Northwest Military Blogs: Served blog

December 19, 2014 at 12:18pm

Croissant Quest Olympia: À la recherche du the ideal crescent

Kyle LaCasse offers a tray of croissants during a busy time at the San Francisco Street Bakery in Olympia, Dec. 19. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Like the Roman cornetto, New York bagel or San Francisco sourdough, the croissant is a baked good linked inseparably with a city. That magical place, of course, is Paris, the City of Lights and walking off calories, and that's strange because croissants are in fact Viennese. They can also be called viennoisseries, and their arrival in France dates within the last 200 years. You can bake them at home, except you won't because, although they require just half a dozen ingredients and water, you're obliged to start making them two days in advance.

I'm no professional baker. I admit that up front. But I fell profoundly in amour with croissants in Paris, so much so that I breakfasted on impeccable crescents from the brasserie La Renaissance on Rue Ordener in the 18th for a week straight. Since I got back, I've been on the hunt for the perfect croissant, or at least as close as I can get to it in Olympia. Let me also state for the record that, as with pizza, sex or Paul Thomas Anderson movies, an imperfect croissant is still pretty freakin' amazing.

I started at Wagner's European Bakery and Café, because although owner Rudy Wagner was born and trained in Bavaria, his restaurant smells so fantastic it lured me like a siren. Wagner's croissants are crispy and fluffy, with a taste balance shifted more toward the salty than the buttery. The interior is cool, unlike the slightly-warm versions preferred in Paris, with a flavor of chewy white bread. Bonus points for the Charlie Brown Christmas special music and inviting holiday directions, serious European points deducted for the server who thought I'd ordered something called a "café ¡ole!" No, server. No.

>>> Rhone Geha enjoys his croissant at The Bread Peddler in downtown Olympia, Dec. 19. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Then it was off to The Bread Peddler, which offers not only standard butter croissants but also varieties including vanilla bean sugar croissants - very tempting, but I stayed on target - and what Americans might call croissandwiches. The standard croissants here are small, about half the size of other specimens, and their crusts have a sugar-crystal crackle. That said, the pastries are delicious, with fluffy room-temperature interiors and welcome buttery aftertaste. The product's egg wash also leaves a noticeable flavor of yolk. Just remember to order two.

>>> Bonnie Elsey offers a bowl of fresh baked croissants at Mom's Baked Goods in Olympia, Dec. 19. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

I'd heard promising reports about the croissants at Mom's Baked Goods, a carryout establishment with cinnamon rolls the size of grand pianos. Their croissant is also a monster, more loaf than roll. That heft means its crust has little crispiness, so the product is more of a sweet, buttery bread with an aftertaste of sugar. It's the least similar to a Parisian croissant of the pastries I sampled, but it does have the makings of an absolutely unbeatable ham and Swiss croissandwich. Also, the bill came in at just two dollars flat for a tasty 500 calories of food. I guess Mom expresses caring through baking.

My quest met its satisfying end at San Francisco Street Bakery, whose croissant had exactly the right crispiness and size. Its interior was so airy you could almost fly a drone through it. To my palate, the pastry had the most balanced flavor of the four, especially its just-slightly-salty aftertaste. I do wish the product were nuked a few seconds, but again, I'm expressing minor quibbles. You won't go too far south with any of these products. Some sell out early, though, so arrive as close to opening as you can. It'll also improve the interior temperature of the pastry.

All in all, San Francisco Street's croissant was the most comparable to those I had in Paris. It was also served with a disdain bordering on disgust, a quality many Americans say reminds them of France. Bon appétit, mes amis!

