Northwest Military Blogs: Served blog

November 24, 2014 at 2:51pm

Thanksgiving beer pairings

Pint Defiance assistant manager R.J. Adler suggest these four beers with your Thanksgiving meal. Photo courtesy of R.J. Adler

Cruelly sandwiched in between two much cooler holidays, the fourth Thursday in November has always been a bit of a letdown for me. Maybe I just had to draw one too many handprint turkeys and write too many lists of things to be thankful for when I was a kid. I promised myself that I wouldn't write anything this cheesy, but right now I've got an early deadline bearing down on me like a Mack truck.

To most folks, beer makes a Thanksgiving appearance during the afternoon football games rather than the big meal. Here in the South Sound, we can do better. We can bring craft beer to the dinner table, and we can show our relatives how wonderfully it can pair with food.

But pairing beer on Thanksgiving can be tricky. For starters, a turkey has both light and dark meat. There's also usually a sweet cranberry sauce and a savory stuffing along with a veritable smorgasbord of sides, rendering the heaviness of a porter too much, and snuffing out any flavor from light session ale. To address the conundrum, I dropped by Pint Defiance Specialty Beers and Taproom for assistant manager R.J. Adler's suggestions for the best holiday pours. Sundays at Pint Defiance are traditionally a four-beer tester flight tagged with a theme. This past Sunday, Adler skipped the sampler and poured full pints of beers he suggests for a Thanksgiving meal.

With a world full of comparable options, Adler chose four beers he thought people should know, based on four courses of a Thanksgiving meal: cheese, starter dishes, the main meal and dessert.

First Course: Unitroué Ephemera Cranberry (Chambly, Quebuec, Canada, 5.5 percent alcohol by volume)

"Brewed in the tradition of a Belgian White ale, this top-fermented beer provides a perfect warm-up for your palate to prepare it for a Thanksgiving feast," says Alder. "It pours a slightly cloudy blonde color releasing a flowery bouquet of red berries. The flavor is slightly sweet with a minor tart acidity that wakes up the taste buds but leaves little linger. The Unitroupe pairs nicely with soft cheeses."

Second Course: Lost Abbey Red Barn Ale (San Marcos, California, 6.7 percent ABV)

"This Farmhouse Ale traces its roots to the small rustic breweries of Southern Belgium," says Alder. "The word ‘Saison' comes to us from the French language and it means ‘season.' Lightly spiced with organic ginger, orange peels, black pepper and grains of paradise, the flavors complement holiday starters such as savory salads, barbecue beef or pork, or spicy dishes."

Main Course: DuPont Avec Les Bons Voeux (Trourpes, Belgium, 9.5 percent ABV)

Nov. 13 marked the official day (and night) of the Coast to Coast Toast. Vanberg & DeWulf, who founded the Coast to Coast Toast three years ago, was the first company to specialize in importing Belgian beers to the U.S. The principals of Vanberg & DeWulf (Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield) have been tireless champions for Belgian beer and now "honorary Belgians" all from independent family-run producers. Those who participated in the Coast to Coast Toast, which included Adler raising and tipping a DuPont Avec Les Bons Voeux - know this Vanberg & Dewulf imported brew to be worthy.

"Since 1970, the (Brasserie Dupont) brewery has been brewing a special beer to give as a New Year's present to their best clients - the name of this beer translates as, ‘With the best wishes of the brewery DuPont'," says Adler. "This strong pale ale pours a coppery blonde with a frothy white head introducing aromas of fresh baked bread, delicate lemon and a mild herbal happiness. It pairs excellently with turkey, salty dishes and rich food, with a subtle warming sensation from the alcohol and a clean, crisp finish that prepares the palate for the next bite."

Dessert Course: Kasteel Winter (Ingelmunster Begium, 11 percent ABV)

"Kasteel Winter is a unique departure from the stars winter ales known for their potpourri of cinnamon and clove," says Adler. "This Belgian Strong Dark pours a chestnut brown with a nose of rich, warm coffee, toffee and dried fruits. The mouthfeel is rich and sweet like that of melted candy thanks to the addition of Belgian chocolate and coffee. This brew could be a dessert on its own but pairs great with rich, earthy-dry desserts, dark chocolate and mint."

