Northwest Military Blogs: Served blog

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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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,

December 9, 2014 at 11:33am

Cheers to Winter Beers in Puyallup

Puyallup River Alehouse asks patrons to bring an unwrapped toy for local children this holiday season. Those who donate will receive 10 percent off beers.

Beer's here! Beer's near! Let's give a beer cheer!

Yeah, the cheer is totally lame. But the sentiment; well, it's beer right?

Ah, but all bad cheering aside, there's a dreamy upcoming beer event to really cheer about. What do you want to bet Eric Akeson, owner of Puyallup River Brewing and the Puyallup River Alehouse, would be happy to lead the cheering squad? Indeed he would. Here's why.

The 2nd Annual Cheers to Winter Beers event takes place at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 17 at the Puyallup River Alehouse. Admission is free.

Here's the deliciousness Akeson has planned for patrons.

"One of our local distributors is sponsoring the event, so we'll have all of their winter offerings; 10 Barrel Pray For Snow, Alaskan Winter, Elysian Bifrost, Widmer Brrr, and Redhook Winterhook," says Akeson. "We'll also have some other great winter seasonals on tap too; 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."

Akeson and his team are also introducing a new recipe at the event.

"Our 2014 Old Pioneer Winter Ale is a new recipe for this year. 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."

And that's not all there is to cheer about, either.

There's going to be glassware giveaways, lots of raffle prizes and a very special guest. You think Santa would miss out? Oh, goodness no. A 1,000 cheers for Santa! He will be arriving at 7 p.m. that night, so break out your holiday wish lists and have cameras at the ready.

Oh, you may want to arrive early. Last year, the joint filled up fast and everyone had a grand ol' time. It's anticipated that every seat in the house is going to be filled this year, so be prepared to grab a mug and give a toast to new friends and tablemates, too.

And Akeson and crew have more on tap to celebrate the end of a great year and to launch into 2015. Ring in the New Year with a special brewer's night on New Year's Eve at the alehouse. Two Beers and Seattle Cider Co. will be in the house with lots of beer, cider, giveaways and raffles. And enjoy a free champagne toast at midnight.

As for 2015?

A mug club is being planned, there's a second anniversary to celebrate Feb. 5, the joint will be playing host to two teams for the local billiards league and, of course, there will be more killer events.

"Thanks to all of our customers for their support in our first couple of years in business in downtown Puyallup," says Akeson. "We look forward to what 2015 brings. See you at the Alehouse."

Aww ... let's cheer to that!

2ND ANNUAL CHEERS TO WINTER BEERS, 6 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 17, Puyallup River Alehouse, 120 S Meridian, Puyallup, no cover, 253.268.0955

Filed under: New Beer Column, Puyallup,

December 9, 2014 at 10:21am

Served Blog Banner Girl: Q&A with Kristina Vanous of Odd Otter Brewing Company

Standing in front of the shirts she designed, Kristina Vanous is ready to pour you an Odd Otter beer. 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 Kristina Vanous.

Server Banner Girl, Dec. 8-14, 2014

Kristina Vanous

Long long ago, Kristina Vanous was a Starbucks barista in high school, and then a server for a dinky restaurant out in Enumclaw called CJ Coasters. In college, she worked at a Seattle-based computer firm. She joined Odd Otter Brewing Company as a graphic designer to help them with a redesign of the logo. The scope of the project turned into so much more - a complete rebranding and, eventually, an investor in Odd Otter. Following her return from overseas travels to the lands of Hobbits and Aussies in March, she began working on the actual space. Many of the interior elements were designed and handmade by Vanous. Next on her to-do list is the much-requested flight trays. Yes, she hears you Tacoma. When she's not designing, she's pouring beers.