WAGNER'S EUROPEAN BAKERY AND CAFE, open 7 a.m. weekdays, 7:30 a.m. Saturday, 8 a.m. Sunday, 1013 Capitol Way S, Olympia, 360.357.7268

THE BREAD PEDDLER, open 7 a.m., 222 N Capitol Way, Olympia, 360.352.1175

MOM'S BAKED GOODS, open 7 a.m. Monday - Saturday, 916 4th Ave. E, Olympia, 360.943.0993

SAN FRANCISCO STREET BAKERY, open 6:30 a.m., 1320 San Francisco Ave. NE, Olympia, 360.753.8553

Filed under: Olympia, Breakfast,

December 19, 2014 at 11:08am

Mac and Cheese Madness: Chambers Bay Grill

Chambers Bay Grill's crab mac and cheese is the perfect amount of food. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Following on the successful heels of the Weekly Volcano's Tournament of Burgers, our editorial staff will present a new NCAA Basketball tournament-like contest this spring. Once again we'll host a number of daily games that pit one restaurant against another, leaving it to the readers to decide the final outcomes all the way down to a final four and then a grand championship. (For newbie readers, Olympia's Westside Tavern edged out Tacoma's Maxwell's Restaurant in the final seconds of this year's Tournament of Burgers.) 

The competition for March 2015 will pit 64 South Sound restaurants that offer the ultimate comfort food - macaroni and cheese.

My goal is to report on a South Sound mac and cheese dish every week up to the tournament - to spread the cheesy word, ease into tournament research and, obviously, build hype. Chambers Bay Grill marks my 33rd mac and cheese dish.

There are many variations on the basic mac and cheese architecture - elbow macaroni baked in a cheddar cheese sauce - and as many different notions of what the best, truest version is, if such a thing can even be determined. All cooking is chemistry, but great macaroni and cheese feels more like the work of alchemy.

Crab mac and cheese is hardly the novelty it once was - especially in Western Washington - but in the expert hands of Chambers Bay Grill, their talent elevates the dish to new heights. Overlooking the Puget Sound, the majestic Olympic Mountains and expansive Chambers Bay golf course, Chambers Bay's Chef Josh Corcoran and his team rely on Beecher's Handmade Cheese for their sauce and ample long King crab legs to give their creamy mac 'and' cheese ($16) an assertive edge.

The dish is creamy without sacrificing the cheese. I definitely tasted crab - practically every bite. The briny notes in combination with the nutty Beecher's was terrific. Toasted panko topped the splendid dish because toasted panko is to mac and cheese as caramelized sugar is to crème brûlée; without it the texture is just too smooth.

This is not a humble, modest, sit-by-the-sidelines macaroni and cheese. Chambers Bay Grill's crab mac and cheese is in the top group on the leaderboard.

CHAMBERS BAY GRILL, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to sunset Friday-Sunday,6320 Grandview Drive W., University Place, 253.460.4653 or chambersbaygolf.com

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound

LINK: The answer to why this mac and cheese column exists

December 17, 2014 at 10:31am

Beer Here: Lagunitas night, Pelican party, holiday sweaters, Troll Crank ride ...

Ho ho ho yo!

You're lagging in the Christmas spirit this year. Just like last year. And the year before. Scrooging has always been your go-to reaction to the yuletide, but as your grow older, fatter and more sentimental, it's increasingly unacceptable to be crotchety and contrarian. It's unsavory. So, you decide to be proactive. You set aside this coming week to gorge yourself on Christmas cheer. By which I mean beer. ...

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 17

Engine House No. 9's 25 Days of Christmas beer-a-day countdown is going strong. Stop by 611 N. Pine St. and discover today's present.

Harmon Tap Room is hosting the 12 Beers of Christmas, tapping a different small batch holiday brew, every day, for 12 days in a row. By the way, the Tap Room just added 10 new taps.

Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, California, releases anticipated seasonals every year with high levels of alcohol and names as charismatic and irreverent as any beer might hope for - Lagunitas' own Imperial IPA, brewed since 1996, is called Maximus. Brown Shugga, a seasonal brew from Lagunitas, was created in 1997 as the result of an attempt to rescue a failed batch of Olde GnarlyWine Ale by adding "boatloads of brown sugar" - or so the story goes, anyway. Fingers crossed, The Swiss will be pouring it at its Lagunitas Brewer's Night from 6-9 p.m. Yeah, yeah, yeah, woo!