By far, the Kasteel Winter was the favorite beer at Pint Defiance Sunday, with the Dupont coming in second, followed by the Unibroue and finally the Lost Abbey ale. Those who agreed with Adler and purchased the four beers for family and friends Thursday might just drink dessert first. The Kasteel Winter is that tasty.

Adler suggests letting the last two beers warm to room temperature to bring out four flavors. As I interview him, he cupped the glasses housing my Dupont and Kasteel, refusing to let me taste them before reaching the optimum temperature.

And what does Adler suggest you drink during the football games before the big meal?

"I suggest a session beer that's not going to ruin your palate," he says. "Maybe a Northwest-style pale ale, such as a Bale Breaker Field 41 Pale Ale or a Goodlife Sweet As Pacific Ale."

PINT DEFIANCE, 2049 Mildred St. W., Tacoma, 253.302.4240

Filed under: New Beer Column, Holidays, Tacoma,

November 24, 2014 at 10:26am

Punkin chunkin' - impeccable pumpkin pies in the South Sound

Corina Bakery in Tacoma is open for pie pick-ups until 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 26. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Your Thanksgiving feast is only days away. Perhaps you have family en route, maybe that weird uncle who watches Fox News all day and roots for the Chiefs. These people are expecting a feast of epic proportions, and your oven is already a 24-hour operation. Darn right you'll be making a turducken, as the Pilgrims and American Mormon Jesus intended. That yellow three-by-five card with Granny Mayberry's recipe for bacon-wrapped green bean casserole is already sitting on the counter, and dough for homemade yeast rolls is rising in the fridge. Oh, wait. Did you - ? No. My God, NO. This can't be happening! Quickly, take a census of pies in the making. Apple, cherry ... where is it? How the hell did you forget the pumpkin pie, you infidel? Have you taken leave of your senses? No PUMPKIN PIE? Well, you can kiss that appearance in Aunt Magnolia's will a fond farewell! You just doomed your family to a lifetime of holiday leprosy! This omission will not stand! Without the platform of pumpkin pie, where will the Cool Whip go, we ask you? WHERE WILL THE COOL WHIP GO?

Stop your crying, you sad, sad excuse for a human being. We here at the Weekly Tectonic Eruption offer hope. For a few bucks, compared to the turducken anyway, we can get you that pie. Well, not exactly "we." The last time we made a pumpkin pie it was a faux martini with crème de cacao and vanilla-flavored vodka. Actually, we drank so much of that we woke up 20 hours later with pumpkin pie spice crusted around our nostrils. It was bad, and we wish you hadn't posted those photos on Instagram. No, we're talking actual pie, made by someone who knows his or her way around an autumn squash.

Let's start with a pie maker so talented, so singularly gifted, that USA Today recognized him as one of the 20 finest in the entire nation. (It must be rough working at USA Today. Their annual "best of" issue is probably a free-for-all.)  Yes, I'm talking about Dr. Terry McLaughlin of Dr. Terry's Pies in Puyallup, and don't think the good doctor got his postgraduate degree at Phone-It-In Pie Medical School. McLaughlin offers you and your loved ones the say-it-with-me-and-drool Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Pie, a confection that'd make Ina Garten weep extra virgin olive oil. All his pies - yes, even the Grandma's Apple, Strawberry Cream with two pounds of mutant strawberries, and Browned Butter Pecan - are handcrafted from scratch. Buy 12 and you get the baker's dozenth free, which should just about see us through the end of November. Terry's doctorate is in theology, so God wants you to buy one of those delectable pies. Have you sinned this year? Care to greet your Maker with moral turpitude still on your conscience? No? Then you'd better get on that.

Corina Bakery offers made-from-scratch Spiced Pumpkin pies, but why stop there? Who doesn't love Pumpkin Cheesecake? Or Bourbon Pecan pie? Or just bourbon? Our point is we like bourbon. Oh, and you can even get most of Corina's gorgeous pies vegan or gluten-free, so in your autoimmune-disorder face, celiac disease.

For last-minute orders, check out 8 Arms Community Bakery, which is hosting an open house from noon to 7 p.m. Thanksgiving Eve. Standard pumpkin, linzer-hazelnut pumpkin, pumpkin-brownie swirl, and sticky-toffee pecan-pumpkin pies will all be flying out the door for pennies on the dollar. While you're there, grab some pumpkin spice bread and a brochure for Weight Watchers, and we'll see you there in December.

