JUNE/JULY 2005 | REGIONAL |
Puget Soundings : Beer In The Pacific Northwest
By Don Scheidt
In mid-April, on a mildly blustery Saturday, it seemed like
as good a day as any to take a road trip to the eastern Washington
town of Ellensburg, which, as reported in the April/May 2005
issue of the Celebrator, is home to Iron
Horse Brewery, Washington’s newest micro. Owner-brewer
Jim Quilter was there to meet me — as he is for anyone
who drops by during his “shop hours” — and
so I got the opportunity to taste the Iron Horse’s range
The Rodeo Extra Pale is a well-balanced pale ale, crisp and
clean, the kind of beer that has come to be regarded as a
West Coast classic, perfect for session drinking. For those
looking for maltier flavors, Iron Horse Brown Ale is an obvious
choice; hops take the backseat in this one, with well-developed
malt flavors that finish well without being treacly or cloying.
Iron Horse IPA is the kind of ale that has made the Pacific
Northwest so well known, abundant with Columbus and Cascade
hops. I first had this one at my local during a month-long
IPA festival, so I had a good idea of what to expect. I was
not disappointed. The brewery’s flagship beer, Locomotive
Red, also isn’t shy with the hops, being rich with Centennials
After visiting the brewery and talking with Quilter about
his hopes and plans for a successful venture, we stopped in
at The Tav, a popular multi-tap pub in downtown Ellensburg
that was among the first in Washington state to feature Iron
Horse ales on tap. As good as the beers are when sampled at
the brewery, they’re even better when accompanied by
some good pub food. Iron Horse ales are already appearing
on tap in Seattle area pubs, and Quilter sells 12-ounce bottles
as well. Here’s a toast wishing success to Quilter and
Now that Seattle’s new Belgian beer bar and restaurant,
Brouwer’s Café, has had a chance to settle in
a bit, I’ve had the opportunity to stop in a few times.
It’s an attractive place, including a long wood-topped
bar, lots of wood-topped tables, and an interior that combines
cement, metal and wood to dramatic effect. The mezzanine seating
(and smoking) area is supported by steel bars attached to
steel crossbeams on the ceiling. A skylight lets in plenty
of natural light during the daytime; the interior is more
intimately lit after sunset. There’s also outdoor seating
right by the entry door.
Owner-brewer Jim Quilter
was there — as he is for anyone who drops by during
his “shop hours” — and I got to taste
the Iron Horse’s range of ales.
The rack of taps is the most obvious attraction inside, with
about 50 draft beers on offer, including at least a dozen
Belgian beers as well as others from Germany, North America
and the U.K. If the taps aren’t enough, there are even
more bottled Belgian and North American beers behind the bar.
The menu also has a Belgian tilt, featuring such classics
as mussels with fries and Belgian beef carbonnade.
As should be expected with a new operation, Brouwer’s
is still shaking down as the crew fine-tunes the operation,
but it’s shaping up to be a worthwhile destination for
Seattle residents and visitors seeking out a beer-rich experience.
I enjoyed another such beer-rich experience in April when
I joined the Greater Everett Brewers League on a pub-crawl.
We started at Hale’s Brewery and Pub,
where owner Mike Hale was on hand to talk about his brewery
and its beers. Hale’s has been expanding its range over
the last few years. Mongoose IPA, which made its debut three
years ago, has done well, becoming a popular example of the
citrusy-bitter Pacific Northwest IPA style. More recently,
Hale’s Red Menace Big Amber has been showing up on tap
handles, and the name doesn’t lie; this 1.056 OG amber
ale has a firm malt background of Carastan and Caramel malts,
with just a touch of black malt to add depth to the color,
and it’s hopped with 100% Centennials.
Also impressive is Hale’s new Abbey Ale, a Belgian-style
departure from the brewery’s usual range of English-inspired
ales, with a deep-golden color from pale, crystal and Munich
malts; Saaz and Mount Hood hops to keep the sweetness in check;
and a Belgian abbey-ale yeast that gives the beer a citrusy,
fruity aroma. Belgian candy sugar is used to kick up the original
gravity, resulting in a strong golden ale at 6.7% abv.
After starting out sampling several Hale’s ales with
pub pizzas, the pub-crawlers hopped on Hale’s double-decker
bus to go traveling in style. The next stop was a short distance
down the road, at the Maritime Pacific brewery.
Joe Carullo was on hand to show off the brewery and pour samples
of the Vienna-style amber lager, to the appreciation of all
The next bus stop was at Brouwer’s Café, where
the pub-crawling crew shifted their attentions to the Belgian
beers on tap, including tasty samples of Gouden Carolus Tripel
and St. Bernardus 12. As if that wasn’t enough, a generous
purchase of Bottleworks Imagination Series Sixth Anniversary
gave all on hand an opportunity to sample this Belgian-style
treat, an abbey brown ale brewed by Tom Munoz and crew at
Redmond’s Far West Brewing Co.
By the time everyone was back on the Hale’s bus, they
were in fine beery spirits, ready for the last stop of the
crawl, the Collins Pub in central Seattle, where even more
beery treats awaited the thirsty crew. I stayed at the Collins
and wished the GEBL crawlers a fond bon voyage. I still had
an evening ahead of me, to be taken up by a delicious multi-course
brewer’s dinner featuring Elysian beers.
Seattle will present even more worthwhile events for beer
drinkers this summer, with the NWSource.com Summer Brewfest
kicking things off on Father’s Day Weekend, June 17–19.
As is always the case with this Pacific Northwest tradition,
now in its sixth year, it will feature around 54 purveyors,
mostly offering beer but a few offering ciders, in the classy
and grassy environs of St. Edward State Park, between Kirkland
and Bothell on the northeastern shore of Lake Washington.
Two weekends later, on July 1–3, the 2005 edition of
the Seattle International Beer Festival will kick into gear,
offering beer lovers an impressive range of beers from Europe,
North America and Japan, including what for me is a long-overdue
opportunity to sample brews from Walking Man Brewery, whose
powerful Homo Erectus and Somnambulator beers will be part
of the beer lineup. Will I see you there? Hope I do. Have
a great and beery summer!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.