As I have written ad nauseam, a steady stream of big, goonish stouts are filling shelves and taps. Some of these seasonals are worth the fuss and price (Deschutes' The Abyss, for example - head to The Red Hot Sunday) while many others are lopsided thanks to hyper-inflated alcohol content and overblown flavor infusions. Pelican Pub & Brewery's Tsunami Stout rises to the top. With a color only a few minutes from midnight and a thick but clean pour, it has a satisfying, but not overpowering (7 percent), heariness. Big, roasty cocoa flavors dominate, but hopheads will find that Magnum and Willamette hops impart a slice of crisp citrus and a cherry topper. Drink it and eight other Pelican brews at 99 Bottles, beginning at 5 p.m. The first 48 people to check in at the Federal Way beer store will score a free Pelican glass.

The 2nd Annual Cheers to Winter Beers event takes place at 6 p.m. in the Puyallup River Alehouse. Here's the deliciousness owner Eric Akeson has planned for patrons: 10 Barrel Pray For Snow, Alaskan Winter, Elysian Bifrost, Widmer Brrr, Redhook Winterhook, Anderson Valley Winter Solstice, Naked City Potlatch Smoked Maple Brown Ale, The Lost Abbey Merry Taj Christmas IPA, Puyallup River Old Pioneer Winter Ale and others. "Our 2014 Old Pioneer Winter Ale is a new recipe for this year," says Akeson. "Last year, we brewed a malt-forward Amber Ale with vanilla beans and lavender. This year, we're brewing an Imperial Red IPA-style beer, with a big, dry hop that all the hop heads are going to love." Santa will arrive at 7 p.m.

THURSDAY, DEC. 18

Top Rung Brewing runs its My Dog Stout through a Randall loaded with candy canes beginning at 4 p.m.

How much wood can the Woodchuck Hard Cider chuck if the Woodchuck Hard Cider could chuck wood? I have no idea, but Topside Bar & Grill is allowing the Vermont cidery to take over four of its handles, beginning at 6 p.m.

FRIDAY, DEC. 19

Want to drink a Cozy Sweater while wearing an ugly holiday sweater? Twisted Kilt Irish Pub hosts an ugly sweater party with an emphasis on Iron Horse Brewery beers, including Irish Death, Mocha Dream and said sweater. Expect a DJ spinning and giveaways, beginning at 9 p.m.

SATURDAY, DEC. 20

Top Rung Brewing hosts an ugly holiday sweater festival from 2-9 p.m., with a contest going down at 7 p.m. Santa will drop off a food truck. The Outlanders will play bluegrass beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Randall will be working overtime.

Also hosting an ugly holiday sweater party is Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. Those who don holiday cheer will receive a dollar off every pint, from 6-9 p.m., and entered into a contest to win a PB&M gift basket.

Itchin' for an excuse to pull that bicycle out of storage and get some extra wear out of your Santa hat? Saddle up and get ready to ride through the streets of Tacoma drunkon candy canes and the drinks they garnished. The Tacoma Mob Rider invites revelers to jump on their pedal-driven sleighs and eat and drink their way through Tacoma, Saturday. The Troll Crank zaniness begins at 7 p.m. inside the canned beer and bicycle shop Broken Spoke. From there, the pack moves on to other fine establishments, which will be revealed over cans of beer at the Spoke. It's free to participate, but you'll be shelling out cash for anything you eat or drinkalong the way. Tacoma Mob Rules asks you to dress festive, with a nod toward Crosby sweaters.

Tacoma Stars have dubbed Saturday, Dec. 20, "Wingman Brewers Night" for their soccer match against the Arlington Aviators. Wingman beer is now pouring at every match in the Far Post Bar at the Tacoma Soccer Center (2610 East Bay St., Tacoma). Saturday, beginning at 7:30 p.m., added giveaways and handshakes from the Wingman crew are an added bonus.

SUNDAY, DEC. 21

The Red Hot hosts its 3rd annual Darkest Day festival, while across the street Engine House No. 9 unleashes its 2014 Snow Cru, plus a multitude of other E9 big beers. Details on these Tacoma joints' celebrations of the longest night of the year can be found here.

MONDAY, DEC. 22

Fish Tale Brew Pub hosts the 15th Annual Holiday Brass Bash at 7:30 p.m. Trumpeter Andy Omdahl will lead a brass-tastic band, rattle beer pints and the donation boxes for Thurston County Food Bank.

