Northwest Military Blogs: Served blog

March 9, 2015 at 9:57am

Aficionado Cigar Lounge in Tacoma expands service

Brian Larson enjoys a cigar, one of over 100 brands sold at the Aficionado Cigar Lounge in Tacoma. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

The Aficionado Cigar Lounge serves as a refuge for those seeking a spot to smoke a fine cigar.

"This is a great place to come and enjoy one," commented Brian Larson as he relaxed next to Mr. Punch, the wooden statue just inside the front door that greets customers.

Mr. Punch, an historical figure from the mid-1800s who wears an unmistakably sly smile and always holds a Cuban cigar in his hand, is symbolic of the fine cigars sold at the lounge.

"Nothing but the best cigars and pipe tobaccos are sold here," adds Larson.

Selling the best in tobacco products has led to the expansion of the lounge.

"We're excited about this," said Kevin Michael, the lounge's manager, during a telephone interview.

"Expanding our business to better serve our customers is always to be desired."

With an approximate 800 square foot expansion, the lounge will offer customers more seating space with television, a new bar and more humidors from which to select their favorite cigars and tobaccos.

"Seating will double, and we've also added a ramp for our disabled customers to enjoy our products," added Myriah Akin, a long time employee. "We've been a favorite spot for cigar lovers to visit, and we are making it even better."

The expansion will include a new bar serving beer, wine and cocktails. The previous bar area will be converted into an event space.

The Aficionado Cigar Lounge is at 7121 Waller Road E. in Tacoma. For more information, call 253.531.8814.

Filed under: Open and Shut Cases, Tacoma,

March 5, 2015 at 4:07pm

Still time to grab a chair for the Deschutes Brewers Dinner at The Swiss Restaurant and Pub

Deschutes Brewery is headed back to The Swiss, March 11. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Yesterday, beer dinners were nonexistent. Today they're ever-present.

When I was running around Tacoma wearing flannel and Docs, there weren't any South Sound breweries until Fish Brewing fired up in 1993, followed by Engine House No. 9, The RAM and Harmon Brewing. Fast forward 20+ years and the South Sound sports numerous craft breweries, brewpubs and dozens of craft beer-centric bars and bottle shops, with more to come.

Right around the time Fish Brewing starting pumping out beers in Olympia, former Engine House No. 9 worker bees Jack McQuade and Bob Hill, along with foodie Gayl Bertagni, opened The Swiss in downtown Tacoma. Instantly, downtown denizens (read: those living in the neighboring defunct Heidelberg Brewery) didn't need to journey across town to drink craft beer, and by craft beer I mean North Coast Brewing Co., Rogue Brewery, Goose Island Beer Co., McMenamins, Red Hook and, of course, Gary Fish's little brewery in Bend, Oregon, Deschutes Brewery - and one of the original Deschutes beers, Black Butte Porter.

Before you could say Dogfish Head, Deschutes Brewery would become the sixth largest craft brewery in the country and Black Butte Porter would become the number one craft porter in the country.

Wednesday, March 11, The Swiss will host another craft beer pairing dinners, this time welcoming one of the first craft breweries the downtown Tacoma pub had on tap - Deschutes.

"I'm looking forward to celebrating Deschutes with Jack and the crew," says Norm Cartwright, Deschutes sales representative.

Glassware full of Black Butte Porter will be served at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 11 at The Swiss, followed by four courses paired with Deschutes beers. The Deschutes Brewers Dinner will officially end when Not the Stoic Belgian Quad lands in front of each beer dinner participant. There are seven spots left as of this posting. It just sold out!

The cost is $40 per person. Drop by The Swiss - 1904 Jefferson Ave. in downtown Tacoma - and purchase your ticket. If you're not convinced, then check this out. ...

Filed under: New Beer Column, Tacoma,

March 3, 2015 at 12:10pm

Pulling Nails at Harmon Tap Room: Roll IN the Barrels

Harmon Brewing Co. will soon have around 90 barrels aging their beers at the downtown Tacoma brewery AND Harmon Tap Room. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Two minutes after I enter the Harmon Tap Room back in October 2014, Jesse Holder embraced me with a warm hug in the form of a barrel-aged strong ale - a generous pour of Olde John Barrel Blend, which touched two barrels - one whiskey barrel and one wine barrel - then blended.

Sure, it was just beer, but no ordinary ale; more of an evolution into a higher form in memory of someone in a higher place.

