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By Kendall Jones, Washington Beer Blog

Governor Jay Inslee just signed an official proclamation declaring next Saturday, February 24th Washington Beer Day. This was a joint effort coordinated by the Washington Beer Commission and the Washington Brewers Guild. The date coincides with Washington Beer Open House, a statewide celebration of Washington’s vibrant brewing culture.

On Saturday, February 24, breweries across the state will open the doors to the brewhouse and invite the public to visit as part of Washington Beer Open House. Exactly what each brewery has planned varies. Possibilities include behind the scenes tours, special beer tastings, barrel-aged beer releases, seasonal releases, food, and so on. You’ll need to check with each participating brewery for details or check out the list of breweries and events below. This year 137 breweries are participating this year.

If you’re a WABL member, don’t forget to check in using the WABL app while you’re out there visiting breweries. If you’re not a WABL member, you should consider joining WA Beer Lovers. Between the T-shirt and the special deals you get at festivals, your membership basically pays for itself. You can join WABL here, or you can visit WABL during Washington Beer Open House at the Crucible Brewing taproom in Woodinville. They’ll be there to answer questions and sign you up.

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By Kendall Jones, Washington Beer Blog

It’s one of the most prolific agricultural regions west of the Cascade Mountains. The Skagit Valley is home to all sorts of great farms, but also a lot of great breweries. A few years ago, someone got the brilliant idea to start malting barley in the Skagit Valley, much of it locally grown. Today Skagit Valley Malting produces some of the best malted barley around. The stuff is coveted by brewers. It all sounds kind of magical.

Skagit Beer Week is a celebration of all of it: fresh beer, fresh food, and locally malted grain. The week kicks off with a big festival, the Farm to Pint Fest, and concludes with another festival, the Skagit Valley Malting Showcase. All sorts of events in between.

Skagit Farm to Pint Fest on Saturday, March 31st serves as the official kick-off party for Skagit Beer Week. The festival is the first-ever gathering of all 11 Skagit breweries for an event like this. Each brewery will be paired with a Skagit Valley restaurant and/or farmer with the goal of highlighting local Skagit Valley ingredients. Entertainment will be provided by three Skagit-grown bands. Advanced tickets ONLY.

The event takes place on Saturday, March 31st, from 2:00-6:00 at Skagit Valley Malting’s location at the Port of Skagit. (map.) Attendees will receive a commemorative glass and enjoy all 11 pairings– each beer expertly paired with a bite. Also, a sample of each brewery’s second beer offerings. Music supplied by The Hoe & the Harrow, Sky Colony, and Whiskey Fever.

Tickets and more details about the Farm to Pint Fest at the official website:
http://skagitfarmtopint.com/fest/.

The event is the official kickoff of Skagit Beer Week, a seven-day marathon of beer dinners, tasting events, tap takeovers, and educational events all across the Skagit Valley. Learn more about what’s happening for Skagit Beer Week at http://www.skagitbeerweek.com/.

Skagit Beer Week ends with Skagit Valley Malting Showcase (APRIL 7) at Farmstrong Brewing! The event is free and features 10 breweries serving beers brewed with Skagit Valley Malting grains. Also, a Chili and Chowder Cook-off, a Wort Challenge, and more. For details about the event, visit the official website at http://skagitbeerweek.com/skagit-valley-malting-showcase/.

For the latest news and information about beer in and around Washington, visit Washington Beer Blog.

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By Kendall Jones, Washington Beer Blog

Can you imagine a world without cans? In 2010, when the most common style of packaging for good beer was the 22-ounce bottle, 7 Seas Brewing became the first of Washington’s independent breweries to offer its beers in aluminum cans. Everyone wondered if craft beer aficionados would ever learn to accept the idea of good beer in cans. Duh. I think that question answered itself. Hard to believe it has only been eight years.

And now this.

For the most part, I focus on news from Washington breweries, but this is significant enough that it warrants our attention. Deschutes Brewery is about to start offering its beer in 12-ounce aluminum cans. Expect to see cans of Fresh Squeezed IPA, Mirror Pond Pale Ale, and Pacific Wonderland Lager wherever Deschutes beers are sold. In other words, everywhere.