DR. TERRY'S PIES, Sterino Farms, 6116 52nd St. E, Puyallup, $39, 253.845.0719

CORINA BAKERY, 602 Fawcett Ave., Tacoma, $24-$38, 253.627.5070

8 ARMS COMMUNITY BAKERY, 413 Decatur St. NW, Olympia, $12, 360.754.6894

Filed under: Holidays, Tacoma, Puyallup, Olympia,

November 24, 2014 at 8:30am

Served Blog Banner Girl: Q&A with bartender Teresa Fisher of Maxwell's Restaurant + Lounge

Maxwell's bartender Teresa Fisher knows how to make a delicious martini. 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 Teresa Fisher.

Server Banner Girl, Nov. 24-Nov. 30, 2014

Teresa Fisher

Teresa Fisher is a very good reason to visit Maxwell's Restaurant + Lounge, nestled between downtown Tacoma and the Stadium District. This experienced mixologist is a fireball of energy. She's known for being outgoing, her beautiful smile and kick-ass drinks, of course. You might have known her at the Outback Steakhouse. You might have known her at the former Sea Grill. She has found a home at Maxwell's, matching drinks with the talent in Maxwell's kitchen.

Why do you serve?

"I serve because it allows me to have a flexible schedule giving me the opportunity to spend precious time with my children. I also like the fast paced, think on your feet, multitasking atmosphere. I love to make people happy."

Who is your favorite server in the South Sound?

"My favorite servers would have to be Jacey Weston and Ryan O'Donnell at the Matador."

What's your current drink of choice?

"My current drink of choice is a glass of Prosecco or a simple Chopin martini with a twist and an olive."

Favorite movie?

"Caddyshack"

What don't you serve?

"We don't serve ranch or breakfast."

What's on your radar at Maxwell's?

A few things are on my radar. First, of all the dishes on Chef Hudson Slater's awesome menu, you must try the lamb shank. Our Wine Wednesdays offer half off any bottle $75 or less. It's a great night to come in and try our fabulous wine list. Also, we have live music every Friday and Saturday featuring Kim Archer, Kareem Kandi and Nyoka. They rock it!

LINK: Meet other South Sound servers

LINK: South Sound Happy Hour App

Filed under: Served Banner Models, Tacoma,

November 21, 2014 at 11:04am

Mac and Cheese Madness: Half Pint Pizza Pub

Half Pint Pizza Pub in Tacoma's Sixth Avenue neighborhood pays tribute to the famous "Pasteurized Recipe Cheese Product" in its mac and cheese. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Macaroni and cheese seems simple enough - the ingredients are listed in the name of the dish. However, as I have discovered over the last eight months, the varieties are endless.

Depending upon the pasta, cheese and toppings, it can have a gourmet, beer, Southern, Mexican or Texan spin. The dish goes with everything from bacon to lobster and truffles. Even the crust can vary - croutons or breadcrumbs can add exciting flavors, as well as a textural crunch, to the cheesy goodness.

At its core, two schools of macaroni-and-cheese philosophy exist: the artisanal, gorgonzola-gruyere-gouda kind and the one devoted to the blue box. This week's mac and cheese dish tips toward the box.

The Half Pint Pizza Pub, formerly Medi's, is a small, red sauce Italian pasta and pizza joint in Tacoma's Sixth Avenue neighborhood. Check that; it's a red sauce Italian pasta, pizza and craft beer joint. You can't miss the chalkboard proudly listing craft brews, including several local breweries. Half Pint's mac and cheese version fills a small, cast-iron skillet with small elbow noodles bathing in a bubbling, creamy Velveeta (a nearly 100-year-old Frankencheeese) and heavy whip sauce, freckled with tiny nubs of croutons. Two perfectly toasted garlic bread slices and a tiny cup of tangy marinara sauce were welcomed sidekicks. The small size makes a nice lunch.

Gooey and good, and no doubt artery clogging, may I suggest you can wash down this cheesy morsel with a pine-y and strongly bitter Breakside IPA, which, like all beers, is only $3 on Thursdays.

HALF PINT PIZZA PUB, 2710 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.272.2531

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound

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

November 19, 2014 at 11:19am

Beer Here: Hop Valley Brewing, The Red Hot vs Japan, Hops For Hope, dark beers, Harmon beer dinner ...