The Olde John Barrel Blend, Harmon Brewing Co. head brewer Jeff Carlson's baby, hit the barrels last May, with bottles on shelves the following December. The strong ale pays homage to former Parkway Tavern manager John O'Gara who passed last March. "John loved the Harmon NW Biennial Brew strong ale," explains Holder, director of brewery operations at the Harmon Brewing Co. "A single release, John called it one of his favorite Harmon beers. When he passed, Jeff wanted to pay tribute to him. All the proceeds from the first keg at the Parkway went to his family." The Dry Fly Distilling barrels were acquired the day before the Olde John went in, so it drew plenty of whiskey.

The Olde John kegs sold out in two hours, through Tavour craft beer delivery service.

A true test of willpower: waiting months, years, to drink a beer. But some suds benefit from a little aging. They're like the Mathew McConaughey of beer, evolving and maturing in flavor intensities and taste complexities.

Over the past decade or so, the conditioning of beer in barrels recycled from distilleries and wineries has become a significant trend among craft breweries ... and beer geeks can't seem to get enough of these boozed-up or sour gems. Your typical candidate for barrel aging is found in the strong, age-able beer (imperial stouts, barleywines, old ales, wild ales, Belgian strong ales, etc.). While oak barrels were once the normal container used for aging and shipping beer, nowadays craft brewers use them to impart certain flavors and depth to their beer. And then there are sour beers, which seem to be everywhere lately, popping up on the menus of hip restaurants and piquing the interest of beer geeks and casual drinkers alike. And while these brews might taste weird to the novice palate, they have staying power.

Experimenting with sours is not just something a brewer can tinker with casually - it requires a big investment of time and money, not to mention praying to the beer gods. Sours usually achieve their flavor using bacteria such as lactobacillus and special yeasts - including wild yeasts and the hardy, ravenous brettanomyces, aka Brett - which can easily cross-contaminate a brewery's other recipes. Meticulous cleaning, or sometimes a whole different set of equipment, is required to ensure sour-making doesn't ruin other batches of beer.  After fermentation, which can take months, a sour typically ages for up to a few years, often in oak barrels that formerly house bourbon, whiskey and wine. At the end of this multi-year investment, sours can still come out tasting off and ultimately unsellable.

South Sound brewers are diving into the Brave Barrel World. Three Magnets Brewing Co. head brewer Pat Jansen lives and breathes fermentation. Engine House No. 9 head brewer Shane Johns excels at sour beers, and his bosses are building him a new barrelhouse in Tacoma's Stadium District that will increase his barrelage 10-fold.

And then there's Harmon Brewing Co. The brewing company's barrel program was in the works for a year and a half before it officially launched December 2013. Initially, it was a three-barrel system with a straight-to-keg carbonation. Of course, end result was a mystery - some of the early barrel beers were over-carbonated; some under-carbonated. Today, Harmon's barrel beers hit the carbonation tanks before the kegs.

Holder is having more fun than a barrel of monkeys with his barrel program. And he has only begun to scrap the barrel.

In the mid-'00s, Holder was a host and busser at the downtown Tacoma Harmon Brewery & Eatery before his mother, Carole Ford, partnered with owner Pat Nagle. After a run with real estate and a stint in China teaching in schools, he came back to Harmon, eventually commanding its beer program. At the time, head brewer Jeff Carlson and production manager Bill Lundeen were experimenting with a few barrels.

"Jeff has an amazing ability to create recipes, and Bill is a walking encyclopedia of barrel knowledge," says Holder. "Together, it's a barrelhouse dream."

Barrel tasting isn't easy at the Harmon Tap Room. Last October, when Holder and I pulled nails and sampled barrel goods, we had to squeeze past piping, hoses, tanks, fermenters and spouting beer, dodge busy brewers, slide under barrels - half of them jammed into crevices. As we pulled barrel nails above our empty tulip glasses, Lundeen was adding pumpkin to mash for another round of their Fall Ball Imperial Harvest Ale, laughing at what must have looked like a game of Twister. I tasted a dozen or so barrel-aged beer offerings inside 30 minutes.

I had to use all my muscles again in two subsequent visits to the Harmon barrels. As you can guess by the brewery room's configuration, flagship beers and seasonals dominate the Harmon production. That's about to change; I'll tap that in a moment. ...

