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Life by the Pint
Dean Westling explores the local beer industry one pint at a time

IMG 0210There is something about the cool air of fall that awakens a desire deep inside of me to visit the brew shop, fire up the boiler, and start up the ongoing experiment of homebrewing. Must be the season of homebrew!IMG 0336

There's a certain folder in my brain that logs away recipe ideas through out the year, that I turn to in early September in order to birth a new beer into the world. It's this folder I went to in order to find four aspects of beer I wanted to play with, rye, pepper corns, roasted flavors and bitter flavors.

This fall, I have two brews in kegs that I am happy with. Though as a home brewer, I'd say I've never made a brew that I'm 100% satisfied with. There is always something I'd like to tweak or change or add, next time around. File it away in the homebrew brain folder.

The first is a rye IPA I like to call, Unknown IPA. Why Unknown? I was trying to recall the batch number of this particular IPA, but couldn't remember, so I labeled it Unknown. The Unknown IPA is brewed with rye, pale and crystal malts, hopped with Glacier and IMG 0226Galena hops, and dry hopped on Galena hops and pink pepper corns. The result is a full bodied spicy IPA, with an alcohol content ranging around 6.5%. the rye gives it a nice peppery aroma, and the pink pepper corns give the Unknown IPA a fantastic earthy, spicy after taste. My one complaint? It's a balanced IPA, meaning that the sweetness and the hop bitterness are of equal parts. I was shooting for something a bit hoppier. Alas, it is what it is. And it is tasty.

The second brew in the Life by the Pint keggerator is a Charles Dean Ale, a roasty, chocolaty Cascadian Dark Ale. Dark and robust like a stout, but bitter and piney like an IPA, the Charles Dean Ale straddles the line between rich and refreshing, sweet and bitter. What would I change about the Charles Dean Ale? I'd like it to be a little more roasted. I nailed the hops, but the roasted dark malts could be a little more pronounced. But it's solid, it's cold, and it's in a keg in my garage.

If you have never ventured into the world of homebrewing, but are interested in beer, find a friend who brews or jump in all by your lonesome (more beer for you, right?). You will not find a better method for expanding your IMG 0370knowledge of beer, and you will get a lil' tipsy along the way. After all, this is the season of homebrew.

Cheers!

(Post and photos by Dean Westling)

IMG 0210

The Sunday Fill is back! After a month plus of no rain, the wind is blowing, the grass is wet, the Hawks are playing the Cardinals and the Sunday Fill is of Wet Hop Ale from Two Beers Brewing. It feels like a full on, fall day. Wet hop, or fresh hop ales are made with hops harvested within 24 hours of being plucked from the vine. Wet hop ales have an floral, grassy flavor and aroma and tend to be less hoppy that your typical West Coast pale or IPA. Two Beers Brewing gets a nice jump on the wet hop market as Tyler Pickel, a brewer at Two Beers comes from a line (or vine?) of hop growers east of the Cascades.

If you are interested in fresh hop, or wet hop ales head out to your local brewery or pub and check if they have one on tap. Fremont Brewing, NW Peaks and Big Al are all brewing up fresh hop ales this fall, and Ballard's Noble Fir is hosting a fresh hop throwdown on Saturday September 29th. This is a once-a-year sort of beer, so make sure you get in on the action and try a pint (or a nice Sunday Fill) of this unique style ASAP.

Cheers!

(Post and photos by Dean Westling)

obamabeer2This past Friday I received an email in my Life By the Pint inbox from a very unlikely source. I get a lot of beer related emails from breweries around the country, as well as various press releases regarding obamabeer11events, seasonal brews and other general public information. But this email was not from Elysian, Bold Hat Productions or the Washington Beer Commission. This email came from the top, the tip top, as in the White House.

A couple weeks ago I, being a lover of homebrew, America and Aaron Sorkin's thinking man's drama, The West Wing, signed a petition to have the White House kitchen release the homebrew recipes that are being fermented and consumed on the White House grounds by the Commander in Chief and his staff. I love the idea of ol' Barry Obama tilting a tap handle and pouring a homebrew for Hills, as Joey B puffs on a fine Dominican (Biden abstains, and Cuban cigars are illegal, right Joey B? *wink*).

Does Obama have secrets that the great home brewers Charlie Papazian, Randy Mosher or Dick Cantwell don't have? Well..yes, Area 51, lizard people, Klingons, weather control technology, Martian travel, just to name a few. But does he have brewing secrets they don't know about? Certainly not. But it is inspiring that on the orders of the most powerful man in the world, the First Kitchen is boiling, hopping and fermenting their own beer, right now.

