Uber Tavern Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary This Friday

June 30th, 2016 · Uncategorized

I don’t make it there nearly as often as I’d like to these days, but Uber Tavern is hitting a big milestone this weekend. The tiny bar with a big selection will celebrate 10 great years on Friday.

Owner Rick Carpenter is in full planning mode for next weekend’s Seattle International Beer Festival (which you should go to), so the celebration at Uber is a bit understated. They will be doing pours from a jeroboam (read, “big ass bottle”) of 2006 Samichlaus, and there will also be 16oz cans of Delirium Tremens and some tasty JW Lees Harvest Ales.

I’ve spent many a great night at Uber. I suggest you make it in there sometime this weekend to put down a few pints.



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Two Doors Down Kicks Off Gay Pride Weekend With Queers and Beers on Thursday

June 22nd, 2016 · Events, Washington Breweries

Queers & Beers at Two Doors DownTwo Doors Down, “Seattle’s only gay-owned beer and burger bar”, is kicking off Pride Weekend this Thursday with a special event featuring 20 beers and ciders from local breweries.

Press Release:

Queers and Beers at Two Doors Down

Thursday, June 23rd      8 PM – Midnight


Love a good beer?  Kick-off Gay Pride at Two Doors Down, Seattle’s only gay-owned beer and burger bar, on Thursday June 23rd over a pint of something spectacular.  We’re featuring twenty beers and ciders on draft from gay-friendly breweries based right here in Seattle who want to show their support and who love a good party.  Enjoy an IPA from Capitol Hill’s own Outer Planet Brewing, sample the Fremont Kolsch, brewed specifically for the weekend, or try The Ghostfish Vanishing Point Pale Ale, which won gold last year for Best Gluten Free Beer.  Great beer not enough?  We’ll be giving away T shirts, glasses and growlers throughout the night, dancing along to Priscilla Queen of the Desert on the big screens, and enjoying some of the best burgers (veggie too) in town.  All ages welcome.  And yes, we have cider!

2332 E. Madison St.    Seattle, WA  98112


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Optimism Beer Releases “Pride” to Raise Money in Support of LGBTQ Community

June 21st, 2016 · Beer Releases, Washington Breweries

optimismWith PrideFest in full swing this upcoming weekend, Optimism Brewing is raising money for the LGBTQ community with the release of a new beer. They released Pride, a saison, back on June 11, and the brewery is donating $1 of each pint to Gay City.

It sounds like Pride has been the #1 seller at Optimism since being released, but it’s not too late to help raise more money. If you are headed to PrideFest in Capitol Hill this weekend, make sure to stop by for a pint.

Press Release:

In honor of Gay Pride month, Optimism Brewing on Capitol Hill is releasing a new beer named Pride with $1 of each pint going to Gay City, a neighboring non-profit that supports the local LBGTQ community.

Pride is a light, fruity saison that’s available starting June 11th. The donation will go towards Gay City’s mission to promote holistic wellness among the many facets of Seattle’s LGBTQ community, which includes free and anonymous HIV testing, supporting queer arts and artists and connecting people to the services they need.

Optimism was founded by a local husband and wife team, Troy Hakala and Gay Gilmore, with the goal to provide a welcoming and safe place for people to enjoy their beer while having a positive influence on the community. From their gender-neutral bathrooms, kids play area and tip-free practice, Optimism challenges itself and others to rethink norms to make the world (starting on Capitol Hill) a better place. After all, that’s what Optimism is all about!

Optimism is located at Broadway and E Union on Capitol Hill. Their hours are:

Wednesday 4-11pm

Thursday 4-11pm

Friday 4-12am

Saturday 12-12am

Sunday 12-9pm


Optimism is wearing the rainbow flag and their logo with pride in support of the LGBTQ community and invites you to do the same. Tee-shirts will be available for sale starting June 15th with part of the proceeds going to Gay City.

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Three Breweries Come Out on Top at Fourth Annual Washington Beer Awards

June 20th, 2016 · Washington Breweries

Image from E9’s Facebook page.

