Our first day in Amstedam is over, and we found good beer. I’m sure you’re not surprised. So far, we have felt very comfortable in this great city.
It was ten minutes to noon, when the skies darkened and then five minutes later lit up with lightning. We know the signs of a potential downpour, so we backtracked to nearest beer bar in the Jordaan Neighborhood. Thankfully Proeflokaal Arendsnest just opened and we entered as the rain let loose. The cozy pub features 30 Dutch Craft Beers on tap. We felt right at home! The worst part was looking at the blackboard and deciding what to drink. Luckily they serve schooner sizes (roughly 10oz or 25cl) so you can have a few and still be able to function. To start, Cindy went with Texels Skuumkoppe (Amber Wheat), and I had Kompaan Lente Saison. Neither disappointed. For the second round Cindy tried the Nitro Extra Stout by Jopen and I had a Koningshoeven Latrappe Dubbel. The Jopen was delightful and the Dubbel was just as expected, malty with a touch of sweetness. We look forward to a return vistit to Arendsnest and possible enjoying a beer on their canal edge patio.
Hunger set in so it was time to see what a Dutch Brewpub was like. On the edge of the Red Light District, Brouwerij de Prael has been crafting beer since 2001. They have a canal facing store front selling bottles to-go and a Proeflokaal (tasting room/pub) around the corner. What a gem! It was rustic, yet modern with a Dutch misc theme. The food was good and inexpensive. The service was great. And the beer? The beer was good! We had a sampler that icluded a German Kolsch (?), their Johnny (Kolsch), Willeke (Triple Blond), and Mary (Barley Wine). All of their beers are named after famous musicians. Cindy prefered Johnny and liked Willeke best. As a nice touch the sampler included crackers and water to clense the palate. We followed the samper with the Johnny VK (Alt) and the Doe Maar (Scotch), as two Dutch Bachelor Parties joyfully faced off in the alley behind us. One bachelor was dressed as a large baby with his buddies all wearing matching yellow jerseys with their alias printed on their backs for the occasion other party dressed their bachelor as a human heart and wore Mardi Gras beads. Cheers and photos ensued. Oh what fun! One of the bartenders was kind enough to write down some suggestions of places to eat things to do that she enjoyed and encouraged us to look up the band Doe Maar on YouTube.
Before returning to the apartment we stopped by a grocery store to buy food and some beer for later. We returned with St Bernard Grottenbier, Amsterdam Brewboys Pale Ale, Maximus Highhops 6 Dry Hopped IPA, Maximus Saison 5, De Prael Nick & Simon LIPA (Lowlands IPA), and Brouwerij De Rijp Woeste Willem Hoppen Blond. I look forward to trying all of them.
The best beer of the day was a ‘t IJ Zatte that I had with dinner at Walter’s in Northeast Amsterdam. An area a away from the touristy central district that reminds me a bit like Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, BC.
I look forward to visiting the Brouwerij ‘t IJ at the base of a real wooden windmill.
Yesterday, I was alerted via social media that former high school classmate was looking for help. I clicked on the link and was compelled to see what I could do.
Last May, Stacie Parker Fretz lost her husband, Gregory Fretz, to throat cancer. Greg had been the craft beer industry since 1994 working for Pyramid and Deschutes Brewing. In 2011 he realized his dream of owning his own brewery when he co-found Phoenix Ale Brewery with George Hancock, former chairman of Pyramid Brewing in Seattle.
Sadly, when Greg died there was no life insurance and a mountain of medical bills. This has forced Stacie to file for bankruptcy in attempt start over. Now, Stacie is in jeopardy of losing her portion of the brewery, and is looking for help to keep “Fretzy” in the family.
Here is what I received from Stacie:
“Basically, it is a very small portion of the brewery that I am trying to keep…Greg and his partner started the brewery while Greg was still working for Gary Fish, from Deschutes. So, he kept his full time career…while spending any spare time he had looking at property, going over business plans, and everything else that goes into starting a new brewery. The brewery… is still growing. So basically, my shares are really not worth anything at this point. I just want my kids to be able to have what was Greg’s passion someday. After all, our flagship beer is named “Fretzy” after him! I would hate to have to tell the kids that the brewery is gone as well… At any rate, I hate that I am being kicked while I am already down. It is humiliating enough to have to file bankruptcy, and now for them to take all that we have. There is no savings, no 401k, no life insurance…just a roof over my head, and my people… The local craft brewery people have been amazing throughout the past almost 15 months. I think beer people are just good people.”
I’ve never met Greg (that I know of) , have never been to Phoenix Ale Brewery, and I really didn’t know Stacie in high school. I just love craft beer, and I hate reading stories like this. Not to get too political here; but can’t we all agree that no one should have to file bankruptcy due to medical bills?