Why do you serve?
"Odd Otter Brewing Company was founded out of a desire to provide the community with a cozy place that is both inviting and fun. Additionally, the founders have a desire to give back to the community in other, non-alcohol based ways. I serve in large part because the spirit and purpose of the company resonates with my own life philosophy. Also, it's a great opportunity to break away from the week's work to socialize. I really enjoy being able to interact with the folks who have been watching and supporting our progress over the past year. A LOT of heart and soul have gone into this place, and it warms my heart to see people finally enjoying it. I serve because I care about Tacoma. This city has been my home for over a decade, and I love the people in it!"

Who is your favorite server in the South Sound?
"How on earth could I ever choose? Can I list crews? The teams at Hilltop Kitchen and The Forum are always on top of their game whenever any of us Otters visit them. They are approachable, helpful and they tailor their communication styles to their clientele's preferences. I love how attentive they are."

What are you most proud to serve?
"I am proud to serve ALL of our brewer's well-crafted creations, Owen McGrane, Odd Otter's head brewer, is an absolute genius. He has a knack for creating "otterly" unique experiences for your mouth. We don't expect everyone to like everything that we serve: some people like their beer sweet; others like it subtle; some like it hoppy; others like it malty. I could go on with juxtapositions, but my point is that, we've something to delight almost any palate. We think that that's definitely something to be proud of.

As much as I love serving our beer, I am MOST PROUD to serve by utilizing my skills in design and art here at Odd Otter for the community to enjoy. I am proud and honored that the otter graphics on our merchandise; the bar face at which our customers sit; and the tables that I lovingly varnished, carved with otters and checkerboards, and stained reflect my hand and my mind in the brewery. I even made sure that under table and under bar coat and purse hooks were installed for our ladies and gents. The other curiosities I have created, such as the bathroom mural and rock wall, were my way of turning a predictable experience turn into something unique and enjoyable. Witnessing the smiles and laughter over the things I've created in service to our customers are what makes me the most proud. It means I did my job right!

Oh, and my favorite beer to serve is the Ottermelon Hefeweizen. It is soft, subtle and it's delightfully summer-y. Particularly here in Washington where three of our seasons are rain - a little summer sprinkled here and there can brighten up anyone's day."

What's your current drink of choice?
"Although I have tended toward water drinking historically, my current - it's always changing - most fancied beer is Momma Otter's Pancake Porter. "The Pancake" as we call it is a real treat, especially when it comes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream brought in from Ice Cream Social. It's better than a root beer float."

Favorite movie?
"Oh boy, I'm a huge comedy buff. Some favorites include Anchorman, Grandma's Boy, Monty Python and Zoolander."

What don't you serve?
"As a local brewery and tasting room, we are presently licensed to serve only beer. We don't have wine or hard alcohol, but we have beers that wine drinkers and spirits sippers will love. We keep things simple on the food side too: anyone can bring in any food from anywhere and eat it here. Everyone who will deliver food is welcome to deliver it here as well, so even though we won't serve you food, you can eat anything you like. We do have some bags of odd chips for sale, and we'll have bar snacks coming soon."

What's on your radar at Odd Otter Brewing?
"We have some amazing new beers coming up in rotation soon. Two new beers currently fermenting are The Son of Otter, which is a Belgian with hints of spices, apple and pear. It's a nod to Rene Magritte's famed painting "The Son of Man," which depicts a bowler-hatted man whose face is obscured by a green apple. We will also have delightful holiday ale called WinterFace with unique herbal flavors of lavender, orange peel and juniper. I can't wait.

Once our larger seven barrel brewing system is up and running (soon!), we will expand our opening days from Fridays and Saturdays. We also anticipate bringing Tacoma a delightful handcrafted root beer in the next year as well.

And don't forget the gift cards we just received in the mail - hot off the presses and ready to stuff the stockings of Otter fans everywhere. If you pay attention, you also might read about our New Year's Eve party that we're planning, too."


New Brew Space Oddity

LINK: Meet other South Sound servers

LINK: South Sound Happy Hour App

December 8, 2014 at 5:20pm

JBLM soldier brings the heat during culinary arts team tryouts

Sgt. Andrew Shurden, a food services specialist with the 42nd Military Police Brigade, prepares a potato dish during tryouts for the JBLM culinary arts team Nov. 21. Photo credit: Sgt. James J. Bunn

The palpable scent of spices and steak filled the air as Sgt. Andrew Shurden, displayed his cooking skills at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Culinary Arts Team tryouts in November 2014.

