Here they are! The 2017 12 Breweries of Christmas!
DAY 1 – Hellbent Brewing
This huge, impressive brewery and taproom is on Lake City Way in the NE part of Seattle. Brian Young is the brewmaster. You may remember him from Rock Bottom, Gordon Biersch and Redhook. He continues his mastery of the craft at Hellbent. Hellbent’s other principals are Jack Guinn, Chris Giles and Randy Embernate – longtime friends and restaurant industry veterans.
I found several delicious brews on tap today, notably the release of the new Dunkel. I also recommend their Moon Tower Stout, Warm Fuzzies (a cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and peach glass of deliciousness), Mossback Monk Tripel and the All Spruced Up Winter Ale. For more information go to Hellbent Brewing. You can find several other really good breweries nearby, including Elliot Bay Brewing, Cairn Brewing, 192 Brewing, and 9 Yards Brewing.
Day 2 – Counterbalance Brewing
Counterbalance Brewing is the result of two former coffee geeks. Frank Lawrence and Jeff Howell, met in their previous careers with Seattle specialty coffee mainstay Caffe Ladro. A love of craft beer and some successful homebrewing adventures (mainly from Frank) planted the seed to enter the craft beer marketplace in a shop in south Seattle.
While all the beers are exceptional, I am a huge fan of the Kushetka Stout which may well be the best stout in the city. It’s a great place for groups or making new friends. Both Frank and Jeff are very hands on, both in the brewhouse and out front with the customers.
There are a multitude of good breweries nearby; Ghostfish (specializing in award-winning gluten-free beers), Seapine Brewing, Lowercase Brewing, Machine House Brewing, Tin Dog Brewing and Burdick Brewing. You can make a day of it.
Day 3 – Holy Mountain Brewing
Elegantly crafted beers abound at Holy Mountain Brewing. The three owners — Adam Paysse, Colin Lenfesty and Mike Murphy — are old hands, having worked in various jobs at Schooner Exact Brewing Co., Bainbridge Island Brewery and Westland Distillery. Their brewery in the Interbay area between Queen Anne Hill and Magnolia has generous hours of operation with ample parking.
Each time I visit here I find a variety of beers I do not think I’m going to like, but dutifully try an array of small pours only to find that I actually really like things I have never liked at other places. Some of them are so good you want to take them home. Dream on. The productions runs are so small they only bottle a few of them and limit the number you can purchase. Some are bottles you can only try while on premises. I had the Shadowlifter (milk stout) and the Ships Passing (hoppy brett). Ya. I know. Pretty wide range on the palate spectrum. But I can handle it. I’m a professional. Both were fantastic. Can’t wait to go back there again.
So just what kind of beers do they make there? They have been described as yeast-forward and include; saisons, bretts, barrel conditioned sours. If you think you don’t like those, go there anyway. You will be delightfully surprised.
Other worthy places in the vicinity are Figurehead Brewing, Urban Family Brewing, Rooftop Brewing, and just across the canal is that Seattle beer heaven called Ballard.
Day 4 – Triplehorn Brewing
Today we put Seattle in our rear-view mirror and venture East to one of the many fine breweries on the other side of Lake Washington. Triplehorn Brewing in Woodinville is dog and kid friendly with a wide array of exceptionally good beers. My personal favorite is N3M3Sis (pronounced Nem’-uh-sis), a 9.5% milk stout on nitro. This place is living proof that the best beers in Washington are not necessarily in Seattle.
Two brothers, Rich and Ray Nesheim made a substantial personal investment and commitment to becoming known as a unique Eastside brewery. If you are part of the Triplehorde you know what I am talking about. I have my N3M3Sis and got some other fine brews to take home; the Falcon Cloak blonde ale, Folkvang red ale and the Incinerator, a Julbock (Doppelbock) also coming in at 9.5%. Alas I had to pass on the Oatmeal Porter, the Blood Orange Wheat, and the Volksfest (hefe) today. The liver can only take so much punishment. For you hopheads, they have four IPAs on tap too.
They are in good company. Nearby is 20 Corners Brewing, Dirty Bucket Brewing (and a large number of wineries and distilleries) and if you go on a Saturday, Foggy Noggin’ Brewing (specializing in English style beers).
Day 5 – Four Generals Brewing
Ross Hudspeth and his family operate Four Generals Brewery in Renton. Another homebrewer whose hobby got way out of hand – in a good way. He has made the transition quite nicely and has already claimed his first Gold Medal from the Washington Brewers Guild competition for his English Bitter. You can often find Ross brewing a new batch in the back or joining his fans out in the taproom, with his mom and dad working the taps and taking care of the business side of things. Ross says 2018 will see a bit more consistency in his tap handles with many new styles, mostly German style lagers. His three newest creations are utterly fantastic; a milk stout, a winter warmer and a dark sour.
If you are headed that way be sure to include Airways Brewing in Kent as part of your day.