Let’s continue to show Stacie that craft beer people are amazing. Check out her campaign at http://www.gofundme.com/cmxurw and help keep “Fretzy” in the family.
P.S. Thanks to Beer PHXation Blog for additional information to help with this post.
A few weeks ago, my Twitter feed was filled with re-tweets of USA Today’s article listing the 10 Best Craft Brew States. Many people were excited that their state made the list. I was happy that my home state, Washington, was number two, finally getting some national respect.
The problem with the article was that the list was solely based on the number of Craft Breweries per state. True that the number of craft breweries is a factor in determining the best craft beer states, but what about breweries per capita, craft beer consumption, history, and quality? It is a difficult assignment, but with some research and ground rules you could probably do a little bit better.
When articles like this are posted, I skip right to the comments to see the backlash. In this case, people from states that did not make the list chirped in to say why their state should be listed, how their state is the best and that the writer doesn’t know anything. The commentary got quite comical and a little mean. I loved the ones that said “…where is North Carolina?”, that had responses that said “north of South Carolina”.
I used to get riled up at lists like this too since I have a strong bias for the Pacific Northwest. Lucky for me, the PNW was at the forefront of the movement in the 80’s and I have not known a time when craft beer wasn’t available (At least for the 21 years I’ve been of drinking age). Call me provincial, but if Washington, Oregon, Seattle or Portland, are absent from a “Best Beer States/Cities” list, I discount it.
Lately I’ve had a change of tune. It’s just exciting to see how many states, cities, and regions are taking claim to the best craft beer. How awesome is it that that craft beer has spread across the country? People all over this great nation now have great local beer to drink, and they too are proud to support their breweries. It’s amazing! My motto is Traveling Globally, Drinking Locally. Visiting near and far away places to try the local beers, preferably fresh from the source, is my passion. It’s getting so easy to do now. I love it!
To poke a little fun, I decided to do my own listing of the best craft beer states, that is completely random. What the heck. Now everyone can complain. It’s a double random list that I prepared with the help of Random.org. I first took a list of the states, plus Washington DC, and randomized it, and then I created a 1-51 random sequence, placed them in a spreadsheet, and then sorted starting with one.
The randomness gods have spoken and here is the list. It is best enjoyed while drinking your favorite craft beer. I think a few of the states are fairly accurate, Colorado would be in my top 4, but Oregon at 45 is comical. North Dakota, who knew?
Have fun, relax, and be happy that we have so many wonderful beers to choose from in our great nation.
If you don’t already know, the State of Washington has two budget proposals on the table that will increase the excise tax on craft beer. These taxes will cause undue harm to Washington craft brewers. This Friday, April 19th, Washington craft beer lovers will converge in Olympia to urge our state politicians that they should support our local, small business, craft brewers, and not increase their taxes. I encourage you to join us.
Roger, from Georgetown Brewing, posted one of the best responses I’ve seen on the subject. Check it out here.
Here is the official press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 15, 2013
Beer Lovers Unite to Oppose Beer Tax Proposal
A Rally in Olympia on Friday to Defend the Brewing Industry
(Monday, April 15, 2013) – Seattle, WA – A group of craft beer enthusiasts, brewing industry workers, and other concerned citizens will rally in Olympia this Friday to stand united in opposition to the proposed beer tax increase. The Defend Washington Beer Rally takes place at the Capitol steps on Friday, April 19 at noon.
The goal of this Friday’s Defend Washington Beer Rally is to capture the attention of lawmakers, making it clear that real people stand in opposition to the proposed tax increase. They are not protesting the increased cost of a pint of beer; rather, they are protesting a drastic increase to the already-high tax on breweries and the potential ramifications it could have on the craft beer industry. The rally’s organizers understand the current budget crisis but feel that this tax plan is ill advised and shortsighted.
“Over the past five years, Washington’s craft beer industry has seen an explosion of growth,” says Joe Korbuszewski, one of the event’s organizers. “This has resulted in the creation of more jobs and small businesses. We feel it is irresponsible to overly tax an industry that would be devastated by such an increase, not to mention the ripple effects it would have on the local economy.”
The Legislature recently introduced a budget plan that includes an increase to the excise tax that all craft breweries pay on beer sold in Washington. In particular, the plan calls for a drastic increase in the tax rate for craft breweries producing less than 60,000 barrels per year. With the exception of Redhook, all of Washington’s nearly 200 breweries fall into this category. The tax proposal does not raise taxes on larger breweries. This Friday’s rally is a show of support for Washington’s breweries, which would be most greatly impacted by the tax increase.
“It’s one thing to tax us, the consumers, at the point of purchase; it’s another to tax small businesses that run on slim margins at the point of production,” says Korbuszewski. “We understand our state’s crisis with the budget shortfall, but we feel that this tax is simply too much.”