If selected, Shurden, a food services specialist with the 42nd Military Police Brigade, and 15 other food services soldiers will compete in the Military Culinary Arts Competitive Training Event at Fort Lee, Va. in March.

The JBLM team will consist of eight team members, four student team members and four alternates. At the competition, the team will compete in eight events including the Armed Forces Chef of the Year, Armed Forces Student Chef of the Year, nutrition cook off, culinary exam, military kitchen competition, team buffet, student competitive training event and dessert competition.

Shurden competed twice at the MCACTE with a team from Hawaii and said he hopes his skills and experience will earn him a spot on the JBLM team.

"I liked being on the team in Hawaii," said Shurden. "I was able to learn more about being a chef and develop my skills beyond the dining facility."

Shurden will need more than sharp knife skills and tasty food to earn a spot on the team. The judges will score competitors using the same criteria as the American Culinary Federation and are looking for chefs that can work well in a team, exhibit good work habits, and strong cooking and organizational skills.

"First and foremost we're looking at how well these chefs work in the kitchen," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jesse Ward, one of the judges at the tryouts. "Second is skills used during the food preparation. We want to know that the flavors are good and the temperatures are correct."

>>> Sgt. Andrew Shurden slices beef tenderloin during tryouts for the Joint Base Lewis-McChord culinary arts team. Photo credit: Sgt. James J. Bunn

At the beginning of the tryouts team hopefuls had an opportunity to plan their menu for the cook off. The next two days competitors refined their menu selections and practiced cooking techniques.

Shurden has his sights set on competing in the Armed Forces Chef of the Year portion of the MCACTE. In this, category competitors have an hour and 15 minutes to cook and plate a meal using a mystery ingredient.

For the tryouts the mystery ingredient was beef tenderloin. Shurden quickly trimmed the beef, sliced it into steaks and prepared it for the grill, posing little challenge for the chef. His finished plate was a filet mignon on top of a blueberry red wine reduction topped with fried leeks, asparagus and layered potatoes.

"Before I joined the Army I was a chef at a barbeque restaurant," said Shurden, a Tupelo, Mississippi native. "Meat preparation is probably my strongest skill in the kitchen."

Working in a restaurant Shurden trained to become a professional chef and achieve one of his lifelong goals, but being a chef wasn't his only dream. The chef wanted to be a soldier as well.  

"I joined the Army as a cook so I could serve my country and continue my career as a chef," said Shurden. "Being able to serve those who are serving is rewarding to me."

Shurden's love of cooking started long before working in a restaurant or a military dining facility, and he attributes it to his upbringing. My family is a major driving force when I step into the kitchen, added Shurden.

"I'm from Mississippi and food is a big part of life back home and it has always been important in my family," said Shurden. "I grew up watching my dad in the kitchen."

Shurden said he wants to compete at the MCACTE not just for fun but also for the opportunities that come from participating in the largest culinary arts competition in the United States.

Soldiers who do well at the Fort Lee competition often get recruited to work at the Pentagon's dining facility, said Shurden. It's a chance to broaden my skills in the kitchen and advance my career, he added.

Working as a chef in a place like the Pentagon requires a skilled professional. The tryouts not only helped decide the team, they also provided an opportunity for the chefs to raise their culinary excellence and professionalism and serves as a training event for all the competitors.

Shurden used his experience to answer questions from younger soldiers about the meal he was preparing and the techniques he was using. 

"I am more than happy to teach anyone about cooking," said Shurden. "Sharing what I know with others is as rewarding to me as knowing that someone enjoyed the food I prepared."

At the end of the cook-off the judges talked to all of the chefs about their food and offered critiques and constructive feedback.