Rob Brunsman chats up Hop Valley brewing at Pint Defiance tonight. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

October has the German celebration of beer. November has the American feast to end all feasts. If only there was a way to merge the two months into one long, gluttonous season. Octember might be a figment of my imagination, but Novem-Beer isn't. Drink up South Sound. ...

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 19

Lane County, Oregon, is in a yeasty beer boom. Whiteaker, Oakshire, Ninkasi, Plank Town, Viking Braggot, Claim 52, Falling Sky and Hop Valley Brewing Co. are just a few of the breweries keeping Eugene and Springfield on a constant beer run. Pint Defiance Specialty Beers & Taproom picked Hop Valley from the notable beer region for a night of beers and prizes from 5-7 p.m. Eugene native and brewmaster Trevor Howard opened Hop Valley Brewing Friday, Feb. 13, 2009. Indeed, he and his father, Ron Howard, Jonas Kungys and Chuck Hare chose Friday the 13th. Good luck has only come their way, as Hop Valley has undergone incredible growth. The growth should continue as Hop Valley hired Rob Brunsman, the funniest man in beer, to rep Washington state. Join Brunsman for such Hop Valley brews as Alphadelic IPA, Double-D Blonde, Mistress of the Dark Black IPA and Smokin' Porter.

Japan's Kiuchi Brewery was established in 1823 as a sake brewery. In 1996, they began brewing beer under the Hitachino Nest label, and have since produced a range of well-regarded, tasty beers. Their White Ale, a wheat beer spiced with coriander and curacao orange peel in the Belgian style, is top notch, and certainly on par with the best Belgian representatives of this classic style. The Red Hot offers a flight of four Hitachino beers today.

Iron Horse Brewery - the Ellensburg, Washington, brewery that loves to party - will bring a bunch of beer and schwag to The Swiss from 6-9 p.m.

Puyallup River Alehouse hosts North Coast Brewing Company out of Fort Bragg, California, for a night of Blue Star Wheat Beer, Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, Acme California IPA and other brews, plus schwag giveaways from 6-9 p.m.

McMenamins Spar Café celebrates the Terminator Stout's 29th birthday with $3 pints all day. Expect Terminator floats and chili dogs, too.

THURSDAY, NOV. 20

Over by Pacific Lutheran University, beer geek Erick Swenson will offer a German beer sampler at 208 Garfield for $6 a person, beginning at 6 p.m. 

Top Rung Brewing will run its Trashed Pumpkin through a Randall loaded with coffee beans.

Narrows Brewing Co. hosts Hops For Hope, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Grab a pint of the new Turkish Coffee Stout from 6-9 p.m. and maybe your raffle ticket will land you a prize.

FRIDAY, NOV. 21

The Copper Door hosts a Movember fundraiser beginning at 6 p.m. For every pint sold, a dollar will be earmarked for The Movember Foundation to fight prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health issues. Expect a raffle with Movember schwag.

Gig Harbor icon Finholm's Market and Grocery will host Narrows Brewing Co. for a brewer's night from 5-7 p.m.

SATURDAY, NOV. 22

Wingman Brewers knows you need a malty, roasty, chocolatey barrel-aged hug - the warmest snuggle-buddy in all the land - during these cold times. In celebration of their Stratofortress and Bourbon Barrel Stratofortress Belgian Strong Dark Ale style beer releases, Wingman has created a mini festival of darkness and deliverance. In addition to Team Stratofortress, and hauling out its other dark beer goodness, Wingman has invited a few fellow winter beers - some equally dark and strong as the Stratofortresses. Wingman calls the event Denizens of the Dark. From 2-11 p.m. the Tacoma Brewery will offer dark ones: Stratofortress, Bourbon Barrel Stratofortress, Jack' o Fortress, Chocofortress, Bourbon Barrel Big Baby Flat Top, Bourbon Barrel P-51 Porter, Oak Aged Heavy Bevvy Scotch Ale, 2013 Stratofortress (limited bottle release) as well as Lost Abbey Bourbon Angels Share, Alesmith Speedway Stout, 2013 Dogfish Head World Wide Stout, 2013 The Bruery 6 Geese-A-Laying, Epic Brewing Big Bad Baptist, North Coast Old Stock, Pelican Barrel Aged Poire and 2013 Scaldis Noel. Seven bucks scores you a commemorative Cthulhu snifter and your first pour.