In particular, cans of Fresh Squeezed IPA are going to fly off the shelves like, well, whatever flies off of shelves.

Next up, Deschutes Brewery intends to offer Fresh Squeezed IPA in what they’re calling “19.2-ounce single-serve cans.” No word as to when, exactly, when we can expect to see those hummers start flying off of shelves.

For the latest news and information about beer in and around Washington, visit Washington Beer Blog.

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By Kendall Jones, Washington Beer Blog

No-Li Brewhouse Releases Falls Porter 12-ounce Cans

SPOKANE. USA — No-Li Brewhouse announced the latest addition to its can lineup today when it rolled out its Falls Porter 12-ounce can.

Falls Porter (6.1% ABV, 39 IBUs) is a full-bodied beer made with flaked oats and CTZ hops. It’s a smooth, malt-forward porter that features notes of dried fruit, oats and a little chocolate.

No-Li Falls Porter is the sixth canned beer released by the Spokane-based brewery, which has been packaging its beer in cans beginning with the 2015 release of Born & Raised IPA in 12-ounce cans. Other canned offerings include Big Juicy IPA, Wrecking Ball Imperial Stout, Red White & No-Li Pale Ale and No-Li Amber.

“We felt that our line-up was missing something — a full bodied ale that doesn’t knock you on your ass. Falls Porter is that something,” said No-Li lead brewer Ryan Brookhart. “Flaked oats and Munich malt give the beer a robust body despite only being 6.1% ABV.”

Falls Porter is currently available in grocery stores and bottle shops throughout the greater Spokane and North-Idaho region, as well as select spots in Western Washington. Distribution is expected to expand this spring.

No-Li Brewhouse is an independent, family owned craft brewery based in Spokane, Washington. nolibrewhouse.com

For the latest news and information about beer in and around Washington, visit Washington Beer Blog.

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By Kendall Jones, Washington Beer Blog

The Washington Brewers Guild has been busy lately, working with legislators in Olympia to pass some common sense beer laws. (See our previous story.) Like this one, which changes the way breweries can sell beer at farmers markets.

A few years ago it became legal for Washington breweries to serve samples and sell beer at farmers markets. Though you can get a taste of the beer, and perhaps buy a bottle of it, you can not get a growler filled at a farmers market. Hopefully that is about to change.

The local farmers market is good revenue stream for many young breweries, and some not-so-young breweries too. For breweries like Propolis Brewing, Atwood Ales, and Four Horsemen Brewing, the local farmers markets are (or were) a critical part of the plan. Not only does it provide an avenue for sales, but it introduces a brewery to a community. It’s a great way for a brewery to engage face-to-face with potential customers.

A new law now under consideration by the legislature would allow breweries and wineries to fill and sell growlers at farmers markets. Also, it would repeal a strong beer prohibition that forbade breweries from selling stronger beers (over 8 percent ABV) at farmers markets. And that aint all. The new law would also allow the sale of beer in cans. Currently, the beer at farmers markets law on mentions the sale of bottles.

“The WA Brewers Guild was happy to work with the sponsor and support this bill,” says Annie McGrath, Executive Director of the Washington Brewers Guild. “Allowing growler fills at Farmer’s Markets gives our state’s smallest brewers a new outlet to reach customers directly. Right now, if you’re not a packaging brewery, participating in farmer’s markets doesn’t make a lot of sense for you. HB 2419 would open this opportunity to all WA breweries wanting to connect with beer enthusiasts at their local markets.”

HB 2419 is sponsored by Representative Mark Hargrove (R-47). The bill recently passed in the House with a 78-17 vote and has been referred to the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee.

If this bill needs any assistance moving along, we will be sure to let you know how you can help.

For the latest news and information about beer in and around Washington, visit Washington Beer Blog.

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By Kendall Jones, Washington Beer Blog

We’ve known for quite some time that Hi-Fi Brewing was, basically, for sale. Now we’ve learned that the brewery in Redmond is closing down. Wednesday, February 21st is the last day. Between now and then they’d love to see you one last time so that you can help them drain the tanks. Perhaps this Saturday for one last comedy night at the brewery.