October barrel samples included a cherry sour aged in Tacoma winery 21 Cellars barrels, an apricot tart and Caspar Ghost Pepper Peach Sour, which was part of the Harmon's daily 12 Beers of Christmas last December. The Steep and Deep Winter Ale aged in a third-use Dry Fly whiskey barrel was released in January 2014.

The Barrel/Tap Room Reserve Series Super Samurai Barley Wine had a limited bottle release in spring 2014. It was a single hop barleywine with zesty citrus flavors before it hit the wood. It mellowed out after six months in the Pinot Noir barrels. Chocolate and caramel notes drew applause. I imagined myself walking into a small cabin warmed by a wood stove from an all-consuming blizzard and cracking open a bottle of this warming as hell brew. It's simply comforting and absolutely fantastic. There's ample Super Samurai still in barrels.

Their Tap Room Reserve Series Barrel Aged Saison - Harmon Mt. Takhoma Blonde fermented and aged in red wine barrels with two different strains of saison yeast, was released in July. While fermenting in the barrel, Carlson also added some candied ginger and three different tea blends from Ubi's tea, herb and spice shop on Sixth Avenue.

We pulled the nail on their Drink This White IPA, which was fermenting with pineapple. The medium-bodied IPA with three different malted barleys was brewed for the Tacoma Art Museum's "Ink This! Contemporary Print Arts in the Northwest" exhibit. It was heavy on the pineapple and needed more time. We laughed at naming it Rethink This.

Down on all fours with one leg extended, we sampled a nameless pale wort fermenting with berry tea from Ubi's. It carried a lovely light sour pale ale taste. Naming Harmon beers is a group process.

Shoved in a corner, the Raspberry Blonde was too tart. It has a dandelion taste, which means the bacteria had their work hats on.

After the October barrel-aged beer tasting, Holder, Lundeen and I leaned against the Tap Room's outside fence; their faces beaming with hope. The duo dreamed of turning the back area of the Tap Room into a barrel-aged beer bar with leather couches, 10 ounce pours of their barrel beers plus a few guest barrel-aged beers.

Thursday, I discovered their dream is damn near a reality. Standing in the middle of the Tap Room's back room, Holder points where the 55 barrels will stack. The room will take on a cellar feel, but the games will remain on the big screen.

He beamed as he told me his barrelhouse program is a go.

Then, he pointed through the wall toward the Harmon downtown, announcing 35 barrels will be rolled into the original brewing room on Pacific Avenue, where he hopes to fill four barrels a month until reaching the capacity number, letting them age as he adds. A Harmon's Hop Coffee shop will also be erected in the downtown barrelhouse, where you can hang with the barrels as you sip a blend of Bluebeard coffee and Harmon beer reductions.

Holder has another 20 or so barrels floating in his head looking for a home.

The barrel program will be separate from the other Harmon products - restaurants, flagship beers, seasonals and Hop Coffee. The barrel program won't grow until it can finance the next step ... but the next step is now.

The Saison will remain in constant production, with 10-ounce pours and no growler fills.

The Shinto Sour Cherry is Carlson's recipe, aging Harmon's Amber Ale with cherries. He's a huge amber fan. The Shinto will be released this month in 375ml bottles.

The White IPA I tasted in October? Meet Kamehameha's Crown - a blend of the Drink This White IPA aged with pineapple and the Harmon Point Defiance IPA. It's a delicious wine-y IPA. "Our beers blend well because they are so well-balanced," boasts Holder. "We can go in any direction we want." Kamehameha's Crown is also earmarked for a March release, also in 375ml bottles.

The Raspberry Blonde's dandelion funk from October has faded. With some carbonation, it should pop. Lundeen created the blonde raspberry 26 pounds per red wine barrel. "We'll add another ten or fifteen pounds of raspberries during the kegging to freshen it up," says Lundeen. "You never know what's going on with the souring in the barrel. Some of the barrels we'll inoculate with specific cultures, others we rely on the barrel and whatever happens happens." It will leave the barrelhouse sometime between May and July.

"We don't want to flood the market. We'll release the ‘5 Liter Farmhand' saison (farmhands were paid five liters of saison in Belgium back in the day) on a continual basis," says Holder, revealing the name of the saison. "We'll unleash the Shinto and Kamehameha this month, followed by the Raspberry Blonde.

In a year, Ivan will be released - a Russian Imperial Stout aged in red wine barrels, although it's named after the famed B&I Shopping Center resident gorilla. "It's ready, but it's only going to get better with some sour characteristics," adds Holder.

