About- Hannah Carlson
For some, the arrival of autumn means football. For others, perhaps the ripening of the leaves on the trees—as their colors erupt in flaming reds, oranges and yellows. Others may slave over their Halloween costumes as soon as summer draws to an end. In the beer world, fall is synonymous with the most hotly contested debate in all of craft. Love it or hate it, the pumpkin beer season has arrived. Not surprisingly, breweries aren’t shy of taking a side in this contentious argument, with many taking a stance in the former camp. One of these establishments is NoDa Brewing Company, as it proudly releases its pumpkin Ale, Gordgeous onto its taps.
It’s not every day that you get to taste a truly marvelous beer – a beer that defies expectations across flavor, aroma, body; that leaves you “oohing and ahhing” at every sip. Personally, when this happens to me, I feel the need to share it, to sing its praises. I send texts, take notes and, as demonstrated with this post, divulge all the details here on PorchDrinking. The Matryoshka, from Fort George Brewery, is such a brew – and is perhaps one of the best beers that Iâ€™ve been able to get my hands on this year.
There is no shortage of beer in Seattle—which, at least in my mind, translates to no shortage of creativity, innovation, passion and artistry in Seattle. Breweries here do not brew beer simply to pay the rent and keep on the lights—though those are, I’m sure, welcomed consequences of their craft. Instead, breweries here brew beer to present their patrons with new ways of thinking about ingredients, flavors, colors, textures and mouthfeel. They brew to make people question what is or isn’t possible for their favorite beverage.
Here in Seattle, it seems that there is only one thing on everyone’s minds: summer. With what will seem like the flick of a switch, the Pacific Northwest will become a utopia of sunshine, 80 degree days and eight o’clock sunsets.
I had the good fortune of recently visiting New York City for work. A place that I had not visited for more than ten years, when I was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed high school graduate. New York has been on my mind frequently over the last few years. One could argue that there is no better place to eat or drink in the world than New York – and thanks to our wonderful Northeast team feeding us a wealth of information of how to experience the craft scene in the city, I was in awe of my good fortune. I was finally going to be able to sip my way through the Big Apple properly for the first time.
Image courtesy of the BridgePort Brewing Facebook page.
The year after I graduated college, I visited Portland, Oregon for the very first time. To celebrate my arrival to the Pacific Northwest, I immediately commenced my visit with a stop at BridgePort Brewing Company. I vividly remember sitting on their outdoor deck, ordering a sampler tray, and blissfully working my way through their varieties – being taken by each brew that I tried.
Six years later after that visit, BridgePort Brewing has announced that they are closing their doors.
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.