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Quenching That Post Bike Ride Thirst

May 6, 2012

Kulshan BrewingAfter a nice 20 mile ride my thirst was in full swing and the weather was amazing, so I headed up to Bellingham’s new Kulshan Brewing Company.  Unlike many breweries in Washington, this is located right in town and near residential areas making it an easy walk for most. The brewery has a nice cozy feel with several tables and a six seat bar.  I cozied up to the bar and ordered the sampler tray.  The samples came in small jam jars.  While being kitschy, the wide mouth jars provide a good nose for the tasting experience.  The beers were excellent, the brown porter was amazing, the Russian imperial stout was warm and silky, and the CDA …I still taste it.  Dark, malty, hoppy, the best CDA I have had yet. The locals told me that their IPA was amazing, but due to overwhelming demand, it was out for another week. Outside was a Hawaiian BBQ truck, BBQ with a Hawaiian twist.  I ordered the grilled Hawaiian chicken. It was very tasty.   They currently have two trucks that rotate, check out their website to see what the current offering is.

Next stop was Elizabeth Station.  Elizabeth is a new bottle shopped that opened up in early April.  Entering was a very cozy feel, with dimmed lighting and warm wood tones throughout.  The offered a very nice beer selection organized by brewery and a good spread of beers from the Northwest and abroad. They also have a very nice wine selection (could not tell you more about the wine, I am just not a fan). I ordered a Cascade Saison de Maison at the long wood standup bar.  As I was quenching the amazing Saison, I chatted with locals and noticed they offered small food offerings (sammies and snacks) and French press coffee.  This is by far, the best bottle shop I have been to. Some may offer more beers, but this had the best vibe.   Before leaving I bought a Pelican Doryman Dark Ale and IPA, a Dales Deviant IPA, and an Anchor Liberty.

Since the weather was absolutely wonderful, I had to make a quick stop at Skookum Brewing in Arlington.  They are only open from 2-5 and it so happened to fit in my window.  Skookum is really like no other. The cross section of people was amazing; car enthusiasts, bikers, beer geeks, and locals. Oh, lots of animals too: horses, horse drawn carts, dogs, and ponies.  I ordered a brown and hairy.  B/H is a nice low alcohol nut brown ale that is very quaffable.  If you have not had a chance to visit and the weather is nice, get there soon!



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2nd Annual Base Camp Winter Ale Fest – March 3rd

January 21, 2012

The snow and ice may be gone, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop enjoying great winter beers.  One way to continue is to attend the Base Camp Winter Ale Fest on March 3rd. This second annual event benefits Summit Academy, an independent school that uses a field based approach for intensive study in the environment arts sciences and community.

Last year more than 300 people attended and enjoyed great beers from Skookum, Anacortes Brewery, Chuckanut, Boundary Bay, North Sound  to a name a few.  This year they move to the Skagit County Fairgrounds and look to have another impressive Washington Brewery lineup. There will also be live music, local brats, and oysters on the half shell. Not sure if we’ll be going, but it sure sounds enticing.

The Breweries
Chuckanut Brewery
Anacortes Brewery
North Sound Brewing Company
Diamond Knot
Boundary Bay
Skagit River
Lazy Boy

The Details
Date: Saturday, March 3, 2012
Time:  5-11 p.m.
Where: Skagit County Fairgrounds
Cost: $30 thru February 28th, $40 thereafter (Includes six, 6-ounce tasting tickets, a commemorative tasting glass and guide)



FTC INFO: This is not a paid advertisement.

A Day Beer Trip to Kitsap County, by Shaqfeasel

January 12, 2012

Der Blokken

I did a little trip over to Kitsap to visit a few breweries.  First stop was in Bremerton to visit Der Blokken Brewing.  Der Blokken is a brewpub tucked away in a sleepy neighborhood.  I am always fond of breweries that can find a spot in a neighborhood as I believe they add value and charm.  The pub has a real cozy feeling with dark wood floors, a small 8 seat bar, and several tables.  In the middle of the dining area there are two 7BBL fermenters.

I bellied up to the bar and ordered a sampler tray and a Kip and Fritz (a chicken strip with fries cheese and stout gravy). As I started on sampler one, texting notes, and snapping pictures a fellow sat down next to me and asked me about the beers. He introduced himself as the brewer and proceeded to check my beers.  I was the first patron of the day and he stated his beer lines were long and wanted to make sure I got good samples. He ended up re-pouring most of them to ensure I had a fresh sample.  I asked a barrage of geeky beer questions about his brewery and he obliged with very candid and informative answers.  The beers were all very good but his black and double black Ales stood out.  I am not sure they fit in a category of stout or porter, but I have never cared about that anyway.  My food was very good and I could have ordered a glass of the stout gravy.

A mile away was the new Silver City Brewing production brewery that opened in late 2010. They are currently in the process of building a tasting room; for now they are only selling swag and 22 oz bottles.  I told the gal that I was from Snohomish and she gave me a nice tour of the facility.  Multiple 4BBL fermenters and a massive 80BBL fermenter dominate the warehouse.  The brewery is also is working on barrel aging beers and have several barrels aging some tasty goodness.  The new tap room should be ready in the Spring of 2012.

Sound Brewery

A short drive up to Poulsbo took me to Sound Brewery, a small warehouse facility with a quaint little tasting room. It housed a small bar and about 4-5 tables with a LCD screen playing the football game.  Sound brewing is focused on making beers as authentic as possible, sourcing ingredients to make them true to style.  European Hops, sugars from Belgium, Marris Otter grain are some of the examples.  I ordered a sampler tray and I was truly amazed.  Never been one to jump on the Belgian bandwagon, but I will be keeping an eye out for their 22oz bottles and taps.  Of course not all their beers are Belgian style as their IPA is wonderful.

Slippery Pig

Just a short 5 minute drive away was Slippery Pig Brewing.  Follow the signs down a long gravel road and find a parking spot.  Take a peek at the Pigs and dodge the chickens to the outdoor shelter of Slippery Pig.  The beers here are not mainstream (the website promotes a 200IBU rhubarb IPA).  It is a homebrewer gone mad and living the dream.  The shelter has 4 or so picnic tables and several outdoor heaters to take off the chill.  I ordered a small sample tray.  Standouts were a Cascadian Dark ale (nothing shocking here) and a Doug Fir IPA.  Yes, Douglas Fir, and I liked it.  Brewers like the taste of a Simcoe Hopped IPA because of the hints of Pine, so why fake it? Why not add the resins of a Doug Fir? I say it worked, and I would order it again.

Slippery Pig

Hopefully in the summer, I can make a trip back to this area and also visit Valholl Brewing. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to the Westside…

By Shaqfeasel

The 2011 Beer Count

January 8, 2012

If you followed Good Beer Trips on Facebook and Twitter in 2011 you probably noticed all the #beer #number posts. What was that about?  It was obvious was that I was counting beer, but what counted as one and what was my goal?

The Rules
One beer equaled any beer I drank between ten and twenty-two ounces.  This included any beer from a schooner to a bomber, but excluded any samples or tasters. Another rule I had was that there were only four beers in a growler.

The Goal
Until December I really didn’t have a goal.  I never planned on doing the count in the first place.  It started as a simple New Year post of the first beer I drank, and then took on life of its own. When I realized I was going to end up in the 700’s for the year; being a good Washington State native I knew I had to land on a 7×7 number. It would be too easy to get to 747;  I didn’t think I could deliver on 787;  757 and 767 weren’t too exciting; so thanks to Kendall’s (Washington Beer Blog) recommendation I settled on 777.  The idea was to end on Scuttlebutt Brewing’s 777, but when I was unable obtain a bottle, I decided to end where I started, but a year later. Beer #1 was Firestone Walker XIV Anniversary Ale and beer #777 was Firestone Walker XV Anniversary Ale.

The Support
Over the year I was encouraged by friends to keep up with the count.  Early on and throughout the year, it was Chris (@SocialRetard) who convinced me to keep going. Up in Canada, Bob was helping my keeping track of my beer per night average.  At work, it was Ron (@shaqfeasel) who helped me select milestone beers. Most of all it was my wonderful wife, Cindy (LuschC or @torkwench), who was very patient as I rudely posted as she sat waiting. I know it was annoying.

The Spreadsheet
In May, it finally dawned on me that I should create a spreadsheet to actually keep track of the beer.  Up until then, I had only been posting them to Facebook/Twitter.  I don’t know what took me so long, I love spreadsheets.  It was a pain, but I went back through and documented each. I found a few errors, and true upped the count. I then went a few months before updating it a second time.  You would have thought I would have learned, and had to true up again.  The second time, I went back and added additional information like the State/Country it was from and the style of beer.  After this I rarely went more than a week without updating the list, and became intrigued by the information I was gathering.

