APR/MAY 2005 | REGIONAL | PACIFIC
Puget Soundings : Beer in the Pacific Northwest
By Don Scheidt
Iron Horse Brewery
1000 Prospect St., Suite 4
Ellensburg, WA 98926
Roslyn Brewing Co.
208 Pennsylvania Ave.
Roslyn, WA 98941
It’s been a busy (and dry) winter in the Pacific Northwest,
with brewfests big and small, and strong beers brewed for
the season. A new microbrewery is up and running, and the
long-awaited Brouwer's Café emerged after months of
planning and construction.
Two festivals, “Hops and Props” and “Hops
on Equinox,” were the big events of the season, but
there were also mini-fests at pubs in the area, including
the Collins Pub’s first-ever Real Strong Beer festival,
Elysian’s Winter Beer Festival, and Beveridge Place
Pub’s Barleywine Bacchanal. March also featured a month-long
promotion for beer and food at good pubs and brewpubs in Seattle.
Washington’s newest microbrewery, Iron Horse
Brewery, is based in Ellensburg, a ranching, farming
and college town in the Kittitas Valley, east of the Cascade
Mountains. The brewery is a one-man operation run by Jim Quilter,
whose brewing experience includes stints at Sierra Nevada
Brewing, Butte Creek Brewing and Mad River Brewery in California.
Quilter originally wanted to open a brewpub but settled for
opening a microbrewery when the brewpub plans didn’t
Iron Horse is currently packaging in kegs only, so these
beers are available only on tap. Quilter is busy making Rodeo
Extra Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, Brown Ale and Locomotive Red
Ale, and he is supplying taps in pubs and restaurants in his
region. With luck, we might get to see some of his beers cross
the Cascades to what eastern Washingtonians call “the
Coast” or “the West Side.” Iron Horse had
a stand at the Hops on Equinox spring beer festival, and with
any luck, this will help create the impetus that gets Iron
Horse beers on tap in the Seattle area.
Iron Horse isn’t the only craft brewery in Kittitas
County; Roslyn Brewing is continuing operations
into its 15th year under new owners Kent Larimer, Paul Angelos
and Mike Payne, who bought the brewery in July 2004. Roslyn
Brewing produces dark Roslyn Lager and pale Brookside Lager,
and plans to get more beer — bottled and kegged —
into “West Side” shops and pubs in the coming
New beers and good pub food — it’s
a fine time to enjoy great beer in Washington.
Brouwer's Café, located in Seattle’s Fremont
district, shares ownership with Seattle’s Bottleworks
specialty beer store and shares a similar dedication to sybaritic
pleasures, with 40 (or more) taps, a menu featuring Belgian
specialties, a selection of Scotch (good bourbon, too?) and
more. Just a month after opening, Brouwer's will also host
the 2005 edition of the Hard Liver Barley Wine Festival, promising
at least 40 high-potency barley wines.
Rather than hold the festival on a single evening, as has
been done in the past, this one will follow the pattern of
San Francisco's famous Toronado Barleywine Festival, running
over the course of an entire week. Brouwer's won’t be
the first in town to do this, however; west Seattle’s
Beveridge Place Pub also featured its own Barleywine Bacchanal
in early March, rotating a selection of 30 barley wines on
12 taps throughout the week.
The Collins Pub also ran its own Real Strong Beer Festival
over President’s Day weekend, featuring an impressive
selection of strong beers — not just barley wines, but
winter ales, unique high-gravity brews and Val-Dieu abbey
brown ale from Belgium. Seth Howard and crew added special
items to the menu, including an excellent leg of lamb platter
with horseradish mashed potatoes, and a superb “Mussels
Royale” plate that featured mussels served in butterfly
shells with melted cheese and pancetta. The richness of these
dishes matched well with the impressive array of strong beers
on tap. The three-year-old Alaskan Smoked Porter that I’d
enjoyed there the night before was well worth the time, too.
Elysian Brewery followed up with its own
always-excellent Winter Ale Festival on the weekend after
President’s Day, featuring 19 ales of the winter season,
including three Belgian delights on tap, among them the very
rare Avec les Bons Voeux from Brasserie Dupont. Domestics
featured Elysian’s BiFröst and Dave’s Winter
Whim (a wheat beer), two vintages of Sierra Nevada’s
Celebration Ale, and winter ales from Big Time, Watertown
Brewing, Hale’s, Elliott Bay, Boundary Bay, Pyramid,
Snoqualmie Falls, Full Sail, Hair of the Dog and New Belgium.
Good pub food has come a long way in the Pacific Northwest,
and March featured a month-long promotion of great pub cuisine
in what was billed as the “Great Seattle Pub Quest.”
Ten pubs and two brewpubs joined in the event: the three Seattle
Ale House pubs – 74th Street, Hilltop and Columbia City
– joined the Latona and the Hopvine (two of Bob Brenlin’s
three pubs), along with the Collins Pub, the Barking Dog,
the Nickerson Street Saloon, the Virginia Inn, Buckley’s,
Hale’s Brewery Pub and the Pike Brewery and Pub. The
promotion featured “Great Pub Cuisine” nights,
Sunday through Thursday, featuring signature Pub Quest menus
for $12. This promotion was also tied in to the Hops on Equinox
Spring Beer Festival on March 25–26.
New beers, good pub food and even more to enjoy, including
a subtly smoky new rauchbier from Baron Brewing
and the new Weizenrock strong wheat ale brewed by Larry Rock
and Dick Cantwell at Elysian TangleTown —
it’s a fine time to enjoy great beer in Washington.
Next time, I’ll have a preview of the Summer Brewfest
coming in June, and more on Brouwer's Café.
Don Scheidt is an associate editor of the
Celebrator Beer News and author of the Northwest
He also writes about beer for the Seattle Weekly (seattleweekly.com)
and can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.