Sometimes the best beers are the ones you stumble upon. Get lost in a new city, let your phone die (or be smart and bring a charger) and wander into a nearby brewery. Fair Isle Brewing is located in the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle, Washington. It’s in great company among the largest concentration of breweries in the Seattle area, but Fair Isle does things differently. They focus solely on Saisons and Farmhouse Ales. While the beer menu is impressive, Eleanor alone is worth the trip.
“As a native of Oregon, the natural bounty all around us informs everything we do,” said Christian DeBenedetti, founder and brewer at Wolves & People. “As a brewer interested in a hyper-local approach to making beer, Oregon offers so much in the way of things for us to seek out and experiment with.”
Of all the buzzworthy beer categories today, one earns that buzz(zzzz) more than others. Honey beers are growing in popularity, and they take their distinguishing ingredient from the amazing honey bee. Each honey bee worker flies hundreds of miles in her lifetime, pollinates thousands of flowers and communicates with her hivemates by dancing. One brewery from Oregon is shining a light on bees by using the sweet stuff in a quenching beer redolent of summer wildflowers.
Regardless of where you live, there’s a pretty good chance that you have a local brewery with a killer barrel program. From Atlanta to Chicago, from Maine to the PNW, breweries across the country are constantly releasing barrel-aged goodness in the form of thick and boozy stouts or tart and refreshing mixed culture options. Barrel-aging anything takes patience and love, but many brewers are all-in on commitment.
It’s been a hell of a two weeks in the craft beer world since we’ve last had a drink check. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then head over to Brienne (@ratmagnet) on Instagram and read the thousands of accounts of sexual harassment, misogyny and unfair treatment to women all across the industry. This movement isn’t something to be funny or cute about, so here’s some of the beers that our staff have had during the last two weeks. Guys — specifically white bearded dudes in the industry who look just like me — be better. Here is What We’re Drinking:
“We really mean it when we say our Fresh Family beers are about hop flavor with balanced bitterness as a supporting star,” said Product Development Director Veronica Vega. Other beers in the Fresh Family include Fresh Squeezed IPA, Fresh Haze IPA, Lil’ Squeezy Juicy Ale and Royal Fresh Imperial IPA.
The beer industry has historically been, and remains, male-dominated. But men haven’t always had the upper hand. In the early 1970’s in Oklahoma, women over 18-years-old could buy beer, but men had to be 21. A young man and a female brewery owner joined forces to sue the state of Oklahoma over this, eventually landing this case in the Supreme Court.
Most craft beer drinkers are more than happy to tell you why drinking craft beer is more than just a beverage choice; it is a culture with all the traditions and ritual pours that go with that designation. If you are not already immersed in the culture of craft beer, it can be intimidating and, at worst, exclusionary. Seattle’s Lucky Envelope Brewing Co. owners Raymond Kwan and Barry Chan are committed to broadening craft beer with “culturally-inspired beers” drawn from their shared Chinese-American heritage. With their most recent Lunar New Year beer releases, they served up culture and a fresh perspective on Hazy IPAs and Barrel-Aged Porters.
February is a month where you can pour your heart out to the one you love; alternatively, it’s a perfect opportunity to pour a Fruited Sour Ale. Fruited Sours can be a little intense and definitively complex, but still completely satisfying (not unlike most relationships). For classic beer drinkers, the first sip of a Fruited Sour is more like trying a cocktail than sipping an IPA; Fruited Sours demand your attention in drinking. Their unique flavor profiles and ruby-red and golden hues make them perfect for special occasions- including Valentine’s Day. This month, look no further than Anchorage Brewing Company Fruited Sour, Scream, to celebrate the day of love.
We’re back and well-rested, yet somehow exhausted, from all of the holiday hustle and bustle and time commitments. While 2020 is officially behind us — good riddance — 2021 isn’t exactly off to the best start it could be. In spite of weather and events on the national stage, the beer industry is still staying afloat despite pandemic shutdowns. That does not mean everyone, and that does not mean thriving. Dry January is popular for many “influencers” and eager resolution starters, but do what you can to continue supporting local. Buy shirts, hats and other merch or gift cards to use at a later date. Grab a beer or browse some online shops while checking out What We’re Drinking.
Winter, particularly in the middle of a global pandemic, is not the time for light beer. The days are shorter, the nights are colder, and the only beer that will cut it as the winter solstice approaches is something strong, dark, and smooth. Matchless Brewing’s Off the Cuff II Old Ale is worthy of consideration this time of year–it’s a big beer that demands attention.
