed a bit fancier.

This beer had a fairly high level of carbonation. It is kind of what I was expecting, but what I was not was the flavor. It had quite a bit of caramel sweetness and it was really clean. The beer had a medium mouthfeel and a fairly low abv. I also got a bit of woody character and a dry finish. It kind of dried out my whole mouth and just left the wood to linger for a bit. Not in a bad way, just different. This is a pretty solid lager.




Not too long ago I had a vary good experience with Williams Bros Brewing Co and I learned quite a bit about Scottish ales and the ales that they were producing. I loved every single one of those in the 4 pack and I cannot wait to get them again. Though, there was a problem with the 4 pack... The information that came with it had FIVE BEERS LISTED!!! I have been missing one... so what did I did, what could I do?!?! I found the missing ale, Kelpie.

Kelpie is an ale made with Seaweed. The content in the packet of information I received states:
At least four hundred years ago, the coastal & Island farmers of Scotland used seaweed beds to grow their cereal crops. This barley produced very interesting flavours in the ale and whisky they produced. Including bladderwrack seaweed in the mash tun along with organic barley gives this wholesome dark ale a distinctive flavour.
It truly did. This beer is said to be served in a lightly chilled wide glass and it sits at 4.4% abv... again, I did not listen to the glass recommendation. I will get it right someday. This ale had a very distinctive flavor alright, like a light, roasted chocolateyness and slightly salty. It was nothing that would deter me from the ale, in fact it was hardly noticeable except for in the finish. The ale was quite sweet, rich, in fact until finish. They say this ale has the aroma of a sea breeze and I would not say that it was too far off. I know nothing about ales with seaweed in them so I was trying to pick out everything I could that could lead to discovering how it was used and how it may have affected the ale, but I just settled with another great ale from this company and another one I would definitely recommend. The whole set from this brewery was really good. It's a shame I didn't discover them earlier.



The Harmon Brewing Company

I don't know why I have never been here before. About 10 years ago I was in a class with someone connected to the brewery... granted I was 15 and not into good beer at the time... or alcohol at all... ~cough cough~ but hey, it just never peaked my interest until now.

The Harmon is a 15 barrel microbrewery and restaurant. Here is a little bit of info about the company.
The Harmon Brewing Co, est. 1997, is located in the heart of downtown Tacoma and the beautiful historic warehouse district. The Harmon name comes from the building itself - The Harmon Manufacturing Bldg, built in 1908 for F.S. Harmon - once the largest furniture manufacturer this side of the Mississippi. Our restaurant/brewery is the anchor tenant in what is the tallest post and beam structure in Tacoma. Beer and food always tastes better in rustic buildings like the Harmon - which boasts solid posts 3' square and original fir floors! It's truly one of a kind.

One thing I liked about the brewery is that all of the beers were named after landmarks of my childhood... and that they brought me my flight on a ski. That was pretty awesome... I guess that is what made The Harmon part of the Tacoma scene though. These beers were pretty decent overall but nothing really stood out as too special to me. One of the highlights of the night is that it was bottomless fish and chips night, but they "ran out" before we got there. Great planning, HAH!

The first beer was the Mt. Takhoma Blonde Ale. For a blonde, I would say it was well done. This is a hard style to put together but it seems I have been liking many of them recently. Makes me think I should brew one. The nose has a nice clean, lemony, citrus scent. My first impression when I tasted it was that it tasted somewhat like tea... I thought this was a weird response but I just went with it. It worked. The herbal hops help to make this combination work and it had a very dry finish.

Moving on to the Pinnacle Peak Pale Ale, it had a fairly light nose that was really floral. This was more of what a pale ale should be like in my opinion. I mean, a lot of breweries make good ones but it had a full but mellow hop flavor that was very tropical in a way. Being a brewery from the PNW, that is kind of funny in its own but it worked. A very nice pale ale.

Brown's Point ESB was one beer I was really looking forward to being I am a Fuggle head. Fuggles are some of the best hops. Especially best for bitters. Brown's Point was nice and earthy with a soft, but biting bitterness. The Puget Sound Porter was very roasty, chocolatey, and had a tad overpowering malt bitterness. It wasn't to bad but it was a major distractor. Both of these beers were GABF winners of past years so there has to be something to them.

The last beer in my flight was the Point Defiance IPA. This one definitely brought back memories. I used to work at the Point Defiance Zoo at one point in my life and there was always so much to do down there with friends. I remember once we road a golf cart around... maybe we won't tell that story... The nose was strong, sweet, and fruity. The bitterness was surprisingly low I thought for the style. I'm not talking about how everyone is trying to do the next biggest thing, it just seemed that some of the other beers here, like the pale, were more bitter. Again, nothing really got to me but it was nice to have a taste of home if you will.