TUESDAY, NOV. 25

As one of the lucky few who can claim every meal eaten out as a tax deduction, I don't have much incentive to spend time in the kitchen. Even the prospect of guests to impress doesn't tempt me to start cooking, since I'm acutely aware of how many more talented epicureans are practicing their art in the South Sound, including Bar Bistro's executive Chef Jason Blessum. Bar Bistro hosts a five-course beer-pairing dinner with the Harmon Brewing Co. For $35, you'll receive an ahi crostini with a Hop ‘N Rye beer cocktail, braised pork belly with the Black Tartan CDA, pork tenderloin with the new Fall Ball Imperial Red and other treats, beginning at 6 p.m. Reserve your space at 253.537.3655.

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 26

For some, the night before Thanksgiving can be a greater cause for celebration than the holiday itself - an opportunity to return to the old stomping grounds, imbibe oneself with threatening amounts of beer and play catch-up with some forlorn acquaintances. The Puyallup River Alehouse provides the venue. Widmer Brothers provides the beer ... and some raffle prizes ... from 6-9 p.m.

November 19, 2014 at 10:25am

Eat This Now: The Ensemble

B Sharp Coffee House in downtown Tacoma serves a grown-up toasted cheese sandwich. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

I am a mother of four - four monstrous little beasts who treat the home like it's a bounce house redesigning my living room to look like Dorothy's house - Land of Oz version. This, needless to say, affects my eating habits. More often than not, I'm forced to eat like a 5-year-old, or a teenager, though the two are nearly identical in habit. You'd think upon the rare occasion I sneak out of my residence from the strong grasps of those sweet little snot nosed animals I would eat deconstructed reconstructed grown-up food. Enter winter's chill. During these chilly, crisp days comfort food is my go to - sometimes this means eating similarly to that I do at my Dorothy house. Read: The Ensemble.

B Sharp Coffee House serves The Ensemble ($8) - essentially a grown-up grilled cheese with provolone, pepper jack and cheddar cheeses embellished with just a touch of pesto sandwiched and toasted between two slices of Macrina Bakery Bread (always a favorite of mine). It's cheesy, ooey-gooey and makes for a happy belly. It's a satisfying meal perfect to nosh upon while typing away on the laptop ... right ... this ... moment. Great. My laptop keys are already greasy from those little Munchkins I call my offspring.

B SHARP COFFEE HOUSE, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, 706 Court C, Tacoma, 253.292.9969

Filed under: Eat This Now, Tacoma,

November 17, 2014 at 5:02pm

TWOKOI Japanese Restaurant forced to temporarily close

17th Street in downtown Tacoma to undergo major construction, city's sake supply cut in half.

I stared at the message: TWOKOI is closing. My stomach turned, and my eyes watered. It wasn't until I approached the message a third time that "temporary" registered.

TWOKOI Japanese Restaurant is forced to temporarily close due to the construction improvements to 17th Street outside the restaurant's huge windows. According to the city of Tacoma Construction Projects website, "The University of Washington Tacoma has expressed a desire to re-align South 17th Street into a continuous Street and to reconfigure the intersections at South 17th/Broadway/Jefferson and South 17th/Commerce/Jefferson. This work will include a new rock wall on the north side of South 17th Street between Commerce and Broadway; new ADA ramps at both intersections; curb, gutter, sidewalk; a grind and overlay of Jefferson between South 19th and South 17th and a road section on South 17th between Commerce and the west side of Broadway. This project will also include some utility upgrades."

TWOKOI management, although scared to death, will take advantage of the downtime to make improvement to the Japanese restaurant.

The restaurant will close Nov. 27, and according to TWOKOI management, remain closed until probably May 2015.

The website will remain live, where updates will be posted.

Bye-bye best sake collection in the South Sound.

Filed under: Open and Shut Cases, Tacoma,

November 17, 2014 at 12:41pm

Served Blog Banner Girl: Q&A with Jessica Nicoletti of King Solomon's Reef

Jessica Nicoletti serves delicious milkshakes at King Solomon's Reef in downtown Olympia. Photo credit: Nikki McCoy

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 Jessica Nicoletti.