139 Washington breweries submitted 950 beers for evaluation at the fourth annual Washington Beer Awards. Once the judges worked their way through all of the entries, there were three breweries that came out on top with the most medals. The results were announced at the Washington Brewers Festival this past weekend. Ten Pin Brewing took home the Small Brewery of the Year with four total medals, including two golds. E9 Brewery LLC won the Mid-Size Brewery of the Year with five medals, including two golds.  The Large Brewery of the Year was won by No-Li Brewhouse with five medals, which included one gold.

In total, 86 breweries were awarded medals in 56 category groupings.

Congrats to all of the winning breweries. Check out the full list of winners by category here.

Press Release:

Specialty Competitions LLC is proud to release the results of the fourth annual Washington Beer Awards®.  This year 86 Washington breweries received recognition of gold, silver, and bronze medals in 56 award category groupings.
The results for this Washington-only professional beer competition were announced on June 18th at the Washington Brewers Festival at Marymoor Park in Redmond where some of Washington’s best brewers received medals for their award winning beers.
The judging for the Washington Beer Awards was held on June 4th at Elliott Bay Public House & Brewery in Lake City.  The panels of trained judges had to evaluate 950 beers from 139 breweries spanning over 110 unique styles from the Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines for technical and stylistic excellence.
The competition was held with the endorsement of the Washington Beer Commission as a way to celebrate Washington’s growing brewing culture and recognize excellence in the craft.  All of Washington’s craft breweries were invited to submit entries to the competition held in a similar format to other craft beer competitions like the Great American Beer Festival® and World Beer Cup®.
Three special awards, the Small, Mid-Sized and Large Breweries of the Year, were presented to breweries who won numerous medals in many categories.  Ten Pin Brewing took home the Small Brewery of the Year. E9 Brewery LLC won the Mid-Size Brewery of the Year with five medals, including two golds.  The Large Brewery of the Year was won by No-Li Brewhouse with five medals.
A few special awards were also providing recognizing some unique Washington brewing excellence.  E9 Brewery’s “Blackberry” was selected as the Best Washington Agricultural Product Inspired Beer for showcasing locally harvested blackberries in a barrel aged lambic.  Four Horsemen Brewery had their Black Plague Stout selected as the Best Washington Malt beer showcasing malts produced strictly in Washington.  Aslan Brewing Company won a gold in the “Pro-Am” category for a Vienna lager that was developed by a Washington homebrewer and scaled up for commercial production.
More information on the competition and the complete list of results can be found at www.wabeerawards.com/winners and a press release can be found at www.wabeerawards.com/press.  Watch for Washington’s award winning beers marked at your local craft beer bars and beer stores and get ready for the Washington Beer Awards to return in 2017 where new winners will be decided!

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Results of Washington Beer Awards to Be Announced at Washington Beer Festival This Weekend

June 17th, 2016 · Uncategorized, Washington Breweries

Father’s Day is this Sunday, which means it is time for the annual Washington Brewers Festival at Marymoor Park in Redmond. More than 500 beers will be pouring from 110 Washington breweries. You’ll see local favorites from the Seattle area, as well as breweries from all corners of the state.

The festival starts tonight (6/17) with a 21+ session, and then the fun continues with family-friendly sessions on Saturday and Sunday. There is ample info on the event website, including a full list of beers that will be pouring with descriptions.

The results of the fourth annual Washington Beer Awards will be announced on Saturday, and many of the award-winning beers should be pouring at the fest. The competition evaluated 950 beers from 139 Washington breweries. The results will be announced live to brewers before the session opens on Saturday, and you will be able to find a list of winners on the event website shortly after that. So, you can check the website when you get there on Saturday or Sunday, and then seek out the winners.