Below are the recipes that were released. They are basic recipes and use foreign hops, rather than ones from the Pacific Northwest, which disappointed me a bit. Think global, buy local, President Obama.

Regardless, here are the White House recipe's brewed with honey produced in the White House gardens.

HoneyPorter

For more information you can find the press release here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/09/01/ale-chief-white-house-beer-recipe

Cheers!

(Beer photo courtesy of Drinkdrank1.blogspot.com, Cheers photo courtesy of Freebeermovement.blogspot.com)

Recently, some friends and I hosted a group of Englishmen for a week leading up to a joyous beach union of a true English gentleman, and his lovely American bride. As w100 0849e pondered where we should take them in the Pacific Northwest once they had explored the great Emerald City, the answer landed on us like a two ton bushel of fresh hops; Portland. Stumptown, City of Roses, Bridgetown, Beervana, PDX, regardless which nickname you choose, Portland was the obvious choice for a international delegation of beer lovers to spend 24 hours exploring.

100 0830Once we crossed the border between Washingon and Oregon, we wasted no time finding delicious beer; Hopworks Urban Brewery, aka HUB. We chose the Bike Bar in North Portland, and found it to be exactly what we were hoping to find. Beautiful outdoor seating, fantastic beer, delicious food, and a server with more tattoos than a Maory warrior. We started with two pitchers, the Survival 7-Grain Stout, a rich and creamy beer bursting with nutty, coffee flavors, and the HUB Lager, a Bohemian Pils which is at the top of my best lager list.

With a crew of ten Americans and Englishmen, we decided it would be best to go with a few pizzas. When the giant, cheesy, meaty pies arrived the five Americans dished up and began inhaling the delicious slices. After a few bites I realized that a couple of the Englishmen seemed to be waiting for something before they indulged in lunch. After a minute or two, one of them exclaimed in shock, "Where's the coleslaw?"

"Coleslaw?" I asked, a little confused.

"You have to have coleslaw with pizza."100 0842

Once our tatted up Portland-to-the-core server wrapped his head around coleslaw on pizza and brought us a few sides, my confusion was laid to rest and I found the combination of cool creamy cole-slaw and hot melted cheese to be refreshing and complementary.

After a few more pitchers of Lager, we settled up and 100 0860headed down the street to Lompoc Fifth Quad Bar, which shares a city block with HUB. The Fifth Quad bar has much more of a tavern feel than HUB, but the quality of beer is on par.

The seasonal saison is funky and spicy, the Kick Axe Pale is crisp and slightly fruity, and the Proletariat Red is as good as they come. Fifth Quad offered us a break from the sun, and a few moments to discuss American beer, English beer, CAMRA, homebrewing, pub culture, and everything in between.

The final stop before things started to get fuzzy was Burnside Brewing Company. Back into the sun, I ordered up pepper wheat, a spicy wheat beer with just the right heat to flavor ratio. It's pretty rare that I find a pepper beer that I enjoy from first sip to final drop, but this was one. 100 0891

We departed Portland the next morning with delicious flavors still on our lips and hangovers in our heads.

The following weekend was the beach wedding where more beer was quaffed, the dance floor was well used, and across-the-pond love was on the wind. It was a wonderful wedding and a fantastic opportunity to get to show some out of towners what life is like in the Pacific Northwest.

I love Seattle, but Portland will always hold a small portion of my heart...and my liver.

Cheers Mates!

PS. Congrats to Molly and Adam!

At last it's sunny in Seattle. I wait so long for the warm weather, that when it finally arrives, I find myself going a little sun crazy. It just so happens that the same week that I go sun crazy my wife goes out of town. You know what they say, when the cat's away the mice turn into Backyard Bachelors (or something like that). For me, this means the evenings after work are full of beer, bbq, sun, cigars, and music on the back deck.

LBTP SUN CRAZY 1Here's a little run down of my couple days as a Backyard Bachelor.

Evening 1: Easing into it. Dinner was bratwurst soaked in Firestone Walker DBA, then grilled and smothered in homemade, home brewed chocolate porter BBQ sauce, paired bTomboy2011Albumack with its marinade, Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale. The crispness of the DBA and the balanced nature of its hops and malt cuts right through the juicy pork brat. One DBA became two and two became three as I sat contemplating summer from the greenbelt overlook of my back porch.

Food, check, beer, check. Now some audio accompaniment. The first evening of my three night adventure as a Backyard Bachelor, I chose the album Tomboy from the experimental artist, Panda Bear. This layered, complex, echoing album was an elegant selection for the evening with just the right amount of beauty and psycadellia.

Once the sun went down, it was all Skyrim and Doctor Who until bedtime.