December 16, 2014 at 10:26am

The Dark Walk: Engine House No. 9 and The Red Hot go big on the winter solstice

Engine House No. 9 will release its 2014 Snow Cru at 11 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 21. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

During this time of year, it seems that no one can get enough of the celebrating, but some holidays are more noted by modern society than others. Nowadays, the winter solstice sometimes gets overlooked amid all the traditional eating and gift-giving days - but it's definitely significant. The winter solstice, Dec. 21 at 3:03 p.m., astronomically stands for the moment when the earth's axial tilt is farthest from the sun - directly over the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere. It also stands as the most ancient midwinter celebration and the source of many holiday traditions now associated with Christmas.

Throughout history, cultures around the globe have celebrated the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, as a time to reflect on the past year and look with hope to the coming year. Long ago, the winter solstice was a time communities came together in the uncertainty of living through the winter and enjoyed wine and beer that was ready to drink, but its significance was diminished after the spread of Christianity. These days, after '60s counterculture helped revive its memory, people are more aware of the solstice tradition from centuries ago.

A Winter Solstice Parade will be held in Tacoma's Sixth Avenue neighborhood. It's doubtful the druid and pagan communities will be out in full force, dressed in magnificent costumes and singing incantations while waving luminous willow lanterns. No, this parade is a staggering affair between The Red Hot's Darkest Day and Engine House No. 9's 2014 Snow Cru release party. I do expect to see a BIC lighter or two.

"It's unfortunate the two celebrations landed on the same day. It wasn't planned that way," says Todd McLaughlin, bartender at Engine House No. 9. "You'd think since our staff drinks over there after shifts, and their staff drinks over here, that the big beer celebrations would have been planned on different days."

McLaughlin believes the two events happening at the same time is actually a good thing, bringing the beer community together due to the short walk between the two establishments. After all, the winter solstice has a social and spiritual element. At the time of greatest darkness, the solstice has been a beacon of light. There could be hugging and laughing at the intersection of Sixth Avenue and Pine. There could be exchanging of beer and beard suggestions and alcohol by volume warnings. There are many ways to celebrate the solstice, but only the souls at The Red Hot and Engine House No. 9 could, by chance, create an observance loaded with symbolism, and robust, full-bodied beers with rich color and flavor.

At E9, the celebration centers on the release of head brewer Shane Johns' annual Snow Cru winter ale. This year, Johns blended his E9 Imperial Stout, Barrel Aged Belgian Dark Strong, Old English Barley Wine and Thunder Buddies Barley Wine to create a complex beer showcasing the characteristics of barrel aging. With the 2014 Snow Cru, Johns creates complexity centering on oak, in a multitude of forms, by brewing high-gravity beers in complementary styles, aging them in different barrel formats and then blending them together to achieve harmonious new flavor. As a finished beer, the 2014 Snow Cru will be dark, rich and complex.

In addition to the Snow Cru release, E9 will pour a bunch of their beers - from special barrel-aged house beers to double IPAs to wild ales - all pushing the upper end of the ABV meter. Here is what to expect Sunday, beginning at 11 a.m.: 2014 Snow Cru (of course), Life of Pi (ker), 2013 Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Passenger, 2013 Holy Diver, Barrel Aged Tripel, Nefelibata, Rhubarb Wild, VOLTRON 1.0, Viva la France Farmhouse, Vieux Monde Saison, Peabody Ale, Raspberry Farmhouse and the Peach Raspberry Tacoma Weiss. The Barrel Aged Triple and Raspberry Farmhouse might be new to folks. All these E9 beers will stay on tap until they blow.