"I want these guys to be able to take what they learn here and apply those skills in their unit's DFAC," said Ward. "This is a good way to build motivation in the soldiers competing and also improve the quality of food in their units.

Shurden is one of the top candidates for the team but he and the other competitors won't officially find out until February if they were selected for the JBLM team.

Filed under: Military, Contest,

December 5, 2014 at 10:38am

Mac and Cheese Madness: Boathouse 19

Boathouse 19's spectacular mac and cheese pairs well with the Giant Pacific Octopus IPA from neighboring Narrows Brewing Co. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

It's a well known fact that cold weather = comfort food.

And what's more comforting then hot and cheesy mac and cheese?

On a recent rainy night, Boathouse 19 shone like a lighthouse for those craving comfort food. Next to the Narrows Marina, tucked behind the massive Narrows Brewing Co., you could see the glow through the windows that become live paintings of nautical themes.

Boathouse 19's mac & cheese may not have a stadium named after it, but it takes the afterschool snack and hangover helper to a whole new level. Maybe the Boathouse 19 Mac & Cheese Bowl? It's certainly worthy.

Eating Boathouse 19's three-cheese macaroni and cheese ($13) is an out-of-body experience. Upon completion, it's a full body experience. The waterfront restaurant offers a rich, filling dish of elbow macaroni bathed in silky, cheesy goodness and served in a cast-iron pan. Maybe the secret to this mac & cheese greatness is the caramelized onion and huge chunks of ham. Maybe it's the thick blanket of panko, that is the perfect contrast rather than steel the show. Maybe it's the dish's fine balance of being cheesy but not cheesy, creamy but not creamy. No need to twist. No need for a spoon. Pepper jack, American and cheddar, blended all together, served by the happiest server I have ever met.

Seriously, this is worth a trip to Boathouse 19 all by itself. This is mac and cheese that makes an impression.

BOATHOUSE 19, 11 a.m. to close Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, 9001 S. 19th St., Tacoma, 253.565.1919

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound

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

December 4, 2014 at 3:06pm

Served Blog Banner Boy: Q&A with bartender Josh Hill of The Swiss and Eleven Eleven

Josh Hill behind the bar at Peterson Bros. 11i1 on Hilltop 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 Josh Hill.

Server Banner Boy, Dec. 1-7, 2014

Josh Hill

Josh Hill began bartending at The Swiss Restaurant & Pub shortly after his father, Bob, Jack McQuade and Gayl Bertagni opened the joint in a then sketchy part of downtown Tacoma in 1993. The Swiss was one of the main reasons the neighborhood turned around. Basically, Josh turned 21 and stepped behind the bar. Not only did Josh have a front row seat to the revitalization of downtown Tacoma, he watched the downtown YMCA grow too. Josh was one of the founders of the Y's popular Noon Hoops program. For years he battled many a player underneath the hoop. Today, Josh is still at The Swiss, as well as behind the bar at Peterson Bros. 1111, the Hilltop Tacoma bar and sandwich joint run by Bob Hill's other boys, twins Robbie and Justin Peterson.

Why do you serve?

I serve because following in your father's footsteps is a good thing.

Who is your favorite server in the South Sound?

My favorite server is the whole crew at The Copper Door. I like to go for a run, and then stop there for beers. It's fun, local, good brew and good company.

What are you most proud to serve?

I like to think I can find the right drink for each person. A couple questions and instinct is all it takes.

What's your current drink of choice?

My drink lately has been a Moscow Mule. Greg at The Top makes the best.

Favorite movie?

Favorite movie is Hoosiers, of course.

What don't you serve?

No drinks with more than two shots. Responsibility is important too, even if the customer doesn't agree.

What's on your radar at 1111 and The Swiss?

At 1111 and the Swiss it's always new. You never know whom you'll meet. That always makes it fun.

