Updated May 22, 2012 - 8:13 am
Seattle Beer Week in Review
Seattle Beer Week Kick Off pt 1, 5/10/2012
Friends and fellow beer geeks alike descended on Elysian's Capitol Hill Brewpub on May 10th to celebrate the official opening of Seattle Beer Week 2012.
With the SBW folks on hand and cheers from the crowd, Elysian kicked off the night by tapping a special cask version of Split Shot the official beer of Seattle Beer Week. Generously poured samples flowed through the crowd, as the aroma of espresso beans filled the air. Life By The Pint has already given Split Shot our stamp of approval in a previous review, but it's worth mentioning again just how good this beer is. While enjoying a couple pints of it with a few close friends, we simply could not get over how complex the beer is, bold espresso flavor and notes of chocolate, its robust and bitter character grows on you with each sip. I commend Elysian for deciding to brew a beer that might not be universally received by the hop-loving masses of the Emerald City. Don't get my wrong; I love a good IPA as much as the next guy. Currently the market is, dare I say, over saturated with them and it's refreshing to see something different take center stage.
Delicious beer aside, perhaps my favorite thing about Seattle Beer Week, is how excited and passionate people feel about it. Seemingly everyone had a smile on their face opening night, from the event organizers, Elysian wait staff, down to the devoted beer loving patrons. Seattle is blessed to have such a thriving beer-centric community, and Seattle Beer Week is meant to celebrate us all.
West of the Sound and East of the Mountains, 5/14/2012
I love a good brewers night. Mingling with brewers, sampling hard to find beers, and the thrill of winning (and losing) raffles. It's just good, clean fun, and no one does a brewers night like Naked City Brewery and Taphouse in Greenwood. Monday night, Naked City invited 18 of Washington's smaller breweries from beyond the I-5 corridor to participate in the West of the Sound, East of the Mountains Brewers night. In order to get the full experience, I had one pint from West of the Sound and one from East of the Mountains, as well as a couple of the best raw oyster shooters I have ever had.
My pint from West of the Sound was a beer from Sound Brewing called WWII that was aged in a Bainbridge Organic Distillers wheat whiskey barrel. WWII is smooth, boozy, woody all with the creamy soft mouth feel of a dunkelweizen.
Next, I ordered up a pint of Solar Winds Pale from Northern Lights Brewery in Spokane. For a pale, this beer is hoppy, which was a great complement to my oysters from Talyor Shell fish Farm. This hoppy, crisp pale ale has an aroma of earthy hops and biscuit grains.
As for the raffle, I won nothing. But a friend at our table won a t-shirt from Roslyn Brewing, so we did not walk away empty handed.
This was a great event and not solely due to the beer, raffles and oysters. What makes this event special is the brewers. I have found that small brewers, men and women who pour their life savings as well as their time, effort, and passion into brewing have a sense of urgency. They can't sit back an rely on bottle sales; they have to get out in the field and interact, pitch their beer, and make sure consumers know their name and recognize their brand. There are several larger breweries in Seattle that do not have to put in the face time with their customers, as they are established well enough that face time is not a priority to them. Something is lost with this attitude. Drinking local is just as much a social responsibility as it is an economic one. Getting to know and recognize brewers for their craft adds a whole new aspect of understanding to the wonderful brewing culture that stretches across the Evergreen State.
Sour Fest, 5/172012
Is there a style of beer that is more polarizing than sours? I don't think there is; you love them, or you don't. It seemed to me that everyone in the Seattle metro area who loves sours went out Thursday, 5/17 for one of the most popular events of Seattle Beer Week, Sour Fest at Brouwer's. I arrived around 5pm, and waited in line for 40 mins to get in the door, which was faster than I expected, actually. Once inside I wasted no time, diving into 12oz glasses of sour beers.
First up was Lompoc's Sour Willy, which I thought was a little weak, watery and not a lot of flavor. It wasn't all that sour, and I wanted something really puckery and strange. Who in Seattle do you go to for strange brews? That's right, up next was Bog from Epic Ales. Smokey, earthy and tart, it was a odd combination of flavors that really came together to make an interesting glass of beer. Then I moved on to the Tart Lychee from New Belgian, a favorite of mine, though I thought this years batch was a little less tart than that of previous years. My final sour was Horse Tongue Wheat from Anderson Valley, a fantastic sour beer. It contained all the best parts of a sour and a wheat, crystal clear, tart up front with a smooth back end.
I look forward to Sour Fest at Brouwer's all year, as it is a truly one of a kind event in Seattle. I am already looking forward to next year's event.
Seattle Beer Week 2012, I can say with confidence, was the greatest SBW yet. I had a great time chatting with fellow beer enthusiasts, sampling new beers and enjoying the fruits of the micro brew world. I hope you had a good SBW as well. Regardless if you made it to an event, I hope you tried something new or just savored an old favorite. After all it's beer, not rocket science, and beer is about enjoying life.
(Post and Photos by Dean Westling and Jeff Soderquist)
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