The Red Hot's third annual Darkest Day begins at 9 a.m., pairing with its Sunday breakfast. Obviously, since it's a tavern specializing in craft beers and hot dogs, it will pour dark creations from breweries - 16 of them: 2011 Deschutes Abyss, 2012 Deschutes Abyss, 2014 Deschutes Abyss, 2012 Deschutes Black Butte XXIV, 2013 Deschutes Black Butte XXV, 2014 Deschutes Black Butte XXVI, Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti with cherries, Fremont Kentucky Dark Star, Fremont Kentucky Coffee Dark Star, Fremont Kentucky Spiced Dark Star, Midnight Sun Berserker, Midnight Sun Son of Berserker, Midnight Sun Bar Fly Smoked Imperial Stout, Naked City Big Lebrewski, Two Beers Sour Barrel Aged Jive Espresso Stout and Walking Man Jaywalker Imperial Stout. All these beers will be 5.5-ounce pours only, ordered by number, and when they're gone, they're gone. The Red Hot's celebration of the longest night comes with a cool T-shirt.

Sunday at the corner of Sixth and Pine will be a day of high alcohol warmth, lots of viscosity or mouth feel, assertive spices and bitterness and monstrous amounts of sweet, malty flavor. Society makes us feel weird and bad for sitting around in bars while the sun is still up (unless sports are on TV - then anything goes). On the winter solstice, you can feel good about hunkering down at your Sixth Avenue neighborhood bar when it's only 4 p.m., because it's probably dark out. And you can't really be depressed about it when you're looped on dark, heavy beers.

ENGINE HOUSE NO. 9, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 21, 611 N. Pine St., Tacoma, no cover, 253.272.3435

THE RED HOT, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 21, 2914 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, no cover, 253.779.0229

Filed under: New Beer Column, Tacoma, Holidays,

December 15, 2014 at 11:15am

Eat This Now: Gnocchi

Gnocchi watch: When you see dishes done this well, you know that's Marrow, a restaurant that deserves to be loved. photo credit: Jackie Fender

I'm skipping the kid-friendly joints and take-out spots this week. My Eat This Now recommendation centers on "date night." I grabbed the husband and visited gastropub Marrow in Tacoma's Sixth Avenue neighborhood. Always known for their exquisite presentation and compelling culinary prowess, the Hilltop Kitchen ownership purchased Marrow over the summer, resulting in some tweaks in the food and drink menu while still remaining focused on fresh, in-season ingredients and unique, flavorful dishes paired with riveting cocktails, craft brews and wine.

I recommend everything on the Marrow menu, but I implore you, beg of you, to try my favorite - the Marrow gnocchi ($18). You won't regret it, unless your taste buds are busted. Served in a large shallow bowl, Marrow's gnocchi features tasty gnocchi dumplings, tender braised oxtail, pickled mushrooms served atop a creamy butternut squash puree.

Le sigh.

The dish is savory, rich, balanced and deeply satisfying on a chilly Tacoma evening.

Why isn't oxtail among the 2014 food trends? This needs to be a thing. Get with it Tacoma chefs.

MARROW, 3 p.m. to midnight, Tuesday-Saturday, 2717 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.267.5299

Filed under: Eat This Now, Tacoma,

December 15, 2014 at 10:21am

Served Blog Banner Girl: Q&A with bartender Brittany Crowder of The Valley in Tacoma

Brittany Crowder has a beer for you at The Valley in Tacoma. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Every week we swap out the Served banner art above, introducing you to the people who serve food and drinks in the South Sound. This week, meet Brittany Crowder.

Server Banner Girl, Dec. 15-21, 2014

Brittany Crowder

Brittany Crowder has been behind the bar at The Valley since its re-opening Aug. 6 down the street from the Tacoma Dome. Remodeled by Justin and Robby Peterson (Eleven Eleven) in partnership with X Group Restaurants (Asado, Masa, E-9), Crowder calls it the most fun she's had on the job, giving high praise to her bosses and customers. Before The Valley, she tended bar at the Milton Tavern for four years, and before that she put in five years at Autolube & Espresso in Tacoma.

Why do you serve?

I serve because I love it. You get the opportunity to meet all kinds of different people and there's never a dull moment. I basically get paid to people watch.

Who is your favorite server in the South Sound?

It's impossible for me to choose just one server I would call my favorite. There are too many fantastic people in this industry, especially in Tacoma. I'll say this though, Monica at the Top makes a wicked oatmeal cookies shot (insert winky face).

