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Puget Soundings : Beer In The Pacific Northwest
By Don Scheidt

There are times when you see something you wrote show up in print, and you realize it’s made a liar of you. For instance, I wrote that Bill Jenkins and Frank Halderman were in charge of the kettles at the Big Time brewpub in Seattle’s University District. That’s no longer true. Jenkins is still there, but working with him now is Kelly Wiese. Wiese doesn’t just assist Jenkins at the Big Time, either; he also is an assistant brewer at the Elysian brewpub, in an arrangement Dick Cantwell told me was “further cementing the bond between the two places.”

The bond seems to be holding well, and as both Elysian and the Big Time continue to put out high-quality beers for their thirsty fans, let the bond cement. I’ve continued to enjoy warming winter ales from both breweries, particularly this year’s batch of BiFröst from Elysian, nourishing and warming at 7.8% abv. Elysian beers were featured at an excellent brewer’s dinner at Seattle’s Brasserie Margaux on December 15, 2004. The dinner included five courses paired with an ambitious selection of Elysian brews, including Bête Blanch Triple, Zephyrus Pilsner, Saison Elysée, The Wise ESB and Night Owl Pumpkin Ale. The courses blended in perfect harmony with the selected beers, particularly the dessert, which paired the limited-edition pumpkin ale with a rich pumpkin cheesecake.

I also reported that Jay Fisher, of the Dog & Pony in Renton, was involved in the new Red House beer and wine shop and tapas restaurant in the same suburban town. This relationship has come to an end, allowing Fisher to concentrate on running his successful Renton pub.

The new Brouwers café and pub’s opening has been pushed back, too; readers of this edition of the CBN may have gotten their copies just in time for its opening. Owner Matt Vandenberghe and General Manager Matt Bonney still plan to have the 2005 edition of their nearly legendary Hard Liver Barley Wine Festival there, but this may be held closer to the end of winter. The plan is to make it somewhat similar in style to the very legendary Barleywine Festival held at San Francisco’s Toronado, with a weekend kickoff leading to a week in which strong barley wine–style beers, rich and fortifying and generally not low in alcohol, will dominate the taps.

There have been big changes for Bear Creek Brewing. Owner Mike Piechowiak was forced to move his brewing company out of the former brewpub that housed his brewing plant. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to take the actual brewery with him. The brewing equipment was subsequently sold off, and Piechowiak has been working a contract-brewing arrangement with Grant’s in Yakima to ensure a continuing supply of Bear Creek beers. Down the road, Piechowiak is optimistic that a brewing deal will be worked out with a cooperating brewery, perhaps the one that acquired the equipment that used to turn out his beers: Diamond Knot, based in Mukilteo, Wash.

February and March will see the return of two festivals, “Hops and Props” and “Hops on Equinox,” both for their third editions. Hops and Props is a special event put on to benefit the Museum of Flight in south Seattle. It will be held on February 12, 2005, and will feature 35 breweries from throughout the West and a few imported beers as well.

McCormick and Schmick’s will cater the event, and guests will receive a tasting glass, a tasting guide and access to the museum’s viewing galleries. Guests who spring for VIP tickets will also get early admission, reserved parking and a private tasting of specialty beers prior to the main event. As might be expected, entry is limited to adults 21 and over. Visit www.museumofflight.org for more information.

Don Scheidt is the author of the Northwest BrewPage at nwbrewpage.com. He also edits BeerWeek. He can also be reached via e-mail.


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