Engine House No. 9 to host Berliner Fest and Wild & Sour Fest

By Ron Swarner on July 14, 2014

It's "BBQ Month" at Engine House No. 9 in Tacoma. I dropped by E9 for one of its six barbecue dishes, the delicious smoked barbecue pork quesadilla with a chipotle sour cream drizzle kick ($6.99). I scanned the walls. ...

Besides weekend breakfasts beginning in August, the other notable event on E9's calendar is its Wild and Sour Fest Aug. 23. E9 brews awesome sours, and this annual festival is probably the restaurant and bar's biggest event of the year.

"Couldn't be happier with how sour fest is shaping up," says E9 head brewer Shane Johns. "Going to be a lot of great beers. Have some super special stuff in bottle format. And I have received almost every keg on my wish list. I only have a couple kegs left to arrive at the E9. Going to be some tough decisions made as to what beers go on tap first and what will be back-ups."

Having more sours this year than he can tap can only be a good thing.

"It will also be the biggest selection of E9 sours ever available at one time," adds Johns. "Will have five of them: Raspberry Wild, the last keg of Gold Medal winning Golden Berry, the last keg of Silver Medal winning Verre Violet, Rhubarb Wild Batch 3 and End of a Era, which will be blended to be Super Funk Forward."

In mid-chomp of a pork quesadilla triangle, my eye caught a glimpse of a brown poster filled with a list of beers in all-caps. Apparently, Johns has been tinkering with sours. E9 will present 14-plus Berliner Weisse and Gose and part of its Berliner Fest Saturday, July 19, which will include the E9 Tacoma Weiss with peach and golden raspberry variants.

"It was something I've talked about making for a couple years and just hadn't pulled the trigger on," says Johns. "Some encouragement from Trevor at De Garde and Tanya from 10 Barrel got me pretty excited about going forward with the project. I love both of their Berliner-inspired beers, so pulled out the recipe and went for it. The Tacoma Weiss isn't a true-to-style Berliner I sort of put my own spin on it."

Here's the Berliner Fest tap list:

If Johns had to pick three non-E9 beers at Berliner Fest to drink, which ones would he choose?

"I would pretty much drink any of the Berliners or Gose that will be on tap. I've enjoyed all of them multiple times. One of the great things about these styles is the low ABV you can really session them, without getting too buzzed. If you're going to make me choose, then the 10 Barrel Raspberry Crush, Professor Fritz 1809 Berliner Weisse and Bruery Hottenroth."

Johns releases about two beers a month, most straight to his Alpha distributor. "The next fun release at E9 will be for the Berliner Fest and Sour Fest - peach and golden raspberry Tacoma Weisse for Berliner and Raspberry Wild and End of a Era for Sour Fest," says Johns. "I'll have a few other new beers hit the draft line-up between the two fests."

The new beers to hit the E9 taps include several released this month - VOLTRON 2.0, Duex Cinq Trios (batch two) and the Summer Saison - plus an India session ale for Latona Pub in Seattle, the Farmhouse Six to be released early August and the Raspberry Wild at the end of August.

"We'll also be brewing Tacoma Brew again this month and another batch of Tacoma Weisse," adds Johns. "If hops show up, I'll also do some sort of hop forward beer with Galaxy hops. I don't know what style yet."

He has a few other ideas cooking, but he doesn't know if he'll get them into the fermenters this month or next.

Not like he doesn't have time.

BERLINER FEST, 11 a.m., Saturday, July 19, Engine House No. 9, 611 N. Pine St., Tacoma, 253.272.3435


Shane Johns and E9 win Washington Beer Awards medals