The Outcome
I drank a lot of beer, 777 in fact, averaging 2.13 per day.  This doesn’t even count the tasters at the four beer festivals I went too (Kona Brewers Festival, Bremerton Beer Fest, GABF, & Hop Scotch in Vancouver, BC) or samples at any of the breweries we visited.   Without further ado, here are the number I collected. (See the complete list)

 Beer by Type










Comments: Over 94% Craft Beer, need I say more?

Beer by Country


































Comments: I drank American! Over 92% of the beer I drank was made in the USA.  A trip to Whistler and the availability of Howe Sound in Seattle boosted Canada.  Eating at Mexican restaurants help explain Mexico.  Beer is not one of China’s better imports.

Beer by State (15 Total)



















New York












Comments:  I kept it local and drank a heck of a lot of beer from Washington.  Throw in Oregon’s fine beer and 66% of the beer I drank came from Cascadia!  Even with a trip to Hawaii and Colorado, they still couldn’t beat out California.

Beer by Style (63 Total)




Pale Ale



Winter Warmer



Brown Ale






Amber Ale






Dark Lager









Comments: Am I a hop head? I drank a lot of IPA’s, but just think how many Winter Warmers I could have had if they were available year round. For the most part, I’m a fairly well rounded beer drinker.

Beer by Brewing Company (152 Total)

Elliott Bay



Full Sail









Big Al Brewing






Fremont Brewing












Widmer Brothers



Comments: My local brewpub Elliott Bay Brewing Company with their two locations (soon to be three) just edged out the mighty Full Sail, who very narrowly edged the Seattle staple Georgetown. Two of the top five are within walking distance (Elliott Bay West Seattle and Big Al’s).  My idea of cost cutting is Trader Joe’s Josephsbrau line.  Beer from 152 breweries, that is not too shabby.

Top Beer (430 Total)

Session Black (Full Sail)


Bob’s Brown Ale (Georgetown Brewing)


Shlafly Pale Ale


Jubelale (Deschutes)


Black Toad Dark Ale (Josephsbrau)


Odin’s Gift Ruby Ale (Odin Brewing)


Manny’s Pale Ale (Georgetown Brewing)


Redhook ESB


Elliott Bay Noale


Ninkasi IPA


Session Fest (Full Sail)


Comments:  Wow, 430 different beers, pretty crazy. My go to beer, Session Black, rocketed to a clear victory in the race for the top beer drank.  I just like its dark malty flavor in a lighter bodied form factor. Georgetown’s Bob’s Brown Ale may only be around for a few weeks a year, but I got as much as I could.  How the heck did Shlafly Pale Ale sneak in there? I was held captive for a week in St Louis and this was the best beer that was available, not that I minded.  Three winter beers in the top eleven, what can I say, I like the winter beers.  Black Toad is really pretty good, try it, you might like it too.

2012 Plan
I had a good time tracking and posting each beer in 2011; however it did wear on me at times.  For 2011 I’m going to post every new beer I try, including samples, but not track them publically.  I’ll track them behind the scenes and see where I end up. Ron (@shaqfesael) already threw in his guess of 250, what is yours?  I’ll let you know in a year. #NewBeer


Just a few of the many photos

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An Afternoon in Longmont and a Boulder Beer Hike

December 4, 2011

After nearly two months, here is part two (of three) of our GABF trip to Colorado.  Enjoy!

It would have been more difficult to leave Fort Collins if I hadn’t known what was coming, two nights in Boulder followed by three nights in Denver for the GABF.  The appetizer for all this was a transfer day stop in Longmont for lunch at the Pumphouse and then a sampler set at Left Hand Brewing.

Pumphouse in Longmont, CO

Pumphouse Brewery and Restaurant
Located in the heart of downtown in a historical building the Pumphouse has been serving up food, fun and beer since it opened in 1996.  The outdoor patio was packed for a weekday lunch rush, so we ventured into the pub. You would think you were sitting in a former fire station; however it is just a theme that has been done really well.   The brewery is impossible to miss sitting behind the bar with the 10 barrel fermentation tanks hovering above.

We didn’t mess around and ordered our lunch and a couple of draughts.  It was Tuesday and “Guy’s Day”, so my pint of Hot Shots Harvest Ale was only $2.50. LushC was bummed and had to pay full price for her 4-Alarm Copper.  The 4-Alarm Copper is their take on a German Altbier, and as advertised had a bready malt and a mild floral hoppy finish. Hot Shots is their seasonal fresh hopped amber that finishes with a big wet floral hop finish.   Both beers were very quaffable and the salads were fresh and agreeable.

Self Portrait at Left Hand Brewing

Left Hand Brewing
We checked out a few of the shops in town, and then began our next trek. After a navigation gaff that took us under and overpass and across railroad tracks we made it to a trail that took us right to Left Hand Brewing. Of all the breweries we visited on this trip I was most excited to go to this one, and I was not disappointed.  The operation was much larger than I expected, and although we didn’t take a tour they have one online that is very entertaining.  If I had my guess, they are located in a former lumber mill, and the tasting room showed it with a bountiful of exposed wood that made it feel very cozy.  The crowd was sparse when we arrived, but not long after it really picked up with locals, out of town brewers, and beer geeks like us filling the bar stools and tables.  It was GABF week after all, and as I heard one bartender say this was the busiest week of their year.

Surprise, surprise we started off with a sampler tray of eight beers of our choice.  We selected Polestar Pilsner, Sawtooth American ESB, Good JuJu Ginger Pale, Stanger American Pale Ale, 400lb Monkey, English Style IPA, Milk Stout (Nitro), Fade to Black v.3 Pepper Porter, and Wake Up Dead Stout (Nitro). It’s impossible to say anything bad about our selections, as each was a good as expected. I did most of the sampling since LushC was driving. It was no shock that the Milk Stout was our favorite; so smooth with robust flavors of roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, and a wee bit of cream. Good Juju was very interesting; light, crisp, and refreshing with a spicy ginger kick. Earlier in the year I was very fond of Fade to Black v.2 Smoked Baltic Porter and v.3 Pepper Porter was equally as impressive replacing the smokiness with a touch of chili pepper reminding me of Mexican Chocolate.

LushC finished with a glass of the Peotch, a collaboration beer with Terrapin Brewing in Athens, Georgia. Did it ever have a big peach smell and taste, though it remained crisp, and dry, and not too sweet. Needing a little pick me up, I went with the Beer Week Sauce Coffee Porter. Wow, what a great coffee aroma, robust coffee taste, and smooth to the last drop.

Upon leaving we split a Grilled Cheese Sandwich from the Salt Box Food Truck outside before venturing on to Boulder.

We splurged a bit and stayed at the historic Hotel Boulderado, a quaint hotel that was very comfortable, clean, and friendly.  It was perfectly located in the heart of downtown too.  That evening we took a break from beer and went to Tahona Tequila Bistro for south of the border inspired cuisine and some fermented, distilled, and aged agave nectar.

Mountain Sun - Boulder, CO

Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery
In the morning we prepared for our day with a brisk warm up walk on the Boulder Canyon Trail.  We made it a few miles before we started to get thirsty, and turned around, making a brief stop at the hotel before blasting off on our Boulder Urban Beer Hike. The first stop on our excursion was Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery, the only independent brewpub in downtown Boulder.  For those from the Northwest, Mountain Sun kind of reminds me of a McMenamins with lots of quirky art. They have a real community feel, and a fresh local menu.

Planning to return later (though we didn’t ) we just stopped for a quick bite and a pint.  My BLT was as expected, and heck if I remember what LushC had.  I do know that to quench our thirst LushC went with a Colorado Kind Ale (nitro) and I went with an Illusion Dweller IPA (nitro). The Kind Ale was a bit sweeter, the IPA was a bit hoppier, but they were both smooth and well balanced.

Boulder Beer - Boulder, CO

Boulder Beer
The next stop on our UBH was Boulder Beer, roughly two miles away.  I hadn’t done my research and was surprised they had a pub and not just a taproom.   We could have eaten here, but I was content with the choice to eat at Mountain Sun.   The pub is broken up in to three sections: a dining area with large glass windows looking into the beautiful copper top mash tun and brew kettle, the bar side with window views of the fermentation tanks and bottling line, and a large outdoor beer garden.