What are you most proud to serve?

I'm most proud to serve the amazing local micros we receive on tap. I'm definitely a beer girl, so I always get excited when something new and different makes it's way to our tap lineup.

What's your current drink of choice?

It varies. I like to switch it up and keep my taste buds guessing. I love seasonal beers. Currently I'm hooked on Firestone's Velvet Merlin. I was stoked to have a Jolly Roger on nitro at Hank's the other day. Citrus Mistress on nitro was delightful as well at the ParkWay.

Favorite movie?

Favorite movie would have to be anything Quinton Tarantino.

What don't you serve?

Hennessy. Absolutely no Hennessy will be served by me, ever.

What's on your radar at The Valley?

I'm looking forward to this next year at The Valley. We have had some great bands play here this year - Shotgun Kitchen, Hilltop Rats, Blanco Bronco, just to name a few. We have some brilliant ideas for events next year that should excite everyone. If anyone hasn't checked out The Valley, definitely put it at the top of your to do list.

LINK: Meet other South Sound servers

Filed under: Served Banner Models, Tacoma,

December 12, 2014 at 12:38pm

Mac and Cheese Madness: BITE at Hotel Murano

BITE's truffle mac and cheese is several echelons above post-recess nourishment. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

The modern art zing of the Hotel Murano's décor makes me dizzy with delight. My eyes are pulled from left to right, up and down, catching equal parts fine art and whimsy. Upbeat chill music reverberates through the lobby, right up to the lobby bar. Their restaurant, BITE, located on the fourth floor, drips with chic ... and delicious, gourmet flavors.

Not surprisingly, BITE's mac and cheese is also an adults-only playground, thanks to the addition of truffles. For the uninitiated, the rare fungus grows symbiotically with the roots of oak and hazelnut trees. With a little luck, a farmer can expose a sapling's roots to black truffle spores and plant it in a truffière (truffle orchard), where it will grow for years before it is ready to start producing truffles. If it works, a good truffle tree will fruit for 40 years or more. It's an expensive ingredient that doesn't make an appearance at most South Sound restaurants.

BITE's mac and cheese is gobsmacked with truffle goodness. (Kudos to the genius who discovered you could drizzle truffle oil on mac and cheese and make a good thing great.) The mix of black truffle shavings and white truffle oil produces a forward truffle aroma - the taste lingers long after walking through the giant glass doors.

Meaty orecchiette pasta is fused together with a mix of melted white cheddar, ricotta and Parmesan. The pasta choice gives the dish even more personality, as well as acts as a reservoir for the creamy, white sauce. Baked crusty on top, the dish has a pleasant mix of textures and the perfect amount of pasta - I left wanting more, but knowing another bite would take me over the edge. It's served in a giant, hot bowl with a decidedly grown-up flair.

This mac and cheese ($14 lunch, $17 dinner) pairs beautifully with a nice glass of white wine, which offers a crispy acidity for the elegant decadence of the dish.

BITE, lunch 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily; dinner 4:30-9 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, until 10 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; Hotel Murano, 1320 Broadway, Tacoma, 253.591.4151

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound

LINK: The answer to why this mac and cheese column exists

December 12, 2014 at 8:57am

Words & Photos: Winter Beer-nanza at Pint Defiance

Pint Defiance Assistant Manager R.J. Adler and co-owner Barry Watson go street during the Winter Beer-nanza Dec. 11. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

In the olden days (a.k.a. my childhood), ugly holiday sweaters were something worn once to placate the family, then hung in the back of a closet or tossed. Fortunately, irony is not a wasteful phenomenon, and allows us to laugh at the hideous things we would have otherwise forgotten or thrown away. Last night, Pint Defiance Specialty Beers & Taproom celebrated the ugly sweater with beer and well, more beer, at its annual Winter Beer-nanza. Many raided the closets of '80s survivors; one gentleman stole decorations from his wife's front door holiday display and pinned them on a red sweater.