“As you can imagine, any small business these days… is a 24/7 kind of operations, and I wouldn’t mind actually having a weekend off or something like that,” said John Carothers, the owner, in an interview with the Redmond Reporter. “It has been a blast, it’s the best job I’ve ever had, really liked it. Really, really liked the people I’d get here.”

Why are they shutting down now? The lease is up and continuing would mean signing another five-year lease.

Carothers offered some parting words, a bit of advice for those interested in jumping into the brewery game. “It’s a challenging task, it’s a lot to it, there’s a lot of money involved, although I don’t think that’s any different than any other startup business, but it’s a real business and it’s a lot of work.”

“Redmond, we love you and thanks for a good run,” Carothers said.

For the latest news and information about beer in and around Washington, visit Washington Beer Blog.

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By Kendall Jones, Washington Beer Blog

The Schlitz hit the fan yesterday when Stone Brewing announced that it had filed a lawsuit against beer behemoth MillerCoors. At the heart of the matter, the recent rebranding of Keystone Light that makes conspicuous use of the word Stone.

According to Stone Brewing, it’s no accident that MillerCoors is now focusing on the word stone. “MillerCoors tried to register our name years ago and was rejected,” said Dominic Engels, Stone Brewing CEO. “Now its marketing team is making 30-pack boxes stacked high with nothing but the word ‘STONE’ visible. Same for Keystone’s social media, which almost uniformly has dropped the ‘Key.’ We will not stand for this kind of overtly and aggressively deceptive advertising. Frankly, MillerCoors should be ashamed.”

Greg Koch, the often-vociferous co-founder of Stone Brewing, spoke out about the lawsuit in a couple of ways. First, with a statement in a press release. Second, with a video on YouTube. (See video below.)

“Stone, known for being the antithesis to ‘Big Beer,’ has long waved a flag of bold character, individualism and independence,” said Greg Koch in a press release. “The craft beer pioneer feels that it has no choice but to combat MillerCoors’ aggressive marketing moves, which abandon Keystone’s own heritage by falsely associating with the one true STONE.”

In the video Koch points out that MillerCoors uses the word stone flagrantly when advertising Keystone. “Grab life by the stones, stones this, stones that.” Continuing, he says, “In the world of beer, the word stone is ours.”

“They know they can’t buy Stone, but they can obfuscate,” says Koch. “They can co-opt our brand and our good name, or at least they can try.”

MillerCoors was quick to reply. “This lawsuit is a clever publicity stunt with a multi-camera, tightly-scripted video featuring Stone’s founder Greg Koch,” said Marty Maloney, MillerCoors media relations manager. “Since Keystone’s debut in 1989, prior to the founding of Stone Brewing in 1996, our consumers have commonly used ‘Stone’ to refer to the Keystone brand and we will let the facts speak for themselves in the legal process.”

While Koch shares a lot of personal feelings in his video, this is a legal matter and the courts will determine the outcome. To those of us who side with Stone Brewing, it seems cut and dry, but rest assured that MillerCoors has a stable full of fast-talking, three-named lawyers saddling up for a long ride.

“Big Beer is once again playing dirty in their battle against independent beer,” Koch tweeted on Monday. “We didn’t start this fight, but no way in hell are we going to back down from it.”

I should point out that every devil has its advocate. At least one person of some notoriety in the beer world was not entirely pleased with Koch’s approach. That person, who I will not name because that’s probably what he wants me to do, accused Koch and Stone Brewing of treating this lawsuit like an advertising campaign.

Yes, I recognized that too. In the video, Koch makes it clear that this is not a publicity stunt. I’m sure it’s not. Then again, that video got over 60,000 views the day it was released. And here I am talking about Stone Brewing on the Washington Beer Blog. So, even if it wasn’t a publicity stunt, it was a damn good one.

If you had a legal dispute with your neighbor over a fence line, would you announce the lawsuit to the world by putting a 30-foot tall, blow-up gorilla on your roof holding a sign that says “My Neighbor Sucks!“? Wouldn’t that seem petty? Wouldn’t that trivialize the matter? Wouldn’t that seem like you’re relying on the court of pubic opinion?