LINK: Meet other South Sound servers

Filed under: Served Banner Models, Tacoma,

December 4, 2014 at 2:25pm

Words & Photos: Annual 7 Seas Beer Dinner at Brix 25

For the fourth year in a row, Brix 25 restaurant hosted 7 Seas Brewing for a beer dinner to battle Black Friday nerves. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

First, let's dispel the likely initial reaction upon hearing "beer dinner." No, this is not some bacchanalian kegger where the winner is he who drinks the most. Instead, each course includes 10-ounce pours of beer, which is supposed to be sipped and savored, not chugged. Though, full-disclosure, Brix 25's annual 7 Seas Beer Dinner pre-dinner reception offered a chance to sip cocktails, which many participants did, and the dessert course arrived with two beers riding shotgun. So, that's all good news.

For the last four years, the Gig Harbor fine-dining restaurant has offered a fabulous way to wind down after Thanksgiving and celebrate small business, sailing through Black Friday with a beer pairing dinner with neighbors 7 Seas Brewing. Chef/owner Thad Lyman welcome the crowd of 7 Seas beer dinner regulars and new faces, announcing new flavors will be enjoyed, concentrating on "Southern Low County" flavors, Southern culture on the skids with Northwest twists.

>>> Brix 25 Chef/owner Thad Lyman

"Keg Commander" Colin Harvin, who concentrates on sales and marketing for 7 Seas, represented the brewery, substituting for co-owner Mike Runion who had his hands full with a newborn girl. Commander Harvin ran through the history of the night's first beer, the 253 Pilsner, how it was the brainchild of Runion and 253 Heart Foundation owner/Shake Shake Shake co-owner Steve Naccarato, the fact that proceeds benefit local charities and how the Northwest pilsner is crisp and clean. He explained co-owner and head brewer Travis Guterson incorporated Sterling and Cascade hops from the Yakima Valley, barley from Washington state and the golden cans are produced in Olympia. For more background on the creation of the beer and its charities, click here.

The 253 Pilsner was paired with breakfast, bacon and eggs on flat bread.

"Beer isn't just for breakfast; breakfast can be for dinner just as well," said Lyman.

Lyman used malts from the beer to create the béchamel, bacon lardons underneath the sunny side egg with a little Blanc Rose. Lyman suggested picking up the rich starter like a taco and let it drip away, which most did. The bacon and egg looked to dominate, but the refreshing, crisp pilsner found a perfect balance. Off to a good start!

The second course: fried oysters and grits turned out to be incredibly delicious, especially when paired with 7 Seas' Reign Man ESB - the toasty malt character with a slight caramel sweetness brought out the rich, creamy polenta. The Reign Man ESB rarely makes an appearance outside of the 7 Seas' taproom. The Northwest-style Extra Special Bitter features citrusy Yakima Valley Centennial hops and malt heavy, and was brewed in honor of the Seattle Space Needle's 50th anniversary. The Fat Bastard oysters from Taylor Shellfish Farms, which were in the water the previous morning, were prepared with a little okra, fried quick with cornmeal and placed on creamy polenta with a little bit of clams.

Up next, the main course - I think the best part of the night - was a short stack of Johnny Cakes with pulled pork paired with the Chili Pepper Imperial Stout. The beer basically made its South Sound premier at the dinner. Harvin introduced the nine percent stout treated with three different kinds of chili peppers - including ghost peppers - which were added during the second fermentation, letting the oils seep out. The beer starts off with a nice, silky chocolate, espresso roast flavor with the peppers hitting the back of the throat, cutting through the bitterness at the end, bringing back the chocolate notes. I could be my favorite 7 Seas beer.

Lyman slow-roasted the pork for hours, then removed the meat from the smoker and braised it with the Chili Pepper Imperial Stout, picking up the chilies and malted barleys. The pork was placed on high cornmeal cakes, with green Tabasco sauce, goat cheese drizzle and Jack Daniels maple syrup.

The crowd erupted in chatter after Lyman described the dish. "I mention Jack Daniels and the crowd stops listening," Lyman said with a laugh.

Runion made an appearance during the main course, to thank everyone and show baby pictures.

