Grab A Beer: Kona Castaway IPA

April 22nd, 2014 · Beer Reviews

Kona Castaway IPA
Alcohol by Volume: 6.0%

tiny castaway imageNo matter how many Corona commercials you are exposed to these days, you know you can do better when looking for a beer to enjoy while sitting on he beach. Much better. Kona Brewing has been making quality beer on the Big Island since 1994, and I’ll definitely take any of their wares over what Corona is slinging.

The Castaway IPA was previously available on draught in Hawaii, but this bottled version has been changed up a bit for distribution. It has a different hop profile (more tropical flavors), lower bitterness, lower ABV and a cleaner finish; all positive changes if you ask me.

Pours a dark golden with a very thin head.Certainly getting some tropical fruit hop flavors in the aroma; mango and citrus stick out the most. Fits the expectations for a “Hawaiian-Style IPA”. Flavor is more of the same tropical fruit hops, with a solid pale malt backbone sitting in the background. An assertive bitterness finishes things off. There is very little sweetness, and it is quite easy drinking and clean.

Overall, this is a very solid IPA that features the tropical hop flavors that many, including myself, have come to love. Kona brews this with Galaxy, Citra, Simcoe & Millenium hops, and they certainly do the job. This joins Kona’s year-round lineup of beers, and assuming this is available at a good price point, I could see this becoming part of the rotation in our house. We don’t have a beach at our place, but I’ll happily relax on our patio with this one.

Verdict: 3 1/2 out of 5 Booyas
Brewery Website
Ratebeer Info
BeerAdvocate Info

Commercial Description/Press Release:

Kona Brewing Company has announced that Castaway IPA, a longtime local favorite at Hawaii pubs and restaurants, will be coming ashore to the U.S. mainland beginning April 14, 2014. The Hawaiian-style IPA will be available in 12oz bottles and on draught in major Kona markets across the U.S.

Castaway IPA pours copper-colored with touches of tropical mango and passion fruit and bold, citrusy hops. It’s balanced by rich caramel malts and has a clean, crisp finish. This new Hawaiian-style IPA will join year-round Kona favorites Longboard Island Lager, Big Wave Golden Ale, and Fire Rock Pale Ale.

Said Kona Brewmaster Billy Smith: “IPAs are one of the fastest-growing segments in today’s craft beer industry, and we think mainland craft beer lovers will appreciate how distinctive Castaway is from many current IPA offerings. The citrus, tropical and mango influences combine with what you’d expect from a typical IPA to create a drinking experience that takes you back to the islands.”

Castaway IPA specs:
Style: Hawaiian-style IPA
ABV: 6.0%
Bitterness: 55 IBU
Hops: Galaxy, Citra, Simcoe, Millennium
Package: Six-packs of 12oz bottles and on draught
Release date: April 14, 2014

In the interest of full disclosure to satisfy the FTC regulations, this review was of a sample bottle received from the brewery.

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Grab A Beer: Hale’s Barrel Aged Imperial Red Ale

April 17th, 2014 · Beer Reviews, Washington Breweries

Hale’s Barrel Aged Imperial Red Ale
Alcohol by Volume: 9.0%

Despite the brewery’s best efforts, many people still haven’t noticed that Hale’s Ales has been brewing some very non-English-style Ales over the past several years. In particular, they’ve been doing a rotating series of barrel-aged beers that has been quite impressive. Their barrel-aged Wee Heavy got our top rating in a tasting panel at the Brewing News a couple of years ago, and there have been several other impressive offerings. Next up in the series is an Imperial Red Ale that was aged in Rye Whiskey barrels for nine months. Sound okay to you? Sure does to me.

A caramel sweetness mixes with bourbon and citrus hops in an aroma that comes through loud and clear; it is beautiful. Flavor is a rich base of moderately sweet caramel malt with layers of dark fruit (dates), berries, resinous citrus hops, and a moderate amount of barrel/bourbon. Even after nine months of aging, there is still a very solid bitterness. Just a bit of alcohol warming is a plus here.

Overall, this beer kicks ass. Everything comes together really nicely in a complex, but very enjoyable, beer. The barrel character is a big component of the beer, but by no means does it overwhelm. I’m not sure one way or the other, but I’d guess they blended some base beer back in to balance out the barrel flavors. This could easily pass as a hoppy barrel-aged barleywine. Very nicely done.

Verdict: 4 out of 5 Booyas
Brewery Website

Commercial Description/Press Release:

Owing to its very complex and rich malt structure and nine months spent aging in Rye Whiskey barrels, Barrel Aged Imperial Red is big & bold — a limited release, small production beer treat, not to be missed!