Press Release:

Join us as we reveal the best beers from the top breweries in Washington State!  Over 70 trained beer judges evaluated 950 beers from 139 Washington breweries at the fourth annual Washington Beer Awards and awarded gold, silver, and bronze medals in 56 categories.
The competition was organized by Specialty Competitions LLC and held with the endorsement of the Washington Beer Commission as a way to celebrate Washington’s growing brewing culture and recognize excellence in the craft.
The results will be announced at 10:00 AM on June 18th at the Washington Brewers Festival at Marymoor Park in Redmond.  Many of the award winning beers and brewers will be serving at the festival so it is great chance to taste some of Washington’s finest beers and meet the winning brewers first hand.
More information on the Washington Beer Awards can be found at www.wabeerawards.com/press.  Results from the competition will be posted on the website shortly after the festival announcement.  A short video from previous competition days are available for viewing at www.wabeerawards.com/2014judging.  For more information on the competition and beer judging, please contact the organizers at organizers@wabeerawards.com.

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Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across America Festival Offers Unique Beers in South Lake Union This Saturday

June 8th, 2016 · Events

Beer CampThis Saturday, June 11, Seattle will host one of just six Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across America festivals being held across the country. The event will take place from 1pm to 5pm at Lake Union Park, right outside MOHAI in South Lake Union.

100+ breweries have signed up to pour beer at the fest. Sierra Nevada “sent invitations to every single craft brewer in the U.S., encouraging them to come out and pour their beer at one or more festivals.” The list of breweries pouring at the Seattle fest are mostly from the Northwest. But, the list includes quite a few breweries we don’t see up this way very often, if ever, such as Ordnance Brewing (Boardman, OR), Odell Brewing (Fort Collins, CO), Ghost Runners Brewery (Vancouver, WA), Scout Beer (Portland, OR), Buoy Beer Company (Astoria, OR) and more. This looks to be the type of festival that can make both beer geeks and casual drinkers happy.

You can check out the full list of breweries on the festival website. For more detail, you can download the Beer Camp Across America App for free from the App Store, which includes a list of all of the beers that each brewery will be pouring. This is the most updated list available, and the list is not posted on the website.

Tickets are $50 ($56 with fees and tax) and include a collector’s edition sampling glass, 30 tastings and music from Deep Sea Diver. There will be 10 food trucks on site. All festival profits benefit Hop Growers of America.

This is a 21+ event and no dogs are allowed.

In addition to the festival, the idea of Sierra Nevada Beer Camp in general was to get 30 breweries together in regional teams of 5 to collaborate with Sierra Nevada on 6 unique beers. Those beers are currently available in a special 12-pack at local retailers, and they will also be pouring at the festival. Check out the video below for more info, as well as the website.

The NW team included Bale Breaker, Black Raven, Barley Brown’s, Melvin and Odell (yes, Colorado was considered NW for this exercise). They brewed Moxee-Moron, which you can read about here.

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As Elysian Brewing Celebrates 20 Years, Local Beer Drinkers Have Mixed Emotions

June 2nd, 2016 · Events, Washington Breweries

These days, I find that local beer drinkers typically fall into two camps when it comes to Elysian Brewing, which was bought by Anheuser-Busch back in early 2015. Camp A might be jaded by the deal, but they love Elysian beer and continue to buy it. Camp B represents people who refuse to support the corporate monster that is Anheuser-Busch, which means wanting nothing to do with anything Elysian, regardless of how much they like the beer or want to support the great people who still work there locally.

Regardless of which camp you fall into, there is no arguing that Elysian has had a huge impact on Seattle’s beer scene since opening in 1996. Many local brewers have been influenced by their beer, and they continue to churn out well-made, interesting beer. On June 11, Elysian will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a big party featuring some great bands (The Black Lips, The Raveonettes, Ming City Rockers and The Gits) and plenty of beer. 100% of ticket sales will go towards some worthy causes, as well as net proceeds from beer & merchandise. You can read more about the party and purchase tickets here.