Server Banner Girl, Nov. 17-23, 2014

Jessica Nicoletti

King Solomon's Reef in downtown Olympia re-opened in May 2012. After two fires and 15 months of restoration, the Reef's curse has turned into a blessing. The inside is immaculate. In the restaurant, the original booths are refinished to a smooth charcoal vinyl. The ceiling is pressed tin for a fascinating pattern. The wood paneling has been recreated. Everything is ship-shape, yet you can feel the nostalgia the building holds. The bar is still swanky, too. On the food side, the self-proclaimed "Best Diner in the Galaxy" serves favorites such as a delicious Monte Carlo, the Pac Man breakfast sandwich, fried chicken and waffles, homemade sausage and amazing housemade pies. Leading the charge are the coolest kids in town, including server Jessica Nicoletti.

Why do you serve?
"I have been in the service industry since I was about 13 years old - making milkshakes and sundaes in a tiny, stand-alone hamburger joint in a very small town in Wisconsin. It has always been a part of my life and I can honestly say I genuinely enjoy what I do. It is very rewarding to serve in such a centrally located spot in our quirky and lovable community."

Who is your favorite server in the South Sound?
"I have some really amazing friends working downtown and picking just one is difficult! I really love Danielle Ruse at The Brotherhood and her drink knowledge blows my mind. Watching her bartend on a busy and packed Saturday night is amazing. She moves so quickly and fluidly, her drinks are always on point and she does all of this with a smile across her face. She is definitely a person that I look up to in live and in the serving world."

What are you most proud to serve?
"I am mostly proud of my milkshakes. Ironically, I have a dairy allergy, but I do put a lot of love into them. On a larger scale, I am proud to serve anything and everything at The Reef. Our staff works so hard."

What's your current drink of choice?
"I like to indulge in a soy chai tea latte at Cafe Vita or OCR made by some of the best baristas in town. Both have a perfect blend of sweet and spicy. In the spirits world, I really love a Moscow Mule. But I really love all of the cocktails on our drink menu at Obsidian. That's right, I'm going to be bartending at the new café and music venue down the street from The Reef. Our soft opening is this Thursday - with a partial menu for two weeks. Our grand opening will be in the beginning of December."

Favorite movie?
"Why is this always the toughest question? I'm not sure I can break this tie but I am somewhere in between The Little Mermaid and The Holy Mountain."

What don't you serve?
"Trashcans."

What's on your radar at the Reef?
"We have recently added some delicious blended cocktails - some with more standout names such as the Astroglide. Yes, you may ask us what is in it ... but you should definitely try it first."

LINK: Meet other South Sound servers

LINK: South Sound Happy Hour App

November 17, 2014 at 10:28am

Beer science and history with Three Magnets Brewing's head brewer Pat Jansen

Three Magnets Brewing's head brewer Pat Jansen checks the status of his sours in his barrel room. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

For a high schooler with designs on coolness, there's only one peer-sanctioned response to a long lecture on organic chemistry: boredom. Notebook doodling, loud gaping yawns - perhaps even a head slumped on the desk, for good measure - until, of course, the instructor drops organic chemistry lab phrases such as "three-way stop-cock" and "prying open the bung hole," then you laugh along ensuring fellow teenage classmates there isn't some geeky girl-repelling chemistry kit in your closet.

Yet, there's always that one kid in class who views the science as more essential than oxygen. That kid grows up to be a head brewer at Three Magnets Brewing Co. in Olympia.

Science mystifies Americans, while art seduces them. It's a phenomenon that Pat Jansen - head brewer and local sourcing liaison at Three Magnets - has a hold on both. Having studied soil chemistry for 10 years, Jansen knows how soil pH levels ultimately affect beer and other science behind brewing beer - and by science I mean he knows the isomerization path of a-acids into iso-a acids during the boiling stage of brewing - the chemical breakdown of humulone into isohumulone - as one of many examples. It's gaping yawn garble unless Jansen is disseminating the subject. He's a one-man show. Hands are flying. His body jerks and twists. His face morphs through 15 different expressions. He shows great passion in brewing beer.

I've been Jansen's audience member twice now. Once, during a Three Magnets brewer's night at Dillingers Cocktails and Kitchen, down the street from the brewery, and a second time Thursday night on a progress tour of the brewery, which has opened - the brewing and bar side of the business are in operation while construction continues on the family dining section. Jansen's stage show was restricted to body gestures at Dillingers due to space constrictions. Inside the brewery, I had to run to keep within listening distance. At one point, Jansen had Three Magnets co-owner Nate Reilly, assistant brewer and bar manager Jeff Stokes, kitchen manager Nancy Bickell and Weekly Volcano sales executive Nikki McCoy and I performing in his stage production, The Barrel-Aged Bung Hole Peek Conga Line. Early review: It's a lively production that should produce some tasty cherry and currant cherry sour ales down the road.

