Northwest Military Blogs: Served blog

February 3, 2015 at 12:01pm

Catch a beer flight in the South Sound

Grab a 7 Seas Brewing beer flight and land on their front patio. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

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Beer festivals are an excellent way to sample a wide range of craft breweries and styles. But if the festival scene doesn't sound appealing, beer fans can create their own diverse festival at their own pace on almost any day of the week - while also getting the most bang for your buck and more beer for your belly. The answer: flights.

Fortunately for those fickle souls among us, most South Sound breweries and a few bars and restaurants offer beer flights. If you can't decide what beer to taste on a night out, taste as many as possible with these various flights put together by beer aficionados. Some establishments, such as Narrows Brewing Company, remove the burden of choice by offering a curated flight - often featuring their most recent brewed beers.

Of course, many places offer build-your-own flights, which opens a door to endless possibilities (and hours of waffling back and forth). If you can't make up your mind or have no idea where to even start when picking the beers yourself, ask your server; he or she should be happy to help fill out your flight or offer suggestions to get you started.

Either way, beer flights can widen your beer knowledge or help a friend broaden a narrowly focused viewpoint, as well as be a cost-effective way to train your palate to recognize the differences between similar brews.

Vertical flights demonstrate the way a specific beer can change when properly cellared, but they are more rare and usually reserved for special events. Finding several beers from a single brewery on tap is more common, providing a feel for a brewery's character. If you're in a restaurant or bar, multiple breweries most likely will be offered in a single flight.

Typically, flights land on a paddle or tray, six to eight small glasses full of beer, for a single price. Sometimes, the beers are priced a la carte.

My South Sound travels revealed most flights land with beers lightest to darkest. Generally, the lightest beers have a gentler character, lower ABV and lower hop bitterness than darker beers. If a dark beer is sampled before a light beer, it is likely that much of its character will be lost behind the forward charisma of the dark one.

Travis Guterson, head brewer at 7 Seas Brewing, suggests arranging his beers according to their hops content.

"Think about what's going to wreak the most havoc on your palate," says Guterson. "The rule of thumb is starting with the flavors that are going to be the more mellow, subtle, and move toward the more bold, hoppy flavors. Hops, in particular, tend to have a numbing effect on your senses. They can burn your taste buds out. We suggest not arranging by mellow to bold, but rather least hoppy to most hoppy. I'll put our Rotating Imperial Stout before our IPA, Ballz Deep Double IPA and Cascadian Dark Ale. Starting with our Belgian Style Blonde Ale is a good bet, then on to the Cutt's Amber, the 253 Pilsner, then the Stout, CDA and last, the IPAs. Of course, this is a bit beer geeky; the main goal is to taste several beers and have fun with friends."

My originally scheduled beer column for this week (different subject matter) was postponed due to technical difficulties. Since I logged some beer flight miles (didn't open the bag in the seat pocket once), I thought I'd post my beer flight column early (I had planned to visit many other establishments). Please check the reader board for how this affects your connecting flights.

7 Seas Brewing

The Gig Harbor brewery allows drinkers to mix and match any of their beers on tap. Each deep, handsome long-wooden crate comes with four ($5), six ($8) or eight ($10) 5-ounce glasses filled with whatever your heart desires. If you're one of those people who loathes making important decisions like what to drink on Friday night, you could just drink seasonals or IPAs. You could also drink single 5-ounce pours for $1.50. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday-Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 3006 Judson St., Gig Harbor, 253.514.8129

Narrows Brewing Company

The waterfront brewery is the perfect place to while away sunny days sipping on Joe Walts' handiwork while watching boats float along the Narrows waterway. To try more beer for less money, order a flight of six 5.5- to 6-ounce pours for $10.50. Bartenders Mary and Taylor pick the beers, which typically are the most recently brewed beers. 2-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, 9007 S. 19th St., Tacoma, 253.327.1400

Odd Otter Brewing Company

You can mix and match or go with a server's recommendation based upon your preferences, but you can't really go wrong with the beer available at Odd Otter Brewing Company in downtown Tacoma. Known for their unique flavors - Ottermelon Hefeweizen, Cozy Camper Amber, Momma Otter's Pancake Porter and on and on - Odd Otter serves their beer flights in a la carte 5-ounce tasters for $2 an Otter - which are discounted during happy hour. Their beer paddle holds six, but more can certainly ride shotgun. Warning: The beer slots on the paddle are very shallow so find a spot and stay put.11-2 a.m. Thursday-Sunday, 716 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.209.7064

Pacific Brewing & Malting Co.

Down the street from Odd Otter, historic Pacific Brewing only drilled five holes in the old logs they used to carry their flights. Don't cry South Sound, the pours are 7-ounces for $14, and you can pick the beers. You know how Pacific Brewing is: Go big or go home. Their Moon Yard Strong Ale (7.3% ABV/89 IBU) with strong hop flavor and bitterness (named after a neighboring railway yard) and Dirty Skoog IPA (8.1% ABV/73 IBU) double IPA (named after a rumored speakeasy in Old Tacoma during Prohibition) is how they think. 4-10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, 610 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.383.BEER

Pint Defiance

The specialty beer store and taproom on the edge of Fircrest doesn't offer beer flights, but rather a "Sunday Beer Sampler" from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Assistant Manager R.J. Adler runs the Sampler, typically choosing four 3- to 4-ounce pours from bottles out of the cooler, centered around a theme - a specific brewery, certain beer style, holidays, topical event or, if he can, his favorite sours. "It's a way to try a unique bottled beer without drinking all 22-ounces," says Adler. The price runs $4 to $5.50. Bonus: Pint Defiance's third annual Valentine's Day Chocolate & Beer Event will feature special draft releases paired with artisanal chocolate from local Cocoa Tantily Feb. 13 and 14. 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2049 Mildred St. W., Tacoma, 253.302.4240

The Red Hot

The Tacoma Sixth Avenue craft beer and hot dog joint will pour you 5-ounce tasters of any of the 24 beers on tap for $2 less than the posted price. No paddles ... unless you're a jerk. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, 2914 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.779.0229

Wingman Brewers

The Tacoma Dome District brewery serves a minimum of six 5.5-ounce pours for $12. According to head brewer Ken Thoburn, patrons will receive one of everything on tap that he has brewed. 2-9 p.m. Thursday, 2-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2-9 p.m. Sunday, 509 ½ Puyallup Ave., Tacoma, 253.256.5240

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About this blog

Served, a blog by the Weekly Volcano, is the region’s feedbag of fresh chow daily, local restaurant news, New Beer Column, bar and restaurant openings and closings, breaking culinary news and breaking culinary ground - all brought to the table with a dollop of Internet frivolity on top.

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