Below, I’ve included a piece on Elysian that I wrote that appeared in the February 2015 issue of the Northwest Brewing News. I did an interview with Dick Cantwell for the piece on January 2, and the sale to AB was announced on January 23. They must have been right in the middle of negotiations for the deal at that point, and I’m sure it was awkward to talk about the future and history of Elysian from Dick’s perspective. It also illustrates how woefully inadequate some forms of print are at relaying timely news in the modern era; this hit stands a week or so after the deal to AB was announced. There is some good background on Elysian in the piece, though.

“Brite Tanks” Article on Elysian Brewing for Feb 2015 Issue of Northwest Brewing News:

Staying relevant is a challenge that any brewery that has been around a long time must deal with. No matter what the brewery’s reputation in the beer world, the buzz and excitement these days is often centered on newer businesses as opposed to the stalwart brewery that has always been there for you. But, as Elysian Brewing enters its 19th year of business, it is safe to say it is still very relevant. Through slow growth, collaborations, new facilities and what some consider a strange love for pumpkins, one thing has remained constant: Elysian makes award-winning beer across a wide spectrum of styles, and they have fun doing it.

Dick Cantwell, Joe Bisacca and David Buhler opened up their original Elysian Capitol Hill brewery in 1996. While the neighborhood has certainly changed drastically over time, the original brewpub is still a popular drinking and dining destination almost 20 years later and the 20-barrel brewing system there continues to churn out beers. Over the years, Elysian has opened several other locations throughout the city. Almost right off the bat, they operated a 4-barrel brewing system at Gameworks, an arcade game-focused entertainment restaurant in downtown Seattle, for about 5 years from 1997 until 2002. Cantwell says, “That was a curious situation. In those years, people were putting breweries everywhere, and Gameworks wanted a brewery. We were brand new. When we had our first conversations we were like 6 months old. All of a sudden here we were talking with this Hollywood organization (Gameworks was a partnership with Dreamworks, Universal Studios & Sega). It was an uneasy arrangement, because that just really wasn’t us.” Cantwell says it was a challenge, but overall it was a great experience for a new brewery. “It helped us grow up quickly in terms of running a larger organization. It also gave us a little experimental brewery, which really became a central operating tenet for us throughout the years.” After they exited their agreement with Gameworks, Elysian opened their Tangletown location the following year in 2003. The 3-barrel system at Tangletown let them continue with their experimental nature, and today they still use this location as a bit of a teaching brewery. In 2006, Elysian Fields opened in the stadium district south of downtown Seattle. With its location directly across from Century Link Field, this has become one of the most popular destinations for Seahawks fans on game days. The 8-barrel brewing system at Elysian Fields is where many of the new creations and specialty beers are born these days.
The next few years marked a bit of a change in direction for Elysian. In 2008, Elysian entered into a partnership with New Belgium Brewing that allowed them to produce large batches of core beers, like Immortal IPA, at New Belgium’s facilities in Fort Collins, CO. Cantwell says, “It was about that time that we started ramping up and thinking more in terms of production than essentially just being a pub company with some limited distribution. Once we got going with New Belgium we started thinking about building a bigger brewery ourselves.” At that point, they switched to a larger distributor to help them grow and also hired a new sales and marketing director. All of these things together led to them opening their own production brewery with a 240-barrel brewing system in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood in 2011. This facility allows them to expand with their core flagship and seasonal beers and has plenty of room for growth.

Elysian is a well-known brewery throughout the industry, but for a long time you could not find Elysian beers outside of the Northwest. The reputation was due in large part to Cantwell’s active involvement at the Brewers Association (where he served on their Board of Directors) and Elysian’s long history of winning medals on a national stage at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF). It won the Large Brewpub of the Year award at GABF three different times, in 1999, 2003 and 2004. Elysian started distributing to the East Coast right before it began its partnership with New Belgium. “I think we’ve always been a brewery that had a bit of an outsized reputation compared to how big we actually were. That being the case, we wanted to go to New York. We wanted to be there and compete in that market.” Elysian currently distributes to 11 states, and it will soon add California to the list.