The place was packed so we grabbed the first table we saw on the bar side. When our server got to us we asked for a couple of waters and a sampler tray.  Not long after we were presented with the mother of all taster trays.  It was a good thing we were walking, because we would be sampling fourteen of their beers: Fresh Tracks Fresh Hop Copper, Killer Penguin Barley Wine (Barrel aged), Saison (Noir aged), Kolsch, Mojo IPA (Nitro), Mojo IPA, Fresh Tracks (Cask), Buffalo Gold, Single Track Copper, Sweaty Betty Blonde, Hazed and Confused, Hoopla Pale, Flashback India Brown Ale, & Planet Porter.

With that many samples it’s tough to really judge them all. That said I really enjoyed the subtle tartness, hints of cherry, and flowery hops in the Saison and the easy drinking sessionable Single Track. For favorites LushC’s choose the well balanced, mild hopped Fresh Tracks whereas I went with the light bodied Flashback India Brown Ale that had a nice toasted toffee flavor and an exploding hop finish.

Redstone Meadery
We survived Boulder Beer and continued on our way.  It just so happened that our way took us right by Redstone Meadery. LushC likes mead, plus I like mead, plus they had a tasting room, seemed like an easy equation.  It was a pleasant stop. We tried many samples, took a peak at the Meadery (it was smaller than I thought), bought some mead filled chocolates and were soon back on the beer trail.

A glass of Avery magic

Avery Brewing Company
Okay, we planned on visiting the Roundhouse Distillery next, but they were closed, which was probably good for us.  Our final stop of the evening was at Avery Brewing. Wow, have they grown since we were there in 2007. The tasting room has doubled in size, and is no longer just a few tables in a warehouse front office.  Sure, it is still located in an industrial warehouse district, but it now has a Bavarian Tavern feel.

Outside they have a nice patio area, where we enjoyed the warm Colorado evening.  We shared our table with recent college grad from California who was on a multi-state/country motorcycle camping trip.  It was fun hearing stories of his trip, if I could only remember some of them.

Being resourceful, Avery has teamed up with the caterer across the parking lot, Savory Cuisines, to provide delicious eats to go with their amazing beer. We were a bit peckish, so we ordered the Sweet Potato Tots smothered with Pork Green Chili and Cheese.  It was oh so good!

With over twenty beers to choose from, it was pretty difficult deciding what to order.  We were past the point of wanting a sampler, so we went with beers you’d likely only see at the brewery.   LushC selected the Eremita Strong Sour Ale aged in Cabernet  and Zinfandel  barrels. I threw caution at the wind and started with the Bad Karma Belgian-Style pale ale aged in Cabernet barrels.  I followed it up with the Freckles Saison, brewed with rosehips, cherries and orange peel. All three were very good.

As with all beer hikes this one had to come to an end at some point, and that time was here. We settled up the tab, and hit the Boulder trail. After a seven mile beer hike, and a decent amount of beer and mead, we slept well.

In the morning, feeling good, we packed up and headed to Denver, and the Great American Beer Festival. (After some well-deserved massages at Marianna’s L’Esthetique Day Spa & Salon)

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 -To be continued –

FTC InfoNothing was received for the writing of this post. Nothing. That is why it took over two months to get posted.

Fort Collins – My Kind of Beer Town (GABF Good Beer Trip part 1)

October 9, 2011

We’ve returned from our latest Good Beer Trip to Colorado and the 2011 Great American Beer Festival.  In typical Good Beer Trips fashion we didn’t want to rush things, so we decided to fly in the weekend before and stay a few nights in Fort Collins and Boulder before settling into Denver for the big event. Nine nights, seventeen breweries, two sessions at the GABF, and copious amounts of beer later our bellies are full, we are exhausted, and we are happy.

Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids and Solids

Oskar Blues
We went straight from the airport to Oskar Blues Home Made Liquid and Solids for lunch and then to Oskar Blues Tasty Weasel Taproom and Brewery, because we just happened to drive by it. If you’re hungry and looking for good food then you should definitely go to the first, but if you just looking for beer I’d go to the second.  Both served the Oskar Blues beers that have made beer in the can cool again plus some not available in the aluminum to-go container.  The standouts were the award winning Mama’s Little Pils on nitro, Home Grown Hops (HGH) Strong Ale, and the Oaked Ten Fidy. Others tried were: Little Half Squat English Mild, G’Night (fka Gordon’s) and Old Chub & Dale’s Pale.

With a lot of will can power, we managed to leave the Tasty Weasel and make it to our condo in Fort Collins.  Once again VRBO did not let us down.  It was only a studio, but it was well laid out and plenty big for us, had a great patio, and was perfectly located in the heart of downtown.  There were eight breweries within two miles, and two within a block. Truly my kind of town!

Coopersmith's Brewpub

Coopersmith’s Brewpub
After freshening up, we were ready for dinner. Our destination was downtown’s Brewpub, Coopersmith’s.  It was Friday night and happening; the Pubside and Poolside were both packed.  We found a table on the latter side, ordered a pizza and a couple of pints. The Ry PA and Albert Damn Bitter were both very respectable, though a little sweet. LuschC doesn’t know what I’m talking about, as she liked the Bitter. Later in the week we returned a second time and I was much more impressed with the malty and big floral hopped Hand Pulled Punjabi Pale Ale (Handjabi) and the light bodied toasted caramel Not Brown Ale.

 New Belgium Brewing
The following day we ventured off on the first of many Urban Beer Hikes (UBH) on the trip.  Not wanting to over exert ourselves as we got accustomed to the higher elevation we kept it to a respectable 5 miles or so.  Months earlier I booked a tour at New Belgium our first brewery of the hike. Say what you will about them, but their brewery grounds were amazing, the tour was incredible, and I still like their beer. You start of getting a token for a sample (I had the Belgo IPA) before/after the tour and then on the tour getting five more samples (Abbey, Ken’s Hefe, Mothership Wit, Fat Tire, & La Folie) as you peruse the facility learning about the brewing process and the history of the company. Our tour guide and New Belgium Blogger, Michael, kept it lively and interesting; clearly showing that he loved his job and company. My favorite part was sampling La Folie amongst their massive oak barrels. The tour culminates with the option of going down the (adult size) brewery slide. Be careful, it’s not as easy as you remember and you may get burns on bare skin. (Just ask LushC)

Taster tray at Gravity Ten Twenty at Fort Collins Brewery

Fort Collins Brewing
Up next was Gravity Ten Twenty in the Fort Collins Brewery (FCB) for lunch. It has a colorful industrial feel surrounded on two sides by window that look into the heart of the brewery.  Of the few places we ate in Ft Collins they had the best food. The burger was awesome, and the Beef Wellington I had on our second visit was delightful.  LushC’s salads were fresh and interesting.  Make sure you ask for the bread and Stout Honey Butter, ooh-la-la, so amazing!  The service was also great, and our bartender, Danny, was the best we had on our whole trip, pulling us extra FREE tasters, including a couple tastes of local Whiskey and Gin.

In our two visits to FCB we tried twelve of their house brews. (Haus Brew Cream Ale, Major Tom’s Pomegranate Wheat, Rocky Mountain IPA, Kidd Lager, Z Lager, Chocolate Stout, 1900 Amber Lager, Red Hot Chili Porter, For Love of Peach, Common Ground, Dopplebock, Incredible Hop)  Our favorite by far was the Common Ground Amber ale infused with coffee locally roasted by Jackie’s Java. Much lighter than most coffee beers, it was smooth and very easy to drink with a subtle coffee and vanilla flavor.  Minus the lemon zest it reminded us of Giddy Up, one our favorite New Belgium beers. The Z Lager Smoked Amber Lager (Rauchbier) was also very good; clean and crisp with a nice smoky but not too smoky flavor.  Be very aware of the Incredible Hop Imperial India Wheat Ale that drinks like a session beer, but is 9%ABV. It has a ton of floral and piney hop flavor, with a touch of honey, and is very smooth.

Before leaving FCB, we took a peak in the Taproom. Smaller than the restaurant, it had a good vibe, and seemed like a great place if you only want to have a few beers or go on a brewery tour. Unfortunately, we never made it back to see for ourselves.