Yes, I get that point, Mr. Devil’s Advocate, but who’s side are you on?

As for me, I would have handled things exactly the way Stone Brewing did yesterday.

MillerCoors has very, very deep pockets and their budget to fight this lawsuit is probably unlimited. If money can influence the outcome of a legal matter like this, Stone Brewing has no hope of winning. But MillerCoors cannot buy Stone Brewing and they cannot buy public perception.

So hell yes I’d put that big-ass gorilla up on the roof. Kick ’em where it hurts. Right in the stones.

Stone Brewing Sues Big Beer - YouTube

For the latest news and information about beer in and around Washington, visit Washington Beer Blog.

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By Kendall Jones, Washington Beer Blog

As a Seattleite, sometimes the low-hanging fruit is the most difficult to reach. I’d blame the traffic, but that’s a lame excuse. I was overdue for a visit to Kirkland, that’s all. Last weekend, Kim and I decided it was time to remedy the situation and actually make the trip across the lake to visit all three of Kirkland’s breweries.

Note that the Cross Kirkland Corridor basically connects all three of these three breweries. I like to call it the Kirkland Brewery Trail. It’s a ten-foot-wide crushed gravel trail that runs from the South Kirkland Park and Ride to the Totem Lake Business District following an old railroad grade. Chainline Brewing is actually along the trail, whereas Maelstrom Brewing and Flycaster Brewing are each just about a block off the trail. On bike, or foot, the entire trail from brewery to brewery to brewery is just 3.7 miles each way. It is mapped below.

Flycaster Brewing – The oldest of Kirkland’s three breweries, Flycaster Brewing opened in 2014. The big news here is that Jeremy Eubanks has decided not to sell the brewery, which we reported back in January. He got close, but after a slow-to-develop deal finally fell apart, he and his wife experienced a change of heart and decided to forge ahead. Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, or almost gone.

The plan is to expand the operation. Currently, Flycaster Brewing distributes most of its beer across the bar at their own all-ages taproom near Totem Lake, but they intend to become more widely available at other locations. You’ll find this brewery and taproom near that mysterious spot in King County where 124th Ave NE meets NE 124th Street.

I had not visited Flycaster since the days when they were brewing on a half-barrel Sabco system. Since then, they have graduated to a 7-barrel system and recently added some more tanks to the farm.

Photo via Flycaster Brewing’s Facebook page.

The beers are solid. My favorite was the barrel-aged stout, which was a special beer for their Customer Appreciation Day (last Saturday). Kim raved about the Pale Ale and we both appreciated the ESB, a sadly forgotten style that is delicious when properly executed.

Maelstrom Brewing – Long overdue first visit. Way overdue. I love it when I visit a “new” brewery for the first time and am overly impressed by the beer. Maelstrom Brewing opened last July, so maybe it doesn’t exactly qualify as new, but it was new to me.

Photos by Kim Sharpe Jones.

Just five minutes away from Flycaster Brewing by car, Maelstrom Brewing is housed in a free-standing building that is a bit out of the way and sits just west of I-405 off of the 116th Street exit. You will often find Scott and Katherine, the owners, tending bar and bussing tables at the cozy, all-ages taproom. A garage door opens to a south-facing patio and, surprisingly, the freeway noise isn’t too bad. Pro tip: free arcade games.

The beers were all solid examples of each styles, with a touch of creativity. On tap right now, the must-try beer is the Raspberry SMASH (Single Malt, Single Hop). Scott usually handles the brewing, but this was Katherine’s first effort. Nailed it! Delightfully fruity, but not overly sweet and surprisingly dry, this one will make you long for warm summer days on the patio. That was Kim’s favorite beer, while I enjoyed the Kolsch. The Kessel Run IPA was also quite nice: a refreshing return to the normal, non-hazy IPAs of yore.

Chainline Brewing – The last time I visited Chainline Brewing it still had that new taproom smell. I was delighted to find that these days it has comfortably matured. Chainline opened in April of 2015, but it seems like it’s been there for much longer, feeling like a friendly, community gathering space for the neighborhood’s families and the region’s wayward beer geeks. I would imagine the real geeks at the neighboring Google campus spend some time plotting to take over the world at Chainline as well.