Although it's growing, Holder still considers Harmon's barrel program in the experimental stage. He'll soon add white wine barrels to the mix of whiskey and red wine barrels. Lundeen is anxious to move on to Belgians.

It would be very easy for the microbreweries to be suspicious of each other as they all fight over such a small piece of the pie. But for the most part, there's a convivial attitude that a rising tide lifts all craft breweries. Most of them are friendly, realizing that their competition is the multinational conglomerates, not each other. The news Engine House No. 9 will build a barrelhouse a football field away from his Tap Room barrelhouse doesn't concern Holder. It actually excites him. "The more the merrier, I say," he remarks. "Let's put Tacoma's barrels on the map."

Patience is a virtue, at least when you're aging beer.

HARMON TAP ROOM, 204 St Helens Ave., Tacoma, 253.212.2725

HARMON BREWERY & EATERY, 1938 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.383.2739

Filed under: New Beer Column, Tacoma,

March 3, 2015 at 10:35am

Served Blog Banner Girl: Q&A with bartender Erin Perteet of Doyle's Public House and The Valley

I snapped a shot of Erin Perteet at The Valley while 52 rugby players surrounded me, chugging beer and belting out drinking songs. Of course my photo is blurry.

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 Erin Perteet.

Server Banner Girl, March 2-8, 2015

Erin Perteet

Erin Perteet is the definition of a service industry professional. She's been serving Western Washington for 17 years. Bella Nina's on Tacoma's Sixth Avenue introduced her to the service industry at age 17. "This industry stole my heart and still has it," Perteet says. When she turned 21, she bartended at Luciano's Casino on the Ruston Way waterfront.

"Over the last 13 years I have worked in some of the most amazing bars and restaurants," she says. "Family in this industry is everything - from Seattle to Tacoma - Bluwater Bistro, Dukes Chowder House, Stanley & Seafort's, Masa, Peso's, Reds Wine Bar, The Ballard Annex, The Valley and Doyle's."

Perteet was the traveling bar manager for Duke's Chowder House - Alki, Green Lake, Kent and Tacoma - before helping X Group Restaurants open Masa on Tacoma's Sixth Avenue. She was the face of the club scene for many years at Masa. After a few years in Seattle, she "came back home" to Tacoma, where she now tends bar at Doyle's Public House and The Valley.

Perteet keeps it cool, professional and prompt. She takes her work seriously, unless you have a good story, then bring it.

Why do you serve?

"I love the people. I love the people I work with to all the guests that sit at the bar. Everybody's got a different story. It's a lot of fun to get to meet people you'd probably never meet in a lifetime over food and drinks."

Who is your favorite server in the South Puget Sound?

"I'd have to say Meg from Asado. I love going to see her in the bar usually at least once a week. She's always pouring me delicious wine and I love her for that!"

What are you most proud to serve?

"Tequila! I love tequila and I love educating people on it. Having worked in Mexican style restaurants for 7 years, I developed the love for the juice. Most people are very afraid of the name. It brings back a bad night along with a bad hangover from ... let's say a bottle of Cuervo or something. Tequila is much more complex than that. First, a bottle needs to say 100 percent agave. From there, I can give you a pretty killer tequila tasting that will have you looking at tequila in a different light. I Promise that."

What's your current drink of choice?

"I am a shot of Jameson and a Rainier tall can kinda girl, Classy, I know! But, if I feel like having a cocktail I would say my favorite is the Harkonen from Hilltop Kitchen. It's just simply delicious."

Favorite movie?

"Super Troopers is definitely an all time favorite. A knee-slapper comedy always wins in my book."

What don't you serve?

"Blended drinks. I feel as though most bars have weaned away from them. To be honest, this makes most bartenders very happy. The sound of an obnoxious blender can kinda ear piercing."

What's on your radar at Doyle's Public House and The Valley?

"At Doyles - St. Paddy's day! Doyle's always puts on an amazing day/weekend of entertainment for the holiday. Jameson and Guinness with good live entertainment = FUN. The Valley ... well for starters, we launched a new menu this month. So new menu items to tease your taste buds with. Also, we have a ton of shows being booked through the month of March. Come and check out the music scene this month. Should not disappoint."