Odell Taster Tray

Odell Brewing
We left FCB and walked the two blocks to the Odell Brewing Taproom.  It was Saturday and they were celebrating the release of their Barrel Aged Stout with a band and food trucks in their parking lot; it was packed with a line about out the door to get a beer.  We waited in line, ordered a classic sampler and then found a table outside on the patio. The classic has their entire regular lineup of beers.  (Easy Street Wheat, Levity Amber, 5 Barrel Pale, 90 Schilling Ale, IPA, Cutthroat Porter)  Our favorites were the smooth and well balanced 90 Schilling Scottish Pale and the citrusy hoped IPA that had a hop explosion in the end.  In addition, the medium bodied robust Cutthroat Porter was to our liking.  By now we were really feeling the altitude, heat, and alcohol, and needed to rest. We left, with a growler, heading back to our condo.

On Monday we did our second Ft Collins UBH. We returned to Odell which was not as hectic which allowed us time to get a better look around.  You enter to a long, narrow taproom with a sky-lit vaulted ceiling and lots of wood. You order your beer at the front, and then you go to the end of the bar to pick it up.  They have a pretty efficient system. We used the coupon from the Ft Collins savings book that you can pick up at the downtown Visitor Center to order our FREE Pilot Sample that included a few of their seasonal and specialty beers. (Bird Seed Blonde, Pro-Am Dortmunder, Nitro 5 Barrel Pale, Town Pump Pail Ale, Myrcenary Double IPA, & Nitro Cutthroat Porter) The Bird Seed was interesting as it was made with 35% Millet, but had a fennel finish that just didn’t do it for me.  The crisp, refreshing, bitter hopped Dortmunder and the light malted, whole floral hopped, sessionable Town Pump were my favorites.  After tasting the sweet, citrusy hopped, 9.8%  Myrcenary LushC said, “Watch out for the Myrcenary who goes for blood”.  Before leaving, I had to try their Imperial Stout that had been aged in Woodford Reserve Barrels. Wow! It was muy fuerte; very sweet, robust malt, with tastes of oak, vanilla and alcohol. Good, but not the beer I needed at the moment since we had two more stop.

Pateros Creek Brewery (Oktoberfest Celebration)

Pateros Creek Brewery
Back to our first UBH, after resting a bit back at the condo we ventured out to walk around downtown. We checked out a few shops and then the sound of live music lured us to the entrance of the Pateros Creek Brewery  (PCBC) Oktoberfest.  We didn’t really need any more beer at his point, but I couldn’t resist a parking lot party at Ft Collins’ youngest brewery. (3½ months old) There was a blues/soul band playing, sausages grilling, games, and beer.  We checked out the outside and then ventured inside. It was a small tasting room, but they did a nice job, giving it a rustic ambiance, with river rock, wood, and a cool faux barn hay door on the wall.  Needless to say, they were very busy, but still took time to tell us about their beers.  LushC ended up ordering the Car 21 Best Bitter (which I ended up drinking a lot of), and I got the seasonal Pumpkin Ale.  I was past taking notes but according to my Facebook/Twitter posts I liked them, “Pateros Creek Pumpkin Ale… pretty darn good for being open only 3.5 months” and “The Car 21 ESB is also pretty tasty @ Pateros Creek Brewing”. We fully intended to return and try more of their beer, but we failed miserably.

Equinox Beer Garden

Equinox Brewing
The following day after looking a bit out of place walking on the bike trails of Ft Collins, we returned for our second visit to Coopersmith’s for lunch, and then went a quarter of a block away to Equinox Brewing.  We tried to go to Equinox first, but they only have snacks, and we were pretty famished.  Another small taproom, it was nicely decorated with an old world charm.  They have a decent size bar, and several tables on the two sides of the store front.  The gem was the Beer Garden in the back; shady, with plenty of tables to enjoy the fine beers that Equinox brewed just inside. We started out with their standard sampler. (Autumnal Alt, Haver Scottish, Eclipse Brown, Galaxy IPA, Remis Saison IPA, & Jonas Porter) The malty, well balanced Autumnal Alt; the clean malt backbone and citrusy hopped Galaxy IPA; and the rich, robust, bitter sweet chocolate and coffee Jonas Porter were our favorites. Luckily we struck up a conversation with the table next to us, who gave us a lot of tips for the area.  We had planned to go on a hike in the mountains the following day that would have had us in the car most of the day.  But they recommended a local hike, Horsetooth Mountain, that would be better, and only a short twenty minute drive away.  Thank you!

We returned to Equinox the following night as the fourth and final stop on our second Ft Collins UBH.  I had a KBB Bitter on cask that I know I liked, but I neglected to take notes.

Horsetooth Mt .

The hike to the top of Horsetooth Mountain was pleasant.  The well groomed trail gained about 1400 feet of elevation in its 2.5 miles through the foothills.  Along the way we saw what we think was a bear and her cub on the ridge opposite us. (After getting a second glance on the way down and after looking at the photos, I believe I was mistaken)  The last 20 ft. you had to climb up the rocks to get to the top where you are greeted with a 360 degree view of the Front Range, Ft Collins, the Rocky Mountains and , and north all the way to Wyoming. I think I even saw Russia.  It was well worth it!


Funkwerks Brewery
The hike made lunch at FCB’s Gravity Ten Twenty that much better.  We took enough time at the condo to cleanup and then we were off on our second UBH.  We intended on checking out bikes at the Ft Collins Bike Library but they were on their fall schedule and were closed on Monday; so we took off on foot. After FCB, we went to Odell (see above), and then on to Funkwerks Brewery.  They are located nine blocks from FCB in the original home of FCB. Funkwerks fills a special niche in the Colorado beer scene brewing up farmhouse style Belgian Ales and Saisons.  They have a small taproom and beer garden in the front of the brewery.  On this night they were having a benefit for a New Belgium Brewer who had been in a bike accident.  The place was packed; filled with friends, family and what seemed like the entire brewing industry in Ft Collins. They had some interesting beers, and we both decided to try a couple of the more different ones; Hibiscus Resistance and a Key Lime Rye.   Both were interesting.  I think the corporate description will be the best way to describe them.

Key Lime Rye 5.3% ABV
For our second summer seasonal, we used a blend of both rye and barley malt then fermented using our house saison yeast. After fermentation, we added key lime juice to give off a wonderful citrus note to the aroma.

Hibiscus Resistance 7.2% ABV
We added hibiscus to our Belgian Resistance for our mid-summer seasonal! The toasty maltiness is rounded out with citrusy floral notes and tart flavor from the hibiscus, and tropical fruit characteristics from the Rakau hips.

Since we walked, we only had time for one beer if we wanted to make it to Equinox before they closed.  It was a brisk dusk walk along the Poudre Creek trail with bats flying overhead and we barely made it to Equinox.

In the morning it was time to move on to Boulder. Four nights in Ft Collins gave us a good flavor for what it has to offer, but I’m not sure it was enough time. I would really have liked to spend more time at Coopersmith’s, Odell, Fort Collins, Equinox and Pateros Creek.  It looks like we will have to return.

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-To be continued-

FTC INFO: Unless otherwise noted, nothing was received for free.

Hot on the Tracks of Good Beer in Whistler

August 10, 2011

Whistler, BC is known worldwide for its skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking and hiking; but how does it rate for beer?  We pulled the trigger on a Good Beer Trip over the Canada Day/4th of July weekend to find out for ourselves.

Howe Sound Brewing

Howe Sound Brewing

Not wanting to get stuck in pre-holiday traffic we didn’t make any stops after crossing the border until clearing Vancouver. We know we passed up a lot of good beer in doing so, but the push was worth it.  For what lies in Squamish, BC is a treat that no trip to Whistler would be complete without; a visit to Howe Sound Brewing.   In the year since our indoctrination to this fine Brewery and Pub it has quickly become one of our favorites.   It doesn’t hurt that they started distributing flip-top liter bottles of their amazing beers in Washington in the past year.

Howe Sound was the same as I remembered; big, open, and comfortable.  It was late afternoon on a Thursday and to our liking not very crowded. Since we did a sampler tray last year we didn’t waste any time and each ordered sleeves. (Pints to us from the USA) The Baldwin and Cooper Best Bitter that LushC ordered was as good as we recalled.  Definitely more of a traditional British bitter with its malty and florally hop finish.    The Sounders faithful won’t be happy, but I started with a Whitecap Wheat; a refreshing light Belgian ale with a nice citrus and spice flavor.  Thinking I might get one of their new 6-pack cans to go I followed it up with the Howe Sound Lager.  It was as you’d expect a lager to be:  clean, crisp, with a bit of malt and hop flavor, and very sessionable.