Evening 2. All day at work, with the sun beating in the office windows and the blue sky over the Emerald City, my button up and slacks felt more oppressive then ever. On the way home, I needed to cut loose, in a truly lupulin fashion. I headed into the local Top Foods and grabbed a RadiantRADIANT1 Ale from Ninkasi Brewing.

Dinner this evening was delectable. Half pound patty of grass fed, organic beef raised in Eastern Oregon by extended family members. Fat slab of cheddar cheese. Avacado. Mustard based BBQ sauce smuggled back in a suitcase from Charleston, SC. Spinach salad, fresh blueberries, cherries and a Radiant Ale. You can beat that. The flavors of the burger, cheese, and mustard BBQ sauce were incredibly bold and intense, and I was delighted to find that I had picked the right beer. The Radiant Ale from Ninkasi is a wonderfully bright beer with the aroma of candied sugar and oranges. The flavor is malty to start and rounds out like clean mineral water and earthy, citrus hops.

My musical choice for my second evening alone on the back porch overlooking the green belt, was John Vanderslice's 2007 release, Emerald City . Poetic, gloomy, delicate and hauntingly beautiful. Just how I like an album at twilight.

Once the sun went down, it was all Skyrim and Doctor Who until bedtime.

Evening 3: The third and final night of my sun starved bachelor evenings was another delightful eve full of food, beer and music. Again, I decided to BBQ a hand pressed burger raised in Eastern Oregon. When I find something I like, I stick with it. This time while preparing to grill the burger, I decided DUMB LUCKI needed something spicy. Something more than Tabasco could provide. Lucky I had recently purchased a couple Habanero peppers for a chili project, and tossed them on the grill along with a diced onion and about twelve cloves of garlic. Once it was all nicely charred, I threw the savory medly into the blender with a little water, cider vinegar, liquid smoke, and salt, then blended until smooth. The result is a spicy, smoky, roasty paste that had my ears ringing with heat. I call it Chaz It Up (Chaz is an alter ego of mine that has mastered a creepy wink and is constantly applying chapstick). Now, some sautéed mushrooms, cheddar cheese, grilled corn, strawberries, and it's time for the beer.

My third evening as a Backyard Bachleor, I went with a beer that is new to me, Dumb Luck pale from Lazy Boy. By no means was this a bad beer, but the bottle I had purchased was pretty much flat. Add to that, my taste buds were on fire from the Chaz It Up, and I hard a hard time really getting into the flavors of this beer. So itTwin-Shadow-Confess1 goes.

Twin Shadow's newest release Confess was on the stereo as I indulged in my final night as a Backyard Bachelor. What a fantastic album; moody and dark with an over arching new wave vibe. This one isn't leaving my iPhone all summer, I can tell you that.

Once the sun went down, you guessed it, Skyrim and Doctor Who until bedtime.

I am glad to have my wife back in town. It was lonely at home with just my Xbox, guitars, BBQ, micro 22s, albums and thoughts. By the final night, after preparing such a delicious meal for myself, I realized, these sorts of luxuries are not fun all alone. A partner in is necessary to share the joys of summer BBQs, good albums and fine beer with. Without someone else, these things fell less special. More temporary, in a way. Memories are stronger when shared between loved ones in homes full of happiness, and I am lucky to have a loved one and a happy home.

I hope you have been enjoying this wonderful summer weather with someone you love. And if not, I hope you are making the best out of being a Backyard Bachelor!

Cheers!

amb full color logoIs there a more patriotic day than the 4th of July? Nope. Is there a more patriotic brewery than American Brewing in Edmonds? No sir. Is there a more patriotic way to spend your 4th of July than at American Brewing's 4th of July Celebration? No way!

Food, check. Beer, double check. Buzzed up Life By the Pinters celebrating the independence of our great nation, triple check! AB4JULY

Brewing fine ales since January 2011, Brewmeister Skip Madsen has found a home for his newest project, American Brewing, near the docks in Edmonds. Skip is no light weight in the brewing world. A true beer artist, Skip Madsen has created award winning beers at Pike Brewing Co., Big Time Brewery, Boundary Bay Brewing Co., and Water Street Brewing over the past 20 years. With a resume like that it's no suprise that in 18 months, Skip and his team at American Brewing have cranked out a top notch IPA, a world class scotch ale, an earthy black oatmeal stout, a thirst quenching blonde and many other seasonal and experimental brews.

The 4th of July Celebration at American Brewing will be so over flowing with hoppy, foamy patriotism, that the red, white and blue pride might be overwhelming. But that is a risk I'll gladly take. So brush up on the Constitution, don your Uncle Sam hat and head out to American Brewing in Edmonds this Wednesday, the 4th of July.