DOYLE'S PUBLIC HOUSE, 208 St Helens Ave., Tacoma, 253.272.7468

THE VALLEY, 1206 Puyallup Ave., Tacoma, 253.248.4265

LINK: Meet other South Sound servers

Filed under: Served Banner Models, Tacoma,

March 2, 2015 at 12:15pm

Girl Scout cookies culinary genius or madness? Y/N?

Girl School Samoas with peanut butter and bacon ... condemn or allow?

It's that wonderful time of year where lovely little cookie sprites tempt us with colorful boxes of indulge-worthy and addictive cookie magic.

Hello, Girl Scouts and hello cookie joy!

And as we all pick up our favorites from our friendly local girl scouts, the boxes are torn open with one's teeth while driving away and partially or completely (depending on mood, but typically the latter) devoured. By the time one hits ones driveway, the box carcasses litter the backseat and crumbs imbed themselves in ones skin.

Well, that's how I roll anyway.

And while most of us eat their favorites just straight up, Tacoman Dave Lepore has other ideas.

A self-described newbie to the Girl Scout cookies craze (he only started buying them five years ago), he fell hard like most. And like many of us, he definitely has his favorites: Samoas® are number one (crisp cookies coated in caramel topped with toasted coconut and dark chocolate drizzle) and Lemonades® come in at number two (shortbread cookies with lemon icing).

But unlike most of us, Lepore takes the cookies to the next level, particularly his beloved Samoas®.

"A few years ago I was eating Samoas® and thought they would be great with peanut butter," says Lepore. "(I) topped one with peanut butter and it was good. Tossed another Samoas® on top of that, making a Samoas® peanut butter cookie sandwich thing and it was perfect."

He didn't stop there.

"I moved on to creating a home version of (Dairy Queen) Blizzards®, using Girl Scout cookies," explains Lepore. "My favorite Blizzard® creation is two Samoas® crushed, vanilla ice cream from Ice Cream Social, a scoop of peanut butter powder, PB2, and drizzle in a little chocolate syrup. I mix that in a small blender and it's perfect."

So, how the hell do you improve on perfection?

Enter Girl Scout cookies season 2015.

Lepore just unveiled his latest creation on social media.

"Last night, I decided that the Samoas® with peanut butter was missing something. Bacon," grins Lepore. "On a whim, I decided to top the Samoas® with peanut butter and bacon. It is amazing. It's a great mix of sweet, peanut buttery goodness with the salty crunch of bacon. My mother makes an apple pie with a bacon topped crust. Similar results.

"And no I am not pregnant. I know it looks like pregnant food."

Besides having to assure friends and family that he wasn't indeed with child, what was the reaction?

When Lepore uploaded the photo of his experiment on his Facebook page and Imgur, the responses flew fast and furious:

"Stoner cooking at its best",

"I hate you so bad",

"After eating that, I'd definitely want samoa".

He's not done either. He's got another experiment planned with the Lemonades®, but no solid plans.


March 2, 2015 at 10:26am

Eat This Now: Special Vietnamese Curry with Sweet Potato

Eat the Special Vietnamese Curry with Sweet Potato at the Long Beach Café in Lakewood now.

I admittedly don't dine in Lakewood nearly enough. It's not an area I'm opposed to visiting but I find myself always in a rush when in that city. My hairdresser happens to be in Lakewood, but those rare times I whisk myself away for some primping and pampering, the primping is the only time I'm able to sneak away from my domestic duties. Lunch is never on the agenda.

Last week was an exception. I found myself beautified and ready for some dinner but was at a loss for what I was really hankering for. My lovely hairdresser recommended Long Beach Café for Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. Jackie's Words Of Advice: one, always listen to your hairdresser; two, eat the Special Vietnamese Curry with Sweet Potato ($10.25-$11.25) at the Long Beach Café.

Aromatic ingredients including lemongrass, onion, cilantro and garlic are all sautéed and swimming in a savory coconut milk yellow curry sauce. Add generous portions of tender chunks of sweet potato and your choice of marinated chicken, beef, pork, tofu or prawns, specify your preferred spice level, top that all with roasted peanuts and you're in heaven.

The matrimony of flavors is divine and if you're anything like me eating the entire dish regardless of how full you've already become halfway through will be the best course of action.

LONG BEACH CAFÉ, 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, 10114 Bridgeport Way SW, Lakewood, 253.565.3269

Filed under: Eat This Now, Lakewood,

February 26, 2015 at 1:11pm

Top Fun: Hudson and Goose

A night with Goose Island Beer Co. at Maxwell's Speakeasy and Lounge in Tacoma, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015.