The staff, all dressed in holiday ugliness, poured the specialty beers on tap for the night: the coveted Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (2014), plus Black Raven Festivus Holiday Ale, Lost Abbey Merry Taj IPA, Bale Breaker High Camp Winter Warmer, pFriem Belgian Christmas Ale, Heathen Reindeer Tears Barrel-Aged Barleywine and Atlas Spiced Pear Cider. Even though Pint Defiance owners Barry and Renee Watson waited well into the party to tap the expensive Goose Island keg, it was the first to blow. Its demise drew loud cheers from the packed-in crowd.

In addition to the big beers, Pint Defiance hosted a Christmas cookie potluck and a giant raffle of beer schwag collected over the course of the year.

It was a fun night of knocking down delicious beers, munching on cookies and laughing all the way.

SEE ALSO

The story behind Pint Defiance

December 10, 2014 at 10:29am

Beer Here: 25 Days of Christmas, WinterFest, Winter Beer-nanza, 12 Beers of Christmas ...

Top rung Brewing in Lacey will release its Heavy Irons Double IPA Dec. 13. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

There are five gazillion beer events around the South Sound this coming week. And as much as I enjoy checking out your Untappd beer count, I want you to take care of yourself enough to reach next Wednesday. It's hard enough work juggling lagers and stouts and ales without all those ciders and meads, so I thought I'd suggest just a few beer events for this coming week. But, first, consider a clone: Yeah, yeah, I know it's unethical. But I'm talking about beer here. Since you can't have Drinks for Lynx at the ParkWay at the same time as tossing a few Odin beers back at the Puyallup River Alehouse, you are going to have to let your morals slide just a little bit. I like to dress my close up in a smart bobbed wig. It's best not to be too conspicuous.

BEER HERE

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 10

The ParkWay Tavern will host Drinking for Conservation's "Drinks for Lynx" night. Fifty cents of every beer, cider and wine sold between 6 and 10 p.m. will go to help Conservation Northwest protect the lynx. DFC donates to organizations with missions the committee believes in - helping animals and the environment.

Odin Brewing of Seattle has released a small batch of Equinox Porter with the non-spore forming genus of yeast Brettanomycesafter months of aging the brett tartness and earthiness blend with bourbon flavors in barrels. Will it be at the Odin Brewer's Night at Puyallup River Alehouse? Show up between 6-9 p.m. and find out, or at least be in the running for raffle prizes.

The holiday season brings rich, heavy beers, and those with delicate spices really shine. "Winter warmer" traditionally refers to malty, dark beers that sometimes have a cola-like flavor profile, but contemporary craft brewers are happy to slap the label onto almost any kind of beer released for the December market. Through Jan. 31, Pints & Quarts and O'Blarney's Irish Pub host WinterFest '14, a "passport" affair where drinkers can score a 16-ounce Pilsner glass by drinking five winter beers at each joint, receiving stamps for proof.

Speaking of a bunch of beers ... Are you participating in Engine House No. 9's 25 Days of Christmas beer-a-day countdown? Head brewer Shane Johns has tapped a special beer to drink every day until Christmas. So far, E9 Nameless IPA #33, Samichlaus, 2013 Delerium Noel, 2012 Port Old Viscosity, Boneyard Bone A Fide, The Bruery Bois, 10 Barrel's German Sparkle Party, Lost Abbey's Merry Taj and Firestone Walker's Agrestic have been tapped. Day 10? Stop by 611 N. Pine St. and discover today's present.

Speaking of gifts ... Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. debuts its Belgian Abbey Ale today. Brewed in the tradition of Belgian Trappist beers, the Belgian Style Dubbel is complex, malty and fruity. It's open from 4-10 p.m.

THURSDAY, DEC. 11

Here we are, clamped firmly in winter's dismal, rime-curdled armpit. Fortunately, my projected schedule for the next two months includes plenty of winter beers, including Pint Defiance's annual Winter Beer-nanza party, beginning at 5 p.m. The specialty beer store and taproom will convert seven of its taps into winter cheer dispensers: Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (2014), Black Raven Festivus Holiday Ale, Lost Abbey Merry Taj IPA, Bale Breaker High Camp Winter Warmer, pFriem Belgian Christmas Ale, Heathen Reindeer Tears Barrel-Aged Barleywine and Atlas Spiced Pear Cider. In addition to big beers, Pint Defiance will host a "Christmas Cookie Potluck," asking patrons to don a holiday sweater and deliver cookies for all to enjoy. Emergency Food Network donations will be collected at the door.