With such a large organization these days, being creative takes more planning. Cantwell says, “With five locations now, it’s good to make everyone get together every now and then. We’ve instituted once-a-month meetings where all the brewers and cellar guys get together and taste beers, talk about ideas for the next couple of months, projects that are under way and really it is just a chance for us to all see each other and collaborate. The innovation not only helps us stay relevant, it helps us stay interested (as brewers).”
Elysian’s creativity and experimentation led to what it is possibly known best for across the country: pumpkin beer. 2014 marked the 10th year Elysian has held its Great Pumpkin Beer Festival. What started as a small festival has taken on a life of its own and is now a large festival embraced by the city and brewers from across the country. The 2014 fest featured more than 80 different pumpkin beers, including at least 17 brewed by Elysian. Cantwell says, “It gives us a chance to show how serious and ridiculous we can be. We can come up with a totally ridiculous idea, but then do it really well.”
In recent years, Elysian’s experimentation with different IPAs has led to a very successful series of releases. Cantwell elaborates, “When we started Elysian, I came up with The Immortal which was pretty hoppy for back then. Now, I describe it as our entry level IPA, because compared to everything that is out there now it just isn’t that hoppy. The Immortal is still the beer we sell the most of, but we wanted to be able to try and build other hops into different IPA recipes. Space Dust is now year-round, and Dayglow was a big success for us in 2014. The Savant is back out now, and then next fall we have a new IPA coming featuring the new Mandarina and Equinox hop varieties.” In addition, 2015 will also bring a new Noir Series of beers featuring some of Elysian’s more successful darker beers from the past few years. That series will include The Fix (possibly under a new name), which was the beer they brewed with the guys from Brewdogs, which won a silver medal at GABF.

Elysian owes much of its success to Cantwell, who has been leading the creative charge since the beginning as the Head Brewer. But, these days one of Elysian’s biggest assets as well as challenges is personnel. Lead brewers Kevin Watson, Steve Luke and Josh Waldman, as well as the rest of the brew team, continue to help drive that creativity that helps keep Elysian at the forefront of the industry. But, filling open positions can prove to be challenging. Cantwell says, “Staffing has been our biggest challenge (of growing). It goes back to Washington being a state of mostly small breweries. There are very few people who have the kind of experience we’re looking for in an ideal candidate to work on larger tanks and with automation systems.” He goes on to say, “I don’t want to be stealing people away from other breweries. I try to be extremely contentious about that by not ever approaching someone. I never talk to anyone about a job unless they come talking to us first. Even so, we can’t always be hiring away from each other, so what we try to do much more is bring people up from within. That creates a lot of churn, but also creates a lot of opportunity. It just takes time.”

With a large production brewery and multiple smaller locations providing a creative pipeline, Elysian is well-situated for the next several years of growth they are anticipating. They will hit their 20th anniversary in 2016, and whatever the future holds beyond that is sure to be exciting.

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Growler Guys Opening With 60 Taps in Iconic Building in NE Seattle

May 11th, 2016 · Openings

YingsNE Seattle beer drinkers will soon have a new place to raise a pint with friends and fill a growler to take home. Kelly Dole is targeting a July opening date for Growler Guys, which will be located on Lake City Way in Wedgewood near the area where the neighborhood intersects with Roosevelt, Ravenna and Maple Leaf.

Dole has secured a bit of an iconic Seattle building for the business: a six-sided building designed by Roland Terry, one of Seattle’s most famous architects (he also designed the Canlis building). Ying’s Drive-In was the tenant at this location for an impressive 45 years until the business closed at the end of March. Even if you don’t live anywhere near NE Seattle, if you have driven down Lake City Way at one point or another you will likely recognize the building. Check out the following video for more info on the building.

Growler Guys is a local NW business that was started by a father and son combo and another business partner back in 2012 in Bend, Oregon. While the heavy focus of most Growler Guys locations is on growler fills, this Seattle location will offer much more. Dole explains, “Certainly we’ll be filling growlers, but it’s a bit of a departure from the other Grower Guys locations. We’ll have 60 taps and there will be a big on-premise aspect with sort of a beer garden atmosphere. It’s going to be a place to hang out with your friends and have a great time with an amazing selection of beer…It’s what I hope will become one of the real destination beer places in this city. Giving credit where it’s due, there are a lot of great places to drink beer in this city…Beveridge Place…Latona…A lot of people who have helped build the craft beer business in this town. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be in a position to do this.”