Top Fun: Hudson and Goose

Chef Hudson Slater stands in the kitchen at Maxwell's Speakeasy and Lounge on ready alert, staring at his stovetop. Hudson draws a breath, then forces himself to grab the saute pan off the heat. The flames shoot into the air. Suddenly, the kale breaks apart. The purple leaves break in every direction as he BLASTS through their formation. Something comes up through the flames. A sous chef darts by. The line cook drops in and locks onto him.

"Talk to me, Goose," pleads Hudson as he turns toward Goose.

The clanking of cookware drown out the roar of the flames.

"Critical point," Hudson quips to Goose.

Hudson takes a 180 turn and presses both hands on his Tom Douglas cookbook sitting on the counter, the inspiration for his career. ...

He stares at the cover as if he can read page 59.

He twists back around.    

"I'm gonna go! THREE ... TWO ... ONE. ..."

Hudson engages his cutlery and cookware as if in a dogfight. Blades twirling, ingredients airborne, liquids falling like Niagara Falls. His kitchen companions gaze in disbelief. A fusion with steamed edamame sprinkled with black-olive powder, garnished with shiso leaves and surrounded by dots of black-olive-and-citron crème, morphs into a curried green-coconut-milk soup with tiny clams, scallops, flying fish eggs and garnished with flash-fried whitebait turns into grilled sardine brushed with jalapeño juice. He dumps each dish into the trash. Hudson gives a nod to Goose, and with adrenaline pumping as a charging bull, a rabbit mignon in a syrupy caramel of Iberian-ham drippings with a smoked-eel petit four suddenly appears, as if it was pulled from a hat.

The twirling stops like Dorothy's house in Oz. Panting, Hudson takes a swig of Goose, dumps the rabbit down the hole and dives back in. Gaining speed, he plunges toward the dessert. His Marzipan spacers and zester become one with his hands; a slow-motion blur that would draw a smile from Morpheus.

The music builds. The action increases. As the scene fades to black, you can make out a smile as Hudson asks permission for a fly-by from Maxwell's owner Steve Anderson.

Judging from the frequency of high (and low) fives, Chef Hudson Slater and Goose Island Beer Company do it all well, and they prefer to do it together. In a kitchen full of barely contained roars and lots of nutty oak, dark dried fruit, molasses, vanilla, bourbon, bittersweet chocolate and burnt raisin, Hudson and Goose have the real bromance. They're on top of their game and they're always there for each other with a commendable loyalty.

>>> Chef Hudson Slater

When he's not posting exquisite cuisine art on his Instagram, brewing craft beer with bacon, sharing recipes for published cookbooks or pushing the envelope in Maxwell's Kitchen, Chef Hudson Slater is winning chef competitions - almost every one he enters. The young family man from University Place cuts his teeth at Gordon and Steve Naccarato's The Beach House at Purdy before rising from cook to executive chef at the stylish fine-dining restaurant he clocks in today.

>>> Derek Wieting, sales representative, Goose Island Beer Co., Anheuser-Busch

In the late '80s, traveling salesman John Hall turned his passion into a career when he introduced his craft beer brewing Goose Island Brewpub to the macrobeer chugging city of Chicago. In 1992, Goose Island gave the beer industry a new reason to belly up to the bar: bourbon-aged beer. Then in 2004, America had a new tradition - the annual post-Thanksgiving release of Goose Island's Bourbon County Brand Stout, one of the most important beers in the history of American brewing. Heavily charred barrels from bourbon distilleries give way to roasty cocoa flavors with traces of caramelized wood sugars and vanillin compounds.

Last night, 20 people floated like gods, above Maxwell's dining tables, above the dinnerware, looking down at what one of the top bromances on the planet can create in the kitchen. With inspiration from his co-pilot Goose, Chef Hudson presented his five final dishes for a beer-pairing dinner.


"I strived to awaken your palate with this first dish," announces Chef Hudson. "The green curry edamame puree and japaleno bring a little heat; also on the plate are shiitake mushrooms from across the Purdy Bridge, a poached quail egg - so pop it open - plus pickled mustard seed and fennel."

