About- Hannah Carlson
When most people hear the word Minnesota, I can imagine that a few stereotypes are top of mind. Some people might imagine a frigid Antarctic-like landscape. Others may have a vision of, Scandinavian men and women, blonde and blue-eyed, dressed in floor-length jackets and Vikings gear screaming skol. Thanks to the Coen brothers and their brilliant Fargo, some might immediately hear Francis McDormand’s spot-on accent in their ears and get a vision of an unfortunate woodchipper in their minds. But when I think of Minnesota, I think of my home and my wholesome, Midwestern parents and my not-so-little bearded brother – three people who enjoy nothing more than enjoying a craft, Minnesotan brew around our fireplace.
Just like that, another year has come to close. And with this new year comes an excuse to reflect on the last twelve months. It’s a time to celebrate what we’ve learned, experienced and (at least in our case) drank, and a reason to set goals and resolutions for how we want the next year to be even better than the last.
Here at PorchDrinking, our first order of business for 2019 was to use the arrival of the new year to reach out to some of the best and brightest in craft beer. We wanted to get these pioneers’ take on 2018, and gauge their thoughts on how they see craft continuing to evolve as we begin our new journey around the sun.
A few weeks ago, on a cloudy Seattle Friday night, dozens of beer fanatics flooded the basement of the Pike Brewing Company in celebration of the establishment’s 29th Canniversary. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the taproom and restaurant, guests mingled amidst the brewery’s fermenters and bottling lines – sipping away on the quintessential Pike brews and slurping down oysters from the Puget Sound.
Come for a drive with me. It will only take two hours or so. We’re leaving Seattle – taking I-90 out of town, going east. Within half an hour or so we’ll hit the majestic Cascade Mountains – one of the countries’ most expansive ranges, stretching from Northern California all the way into Canada. It’s home to some pretty famous volcanoes – Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens if we’re naming names. But we’re not stopping in the Cascades. We are pushing onward, for another hour, until we cross into Eastern Washington. It’s a vastly different landscape than the wet, lush, rainforest on the other side of the state. Here it’s dry, arid and almost desert-like. A beauty that’s starkly different, but no less beautiful, than the Cascades that we’ve just driven through. Within a few minutes, we’ll hit Yakima – our final destination. Why are we going to Yakima, you ask? It’s an obvious answer this time of year: It’s hop harvest.
If you love Seattle’s craft beer scene, you love Chuck’s Hop Shop—it’s as simple as that. Chuck’s Hop Shop, which has two locations in the Emerald City, has gained a reputation for being the fan-favorite, no-frills watering hole and bottle shop for craft beer fanatics. It’s where you go for an incredible and ever-rotating selection with dozens of beers on tap and hundreds of bottles available to go as well as knowledgeable and approachable bartenders that are eager to give recommendations on what brews simply cannot be missed. As a result, Chuck’s has cemented itself as a pillar of the Pacific Northwest craft community in the four years since its founding.
Similar to the rest of the country, my home state of Minnesota has seen an explosion within the craft beer scene. According to one article, thirty breweries opened up in Minnesota in 2017 alone – which was nearly double the openings that the state saw in 2016. Needless to say, the scene is not showing any signs of slowing down. So what initiated this domino effect? One might argue that Surly Brewing – Minneapolis’ 12-year-old craft beer darling – is partially to thank for the recent surge. And if we’re going to give thanks Surly, we have to look back to the beer that first helped put Surly on the map: Surly Furious, the IPA that makes you question what an IPA should be.
It is summertime in Seattle – and in consequence, the city has, collectively, fled to the nearest patio from their non-air-conditioned apartments in search of a brew that can quench summer cravings. With the heat climbing steadily and the days continuing to seem never-ending, we Seattleites are all in need of something light, something delicious, something sustainable – nothing too strong. Luckily, Stoup Brewing has answered the call with their Loral Dry-Hopped Sour.
It was quite possibly the best night of my life. What could have been better? I, and roughly 200 other Fremont Brewing fanatics, had been invited to the Heron Hunting Club’s annual get-together. The event, which I would argue is the best beer event in the city, had it all. We were being fed by James Beard award-winning Chef Edouardo Jordan of Salare and JuneBaby, taste-testing and purchasing some of Fremont’s most hard-to-get beers, and witnessing the metamorphosis of the brewery’s Frelard location. The space, which had been a packaging and brewing facility just a few hours beforehand, could now pass for a palace. Chandeliers dangled from the ceiling, vintage furniture and rugs awaited us in every corner, and Broadway-worthy props were found at every turn. Again – what could have been better?
Electricity pulsed through the growing line outside of Fremont Brewing’s Frēlard Production Facility in Seattle, Washington. Growing by the minute, fanatics of Fremont Brewing eagerly hopped up and down, greeted old friends and excitedly developing strategies around bottle purchases. Though it would be a safe assumption that the people in line weren’t strangers to the concept of waiting for craft beer, this line was for a reward much greater than any special release. This line was for the crème de la crème of craft beer events in the city – the Heron Hunting Club’s annual get-together.
This event, put on in celebration of Fremont’s Heron Hunting Club – a group comprised of and dedicated to the breweries’ most loyal and ardent fans, is a prime example of a trend sweeping through craft beer: Programs and clubs, sponsored and created by breweries, that reward their most diehard patrons by offering exclusive, intimate experiences and benefits.