9.0% ABV 70 IBUs

Malts: 2-Row Pale ~ Crystal ~ Special B ~ Rye ~ Carafa III

Hops: Apollo ~ Centennial, Amarillo, & Calypso

Original Gravity: 22.5° Plato

In the interest of full disclosure to satisfy the FTC regulations, this review was of a sample bottle received from the brewery.

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Schooner Exact Brewing & American Brewing Both Can IPAs for First Time Today

April 15th, 2014 · Beer Releases, Washington Breweries

americanCheers to Schooner Exact Brewing and American Brewing Company, both of which canned their popular IPAs for the first time today. The craft can craze continues, and I certainly welcome more local options to choose from. Schooner Exact 3-Grid and American Breakaway IPA will both soon be available in six-packs of 12oz cans at a retailer near you.

Schooner Exact is having a release party at the brewery tomorrow (Wednesday) and will be offering $3 cans of 3-Grid starting at 3pm. American’s Breakaway is available in their taproom now (while supplies list) and will be “on shelves throughout the Northwest by the end of April.”

These two beers join the ranks of other WA canned IPAs, such as Hale’s Supergoose (just started canning it in February), Fremont IPA, Two Beers Evo, Redhook Long Hammer, Bale Breaker Top Cutter, Dirty Bucket Filthy Hoppin’, Everybody’s Country Boy, 7 Seas Rude Parrot, Wingman Ace IPA and probably a few more.


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Free Interactive Forum on Science & Beer at Pike Brewing on April 23

April 14th, 2014 · Events

This one might be for the truly geeky beer geeks, but it certainly sounds interesting to me. The event features researchers connected to the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and is modeled after a similar highly successful program there. The event is free, but please see the contact information below to reserve your space if interested.

Press Release:

What: Members of the Seattle area community will gather for a free interactive forum on science and beer at the Pike Brewing Company presented by the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Jewish Federation, and the Washington Israel Business Council. The event features a conversation with leading nanotechnology researchers connected to the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, a top- ranking multidisciplinary research institution. Speakers include quantum computing pioneer Dr. Roee Ozeri of the Weizmann Institute and Dr. Adrienne Fairhall, a Weizmann graduate who is now studying computational neuroscience as an Associate Professor at the University of Washington. Attendees will also have an opportunity to learn about beer production from Charles Finkel, founder and president of the Pike Brewing Company, and sample craft brews.

“Science on Tap” is modeled after a highly successful program that the Weizmann Institute of Science sponsors in the cities of Tel Aviv and Rehovot, Israel. The annual event enables Israelis to attend public lectures led by Weizmann researchers at pubs and coffee shops. This is the first time that “Science on Tap” has been brought to the United States.

When: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 7–9 p.m.

The Pike Brewing Company
Museum Room, 1415 1st Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101

Dr. Roee Ozeri, Department of Physics of Complex Systems, Weizmann Institute of Science
Dr. Adrienne Fairhall, Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Washington and Weizmann Institute alumna
Charles Finkel, Founder and President, Pike Brewing Company

*Space limited. Please RSVP to Jenn Roberts at or 212.895.7950.

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Washington Breweries Take Home Nine Medals at World Beer Cup

April 12th, 2014 · Uncategorized

The winners of the 2014 World Beer Cup were announced last night at the end of this past week’s Craft Brewers Conference in Denver, CO. This year’s competition included 4,754 beers from 1,403 breweries representing 58 countries. Along with the Great American Beer Festival, the World Beer Cup is a highly competitive judging competition, and winning a medal is certainly something to be proud of.

Nine different Washington breweries took home medals from the awards, including four Gold Medals.  The full list of winners can be found here, and the list is winners from WA is below. Congratulations to all of the winners!

Flyers Restaurant & Brewery – Gold Medal for Brouwers 8 in Other Strong Beer (44 Entries)
Chuckanut Brewery – Silver Medal for Chuckanut Dunkel in European-Style Dark/Münchner Dunkel (34 Entries)
Fish Brewing – Bronze Medal for Leavenworth Bakke Hill Black Lager in American-Style Dark Lager (18 Entries)
Airways Brewing – Silver Medal for 3rd Anniversary in Belgian-Style Dark Strong Ale (44 Entries)
Redhook Brewery – Gold Medal for Audible Ale in Classic English-Style Pale Ale (30 Entries)
Elysian Brewing – Bronze Medal for The Wise ESB in Extra Special Bitter (57 Entries)
Stoup Brewing – Silver Medal for Stoup Porter in Robust Porter (75 Entries)
Scuttlebutt Brewing – Gold Medal for 2009 Old #1 Barley Wine in Barley Wine-Style Ale (53 Entries)
Gordon Biersch (Seattle)* – Gold Medal for Winter Bock in Traditional German-Style Bock (23 Entries)

* The awards note that this beer was from the GB in Las Vegas, NV. But, a note from Seattle brewer Kevin Davey confirms that he brewed the award-winning beer at the Seattle location.