SATURDAY, DEC. 13

Dec. 13-24, the Harmon Tap Room will host 12 Beers of Christmas, tapping a different small batch holiday brew, every day, for 12 days in a row. If you enjoy a brew for each of the 12 days, you'll receive a complimentary engraved mug. Day one begins with a party, tapping the Candy Cane Porter at 11 a.m. Drink it, stamp your passport and take a tour of the brewery until 3 p.m. Ivan Russian Imperial Stout will be tapped Sunday.

A few decades back, ugly holiday sweaters were a gift as reviled as fruitcake. These days, however, the yuletide look is going through a bit of a renaissance. No longer a style exclusively for crazy old ladies, tacky, sequined sweaters are now sold at Target. They can be found on hipsters, bar crawlers, teens at malls and other folks who like a little irony in their wardrobe (while also benefiting from their cozy warmth). This Saturday, Dick's Brewing Company hosts its Ugly Sweater Christmas Party from 3-7:30 p.m. in its tasting room. Don't forget to bring unwrapped toys and non-perishable food.

Top Rung Brewing Company will unleash its hoppy Heavy Irons Double IPA Saturday. This truly delicious, 8.2 percent ABV was brewed with Simcoe, Amarillo, Cascade and Nugget hops. When you need a double, grab the Heavy Irons.

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 17

Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, California, releases anticipated seasonals every year with high levels of alcohol and names as charismatic and irreverent as any beer might hope for - Lagunitas' own Imperial IPA, brewed since 1996, is called Maximus. Brown Shugga, a seasonal brew from Lagunitas, was created in 1997 as the result of an attempt to rescue a failed batch of Olde GnarlyWine Ale by adding "boatloads of brown sugar" - or so the story goes, anyway. Fingers crossed, The Swiss will be pouring it at its Lagunitas Brewer's Night from 6-9 p.m. Yeah, yeah, yeah, woo!

Over at the ParkWay Tavern, Paso Robles' Firestone Walker Brewing Company is one of the country's finest brewers of traditional ales and lagers. There's a reason that the California brewery has won the Great American Beer Festival's Mid-Size Brewery of the Year honor so many times. When Firestone releases a new beer, you can rest assured that it's been well executed. The ParkWay will tap the full gamut of Firestone, beginning at 5 p.m.

SEE ALSO

Cheers to Winter Beers at Puyallup River Alehouse Dec. 17

December 9, 2014 at 12:32pm

Eat This Now: Monster Burger

Monster Burger - messy, but good. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

Federal Way is a hub. It's a hub for restaurants. The main strip is lined with so many dining options I can't decide where to eat. Though, there is noticeable void in tasty, compelling, locally owned grub. I pulled over and asked social media friends for the best Federal Way eats. Great suggestions dinged in. I settled on the independently owned Monster Burger joint since it seemed the most kid friendly of the choices.

I'm not going to lie. I was not disappointed.

The "no duh" choice is the "Monster Burger," though the menu is perfect for anyone who is indecisive. It's the typical teriyaki styled digs that serves up fish and chips and burgers galore with no shortage on toppings to embellish your burger including avocado, pineapple, mushrooms and a plethora of sauce options.

Word on the streets is they use all organic beef patties. For the Monster Burger, they load that juicy beefy goodness up with sautéed mushrooms, crisp bacon, zesty thick pickle chips (not those flimsy excuses you find at other places), onions, tomato, pepper jack, cheddar, mustard and mayo. Each ingredient is balanced in each bite making it a messy behemoth to conquer.

Served with a side of beer-battered fries and "fry sauce," any burger lover will go home satisfied.

There are now two other Federal Way establishments on my radar. I'm going to grab my date so stay tuned for my wine and dine journey through Federal Way.

MONSTER BURGER, 1703 S. 324th St., Federal Way, 253.815.9863

Filed under: Eat This Now, Federal Way, Kids,

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