Kendall Jones, producer of the Washington Beer Blog, agrees. “This isn’t about my pint price. This is about impeding an industry that we should be fostering. I don’t think this proposal has been properly vetted. I say that because I do not believe our Governor and our Legislature actually want to stymie job creation. Craft beer is a growth industry, creating the best kind of jobs: manufacturing jobs. At least that’s what the local craft beer industry has been doing in recent years and is doing right now. This proposed tax increase jeopardizes all of that.”
Craft beer lovers, brewery workers, and many other people who work in pubs, bottleshops and businesses that benefit from Washington’s vibrant craft brewing industry will attend Friday’s rally in Olympia.
Let’s face the facts. I like beer, specifically craft beer. Whenever I’m on vacation I drink locally made beers and seek out where they are made. Luckily, Cindy humors me. It will be no surprise then that we spent an afternoon at the Maui Brewing Company production facility; taking their tour and enjoying some fresh Maui beer.
First off, we should get to the logistics. The production brewery is in Lahaina on Maui’s northwest side, just a few blocks off of Front Street, on the east side of the highway at 910 Honoapiilani Highway #55. (See Map) If you are looking for it, you won’t want to confuse its location with their brewpub which is 6 miles north at 4405 Honoapiilani Highway #217. (See Map) The tour costs $10 and includes a 30-45 minute education on the Maui Brewing process, a 6 sample taster tray, and a token for a free pint at the brewpub. They offer two tours on Friday’s (3pm and 4pm) and three on Saturday’s (10:30am, 11:30am, & 12:30pm). Reservations can be made by calling the Tasting Room at 808.661.6205 during normal hours.
We started off in the Hawaiian appointed tasting room which is in the warehouse facility. Behind the bar, Ann was quick to welcome us and get us all setup for the tour. We were about 15 minutes early, so Ann recommended that we start it off right with one of our two sampler trays. It was a good call! The sampler included the regulars: Bikini Blonde, Manna Wheat, the amazing Coconut Porter, and Big Swell IPA. It also included as one seasonal the Aloha B’ak’ton brewed with 40lbs of chocolate for the Mayan Apocalypse. I’m so glad zombies didn’t end the world and I got to taste this wonderful beer with roasted malted aroma and dry dark chocolate bitter finish.
We sat around and chatted with a couple from Tulsa whom I invited to write a post about Tulsa Beer, hopefully they will take me up on it. It wasn’t long before Buck led us back to show us the 25 barrel brewing facility where all of Maui Brewing’s canned and kegged beers are produced. It was the typical brewery tour, walking you from the beginning of the process from grain and hop selection, through the mash tun, the boil kettle, the fermenters (They have 9 100bbl fermenters), and on to the canning and kegging. It differentiated from other tours when talking about sustainability, Maui ingredients, and the process for getting that wonderful coconut flavor in the Coconut Porter.
The mission at Maui Brewing is to put a little bit of Maui in every beer. That’s why you’ll find Maui pineapple in their Manna Wheat, and the Coconut in their Porter. Every Maui Brewing beer is made in Maui, and they pledge to keep it that way. They do all they can to ensure quality and taste of their canned beer, no matter where it is, and tweak the recipes for the best product. Maintaining the Maui flavors on the mainland can be a challenge due to the freshness of the Aloha ingredients. Unfortunately, this means that they are only distributing in select markets in eight additional states. Fortunately, Seattle is one of those markets!
When Buck’s brilliant tour ended, we headed back to the tasting room where Awesome Ann was waiting for us with our second sampler tray. The beers all seemed to taste a little better after 40 minutes in the warm brewery. We sipped these down pretty fast and ordered up a couple of pints. After yakking with Ann for a while (and some dude from San Diego), and passing on last call, we settled up and continued on with our day.
I know when you are in Maui, the last thing you will probably want to do is go in to a warm warehouse with all sorts of machinery, and many different smells. However, if you like good beer and are even slightly interested in learning the brewing process I assure that you will enjoy the Maui Brewing tour. There is even a little liquid gold at the end.
Up next will be the brewpub. Spoiler, we’ve already been there, and highly recommend it.
I’m going to try something new today, we’ll see how well it works out. Cindy and I are at the opening of Machine House Brewing in Georgetown (Seattle, Wa), and I’m going to write a live article. My goal will be to post it before I leave. I reserve the right to come back to edit it and add photos later.
And away we go.
We were a bit challenged in finding it. It was our fault as we approached it from the Northeast of their building, back where the old Georgetown Brewing was. There were no obvious signs for the brewery, until we saw it’s number 121 on the mailbox. We found their door (actually three) and entered, through the BACK door. So we are challenged. We walked through, past the cold storage, entered the taproom, and saw the FRONT door. Lesson learned, enter from the South, diaganally from Georgetown Records.