While Three Magnets has a Farmhouse Saison named after Helsing Junction Farm in Thurston County and an Autumnal Saison on tap, most of the farmhouse and Belgian-style beers brewing at the downtown Olympia brewery are for future barrel projects.

"The goal is to put them in barrels and age, to be reinoculated with wild yeast or fruit or a combination of what lives on the fruit with wild yeast," says Jansen. "I have been waiting for the first frost, which means the bacteria load in the air will die and stop reproducing and lose its aggressiveness. Bacteria will tolerate 110, 120, 130 degree temperatures. Yeast will tolerate down to freezing. Bacteria, however, doesn't like freezing temperatures. Once we get to the freezing point, I can take raw wort from a brew, take it up on to the roof of the brewery, and set it in large shallow pans to start collecting cold tolerant wild yeast and bacteria - which means we can make indigenous sour beer, instead of buying cultures from a lab." (If you could only see the short jump and raised hands during this speech.)

The 14 barrels in Three Magnet's auxiliary room have purchased or home-procured wild yeast and wild yeast from fruit. Most of the barrels are from Doug McCrea's Salida Winery in Thurston County, with a couple from Columbia Crest. The room, located off the open kitchen and behind the family dining area, will eventually house spirits barrels too, with the barrels arranged to allow tastings and other private functions.

Running Beer Man

In addition to brewing, Jansen also shows passion for brewing history, especially old English beers and traditional brewing processes. He's interested in making "real ale," and running a firkin off the countertop in the brewery's bar area.

"In the 1700s and 1800s, British brewers were making pale ales, bitter beers and porters," explains Jansen. "In the 1900s, technology allowed for stewing malts - to create crystal malts, which means coffee and toffee forward malts, red fruit character malts - red cherries and currants, and purple character malts such as prunes and figs. And the British made a beer that you could make quickly and drink it fresh. They were called running beers. ...

"Anyway, because the UK beer market began pushing products of low flavor and overall quality onto the consumer, such as Budweiser and Stella Artois, four stodgy British guys basically said, ‘we need to form a society, and petition the government and save traditional-styled beers.'" (Jansen made a stodgy facial expression during this explanation.)

Campaign for Real Ale, or CAMRA, was formed in March 1971 by the four men from the northwest of Britain to save traditional, flavorsome beers promoting fermentation in the cask from which they were served and give British beer drinkers a better variety and choice at the bar. CAMRA's core aims are to promote real ale and pubs, as well as act as the consumer's champion in relation to the UK and European beer and drinks industry.

Jansen explained that toward the end of the 19th century, brewers built large estates of tied pubs. They moved away from vatted beers stored for many months and developed "running beers" that could be served after a few days storage in pub cellars. Draught Mild was a "running beer" along with a new type that was dubbed "Bitter" (3.4-3.9 percent ABV) by drinkers. Bitter grew out of Pale Ale but was generally deep bronze to copper in color due to the use of slightly darker malts such as crystal that give the beer fullness of palate. "Best" (4 percent and higher) is a stronger version of Bitter but there is considerable crossover.

Jansen explained the tradition of blending back-aged beer into young beer went away in the early decades of the 20th century, mostly eliminated after the two World Wars. In Britain, the running beers gave birth to the cask movement but, generally, no blending of old beer with young is done.

"Rodenbach beer (Flemish Red ale) is probably the closest beer around to traditional English porters these days. Rodenbach pasteurizes the beer so it doesn't turn and get sour or tart."

Jansen began telling the story of Rodenbach and Eugene Rodenbach, grandson of the founders, who traveled to England to learn about barrel aging and blending from English porter brewers. The methods Eugene learned, while no longer in use in England, are still used by Rodenbach today. Rodenbach is known as a "mixed fermentation" beer, meaning it's fermented with a mix of regular ale yeast and a cocktail of wild yeast and bacteria. This mixture then goes into large wooden barrels called foeders. ...

"OK, back to running beer ... the tradition in Britain wasn't to keg off beer and push it with CO2 because during the war there wasn't a lot of it around due to conversation, so they took beer from a large tank right before it finishes fermenting so there is just enough sugar to carbonate the beer, then put them into metal casks, sometimes wood casks, bung it for a pressure seal," Jansen explains. "For example, if you let our Smoked English Porter sit for a half-hour it would taste like a freshly tapped cask of British style beer would taste like back in the day - low carbonation, around fifty degrees warm."