We finished our fine meals, Salad for LushC and a Chicken Pizza for me, and then went to the cooler to pick out some beer to go. I was going to get the cans, until I found out how cheap their liter bottles were.  We paid just over six bucks CDN each for six of the bad boys (after a savings on 6 or more).  This has to be a first, a beer in Canada that is cheaper than you can get in the US where we pay $9.99 to $13.99.  I would have been certified crazy not to jump on this.

The drive on the Sea to Ski Highway (Hwy99) from Vancouver to Whistler is beautiful. It reminded me of a cross between the Columbia River Gorge and the North Cascades Highway.  We were more than ready to be done traveling when we reached our condo rental in Whistler Creekside, about three miles from the Whistler Village. It was just as advertised and met our expectations: comfortable, clean, well appointed, and pet friendly! Creekside which is more laid back and a lot quieter than the Village though still has everything you need in restaurants, bars, groceries and shopping.  When you want to go into the Village, it’s only 10 minute away by bus, 30 minute by bike, or a pleasant hour walk via the amazing Valley trail.  In the winter, you can even reach the Village via the Gondola and Lift system.  Yes, for you skiers there is a ski run here with a gondola. This time of year the only thing we saw on the hill was hikers and bears.  Oh yeah, bears.  We saw bears every day but the last.  LushC saw one about 100ft away one night when walking our Pekingese, Malti.  Though you still need to be smart around them, most people didn’t seem too worried about them.


Brewhouse, Whistler

The next day we made our first walk, of many, to the Village. It was Canada Day and the main shopping stroll was lined with red and white clad folks of all ages waiting for the annual parade. Canadians really do it up right in the red and white.  We zipped past all of them, knowing that this would be a good time to go the only brewpub in the Village the Brewhouse. Not surprising, the Brewhouse was like a big Ski Lodge. Being part of the Mark James Group, no expense was spared. Big timber posts rose to support the large wood beams.   A well-lit bar and dining area graced one side of the building with a darker pub on left.  We choose the pub side.  There was a large double sided rock fireplace with curved seating around the back of it. There was an upper bar area, a lower seating area, pool tables, as well as a small stage with a sofa and arm chair. Circling above was a model train on a track that went around the pub.  Looming above the bar on the mezzanine was the brewery. It was warm and comfortable.  We were surprised though when we realized that children were allowed in the pub.

Like the Yaletown Brewpub in Vancouver, the menu looked superb. LushC’s Grilled Salmon sandwich with wasabi and tempura vegetables was delicious. I made a mistake I often do, and ordered their Fish Tacos off their specials. They weren’t awful, but just not great.  I must remember to not get Mexican food that far north.

As we usually do when visiting a new Brewery we ordered a sampler tray.  I was a bit shocked to find out it was $17.25 with tax.  It included six taster glasses of their beer offerings.

Lift Lager – very light golden and slightly cloudy. Crisp and light with an initial metallic macro beer finish that was less noticeable the more you drank.

Belgian Wheat (Seasonal) – Cloudy golden with a spice and fruit aroma. It was light and citrusy with a fizzy buttery finish.  “Like drinking an orange soda while sucking on a Butter Scotch Life Saver”-LushC

Alta Lake Amber – Copper in color with a sweet and floral aroma. A bit of copper malt flavor up front with a pleasant lingering floral hop finish.  It was much hoppier than expected, especially only at 25 IBU. Was this possibly the IPA?

Big Wolf Bitter – Dark Copper with a malty start that lead to a kind of sour bitter finish. Not my favorite. Was this possibly the Amber?

Grizzly Brown – Chestnut hue with a lasting cream colored head. Extremely smooth toasted malt flavor with only a slight hop finish. Very drinkable, and enjoyable but possibly a bit too watery, judge it for yourself sometime.

5 Rings IPA – My favorite of the lot. Deep golden with the smell of British Malt and floral hops.  The malt and hops were very well balanced making it very quaffable. If I had my guess this was the Bitter?


After a full day of walking (40K+ steps) and a great evening with LushC’s coworker and wife we returned to the condo for a good night sleep.  We awoke rested and ready to go.  The sun was out and it was shaping up to be a beautiful day.  Our friends from Seattle, Sarah and Larry, were going to join us later so we planned out a day that would get us back to the condo to greet them.

We started out with a 90 minute bike ride on the Valley Trail. We then returned the bikes and set out on foot to Function Junction, about two miles the opposite direction from the Village.  Of course our destination was a brewery.

The trek to get there was something.  Looking at the trail map, I thought we could just take the Valley Trail out of Creekside and it would then cross (presumably) under the highway, to a side street that would lead us to a trail that was supposed to be difficult at first then easy the rest of the way to Function Junction. Well, when we got the highway there was no underpass, or crossing. Luckily there was a break in the traffic and we were able to run across safely. The side street jaunt was a bit longer than I expected, and the trail didn’t end up being marked. Nonetheless, we found it and very quickly realized why the beginning was marked difficult.  There was a creek about 12ft wide and over knee high deep, running extremely fast.  LushC who ventured in to check it out said it was also very cold.  We turned around and were about to head back out the highway when I noticed the adjacent railroad tracks.  That sparked the thought that we could get over the stream via the tracks.  It worked! However as we were about to scurry back down to the trail, a local family advised us that the trail would be pretty muddy.  They sort of suggested to taking the tracks. He worked for the railroad and said there were only a few trains a day. Cautiously we followed the tracks about a mile into Function Junction.

Whistler BrewingWhistler Brewing
There are a few shops, restaurants and cafés in Function Junction, but it is primarily a light industrial area where all the trades that keep Whistler running are. (Plumbers, Mechanics, Lumber yard, etc…) Nestled amongst them is Whistler Brewing.

As mentioned before, I am a big fan of breweries in industrial areas, and Whistler Brewing was not an exception.  Large garage doors on both sides gave it lots of light and double height ceilings gave it a spacious feeling.  With the front door open, a nice breeze entered on this warm sunny day. There were 10 or so seats at the bar, plenty of pub height and table height seating, and a great built-in banquette along one side. After the walk, it was just what I needed and I was relaxed!

They do offer some light pub fare and sandwiches, but this wasn’t their strong point. It was fresh and appetizing but just not exciting or great. We were hungry and needed something to absorb the beer so it didn’t last long on our plates.

Once again, we started off with a Sampler Tray.  It included seven of their beers.

Powder Mountain Lager – Clear, light golden.  Crisp with a bit of malt flavor and coppery hop finish. Very refreshing!

Grapefruit Ale – Cloudy, golden with a tinge of pink.  The fruit dominated the aroma. Crisp, with a touch of grain flavor and a big grapefruit tang finish. Very Refreshing!

Bear Paw Honey Lager – Malty and sweet with the taste of real honey that becomes more pronounced with every sip. Once again, refreshing!

Whiskey Jack –Sweet, malty with a touch of hops, and a hint of vanilla in the finish. Can you say session beer?

Black Tusk Ale – Deep mahogany tone with a smooth toasted toffee malt flavor. Lighter bodied so it drinks like a lighter beer, yet still has flavor. (LushC had to get a pint of it)

IPA – Clean, golden with a floral aroma. Very well balanced malt and hop flavor. More of a British style than the West Coast IPA’s we are used to. It is very quaffable.

Weissbier Wheat Ale – Cloudy, golden with a spicy aroma. Citrus, banana, and spice round out this summer seasonal.


After picking up a commemorative hockey puck we decided to head back.  The original plan was to bus back to Creekside, but after a caffeine fix at The Lift the decision was made to walk the tracks again.  Once we got back to the road, we followed what we thought was a trail, but it soon ended and were forced back on the tracks.  Another quarter of a mile and we finally found the Valley Trail that would take us back to Creekside. It was a bit unsettling to hear a train not too far away as we left the tracks.  We survived the adventure and made it back to the condo in time to meet up with our friends.

The four of us had a good night hitting the popular spots in Creekside (Dusty’s BBQ and Roland’s Creekside Pub).  Beer is expensive in Canada.  Thanks to advice from Shaqfeasel we got jugs (pitchers to us yanks) which are a bit cheaper.  What was interesting is that they are more interested in the type of beer than who makes it. Whenever asking what was on tap, they’d list Hefeweizen, wheat, pale, lager. You’d have to specifically ask who made it.  We ended up ordering a lot of Okanagan Springs Pale or Whistler Pale Ale.

By the end of the evening the beautiful weather had changed to rain.  When we awoke, the drizzle was still there, but we were bound and determined not to let it stop us.  We bused into the Village to find some breakfast, and then did some shopping for warmer coats. (Uhh, wasn’t it Summer?) Somehow we all made it back to the Brewhouse and split a Jug of beer.