Photos by Kim Sharpe Jones.

Surprisingly, the ballet academy is still next door. After all these years there have been no reports of lecherous dancers assaulting friendly, innocent beer drinkers. (See this, if you don’t get the joke.)

Seriously, what took me so long to get back here? I love their beer. Apparently everyone else does, too. They keep winning awards and medals. On tap right now, Kim and I both enjoyed the Brake Czech, a smooth, mild, dark lager that they’re pouring through their fancy-ass Czech tap system (ask for a sample of the “milk pour,” which I call the “cloud pour”). Of course you can never go wrong with a Polaris Pilsner or a Trail Gnome IPA.

For the latest news and information about beer in and around Washington, visit Washington Beer Blog.

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By Kendall Jones, Washington Beer Blog

Counterbalance Brewing Company invites you to come down to the brewery this Friday and Saturday (Feb 16 and 17)  to help them celebrate their third anniversary. The occasion includes the release of some special beers. Details below.

“Celebrate three successful years at the Counterbalance taproom Friday, February 16th and Saturday, February 17th. The celebration will include the release of our third anniversary beer, Flight Risk Barley Wine, additional limited bottle releases from the cellar, food trucks and merchandise giveaways through the weekend. Initially available only at our taproom, Flight Risk is American-style barley wine with flavors of pineapple, stone fruit and caramel with a dry finish. Flight Risk Barley Wine (11% ABV) will be released both on draft and in 375 ml bottles.”

“For extra oomph, last year’s second anniversary beer, Big Bad Wolf Dark Strong Ale, which has been aging in French oak barrels for the last year will also be released Friday afternoon. Extremely limited four-packs will be available including one bottle each of 2Bar Spirits bourbon barrel-aged Kushetka Imperial Stout, Big Bad Wolf Dark Strong Ale, oak barrel-aged Big Bad Wolf, and Flight Risk Barley Wine. Twenty 4-packs will be available beginning at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, February 16th for $35 each.”

“The party runs two days from Friday, February 16th 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm and Saturday, February 17th from noon-9:00 p.m. Hallava Falafel will be serving falafel, souvlaki, and greek fries Friday evening.  Wood Shop BBQ will be on-site Saturday for their third consecutive Counterbalance anniversary party to serve up delicious barbeque and sides.”

“Counterbalance Brewing Company opened its doors and launched wholesale distribution in February 2015. The brewery and taproom are located at in Seattle’s historic Georgetown neighborhood. Counterbalance beers are distributed to bars, restaurants, and retail locations throughout Washington by Vinum Importing & Distributing.”

Counterbalance Brewing
503 South Michigan Street, Suite B
Seattle, WA 98108
Map

Visit their website

Counterbalance Beer on Facebook

Counterbalance Beer on Instagram

Counterbalance Beer on Twitter

For the latest news and information about beer in and around Washington, visit Washington Beer Blog.

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By Kendall Jones, Washington Beer Blog

On Saturday, March 10th from noon to 10:00 PM, Populuxe Brewing will celebrate their 5th Anniversary with a beach-themed blowout bash. Wax up your board, don your wetsuit and celebrate this momentous occasion with Pete, Amy and the Populuxe gang!

The event, which is sponsored in part by Verity Credit Union, kicks off at noon.  The first 100 customers will receive a free beach ball featuring the Populuxe logo with their beer purchase.

There will be giveaways and prizes handed out throughout the day. Unique kegs and pins will be tapped in the Beach Shack (aka Populuxe’s original location).

Live entertainment starts at 5 PM with All Ages Bingo hosted by Sylvia O’Stayformore.

From 8 – 10 PM enjoy surf and lounge music by Johnny Astro.

Also, Populuxe will be releasing a limited bottle release of their Pineapple Sour. Only 100 bottles available on a first come, first serve basis. Limit two per person.

WHEN:
Saturday, March 10th, Noon – 10:00 PM

WHERE:
Populuxe Brewing, 826 NW 49th Street, Seattle WA 98107

For the latest news and information about beer in and around Washington, visit Washington Beer Blog.

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