Note: Ayinger Brewery won a bronze in European-Style Dark/Münchner Dunkel and is listed as a Seattle, WA brewery, and Green’s Brewery won Gold & Silver in Gluten-Free Beer and is listed as a Seattle brewery. They are both distributed through Merchant du Vin out of Seattle, but I’m not counting them as a “WA Brewery”.

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Chef John Howie Brings on Drew Cluley as Head Brewer for New Beardslee Alehouse

April 10th, 2014 · Beer & Food, Washington Breweries

Thanks to +Russ for the festive photo of Drew.

Thanks to +Russ for the festive photo of Drew.

After three years as Head Brewer at Big Time Brewery in the U-District, Drew Cluley will be joining a new venture from Chef John Howie. Beardslee Alehouse, scheduled to open this September in Bothell, will have “a 10-barrel brewery, offering 12 to 13 craft brews for the ale house, produced by Head Brewer Drew Cluley.” Drew was previously at Pike Brewing before moving to Big Time in 2011, and this new position will certainly be another exciting step in his career.

More information about Beardslee Alehouse & Wildwood Spirits, the attached distillery from Distiller Erik Liedholm, can be found in the press release below, as well as this older post from the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Cheers to Drew for his new opportunity. He had a great run at Big Time, and I’m excited to see what his new adventure brings.

BOTHELL, Wash. – Chef John Howie and Distiller Erik Liedholm announce the opening of their new restaurant/brewery and distillery for September 2014 in Bothell. Both will be located in The Village at Beardslee Crossing, at 19116 112th Ave NE; Beardslee Alehouse in Suite 103 and 201, and Wildwood Spirits Co. in Suite 102. The village is along Beardslee Boulevard, at the NE 195th Street and I-405 interchange at Exit 24.

“We are thrilled to be coming to Bothell,” commented Proprietor/Chef John Howie. “We see great growth and opportunity in the Bothell area, and look forward to bringing our exceptional products and services to the city.”

The Beardslee Alehouse will be a 10-barrel brewery, offering 12 to 13 craft brews for the ale house, produced by Head Brewer Drew Cluley. The ale house will feature the finest of local craft brews in guest taps. Beardslee Alehouse’s restaurant will operate under a “farm to table” philosophy, with everything made in-house. The restaurant will grind its own meat, bake fresh bread, and feature a “locker” for aging housemade charcuterie. Burgers, brats, and flatbreads will be highlighted, and housemade charcuterie, cheese and pickled vegetables will compliment the menu. There will be a full-service bar, with popular local wineries on tap.

The environment of Beardslee Alehouse will reflect the local concept of the menu. Every table in the restaurant/brewery will be made from a giant red sequoia that was harvested from the property. The base of the tree will make for a large exterior fireplace, sitting on the west facing patio. The bar will include an indoor fireplace, with casual seating. Additionally, two large community tables will enhance the neighborhood atmosphere of the restaurant.

“Taking down the giant red sequoia had to happen, but being able to repurpose the wood through tables, chairs and other elements of the restaurant is amazing,” commented Proprietor/Chef John Howie. “It will really add to the environment of Beardslee.”

Wildwood Spirits Co.’s distillery will also embrace a local philosophy. Following a “farm to distillery” concept, 90 percent of produce for distilling will be sourced from Washington state. The first two spirits distilled at Wildwood Spirits Co. will be Kur gin and Stark Vatten vodka. Until the distillery opens in September, the distilling process will continue as it has at Michigan State University, where Liedholm brought Washington state produce and studied with world-renowned Master Distiller Dr. Kris Burglund. Both Kur and Stark Vatten have already received numerous awards from both of the competitions they’ve been entered in; the American Distilling Institute’s Annual Judging of Craft American Spirits and the American Association of Craft Distiller’s Awards.

“It’s great that people are already as enthusiastic about the product as we are. I believe we’ve benefitted from having theresources to develop our dream spirit at Michigan State University,” commented Distiller Erik Liedholm. “We’ve had the ability to perfect our product before showcasing it to anybody.”