Next on the agenda was the Peak 2 Peak Gondola. It’s a bit expensive, but worth the experience, even without the bonus performance we had. You start by taking a series of two gondolas up to the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain.  From there, you can continue up to the summit of Whistler or continue on across to Blackcomb on the longest and highest gondola in the world.  It was snowing up at the top so we just continued on.  I’m a bit afraid of heights, but the gondola ride across didn’t bother me, Sarah was a little unease though.  At its highest point we were 1430 feet above the ground.  The view was amazing (even though it was cloudy). Just past the mid-way point we got the XXXtra show I mentioned earlier. In the gondola passing us the other direction LushC noticed a young couple, who were presumably consummating their marriage (or practicing for the future event), and yelled “Oh my God, they’re  doing it!” Sarah got a glimpse and replied, “They are totally doing it” By this point they were well past us, and I (and I believe Larry) totally missed it.

We arrived at Rendezvous Lodge on Blackcomb, and looked for the bar that was mentioned in all the literature. Darn, they closed at 3:00, how lame.

At this point you can either return the way you came, or descend down to the Upper Village via chair lifts.  It was cold, but we all felt the lift would be more fun. It was the first time that LushC and I had ever been on a lift, and we enjoyed it.  At one point our chair crossed right over a bear eating grass in a field.

We walked back to Creekside just in time to meet up with Bob and Shirley, who came up from Burnaby to join us for dinner.  LushC made some appetizers and we enjoyed drinks in the condo while we all conversed. We settled on going to dinner across the street to Player’s Chophouse. They had selection of Canadian large craft (Macro?), but nothing I hadn’t already tried.  For dessert, we were introduced to the Nainaimo Bar by our Canadian friends.  They consist of a crumb-based layer, topped by a layer of custard butter icing, and then topped with chocolate.  Sweet, rich, and delicious!


The next morning LushC and I had planned a morning massage and spa day at Scandinave.  (Leaving Larry and Sarah to fend for themselves before returning home) Wow, was this place worth every penny.   Starting with 60 minute massages and then ending with Steam Baths, Saunas, and thermal pool soaks. We could have stayed there all day!

The day was completed with a bike ride to the Village for lunch with a jug of Granville Island Hefe at Black’s Pub followed by a second trip on the Peak 2 Peak (It’s only $10 more to get a 2 day pass). I recommend Black’s Pub for the huge deck and amazing view of the slopes. This time it was clear and you could see for miles. There was nothing xxxtra, but it was glorious.

Sadly, the following morning, our Good Beer Trip to Whistler was over and we packed to head home. We’ve discovered yet another great Northwest getaway with good beer and vow to return soon.

Map of Whistler Village

Map of Whistler Hiking and Biking Trails

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A trip, with Good Beer (Hood River to Portland, via White Salmon and Stevenson)

June 29, 2011

Twenty eleven hasn’t been a great year for us personally.  Writing about beer doesn’t seem to be as important, and Good Beer Trips has suffered.

That said,two weekends ago we took a bit of a trip, not a Good Beer Trip, but we still managed to find good beer.  Family events took us to Stevenson and Portland; we tagged on an additional day for ourselves and made it to Hood River and White Salmon.

Full Sail, Hood River, OR

In Hood River our first stop was Full Sail Brewing, one of our favorite spots to eat, drink beer, and watch the Columbia River action below.  After an afternoon of driving, the burger and salad we split sure hit the spot. Likewise, the beer was just what we needed. The thing I like about Full Sail (other than the amazing view) is that they always have something on tap in the pub that they don’t have in bottles. On this occasion LushC (aka @torkwench) went with the LawnBrau red lager.  It was smooth, and mildly bitter. At 6.4% ABV it was a very potent lawn beer. She mentioned that it really made her want to watch Lawn Dogs. I went with the Hop Pursuit Extra Pale which started as an unambiguous malty pale but had a snappy bitter hop finish.

After leaving Full Sail, we crossed the street and went to Double Mountain Brewery.  How many towns can claim to have two great breweries so close to each other, yet alone a third (Big Horse) only blocks away? This was our third trip here and was much better than our experience last year. For one, it was a Thursday night, and not super crowded, and secondly I wasn’t starting to get sick. We were a bit bummed we had just eaten, because we had forgotten how good their menu was. Oh well, their beer menu was just as enticing. The saucy LuschC ordered a Red Light District. It was a much bigger beer than she was expecting; very complex with flavors of caramel and honey with a twinge of sour. At 9.4% ABV it really socked it to her. In contrast, Dapper Dan was a British session style Brown Ale served on nitro. It was robust in flavor, smooth, very drinkable, and only 3.5% ABV. A good first choice if I do say so myself. I needed a little bit more to complete my night, and the Clusterf#ck Single Hop IPA sounded like it would do the trick. It lived up to its hop forward IPA billing, and to my expectations.

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From the back deck of Everybody's Brewing

The next day we crossed the river to White Salmon, for lunch at Everybody’s Brewing. It was another beautiful sunny day, and these sun deprived folks were stoked to sit outside on the back deck.  Everybody’s has quickly become one of our favorites.  The menu and the beer are both great, and the people and service push it over the edge.  We ordered wings and a salad, and we were not disappointed. Urbanbeerhiker might think the wings were a bit scrawny, but they were free range, the meat was grilled to perfection, the sauce was were spicy, and they were good.  To wash them down, LushC had a Daily Bread Common Ale, and I had a Law of Nature Pale Ale.  For dessert I had a Bro Brah Bitter ESB. (I got some chocolate for LushC).

We continued onto Stevenson.  We had some time to burn before the family fun began so we ventured to Walking Man Brewing. Last time were here the weather was crappy so we sat inside, this time, with the sun shining we took advantage of their outdoor patio seating.  We enjoyed the sun so much; I failed to take note of our beers and food.  I do remember we ordered a hummus plate, I had a Knuckle Dragger, and being happy, but that is it.

Walking the Dog at Hair of the Dog

On Saturday we had about four hours to ourselves in Portland in between family events. I was feeling a bit hung-over from the day before, and really didn’t feel too much like drinking beer, yet. (I know, kind of sacrilegious in Portland.) While waiting for LushC to check out at The Nordstrom Rack I decided to Google map breweries near us, and my feelings began change. Low and behold, Hair of the Dog Brewery was only .9 miles away and I suddenly needed a cure for my hangover. We crossed the river and quickly found the new location for this Portland institution. We walked right in, and immediately dug it. I don’t know why, but I love bars in old industrial buildings. I guess I just like that urban chic feel with large doors, lots of light, concrete and exposed wood beams.  LushC enjoyed the Bollywood style bright turquoise and Kelly green walls as well as the ornate vintage pendant lights.

We found a seat at the bar, and perused the menu for beer and food. The menu was pretty gourmet for a brewpub with choices like Pork Toast, Duck Confit, and Chuck Norris Duck Wings. We ordered the Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts, a Brewhouse Salad, the local pickled veggie plate, and a side of fresh bread. All were very fresh and very tasty.

Missing our pooches back home we both decided to Walk the Dog. (aka Sampler Tray).  It included a sherry glass of Ruth, Blue Dot, Fred and Adam.  To complete the experience we shared a sample of Cherry Adam from the Wood.


Ruth American Pale Ale – cloudy pale, well carbonated, and thin white head. Pilsner malt backbone and crisp bitter hop finish. Nice good session beer with flavor.
Blue Dot Double IPA – amber in hue with a sweet citrus aroma. Taste is sweet and hoppy but not too hoppy.
Fred Golden Strong Ale – dark golden in color with aromas of candy sugar. Starts off light but finishes with a lot of flavor. It’s like a good one night stand that knows when to leave.
Adam – chestnut color with flavors of roasted malt, chocolate and a bit if smoke; a good beer to go fishing with.
Cherry Adam – Dark drown with lots of red hues. Sour aroma mingled with the bourbon. Chocolaty with a fruit cherry and bourbon finish bordering on sour but doesn’t cross the line. “Ports naughty sister”

Unfortunately, our time at Hair of the Dog was short. The good news is we’ll be back to Portland in August and we will return.



P.S.  If you missed last year’s two part piece on our trip to the Columbia River Gorge, here they are: Part 1, Part 2.

FTC Info: Nothing was received for the writhing of this post.

Bob’s Brown Day is Here!

May 14, 2011

The day has finally come.  A day I look forward to more than Christmas.  It’s Bob’s Brown Day in Seattle!  Go out and get yourself some of this great beer that goes for a good cause.