There are two festivals coming up in January that are well worth your time, money, and their attendant effects on your liver. First up is the Strange Brew Festival in Port Townsend. The next is the Belgianfest put on by the Washington Beer Commission. I like them both, but they are the same weekend, January 27, many miles apart.
click on image to enlarge
Strange Brewfest is in its 14th year of serving up a large variety of beer hallucinations. The term “strange” doesn’t even begin to describe the 60+ creative concoctions that more than 30 breweries will tap on Friday, January 26 and Saturday, January 27. It’s a great bargain too. Entry is $30 and it gets you in for both days, that’s seven hours on Friday evening and eleven hours on Saturday. They start you off with four tokens and have more to sell if you run out.
As a side benefit you have an excuse to ride a ferry boat, drive along forested roadways, visit the amazing Port Townsend Brewery, Propolis Brewing, three breweries in nearby Port Angeles, and ten breweries between Hood Canal and Port Orchard (including Bremerton and Poulsbo). You can make it a mini beercation.
The 9th Annual Belgian Fest will take place at Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion highlighting 100+ Belgian-style beers crafted by Washington breweries. Featured beer styles include Tripels, Dubbels, Saisons, Wits, Abbeys and Lambics. In keeping with this unique style, all of the beers are brewed with Belgian yeast.
Tickets are $37 Advance or $45 at the door. Limited tickets at the door. Admission includes a tasting glass and 10 tasting tokens. Each taste is 4 oz. Separate tickets required for each session. $5 designated driver admission is available at the door. Designated driver includes includes soda and/or water.
Saturday, January 27th, 2018
Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center!
305 Harrison St
Seattle, WA 98109 Session 1: 12-4pm
Session 2: 5:30-9:30 pm
It is said that this is the most wonderful time of the year. It certainly is for craft beer. Winter warmers. Barleywines. Barrel-aged wonders. Egg nog adaptations. Spiced, spruced and fir’d phantasms to phloat your phlotsom.
At HTBN, it is a time to keep family ever so much closer and remember the reason for the season and the hope it offers for a better humanity. We wish you well as this year closes out and a new year begins. Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with beer.
We have often showcased beers and breweries with a holiday bent over the years. We have done the Advent calendar of beers from around the world and those closer to home. This year we are celebrating the 12 Breweries of Christmas. These locales were chosen not because they are the best or most popular places in the Puget Sound region. In fact, to the contrary, some of these places are relatively unknown. They are all good and worth a trip during this holiday season. We will go there, and report on what we liked. Maybe that will encourage you to try them too. The fun begins on December 14.
As more places open, destination brewtours are becoming the new thing. We will highlight one brewery and let you know a bit about other nearby choices if you care to visit more than one. Try a sampler tray. Bring growlers. There will more than one or two that will intrigue you at each place. Use a designated driver, Uber, Lyft, the bus or light rail, a bicycle, your feet or whatever transportation choices you have available. Enjoy the season, but make sure you are around to do it all again next year.
Breweries will include, but are not limited to, and in no particular order, yet; Counterbalance, Holy Mountain, Triplehorn, Four Generals, Pike, Redhook Brewlab, Flying Lion, Mollusk, Reubens, Geaux, Slaughter County, and No Boat. Stay tuned for details here and on the HTBN Twitter and Facebook feeds.
The Great Pumpkin Beer Festival is this weekend. Like last year, it promises to be a fun-filled adventure through dozens of great pumpkin beers from near and far. Here is the word for the event organizers. The event is sold out for both days.
13TH ANNUAL GREAT PUMPKIN BEER FESTIVAL
Where: Seattle Center (305 Harrison Street Seattle, WA)
Beers: During the festival, 80+ pumpkin beers (and a few additional surprises) will be poured from brewers across the country, including about 20 from Elysian’s own pumpkin-crazed brewers.
Giant Pumpkin: The Elysian team will tap farmer Joel Holland’s winning Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off 1,790 pound pumpkin (a record!) that has been scooped, scorched, sealed and conditioned, and finally filled with pumpkin beer and tapped for all attendees to enjoy.
Festival Theme: Guests are encouraged to embrace the color of the festival – orange – in every way, shape and form, and Pumpkin Fest judges will be roaming the crowds to select and award the most festive attendees with a thirst-quenching prize.
Giving Back: New to GPBF this year, Elysian is partnering with Fred Hutch. We are incredibly proud to say that 100% of the proceeds from GPBF will be provided to Fred Hutch in our joint and continued quest to search for the cure.
RUN OF SHOW & KEY MOMENTS
FRIDAY, SEPT. 29
4:00 PM – General Admission Gates Open; procession soon to follow
7:30 PM – 1,790 lbs. Giant Pumpkin tapping at Pumpkin Alter with Chaotic Noise
10:00 PM – Event ends
SATURDAY, SEPT. 30
2:00 PM – General Admission Gates Open; procession soon to follow
ABOUT ELYSIAN BREWING
While Elysian’s brewers create a number of unusual and unique brews, the brewery is notorious for its pumpkin beer series, specifically Night Owl Pumpkin Ale, Great Pumpkin Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Punkuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale, and Dark o’ the Moon Pumpkin Stout.