A handful of weeks back, on a quintessential Seattle spring evening, dozens of Fremont Brewing’s most loyal and ardent patrons gathered at the brewery’s Frelard facility location in celebration of the Heron Hunting Club’s annual event. The event, which is rightfully hailed as one of the best in Seattle’s craft scene, is a chance for Fremont fanatics to mingle with the brewery’s staff, experience incredible bites from famed Seattle chefs, and perhaps most importantly, stock up favorite Fremont beers that the brewery releases from their cellars for the occasion. As one of the lucky fans that was in attendance for the Heron Hunting Club get together, I was not going to let this rare shopping opportunity slip away. I left with a plethora of beers that, to this day, has me giddy – one of those brews being The Lamb, a 2016 saison that was the first brew from Fremont’s Fermentation Lab series.
If you’re a beer drinker in Seattle, you’re a Holy Mountain Brewing drinker in Seattle. It’s as simple as that. Even in a city renowned for its thriving and creative craft beer scene, Holy Mountain effortlessly stands out thanks to a niche it has filled in the heavily-hopped Pacific Northwest market: Holy Mountain is your go-to for great Belgian styles, or any beer that has been flirting with mixed fermentations or barrel-aged ingredients. One of Holy Mountain’s latest releases, Afterswarm, is an ideal case-in-point.
Now, don’t get me wrong—I understand that everyone is different. That said, we’re all human and there are a handful of things that are guaranteed to make anyone’s day. Take, for example, a yawn-inducing work meeting being cancelled, a spectacular cup of coffee, running into a puppy on the street, and, perhaps best of all, one of your favorite breweries adding a beer onto their year-round line-up. Queue Pelican Brewing Company and the Beak Bender, a hoppinated India Pale Ale that is now available year-round. You’ll want to get familiar with this one—trust me.
Just like in any other city, Seattle has its fair share of beer celebrities. The electricity that craft pulses through this town, not to mention the quality of the drinks themselves, make it near impossible not to point and whisper when some of our favorite owners or brewers make cameos in their respective taprooms. So, when I sat down with Rose Ann and Charles Finkel, owners and founders of The Pike Brewing Company, and some of the original craft pioneers in Seattle, I couldn’t help but be just a bit starstruck.
It doesn’t take a lot for me to crave a beer. Has it been a good day? Let’s have a beer. A bad day? Let’s have a beer. It’s sunny out! Let’s have a beer. Oh no, raining again? Better have a beer. Needless to say, I’m easily convinced. But tell me that I’m drinking for a good cause? Well, then let’s have more than one, without a doubt. This is the case with Stoup Brewing’s recently released Mother of Exiles IPA, which benefits the Refugee Women’s Alliance as part of the Beer Trumps Hate campaign.
I’m not ashamed to admit it people: I’m a total Fremont Brewing fangirl. Always have been, and expect that I will be. But, in my defense, I fangirl hard for good reason – the Coconut Edition B-Bomb being just one of them.
Baerlic Brewing Company has swiftly and effortlessly made a name for themselves in Portland, Oregon’s stacked beer scene. Sitting in the heart of the beer hub within the city, Southeast Portland, Baerlic’s enthusiastic staff, delightful atmosphere and – of course – impressive beer line-up always makes for a lovely stop.
Fall has arrived, and I can’t say that I’m upset about it. This time of year brings out that rich, golden foliage, pumpkin-spiced everything, and the years-old sweaters that have been hiding in the back of your closet. But perhaps best of all, fall brings barrel-aged beers that are perfect for the season – as breweries finally debut their much-anticipated releases. One of the best releases to come from this fall’s barrel-aged line-up is undoubtedly Captain of the Coast, a Wee Heavy Ale aged in Dry Fly Wheat Whiskey Barrels, from my favorite coastal brewery, Pelican Brewing Company.
If you know anything about craft beer in the state of Washington, you have undoubtedly heard about Stoup Brewing, of Seattle, and Wander Brewing, of Bellingham. Both breweries are extremely reputable within the craft community, and are known as establishments that are unafraid to innovate and experiment—while promising excellent and unwavering quality. The consequence of these pushed boundaries and high standards, is, frankly, just really good beer. Lucky for us, Stoup and Wander teamed up earlier this year at the Collaboration Fest—bringing their techniques, creativity, and obsession for quality together at last. The result, Mabel’s Brew—an East Coast IPA that doesn’t let us down.
Well folks, it’s time to clear your schedules, rally your friends and stock your cellars because it’s that time: Fremont Brewing is releasing their celebrated 2017 Bourbon Barrel-Aged Dark Star this Saturday in their taproom. Needless to say, and after a sneak preview, we can barely contain our excitement.
Saying goodbye to summer is never easy—especially for those of us that reside in Seattle. The transition to fall is synonymous with diminishing daylight, raincoats, umbrellas, and the retirement of beloved camping gear until the following spring. But it isn’t all bad. Fall brings golden foliage, flannels and beanies, and of course, beer. Lots of it. Case in point: Fremont Brewing’s Field to Ferment, the freshest and most delectable Pale Ale that you’ll be able to get your hands on this season.