Here is the official release from the Georgetown Brewing  Website.

“Arguably one of our most important and popular brews, Bob’s Brown Ale is brewed once a year and released every May 14th (Bob’s birthday). 100% of the proceeds from Bob’s are donated in honor of Charles “Bob” Hirsch to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western Washington and Alaska to provide a “home away from home” for Children’s Hospital patients and families. A big, chocolaty, hoppy brown brew, the only thing nutty about it are the brewers that make it. ABV 6.2% half gallon fill $12″

On May 14th Bob’s will be on tap at the following locations-

  • 74th St. Ale House
  • 9lb Hammer
  • Abbondanza Pizzeria
  • Attic Alehouse & Eatery
  • Barking Dog
  • Beaver Inn (Bellingham)
  • Bennedito’s (Spokane)
  • Beveridge Place Pub
  • Bindlestick (Snoqualmie)
  • Brown Lantern (Anacortes)
  • Buckley’s Belltown
  • Buckley’s Queen Anne
  • Bumpy’s (Puyallup)
  • Calamity Jane’s
  • Campbell House (Chelan)
  • Cedars at Dungeness (Sequim)
  • Celtic Bayou (Redmond)
  • Circa
  • College Inn
  • Columbia City Ale House
  • Coug (Pullman)
  • Deluxe Bar & Grill
  • Doc’s Marina Grill (Bainbridge)
  • Dog & Pony (Renton)
  • Duke’s Kent Station
  • Duke’s Lake Union
  • Eastside Club (Olympia)
  • Floyd’s Place
  • Flying Squirrel Pizza
  • Fred’s Rivertown (Snohomish)
  • Georgetown Liquor Co.
  • Great Nabob
  • Harbour Public House (Bainbridge)
  • Hawk’s Nest
  • Hilltop Ale House
  • Hooverville
  • Hudson (Georgetown)
  • Irishman (Everett)
  • Ivar’s Acres of Clams
  • Ivar’s Landing Mukilteo
  • Ivar’s Salmon House
  • Jabu’s Pub
  • Jack-Sons Terrace Heights (Yakima)
  • Jules Maes Saloon
  • Kate’s Pub
  • Latona Pub
  • Loretta’s Northwesterner
  • Madrona Eatery and Ale House
  • Main St. Ale House (Bothell)
  • Marco Polo
  • Meconi’s Tacoma Pub
  • Mint (Enumclaw)
  • Montlake Ale House
  • Mukiteo Lodge
  • Murphy’s Pub
  • Nickerson St. Saloon
  • Norm’s Eatery and Ale House
  • North Bend Bar & Grill
  • Old Town Ale House
  • Ozzie’s
  • Parilla Grill (Boise)
  • Parkway (Tacoma)
  • Pioneer Square Saloon
  • Porterhouse West Seattle
  • Prima Bristro (Langley)
  • Pumphouse (Bellevue)
  • Quinn’s
  • Rainier Bar & Grill (Enumclaw)
  • Red Door
  • Red Hot (Tacoma)
  • Red House (Renton)
  • Roanoke Park Place Inn
  • Roanoke Tavern (Mercer Island)
  • Salty’s at Redondo
  • Sand Point Grill
  • Shanahan’s (Vancouver)
  • Shawn O’Donnell’s (Everett)
  • Shorty’s
  • Smarty Pants
  • Sport Restaurant & Bar
  • Sportspage (Kent)
  • Sporty’s Beef ‘n Brew (Everett)
  • Stellar Pizza
  • Swinging Arm (Black Diamond)
  • Swiss (Tacoma)
  • Tides (Gig Harbor)
  • Tin Hat
  • Traveler
  • Up & Up (Bham)
  • Vintage Cellars (Walla Walla)
  • Wedgwood Ale House
  • West 5
  • Westin Hotel (Bellevue)
  • Whistle Stop (Renton)
  • Wilde Rover (Kirkland)
  • Wildfire (Port Angeles)



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The Big Island Mash – Kona Brewpub, Big Island Brewhaus, Mehana Brewing and Saving a Dog

April 9, 2011

Here is the conclusion of our recent Good Beer Trip to the Big Island of Hawai’i.  If you missed it, don’t forget to read The Big Island Mash – Lodging, a Tsunami and a Brewers Festival first.

Kona Brewery and Brewpub
This was our second time to the Kailua-Kona, and we were excited to go back to the Kona Brewery and Brewpub.  Sure they’ve become a big player in the craft beer scene since being brought into the Craft Beer Alliance, but their pub is a can’t miss for any craft beer enthusiast.  After checking into our condo it was the first place we went.  We made a second visit, and I hoped to make it thrice, but that was thwarted due to the Tsunami.

Located at the end of the Brewery Block industrial park the brewpub it is a bit of an oasis.  You can’t miss the two large Kona logo embossed grain silos, with the “Growler Shack” next to them.  They started brewing here in 1995, and now brew 2,000 barrels a years for the brewpub and distribution throughout Hawai’i.

The restaurant is mostly outdoors, taking advantage of the year round 80 degree weather.  Don’t worry; there is plenty of vegetation and umbrellas to keep it very pleasant and to protect you from the sun.  There’s also a a very happening bar indoors, that seems to always be packed.

It’s a great place for everyone (locals, visitors, families, and lovers) to come to enjoy a great meal, with great beer.  We’ve eaten here a few times and have never been disappointed. We ordered the Ka’u Pesto Pizza on the recommendation of The Big Island Revealed, along with a salad to split.  Both the Pizza and the Salad hit the spot.

For beer, they have all the standard Kona offerings that we can find in Seattle (Big Wave Golden Ale, Longboard Lager, Wailua Wheat, Firerock Pale, Pipeline Porter, and the new Koko Brown), a few more local flavors (Duke’s Blonde, Lavaman Red, Castaway IPA, Black Sand Porter, and Hula Hefeweizen), plus a few seasonal offerings (Da Grind Coffee Stout, Bourbon Aged Da Grind, Bourbon Aged IPA, and Cascadian Red Ale).  The first visit, after traveling all day, we weren’t in the mood for sampling, and heck we were planning on going back several more times so we went straight for pints; a Cascadian Red for LuschC and the Lavaman Red for me.  We both followed it up with a Bourbon Aged Da Grind Coffee Stout on nitro.

The next night we made our second trip, this time just for beer.  The place was packed, it was Thursday after all.  It looked like were going to have to stand this one out, but just after ordering, a nice gentlemen at the bar graciously made room at the bar for us.  He gave up his seat for LuschC, and he moved to his buddy’s seat that had to go take a call from his wife.  (It was clear his buddy wasn’t returning)  I had to stand but LushC got a seat.  Yipee!

LushC ordered a Cascadian Red Ale (again), and I went with the Bourbon Aged IPA.  Wow! What an amazing beer, things were surely looking up!

As I was waiting to order my second beer for the night (either a Koko Brown or another of the delicious Bourbon Coffee Stouts), our new friend at the bar, the one that gave LushC his seat got a phone call.  Up to this point all was going great.  We met a new friend, a Resort Manager and Iron Man Tri athlete, and were enjoying the great vibe and beer at the bar.  Our friend returned from his call, and broke the news.  A massive earthquake just hit Japan, and we were under a Tsunami warning.  Our first thought was no way, not again.  We were in Molokai during last year’s Tsunami after the earthquake in Chile. (Also on our first day) we reached for our phones and checked twitter, and Huffington Post confirmed the story. Great!  Not knowing what the night would bring, I chose not to get the second beer, and we headed back to our condo to prepare for the impending evacuation.

Bourbon aged Da Grind Stout

Cascadian Red – A nice session beer with a slight malt flavor and a floral hop kick in the finish. Light, but flavorful for the warm weather. So could LushC had to get another one the second night.
Lavaman Red –Hint of malt and caramel with a bit of hops at the end. Not too special but a good warm weather pallet cleansing beer.
Bourbon Aged Da Grind Coffee Stout ­– Very smooth and creamy with tastes of chocolate, coffee, and a bourbon finish. Big, but quaffable, and oh so good!
Bourbon Aged IPA – A nice IPA smoothed out with a nice vanilla oak flavor. It’s too easy to drink.

After stocking up on groceries and loading the Jeep, we fled to higher ground finding a nice dark quiet parking lot. It was 11pm by now, and we would remain here the rest of the night, sleeping in the car. We woke up the next morning and listened to radio for the “all clear” signal that would allow us to return to our condo.  We waited, and waited, found some food and coffee at the Standard Bakery in Keauhau, but the word never came.  We eventually decided to start driving, sticking to higher ground heading north towards Waimea.