The space is big! It looks like they have some room to grow. It’s definitely industrial, after all we are in Georgetown, and in an old brewery. It is a bit chilly too, so bring a coat and gloves. For accomodations they have a large walk up bar, a comfy sofa (which we are sitting on now), and a couple tables with keg seats.
Owners Bill, the brewer, and Alex were behind the bar meeting all the patrons at their new establishment. We had great conversations about how they met (same soccer team) and started the brewery. Bill and I talked about traditional British beers and the new movement in England where more breweries are making more American Style beers. It was really good conversation, you should have been there.
On tap today they have three beers: Mild, Gold, and a Bitter all served out of traditional British hand pump Beer Engines. The Gold is good, an English Ale with earthy malt and floral hop flavor. The Bitter, a darker amber hue, is very smooth, malty with mild hop finish. I should have started with it, with the hops from the Gold still fresh on the tongue. Moving onto the Mild, a dark roasted malt flavor bomb that is so easy to drink, is only 3.6 ABV, and tastes great. Watch out North Fork, this may be my new favorite session beer in Washington.
Okay, I’m frustrated and done, with my iPhone not Machine House Brewing. Bill and Alex are off to great start. I look forward to watching them grow.
Explore Your Craft Comes To Seattle: A Night With Widmer Brothers Beer, Draft Magazine, Gourmet Food, Music, and Art
Widmer Brothers Brewing and Draft Magazine are bringing their Explore Your Craft series to Seattle on Thursday, November 15. It is billed as an unforgettable evening of beer, food, and art. I found one writers review of a past event that that backs this up.
Official Press Release:
PORTLAND, Ore. – Nov. 8, 2012 – Explore Your Craft, a collaborative effort between Widmer Brothers
Brewing and DRAFT Magazine celebrating the art of craft beer, will be held in Seattle on Thursday, Nov.
15, and tickets are available now. The Seattle Explore Your Craft Event will feature Widmer Brothers
beers paired with food from Herban Feast, The Cheese Cellar and The Swinery, live music from Danny
Godinez, and artwork from John Osgood.
Seattle is the fifth of six cities where Explore Your Craft will be hosted this year. The final event in the
2012 series will be hosted in Boston on Monday, Dec 3.
WHAT: Highlighting the Widmer Brothers Brewing portfolio of handcrafted beers, the Seattle Explore
Your Craft event will offer a selection of small plates from Amanda Herrera, chef de cuisine for Herban
Feast, offering a unique food and beer pairing experience for attendees. The celebration will also feature
local artisans, including The Cheese Cellar and The Swinery; live musical performance by Danny
Godinez; and an urban contemporary art installment by John Osgood.
Featured beers at the Seattle event will include Falconer’s IPA from the Rotator IPA Series; SXNW,
the latest Brothers’ Reserve release; Barrel Aged Brrrbon ’12; Milk Stout; Alt; and Pacific Gem, an
experimental IPA brewed with Pacific Gem hops from New Zealand. Widmer Brothers favorites—
including Brrr Seasonal Ale, Drifter Pale Ale, Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen, Nelson Imperial IPA and Pitch
Black IPA—will also be available.
Beer and food pairing examples include:
• Sweet balsamic onion and roasted garlic jelly on crostini with brie paired with Drifter Pale Ale
• Crying tiger endive leaf spoons with spicy grilled chicken, carrots and green onions paired with
• Black and blue beef sliders served with picnic fries and paired with Pitch Black IPA
• Mole chicken tostada with black beans and fresh cabbage salad paired with SXNW Dark Ale
• Banana chocolate bread pudding bites with Brrrbon caramel sauce paired with Barrel Aged
WHO: Special guests include Rob Widmer, co-founder of Widmer Brothers Brewing
WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 15, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
WHERE: Sodo Park, 3200 1st Ave. South, Seattle 98134
COST: Admission is $45 per person. Purchase tickets online at exploreyourcraft.com.
About Widmer Brothers Brewing
What started as a dream for two ordinary brothers who just loved beer has now become a reality for two
ordinary brothers who still just love beer. Kurt and Rob Widmer helped lead the Pacific Northwest craft
beer movement in 1984 when, in their 20s, they dreamed of brewing unique interpretations of traditional
beer styles. In 1986, Widmer Brothers Brewing introduced the first American-style Hefeweizen; today,
the unfiltered cloudy beer is the company’s signature brew and one of the best-selling wheat beers in the
country. Based in Portland, Ore., the brewery currently brews a variety of beers including its Rotator IPA
Series, Drifter Pale Ale, Nelson Imperial IPA, a high-end Brothers Reserve Series and a full four seasonal
lineup. For more information about Widmer Brothers Brewing, visit www.widmerbrothers.com.