Wildwood Spirits Co.’s tasting room aesthetic will be a new take on an old, English apothecary. Mill work, Edison bulbs and medicine bottles will help create the ambience, while settees and comfortable chairs will shape an inviting space for guests. The centerpiece of the tasting room will be a window that allows guests to view the beautiful copper stills. The equipment will be supplied from German still manufacturer, Christian Carl, whose exceptional quality is widely acclaimed. Primary equipment will include one 450-liter alembic pot still, one 150-liter rectification still, and one 20-plate column still. For more information, visit the website here.

About The John Howie Restaurant Group:

The John Howie Restaurant Group includes John Howie SteakSeastar Restaurant and Raw Bar, Bellevue; Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar, Seattle; SPORT Restaurant and BarAdriatic Grill Italian Cuisine & Wine BarBeardslee Alehouse; and Wildwood Spirits Co.. Chef Howie also recently released the cookbook Passion & Palate: Recipes for a Generous Table. Chef Howie has been honored with an invitation to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City on five separate occasions, represents Washington state annually at the Super Bowl in The Taste of the NFL, is a repeat guest at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, and has been a guest chef on Celebrity, Holland America, and Radisson Cruises. Chef Howie’s restaurants have received multiple awards for their philanthropic and community involvement, which has provided over $4,500,000 to the national and local charitable organizations they support.


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Flying Bike Co-op Brewery Investment Campaign & Collaboration Brew With Stoup

April 7th, 2014 · Washington Breweries

Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery is moving closer to opening up what would be just the second co-op brewery in the country. The brewery reached the 700 member mark just last week, and they are currently in the middle of an investment campaign with the goal of raising $300,000 that will be used to lease a brewery space and purchase equipment. You can find out more about the investment campaign & becoming a member of Flying Bike on their website.

Opening up a brewery is a long process in any scenario, and trying to make the co-op model work is certainly no exception. While they have surely raised a good chunk of change through membership fees, it is rare for co-ops to obtain enough start-up funds from membership fees alone. That is one reason why they are offering preferred shares to members as part of their investment campaign in order to raise the necessary capital to get things rolling soon. Planning for Flying Bike began in 2010, so this is year four of working to make the brewery a reality.

I think the co-op model would certainly be an interesting business model for a small brewery, and I want to see Flying Bike succeed. It sounds to me like their taproom would almost be a clubhouse of sorts, where members get together not just to drink, but to help drive the decisions and direction of the brewery. Part of what is fun about the co-op model is that members get to help decide what beers to brew. They have a new collaboration beer brewed by Stoup Brewing coming out in early May, and this will be the fourth collaboration beer they have done with a professional brewery. Here is more info on that process from Kevin Badger, who is on the Flying Bike Board of Directors:

Flying Bike’s core tagline is “Member Driven Beer”.  Since its inception, we’ve held member homebrew competitions to determine beer recipes for the co-op.  Once we open for business, these beers will become our foundation brews (hopefully available year round).  Our newest beer, the Bike Rye’d Saison, is a rye saison brewed by member Dan Schmidt for our Homebrew Open competiton last December.  This was our first “open-style” competition, as past events have been style-based.  Our friends at Conduit Coffee opened their space for us on Westlake Ave to hold the competition.  Any Flying Bike member could enter any homebrew of their choosing.  Members and friends were invited to the event to sample the brews and rate their Top 5.  The votes were tallied, and the members’ choice proclaimed the winner!  Our winning homebrewer, Dan, had brewed this recipe 15 times before this competition.  He had worked hard at his craft and it showed!

With all of our winning beers thus far we try to collaborate with a local brewery to brew it full-scale for limited keg distribution.  The homebrewer gets to be a part of the scaled recipe decisions and helps out on brew day.  Past collaborations include:

- Fly-PA (IPA competition) with Three Skulls Ales

- 7 Spoke Stout (Stout competition) with Northwest Brewing Company

- Airship Ale (Pale Ale competition) with Machine House Brewery

This time around we have partnered with Stoup Brewing for the Bike Rye’d Saison.  One of our board members pours beer at the brewery and approached them with the opportunity last month.  Since then, Dan and Stoup’s head brewer, Brad, have been finalizing details of the brew.  The brew date is set for mid-April which should put the beer on tap just in time for Seattle Beer Week!  Over the years we have built up a list of bars, pubs, and breweries who are interested in carrying our collaboration beers.  These come from member connections in their neighborhoods (their “regular places”) as well as businesses who are really interested in and supportive of what we are doing.  So, the beer will be on tap at Stoup as well as around the city.  We’ll host a Flying Bike member Bike Rye’d Saison release party in early May at one of the first places to put it on tap.