Finally, a delicious, rich dessert was brought out to finish the evening. Mississippi Mud Pie with caramel pecans, paired with 7 Seas' Port Royal Stout AND a return appearance by the 253 Pilsner for a "deconstructed" black and tan, as Harvin put it. The traditional English-style stout offered more flavors of dark chocolate, espresso and malt sweetness. Nugget and Mt. Hood hops gave it a nice, clean finish.

"As a little boy, I made mud pies, but as most of the men in this room would agree, it tasted like crap," said Lyman. "This mud pie has a dark chocolate ganache bottom with chocolate pudding on top and a malted meringue on the finish, toasted it off, decorated with rolled oats that went into the stout, toasted pecans and a caramel made with really heavy black sea salt to give it a little pop."

>>> Colin Harvin, left, and Mike Runion from 7 Seas Brewing

>>> The talent in Brix 25's kitchen

>>> I wish I could remember what Chef Lyman was discussing at this moment.

The dinner proved to be an enjoyable way to sip two 7 Seas Beers I haven't tried, and gain an appreciation for the ways in which various flavors combine and work together in nontraditional Southern dishes. Bravo!

BRIX 25, 4:30-9:30 p.m. daily, 7707 Pioneer Way, Gig Harbor, 253.858.6626

7 SEAS BREWING, taproom 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday-Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 3006 Juson St., Gig Harbor, 253.514.8129

December 3, 2014 at 10:55am

Harmon Brewing crafts new Pt. Defiance IPA, announces Twelve Beers of Christmas

Harmon Brewing Co. added Citra hops to its Pt. Defiance IPA.

The warm and fuzzy feeling you get when in good company, complimented by a delicious and unique local beer, is what makes the Harmon Brewing Co.'s Twelve Beers of Christmas a worthy holiday merriment. The Tacoma brewing company will, once again, pour a beer a day at its Harmon Tap Room, beginning Dec. 13. Below is a Harmon news release naming the 12 beers, as well as an announcement that they have updated their Pt. Defiance IPA recipe. ...

TACOMA - Harmon Brewing Company announced today that their Pt. Defiance IPA recipe has undergone an exciting change. The new Point Defiance IPA is an updated version of their iconic classic, without straying from the roots.

"Bright, clean, crisp and hoppy, the iconic PT. Defiance IPA is re-born," said Head Brewer Jeff Carlson.

Originally brewed in 1997 to commemorate the opening of the Harmon Brewery, the Point Defiance IPA was crafted to encompass what Tacoma stood for, a no fuss, palate quenching brew.

The improved version uses five different malted barleys to accommodate the boat load of Pacific Northwest hops.

"The combination creates the classic West Coast hop aroma and flavor that we all crave, while maintaining drinkability," added Carlson. "In keeping with tradition we left the hoppy backbone unchanged, but added some Citra to give it that edge.  Hop in your Kayak, pour yourself a glass and enjoy."

For the first beer of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Yes, it's time again for Harmon's annual Twelve Beers of Christmas. The daily festivities, held at the Tap Room, begin on December 13th and end on Christmas Eve. To get people in the spirit of the holidays, the first beer, a delectable Candy Cane Porter, will be served Firkin style, just as beer was quaffed back in the mid-15th century.

The Twelve Beers of Christmas lineup, including everything from barrel aged imperial stouts to blondes and sours, is subject to change. Here is the lineup in no particular order:

  • Ivan Russian Imperial Stout - 2013
  • Apricot Tart - 2012
  • Casper's Revenge Ghost Pepper Peach - 2012
  • 11th ST. +1 IPA
  • 5-Mile Drive IPA
  • Old John Barrel Blend
  • One Hop Wonder
  • Columbus Candy Cane Porter Firkin
  • Honey Blonde
  • Dry Fly Barrel Aged New West CDA
  • Farmhouse Blonde
  • Whiskey Soaked Oak Aged Steep & Deep
Filed under: New Beer Column, Holidays, Tacoma,

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