Derek Wieting, the Washington, Oregon and Idaho sales representative for Goose Island Beer Co. - and all the Anheuser-Busch InBev products - as well as a Seattle Queen Anne Hill neighborhood resident, praised Chef Hudson for choosing the Goose Island India Pale Ale with his spicy dish. Wieting proudly announced the IPA is made with hops (Pilgrim, Styrian Golding Celeia, Cascade, Centennial) from Elk Mountain Farm, Goose Island's own hop farm in the Idaho panhandle, so it has Northwest roots. The multiple award-winning IPA has 55 IBUs, "making it really sessionable," he says. "This beer pairs really well with food, especially the dish in front of you. It's not a typical Northwest IPA, and shouldn't destroy your palate." 


"Since Goose Island is from Chicago, this next dish is my tribute to the city. I created a Chicago Hot Dog - kind of," says Chef Hudson. " I call it "Chicago Dog Ravioli," with all the elements of a hot dog - beef sausage, braised tomato, onion, sport pepper, dill pickle relish and a mustard sauce, plus a poppy seed aioli."

Wieting chimes in, "Our Goose Island Ten Hills Pale Ale has its roots firmly planted in the Northwest. All the hops come out of our hop farm in northern Idaho." Wieting went on to explain a dedicated Goose Island hop farm is one of the advantages of A-B purchasing Goose Island four years ago. The Goose Island brewers spent quality time on the farm and the community surrounding Elk Mountain Farm, forging a relationship between farmer and brewer to a point in which Elk Mountain Farms now grows more than 100 acres of hops for Goose Island annually. "We have access to hops that aren't readily available to a lot of other breweries," says Wieting. The Goose brewers picked the hops (Perle, Cascade and Saaz) on site for the Ten Hills Pale Ale. The apricot and tangerine aroma, with sweet honey and toasted flavors paired well with Chef Hudson's pasta dog. It's more floral than the IPA.


Touting the Goose Island Matilda Belgian Style Pale Ale as his favorite beer of the night, Chef Hudson wanted to complement the beer's spicy yeast flavor, so he choose a smoked mussel aioli as well as a single smoked mussel on the plate. He added a poached halibut seared in nutty brown butter with butter lettuce, puffed quinoa and roasted shallot.

Wieting explained the legend of Matilda of Tuscany, who lost her wedding ring in a lake. A fish appeared clutching the ring in its mouth. Overwhelmed with joy, Matilda funded the neighboring monastery and its brewing operation.

Inspired by great Trappist ales, this complex Belgian Style Pale Ale is fermented with the wild yeast Brettanomyces. The Goose brewers claim its has a farmhouse funk taste, "with lots of dried fruit and clove aromas," adds Wieting. On the tongue, thickness from sweet malts coat the tongue followed by flavors of earthy mushroom, orange peel and heavy yeast. The clove and peach preserves are present, with hay - mingling on the tongue while spiciness pushes out from the finish.

Wieting says the Matilda is aged in wine barrels, not so much for the flavor but rather as a second fermentation. The pale ale is part of the brewery's Vintage Series where they blend beers aged in wine barrels for different lengths to bring out complex wine-like notes paired with evolving tart or fruity qualities.

With the wild yeast slightly altering the taste every year, a five-year vertical flight can be a fun, tasty experiment. He added with the A-B buyout, Goose's Barrel House went from 30,000 barrels to 130,000 barrels.


"I love Bourbon County so I went with clean flavors for its pairing - braised beef short rib, celery root and parsnip puree, roasted Brussels sprouts and stout demi glace," explains Chef Hudson.  "It's not overpowering."

Wieting introduced Bourbon County Brand Stout saying, "I commend Chef Hudson for pairing the Bourbon County Aged Stout with a main dish and not dessert. Typically, chefs save this beer for the end of the meal. I applaud Chef Hudson's innovation."


Wieting paused. ... "There are a lot of bourbon-barrel aged beers now - Goose was the first." Goose Island was indeed there first - in 1992, long before anyone in the Idaho hop field had anything to do with the brewery. The Goose brewers age the beer in a warehouse that has no temperature controls for nine months to a year. The result is a rich, complex SMOOTH blend of bourbon, chocolate, cherry, leather and many more layered flavors at 12 to 13 percent alcohol by volume. "By the way," Wieting adds, "if you get a hold of our Bourbon County Coffee, please let me know and I'll buy it off you. It's ranked number two in the world."