The British brewers would make the beer, put it in a cask, and ship it out to the publican - the keeper of a public house or tavern. Then, the publican would finish the brewing process by aging the beer properly and placing it on the bar counter and presenting it properly.

"Today, the brewers have to do that work because the American consumer wants aged beer," says Jansen.

Two casks, or firkins, currently sit on Three Magnet's bar. Jansen hopes to launch a firkin program in several weeks. He's still pondering on the correct way to proceed.

"There are two ways of doing it," he says. "If you know you have a crowd that can kill a cask quickly because they want it or have a bartender who can actually sell beer worth a damn, you can actually put the cask on and sell it over a three-day period - because that's the amount of time before oxidation affects the character of the beer. After that, it gets really cardboard-y, a little too over sherry-ish and you get vinegar. It's terrible.

"The second way to run a cask is to put a cask breather on it where you get a slow blanket of CO2 on it and you're not over carbonating it, and continues to present the right way for a week."

Jansen has taken his interests and binary compounds and brewed an exceptional Smoked English Porter and Brewers Best English Pale with Jeff Stokes, who often acted as an interpreter during Jensen's lightning-fast verbal dissertations. Also on tap are a Rye Meridian, Citra Wet Hop Ale, Mosaic + Citra Wet Hop Ale, Session IPA, Rainy Day IPA - named after Rainy Day Records -  and Brotherhood Brown Ale, named after The Brotherhood Lounge. A quarter of every pint sold of the last two beers goes to Thurston County charities. SafePlace benefits from the Brotherhood - and the popular downtown Olympia bar kicks in another 25 cents per pint. Helsing Junction Farmhouse Saison sales are part of the local causes program, too.

The history of the building, brewery owners Sara and Nate Reilly's history with their Darby's Café and the reason behind the Three Magnets name was covered when we announced the brewery this past spring. Also, look for a follow-up story on Three Magnet's menu on this blog soon.

Until then, drop by the downtown Olympia brewery and drink some science and history. And, while nobody has yet won a grant to explore brewer fringe theater - if such a grant comes to fruition - it's certain to be named after Pat Jansen. He makes science go down as easy as a Three Magnets classic British-style brew.

THREE MAGNETS BREWING CO., 600 Franklin St. SE, Suite 105, Olympia, threemagnetsbrewing.com

Filed under: New Beer Column, Olympia,

November 14, 2014 at 11:31am

Mac and Cheese Madness: Silvers Saloon

Silvers Saloon tops its ultra-cheesy bacon mac and cheese with shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Cowboys retain a certain mystique: They're cool. Spend enough time in these environs, and you'll find yourself wondering: could I pull off a cowboy hat? Or cowboy boots, maybe? (For me, the answer is no on both counts.)

Yesterday, I was surrounded by cowboy hats and boots, listening to new country tunes at Silvers Saloon, the "Chuckwagon meets Saloon, Old meets New, Spacious meets Intimate, Casual meets Chic" joint, or so the Olympia restaurant bar claims on its Facebook. Silvers does have one cowboy boot firmly planted on the ranch, but it feels like it could have been DJ Murphy's Chip and Chowder House, which it was several years ago. Yes, the horseshoes dot the walls. The wagon wheels lean. And its rustic wares were once a mercantile's hot items. Yet, it needs one good bar brawl to paint the walls before it feels truly old and saloon-y. Also, I vote for more twangier tunes, but to each their own.

The service is ultra-friendly and fast. My bacon mac and cheese ($10) tray arrived quicker than a hot knife through butter.

Yes, I said "tray." A long, oval plate rimmed with cartoon cows corralled the enormous amount of thick mac and cheese. Yes, I said "thick." The elbow macaroni butted elbows due to a surplus of smoked white cheddar topped with bacon. Yes, I said "bacon." It's sad, but more often than not it's true. Bacon makes everything better, and cheese-soaked pasta is no different. Silvers Saloon's stick to your ribs mac and cheese is understated and simple, but a herd of bacon puts it over the top.

SILVERS SALOON, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. kitchen daily, bar later, breakfast all day, 2752 Pacific Ave. SE, Olympia, 360.489.0255

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound

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

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