Party starts at 12:00 and rocks till 8.

Cheers!

For more information check out: http://www.americanbrewing.com/

WB1Last weekend marked the unofficial beginning of summer as brewers from all corners of the state rolled keg after keg of delicious brews to Marymoor Park and into the tasting glasses of eager drinkers. Large brewers like Elysian and Redhook shared tents with new guys like Lantern and 12 String as attendees of the Washington Brewers Festival queued up to get a taste of the latest batch. IMG 0102

This was the first year that the festival was held at Marymoor Park and it was a much needed improvement. Arriving, parking, tasting and departing the festival ran smoother than ever, and though Marymoor is larger than St. Edward's Park, the Washington Brewers Fest felt like an intimate afternoon among friends.

The highlight of the event was, as it should be, the fantastic beer from Washington State. There were so many excellent beers this year, it was really hard to pin down favorites. But three in particular stood out as truly fantastic.

The first stand out brew I had of the day was Pour Les Oiseaux from Black Raven Brewing. Dry, crisp, slightly sour and the lightest beer I sampled, this is a perfect summer beer. I was amazed at how many flavors were packed into such a light beer. Lemon peel, white grapes, subtle spice, farmhouse funk and wood all swirl around this saison and left me craving more in order to better examine the various levels of the Pour Les Oiseaux. And if the Black Raven line wasn't so long, I might have had another.

The second beer to really spark my taste buds was the Trip XI, a New Belgian / Elysian collaboration. This rosemary and sage farmhouse ale is a cool gold in color with a nice white head of foam. The aroma is100 0823 of Belgian yeasts, coriander, rosemary and citrus. The flavor is similar to the aroma, citrus and rosemary, Belgian spice and funky farmhouse yeasts. It's a little on the sweeter side, but I don't mind one bit. Another delicious saison.

The third beer that made me take notice was the S.O.S. from Lantern Brewing in NW Seattle. This smoked, oaked and salted (S.O.S.) summer stout was a real eye opener. The S.O.S is black in color with a minimal tan head and a roasty, earthy aroma. The flavor is chocolaty, earthy, woody, with a smoky salty finish. It might sound strange, but I found the flavors of the S.O.S. to be intriguing as they blended to a smooth, creamy finish.

CrewThe 2012 Washington Brewers Fest was once again a smashing success as drinkers and brewers mingled with glasses in hand, enjoying the enthusiasm, passion and creativity found in the wonderful beer culture of Washington State.

Cheers!

(Post and photos by Dean Westling)

BrewersFestLogoIf you and your father are beer lovers like my father and myself, there should only be one thing on your mind this weekend, Washington BrewerIMG 6323s Fest at Marymoor Park. 200 beers from 64 different Washington breweries, music and food come together to create a one of a kind experience for all beer enthusiasts. I have attended the last two years and can say that it is a true highlight of my summer.

The beer list has been posted for the festival and I would like to give you a quick run down of what I am excited for.

1: Pour Les Oiseaux - Black Raven Brewing. This wine barrel aged saison with brettanomyces might be the most interesting looking beer on the list, and knowing Black Raven, might be the most tasty of the fest. It also might be terrible. Good thing I'm a gamblin' man.

2. Sour Pale - Lantern Brewing. This choice combines two things I love; sour beers and small breweries. Passionate little guys and challenging beer styles are a great combination.

3. Blue Berry Creme Ale - No-Li Brewhouse. I really like Northern Lights Brewery. The Solar Winds Pale is an excellent pale bordering on IPA. I expect big things from this Blue Berry Cream Ale. Make it happen No-Li.

4. Triple Entendre - Sound Brewing. As you may know if you read the blog, I love Sound Brewing. It's arguably the best beer in the state, brewedLBTP Foggy Noggin Christmas Duck by guys who know and love beer. The Double Entendre is fantastic, so why not add one more Entendre? Seems like a great plan!

Weather you like to try new beers or old favorites, from bigger breweries or one man operations, this festival has it all. And the Washington Beer Commission always does a fantastic job organizing all their festivals. All signs point to the Washington Brewers Festival being a great time.

Cheers!

Wa Brewers Fest: June 15th, 4pm-9pm $15.

June 16th, 11:00am - 9:00pm, $25

June 17th, 11:00am - 6:00pm, $25

http://www.washingtonbeer.com/wa-brewers-fest

(Post and Photos by Dean Westling)

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Dean Westling

Writing from the heart of beautiful Ballard, Washington, my name is Dean Westling, and I am here to talk all things beer. It is my goal with this blog to cover microbrew, brewpub, and homebrew cultures in order to help you gain the tools necessary to get the most from every sip of the world's most popular beverage, beer.



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