If this sort of community interests you, and I imagine it would many homebrewers, you should check out their website for more information on becoming a member. For the rest of us, I hope to be able to walk into their taproom in a year or two and see what they’ve come up with.

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Grab A Beer: Elevation Fanboy Double IPA Aged in Oak Barrels

April 2nd, 2014 · Beer Reviews

Elevation Fanboy
Alcohol by Volume: 8.5%

Located in Poncha Springs, CO, Elevation opened in 2012 and has gone through two expansions already. They now have a healthy total of 315bbls of fermentation capacity and are eyeing possible distribution to Washington in the next year or two. So, while you can’t find their beers here now, keep your eyes out for them in the future.

Big, complex aroma of burnt sugar, heavy oak and tropical fruits; the aroma seriously just jumps out of the glass in this one. The oak is really prominent in the flavor, but fruity hops and caramel malts soak it up fairly well. A heavy bitterness finishes things off. I love oak in a beer, but it is a bit over the top in this and actually a bit astringent. I’m a fan, but I’d love to see the oak toned down a bit and the base beer come through more. It’s certainly complex and interesting though. Blurs the line between a double IPA and a hop-forward barleywine.

Verdict: 3 out of 5 Booyas
Brewery Website
Ratebeer Info
BeerAdvocate Info

Commercial Description/Press Release:

Much like the magical movies of our childhood, running a brewery in a town far, far, away with great friends and family can seem like a dream. From sharing a pint with co-workers after a long day on the bottling line, to pouring our beers at the Great American Beer Festival next to my beautiful wife, sometimes the blessings I have received in my life can seem, well…inconceivable. A bold beer that no one has brewed before, this barrel aged double IPA somehow retains its lively hops while combining with flavors of vanilla and oak from our new barrels to create a beer that tastes of fortune and glory.

In the interest of full disclosure to satisfy the FTC regulations, this review was of a sample bottle received from the brewery.

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Brewers Association Announces Top 50 Breweries by Volume for 2013

March 31st, 2014 · General Beer News

The Brewers Association has announced the 2013 Top 50 US Craft Breweries by Volume, as well as the Top 50 Overall US Brewing Companies. What’s the difference? For 2013, this is what they say qualified a company as a “craft brewery”:

The definition of a craft brewer as stated by the Brewers Association in 2013: An American craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional. Small: Annual production of beer less than 6 million barrels. Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for purposes of this definition. Independent: Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer. Traditional: A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewer’s brands) or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.

That certainly excludes the big boy breweries like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors, but it also excludes companies like Craft Brew Alliance (Widmer, Redhook, Kona), which is 32% owned by Anheuser-Busch, and Pyramid, which is owned by North American Breweries (which is in turn owned by Cervecia Costa Rica/Florida Ice & Farm Company).

You can see the lists below, as well as at the Brewers Association website.




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Brouwer’s Cafe Celebrates 9 Years With An Anniversary Beer From Elysian & Gems From the Cellar

March 28th, 2014 · Uncategorized

Bottleworks just celebrated their 15th anniversary earlier this month, and now Brouwer’s Cafe gets their turn. As you’d expect from one of the best beer bars in the country, they will have some very special beers available.

They will be kicking things off at 3pm today, so now you have a good reason to cut out of work early and go drink some beer. They brewed a special beer called Hopped to the Nines with Steve Luke at Elysian Fields, and it will be on tap at the anniversary party, as well as at their two other venues: Bottleworks and The Burgundian. They only made a small batch of this, so get it while you can.

They also dug deep into their cellar to pull out some very special bottles and kegs for the party.

Bottle Highlights:
Bottleworks VI – Farwest Roch 10 clone—750ml
Brouwer’s #7 Fremont Old Bridgerider — 22oz
8 Bottles of 1st addition HOD Matt—12oz
10- bottles of Russian River Deviation—750ml
Lost Abbey Brouwer’s Imagination #1—750ml
12 -Lost Abbey Brouwer’s Imagination #2—750ml
Lost Abbey Bottleworks XV—750ml
12- Bruery XII first batch –750ml

Draft options:
Firestone PNC #1 – Buckwheat Stout
Flyers Oak Aged #8 Laphroaig Chipped Scotch Ale
Matt (original BW 10 anniversary)
HUB Brouwer’s 6th anniversary Imperial Stout
Bottleworks XII.2
Lost Abbey Brouwer’s Blend
And we are picking two more for a total of 9 special beers including our 9th anniversary beer.

Sounds like the perfect way to start the weekend!

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