The building itself has around 3,450 sq ft of space, plus an additional 2,000 to 3,000 sq ft of mostly covered outdoor space. Dole says, “Most of our capacity will be outside in heated areas. It has a 360 degree covered patio. It is going to be a great location for events and festivals, and I’d really like to make use of that.” In addition to 60 taps of beer available for drinking on-premise and growler fills, there will be ~500 bottles available and a kitchen making food for enjoying there or for takeout. Dole says, “The food menu will be pizza-driven with wings and other offerings. There will also be a to-go menu that we are working out, essentially grab-and-go. 44,000 cars a day drive down this road (each day). I think it’s Seattle’s fifth busiest stretch of road. A lot of people are headed home. I want to give them a reason to stop in, watch an inning with a pint and then grab some food to bring home.

Dole is ecstatic to have found such a great building for his business. “I’ve been looking for a long time for a great place to lease. This place is hands down amazing. It’s just an unusual building that deserves to be used and not torn down. It’s a great place for a beer bar.”

TGG-logoDole says that going with Growler Guys to fulfill his dream of opening a beer bar made a lot of sense for him. “I met these guys and I just really liked them and what they are doing. I was convinced that I’d be better off joining up with them (instead of going it alone). They are savvy enough to allow for regional adjustments for each market. The beer business is moving and changing so fast these days, I think it will help (being with Growler Guys). They have a lot of experience and are getting more and more all the time. I like the idea of having them on my team. I also love their digital menu system…it’s proprietary to their business. Frankly, I think it’s several steps above any other digital menu system I’ve seen. I guess what I like is that with that many taps, it really helps you decide what to order…Part of this job that I’m looking forward to is helping to introduce new beer to people and really helping breweries build their brand. I think Growler Guys is really great at that. We move a lot of beer and have a large selection.”

Dole lives nearby to where Growler Guys will be, and he is excited to be connected to the neighborhood through his business. Growler Guys will be both kid and dog friendly. With 60 taps, there will be many different breweries and styles for customers to choose from. Dole says, “It’s sort of like having all of your favorite breweries under one roof. That’s kind of what we are aiming for.

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Seattle Beer Week Kicks Off Tomorrow

May 11th, 2016 · Events, General Beer News, Washington Breweries

The 8th Annual Seattle Beer Week kicks off this Thursday, May 12, and it will stretch all the way through Sunday, May 22. As always, there are an insane amount of worthy events. I’ll suggest that you check out the website to peruse the full list of events. Most events you don’t need to think ahead; just show up and enjoy. But, if you have any desire to partake in one of the many beer dinners or beer & food-related events, you might want to get on that now. Some dinners will certainly sell out.

Make sure you get to try the Daily Pale from Reuben’s Brews, which is the official beer of the 2016 Seattle Beer Week. It has been available in six-packs of cans for a month or so now, and it will be available on draught starting Thursday.



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Engine House No. 9 Tasting at Beer Junction Tonight

May 5th, 2016 · Washington Breweries

If you haven’t been paying attention, Tacoma’s Engine House No. 9 Brewery (E9) is making some of the best saisons and sours in the NW right now. In addition, they are hitting the mark with their hoppy pales and barrel-aged beers, as well. Stop by The Beer Junction tonight for a tasting of several beers with Matt & Don from the brewery.

The lineup for tasting will include:
Bourbon Aged Dark Passenger Imperial Stout
Wild Tacoma Berry Manilow Table Sour
Michelle the Gamer IPA
Pales in Comparison Nelson Brett IPA
Rhubarb Wild Ale!

Beer Junction also has a nice selection of E9 bottles (mostly saisons and sours) in stock for purchase, and you should certainly try some out if you are a fan of the styles.

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