To create Off the Cuff II, Matchless brewers blended different Bourbon Barrel-Aged Stouts with wine cask-aged Old Ales. Blending beer is both an art and a science; Matchless Brewing excels at both in this beautiful blend of bourbon and fruit that’s perfect for a winter night in.
On these cold winter days, few beers are more ideally suited for the weather than Fremont Brewing Company’s B-Bomb Bourbon Barrel Imperial Winter Ale. A Winter Ale that sees extended time in bourbon barrels, it serves up more than enough alcohol to warm up your insides, while delivering tons of fall spices and vanilla barrel notes. At 13% and coming only in large 750ml bottles, it’s a perfect beer to break out and split with any friends and family you may have in town for the holidays.
Paul Arney, co-owner and head brewer of The Ale Apothecary in Bend, OR has a bit of a reputation. Words like “legendary” are often thrown around to describe his brewery and the unique, place-based wild beer he brews. Arney has a bit of a nutty–yet deeply intellectual–personality. It’s not uncommon to hear him lovingly referred to as bats#&@ crazy. We sat down with Arney for five questions about Ale Apothecary and to see how he’s holding up during the pandemic. We were relieved to hear that he hasn’t let up one bit on his unrelenting “art over industry” philosophy.
Over the past eight months, we’ve heard many stories of creativity, resilience and perseverance throughout the on-going pandemic. For many in the beer industry, this period has called for the necessity to adapt in order to survive. But for those ambitious entrepreneurs who had just barely begun working toward their dreams of launching a brewery, these past few months have been just as trying in different ways.
As Halloween approaches, treat yourself to Pelican Brewing Company’s newest release, Midnight Malt Cocoa Porter. As the late Michael Jackson sang, “Darkness falls across the land, the midnight hour is close at hand.” In this case, the Midnight Malt Cocoa Porter should certainly be in your hand. Brewed with Meridian Cacao Company nibs, which are sourced from farmers in Tanzania, this Porter boasts a rich, dark chocolate flavor with subtle caramel undertones, coupled with light roasted coffee notes and a classic malt finish. Whatever your Halloween plans might be this year, crack open a can of Midnight Malt Cocoa Porter under the full moon and let it thrill you.
Cascade Brewing’s latest Sour release — Framboise Northwest — is an ode to raspberries, incorporating 3000 pounds of red raspberries grown locally in the Northwest into their base Blonde Ale. “In this beer, just the flavor of the raspberries is so true to the fruit, it really captured the super-fresh raspberry flavor and we didn’t want to manipulate it in anyway,” shared Kevin Martin, Director of Brewery Operations at Cascade Brewing in Portland, Oregon.
Deschutes’ Black Butte Porter has been the brewery’s flagship beer since its first year of its existence, and to celebrate the 32nd anniversary of this amazing beer, the brewery released its 2020 anniversary Black Butte XXXII Imperial Porter.
Located in Seattle, Washington, Fremont Brewing first opened its doors during the 2008 financial crisis and is no stranger to making high-quality beer in the middle of a recession. Quality, sustainability and ingenuity have been the mainstays of brewing at Fremont over the past 11 years, a tradition they continue even as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on… and “ingenious” is the word that comes to mind when sampling their latest release: the 11th Anniversary series. These two Stouts debuted in mid-August and are already sold out on their website (but don’t worry: limited cases are still available—see below for details). Their classic barrel-aging process, with a twist, makes these beers something special.
Dead Guy Ale, Rogue Ales & Spirits’ flagship beer and one we featured at PorchDrinking.com as part of our OGs of Craft Beer series, turns thirty this year. Rogue is celebrating those three decades of Dead Guy by challenging fans to ‘Paint the Can Dead.’ And, for those that really bring out the spirit of Dead Guy, prizes await them. For those that don’t win, it’s a great way to pass the time in a socially-distanced world; drink beer and do some coloring!
Nestled amongst the sprawling vineyards of the Walla Walla Valley, down a single-lane dirt country road is Dragon’s Gate Brewery. Recently featured as a top brewery in Eastern Oregon, this 10-acre farm offers gorgeous views of the surrounding Blue Mountains and provides the perfect backdrop to enjoy these Farmhouse Ales. Owned and operated by Adam and Jennifer Gregory, this brewery is truly a family affair with beers brewed with passion and rooted in traditional Belgian brewing practices. Their tasting room is in a converted barn, and their brewhouse, barrel room and fermentation area are all on-site. Inspired by old-world stylings, this brewery takes you back in time, or to another world entirely.