Washington has long been a leader in the Craft Beer resurgence with over 350 breweries throughout the state. People who will attend this year’s Great American Beer Festival will only get to sample beers from 16 of them. Only six of some 75+ breweries in self-acclaimed beer capitol Seattle will pour samples at the event this year. One of them, arguably is not even really a Washington brewer, although it has a mighty presence across the street from Safeco Field.
By contrast, arch rival Oregon, will send 41 brewers to the event this year, with Texas bringing 43. Lowly home of the frozen orange juice, Florida, will have 28 breweries in attendance. Beer Goliaths (sic) Virginia will have 18 breweries participating, and Indiana, 21. The new beer capitols, California (151) and Colorado (161), will dominate the floor again this year.
Many reasons for this slump off have been speculated, including the high cost to breweries for participating – they are asked to donate about $6,000 worth of product for the three day event – and the volume of beer needed. Many of Washington’s breweries produce small volumes of beer and this puts a serious dent in what they would have available for local consumers. The Washington Brewers Guild will have a booth with an as yet undisclosed list of beers they will serve.
Washington brewers who will be at the festival include:
Elliot Bay Brewing
Boundary Bay Brewing
Paradise Creek Brewing
White Bluffs Brewing
Victor 23 Brewing
We do not know how many Washington breweries have entered beers into the accompanying competition. Winners will be announced on Saturday, October 7. Hoppy Trails Beer News will be sending tweets and posting on Facebook as Washington winners are announced.
Here is a quick run down of new announcements and interesting factoids submitted by the brewing community.
Silver City Brewing
2017 Seattle FC Pub Crawl
October 15th, 2017
Sounders vs Dallas
Just a few days left to purchase tickets! Sales end 9/18!
Update: We’ve listened to feedback from all of the season ticket holders that wish to join the pub crawl but already have game tickets– we now have special $20 pricing that includes participation in the pub crawl, including the commemorative t-shirt, but without the game ticket.
Silver City Brewery, Aslan Brewing, Pike Brewing Co., Ghostfish Brewing Co., Ulee’s Light Cider, and Papa Bueno Tequila are ecstatic to announce partnership on an all-new Seattle Sounders-focused pub crawl event to be held on Sunday, October 15th.
Celebrating Seattle sports and the local pub culture, the event will see up to one thousand thirsty fútbol fans coming together in Pioneer Square over delicious adult beverages at a variety of beloved establishments, culminating with participants attending the FC Dallas at Sounders FC match en masse at CenturyLink Field, 4:30PM PT.
Michigan’s oldest craft brewery celebrates more than three decades of brewing
COMSTOCK, Mich. – Bell’s Brewery, Michigan’s oldest and largest brewery, celebrates its 32nd anniversary this month. As part of the celebration, Bell’s kicked-off its 8th Annual Bell’s Homebrew Competition on Sept. 9 at Bell’s Eccentric Café in downtown Kalamazoo. “Three decades ago, I would have never imagined where we would be as a company, as a brewery, as an industry,” Larry Bell, President of Bell’s Brewery said.
“A lot has changed over the years. This year marks quite a few other milestones all over the state and we raise a glass to all of our fellow craft brewers celebrating as well,” he added.
Larry Bell founded Bell’s Brewery in 1983 and sold his first beer in 1985. The company he started is now 100% family-owned and also the largest independent craft brewery in the state of Michigan. Larry’s daughter, Laura Bell, was promoted to the role of CEO in February.
“It’s an incredible honor to be a part of the next generation,” Bell’s CEO Laura Bell said.
“As we look to what comes next, it’s very important to remember our roots and celebrate the fans and the homebrew community that helped us get to where we are today, she added.
Even before Larry Bell sold his first commercial beer, he started as a homebrewer and then founded a homebrew supply shop, a precursor to the brewery Bell’s is today. Production reached 135 barrels in 1986, all brewed and bottled by 10 employees.
Today, Bell’s employs more than 540 people, a majority in the state of Michigan, and shipped 421,000 barrels in 2016.
Coming up later this month is a three-day Octoberfest Celebration on Sept. 22-24, also at Bell’s Eccentric Café. German cuisine, live music and of course, Bell’s Octoberfest Beer are all part of the festivities. Held in the Bell’s Beer Garden, this is a free, all-ages event.
Bell’s fans are also encouraged to see where their favorite beers are born. Free brewery tours of Bell’s original Kalamazoo brewery are offered on weekends. Tours of its nearby Comstock Brewery are offered throughout the week. Tours can be booked at bellsbeer.com/tours.
Are you going to the Great American Beer Festival this year? Are you an attendee, a brewer, a brewer who entered the competition but is not pouring? Did you enter something in the Pro-Am?
We’d like to spread the word an maybe facilitate some meetups while we are there. Yup. Hoppy Trails Beer News will be there all three days, blogging away and tasting some really great beers. I will take my customary seat in the photo pit to try to get a good shot of you accepting your award.