Along the way, we stopped at a park looking for a bathroom.  There was only a port-a-potty, and this was good enough for me. In the parking lot there was one other vehicle.  LushC saw them let a dog out their door.  At the time she thought they were just lazy, and didn’t want to walk the dog.  When I was relieving myself, the car left, and LushC decided to walk around the park, which turned out to be a War Memorial and cemetery, to look at the view.  Low and behold, out from the trees, came the dog, the bastards left it. It was a well behaved, young Miniature Schnauzer that came right to LushC.  We got it some water, and started wondering what to do. It had a collar, but no tags, was hungry, and had burrs in its fur.  We quickly fell in love with her, and had visions of returning home with her.

I spotted a Coffee Plantation Store just below us so we decided to take her down there, thinking that if she was a local dog maybe they’d seen her before.  She jumped in the car with us, assumed her position on the center console, and we drove down the hill.  Well, they’d never seen her before, and immediately called the Humane Society, who was going to send a truck up.  We decided to wait with the little girl, so we could talk to them about adopting her if she was not claimed.  Once again we were waiting.  The longer we waited, the more attached we were getting.  It seemed like hours, but was probably only 30 minutes or so.  (We were a bit sleep deprived anyway) Eventually I lost patience and looked up the number and address.  Heck, we could see the Humane Society way down the hill.  So, we called them, told them not to send the truck, and took her in ourselves.

I had a difficult time taking her in, but still managed to do so.  They looked her over and scanned her for a microchip.  We inquired about their policy for lost dogs and adoption.  They told us they normally wait 4 days and then adopt them out, and the finders get first dibs, but because of the circumstances they’d probably wait a couple extra days.  That would work; we’d still be on the Island and could come pick her up, making plans in between for places to stay with her and how to get her home.  They did find a microchip, but it wasn’t registered.  We gave them all of our contact information telling them to please let us know either way.  As we walked by her for the last time, when she was getting petted by four or five staff members, she let out a loud short bark.  I’m not sure if she was saying thank you, good bye, or don’t leave me, but whatever she said, it broke my heart.

Any way, we didn’t get more than a mile away when we got the call, they had found her owner who was very happy and was already on the way to get her.  Even though we weren’t going to get to adopt her, this was such great news.  It was the right outcome and we knew that if one of our dogs was lost we’d want someone to do the same thing.

It was barely 10am and we couldn’t get back into our condo. We proceeded up to Waimea, a western town in a valley at 2,700 feet above sea level. When I say western, I mean the cowboy boot and hat kind.  After checking out some shops it was lunch and we decided to go look for somewhere to have picnic.  We drove through town, and had a great surprise.  We found The Big Island Brewhaus, a new brewpub that just started serving their own beer a week before.  Karma was here, and our luck was changing!

Big Island Brewhaus

Big Island Brewhaus and Tako Taco Taqueria
Being Mexican inspired the Big Island Brewhaus and Tako Taco Taqueria throws an interesting twist on the traditional brewpub. Brewer and owner Tom Kerns and his wife Jayne have created a great and unique craft beer experience.

Located on the Hawaii Belt Road you can’t miss them on the right as you enter Waimea or on the left as you are leaving. They are proud of the fact that an elevation of 2,764-feet above the sea level they are officially the “highest” brewery in Hawai’i.

They have a great bamboo wrapped patio that leads to the Hawaiian open beamed sky lit interior. The walls are colorful and inviting, giving you that island feel.  There is plenty of space at the bar, several tables, and window bar seats to choose from.

As usual, we found seats at the bar, and settled in.  On only a few hours of sleep, we probably shouldn’t have had a beer, but we are troopers, and deserved it.  We saved a dog after all.  On this day, they had two of their own beers on tap, as well as beers from Maui Brewing and Hawaii Nui.  Of course, we went with the house made beers; the Paniolo Pale for LushC and the Aloha Lager for myself.  On the board we noticed that they’d be releasing an Irish Stout on St Patrick’s Day, good thing we’d be driving back by on the 18th.

We took a look at the menu. Instead of burgers, sandwiches and pizza there were burritos, tacos, enchiladas and south of the border inspired salads. Yum!  Wanting to eat healthy, LushC opted for the Grilled Fish Salad, which she really enjoyed.  I went a little less healthy and got the Grilled Fish Taco which I relished.  The fish was fresh, grilled to perfection, topped with salsa and a little cheese and wrapped up in a soft corn tortilla.  What more can you want!

We wanted to stay for another beer, but thought better of it; paid the check, bought some swag, and headed back to our condo, hoping we would be able to get back in. We were able to, ending our tsunami evacuation adventure.

A week a later we returned the Big Island Brewhaus on our way from Hilo to Hawi, this time much better rested. The Irish Stout and Overboard IPA were now pouring, both on nitro. Oh man, they were both so smooth and easy to drink!  We were so glad we stopped.  It was so good the first time, LushC got the Grilled Fish Salad again, and I went with another good choice, the Fish Burrito.

After a couple of pints, we purchased a growler, filled it with Paniolo Pale, and headed out.  We’ll return the next time we are on the Big Island.

Big Island Aloha Lager and Paniolo Pale

Aloha LagerLight Golden in color and well carbonated. Very crisp with malt and light honey flavor.  It was wonderful, and very, very easy to drink.
Overboard IPA (nitro) – Straw colored with a thick creamy head and a sweet hoppy aroma.  Very smooth and sweet upfront followed by a floral hop finish. Bitter, but not too bitter.
Irish Stout (nitro) – Dark brown with a thick tan head and a smoked malt aroma. Smooth, robust with lots of dark malt flavor and a hint of Irish peat, think Guinness, with flavor.
Paniolo Pale – Sorry, no notes, but we liked it enough to get a growler to go.

The Sunday after the Kona Brewers Festival, we packed our bags and traveled to Hilo on the east side of the Island.   The following Monday, after playing tourists (Shopping and checking out waterfalls), we stopped by Mehana Brewing.

Mehana Brewing Company

Here’s what we learned while at the Mehana brewery. Every Mehana beer is a Hawai’i Nui beer, but not every Hawai’i Nui beer is a Mehana beer, but Hawai’i Nui beer is brewed at Mehana Brewery.  Huh?

Let’s end the confusion. Eight years ago the Mehana Brewery opened in a former Pepsi-Cola plant. Two years ago Hawai’i Nui Brewing joined forces with Mehana forming the largest independent craft brewery in Hawai’i. Now the Mehana Brewery in Hilo brews and bottles Mehana, Hawai’I Nui and Keoki (Purchased by Hawai’I Nui in 2007) beers.

Mehana is a production brewery with a small tasting room and gift shop.   You can get samples of many of their beers on tap to help with the decision on which bottles or kegs to take with you. So you can show off to all your friends that you just returned from Hawai’i, you can also get their logo ware including shirts, sweatshirts and glassware.

On the day we visited we were graciously hosted by Dannie. (Who gave us all the good intel) We each opted for a five sample round of all their beers on tap that day and included a souvenir sample glass to take with us.

Humpback Blue Golden Belgian (Mehana) – Light, crisp, and refreshing with a bit of the Belgian yeast flavor.
A.B.L.E American Strong Ale (Hawai’I Nui) – Golden in color, with a very floral hop aroma and flavor.  Got the LushC “I like it” approval.

A.B.L.E. stands for Achievement Beyond Life Experience and is a tribute beer for their friend and brewer Brit Atrim who was paralyzed in a horrible workplace accident.

Tsunami IPA (Hawai’i Nui) – The New Zealand Hops give this IPA a different flavor than West Coast and Traditional IPA’s  we are used to.  So different I couldn’t come up with a description.  It was a sweet and malty IPA and the hops really didn’t over power it.  All I can say is give it a try.
Volcano Red (Mehana) – This is flagship beer from Mehana that can be found on tap and in bottles all over the island. It is light bodied and has well-rounded malt flavor with crisp hop finish.  Better on tap than in the bottle.
Hapa Brown Ale (Hawai’i Nui) – Rich and malty goodness in a lighter form factor with a nut and chocolate finish.  Very good!

A few more days in Hilo, and then we were off to the northern end of the island (With a stop at Big Island Brewhaus on the way). We spent two more nights finishing all the beer we bought along the way.  Soon enough, our time in paradise was up, and we had to return to dark, grey and rainy Seattle Spring.  We had a great time on the Big Island, and can’t wait to return.

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