"This is by far my most favorite beer in the Goose portfolio," says Wieting. "Named after Goose founder's granddaughter Sofie, we age the Sofie Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale for nine months in wine barrels with an abundance of oranges fresh from our fields - bacteria, dirt and all. I'm talking fifty pounds of oranges per barrel. It's bubbly with almost a champagne-like effervesce. I love this beer in the summer - light, refreshing with a creamy vanilla finish."

Chef Hudson created an upscale take on the banana cream pie to pair with Sofie's citrus notes. He offered a beautiful play of roasted bananas cream panna cotta, Nilla Wafer, strawberry mousse "macaron" with whipped cream, Nilla Wafer brittle and meringue. He added a dehydrated candy strawberry that's not on the menu.

"I feel the need ... the need for more beer," Chef Hudson didn't say as he bought the room another round of Bourbon County Aged Stout, as well as poured his personal bottles of Matilda and Goose black saison Pepe Nero.

You can be my wingman anytime Chef Hudson!

February 25, 2015 at 3:46pm

Engine House No. 9 to open a beer Barrel House, release first-ever bottles

Engine House No. 9 is moving its barrel program to Tacoma's Stadium District, setting up a Barrel House. Courtesy photo

This just in from Engine House No. 9 World Headquarters on Pine Street in Tacoma. I imagine E9 head brewer Shane "Saison" Johns is swinging from the top branch of that big ol' tree in front of the joint. Congratulations!

Tacoma, WA - We are excited to announce that plans are in motion to expand the existing brewery fermentation capabilities, as well as the creation of a new barrel storage facility that will increase our current barrelage ten-fold. The existing 7 BBL brew house will remain in tact with a few needed upgrades in the original space at 609 Pine St., next to the historic Engine House Nine restaurant and brew pub. The first phase of the new Barrel House addition will be located in the Stadium District, closer to downtown. Tacoma's first craft brewery will now have the first Barrel House in Tacoma, and possibly the state...

Increased product availability-

The increased stainless steel fermentation space will allow us to continue to keep up with the heavy demand of our brew pub next door, and increase the distribution of kegs throughout western Washington, which we began last year with Alpha Beer Distributing, based out of Kent, WA. The massive increase of oak barrels, combined with the purchase of a new bottling system, will allow us to start releasing some of (Head Brewer) Shane Johns' award winning style beers, including American wilds, saisons, sour beers, and lambics. There will also be barrel space dedicated to higher gravity barrel-aged beers, like barley-wines and imperial stouts.

First-ever Bottle Release Saturday 3/7/2015

We will be releasing 375mL bottles of a raspberry wild ale and a farmhouse style saison. There is a very limited number of these first batches, and will be first come, first served. There will be a kegged version of the raspberry on tap at the brew pub, so you can try it before you buy. You will also be able to sign up for a new "Sour Club", as well as a newsletter that will announce future bottle releases and events. This will be the beginning of hopefully a long line of bottle releases to come from one of the only true producers of wild ales in this state.

More event info here:!/events/1609958445891962/

February 24, 2015 at 10:40am

Where to plan your South Sound beer enterprise

Oly Taproom bottle shop opened last week across from Percival Landing in downtown Olympia. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

You know they heard. South Sound beer entrepreneurs have read the studies. They know sitting for long periods is the single-most horrible thing you can do to your body - next to twerking in a bouncy house or babysitting a Viking child or trying to ski this season in the Pacific Northwest. Beer entrepreneurs might stretch, exercise regularly, eat right and take great care of his or her bodies, mostly. Doesn't matter. WebMD says if you sit for long enough periods, you're in peril. Period. Sitting for a long time causes muscles to burn less fat and blood to flow more sluggishly, which can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and other problems.

Several South Sound beer lovers have moved from sitting enthusiasts to entrepreneurs. They have moved from the stool to standing and dodging and twirling and leaning on the other side of the bar. Want proof? Beautiful Zog's Pub is serving craft beer on Fox Island. Levi Hendricks and Sanrica Marquez just opened the handsome Oly Taproom across from Percival Landing in downtown Olympia. Bryan and Molly Copland and Aaron and April Johnson are still forging ahead with their Wet Coast Brewing in Gig Harbor. John Fosberg and crew have installed the tanks at their forthcoming Gig Harbor Brewing Company. Half Pint Pizza Pub owners are brewing Sluggo Brewing. Award-winning home brewers Jay Walker and Shawn Anderson have formed the Grit City Group. Destiny City Brewing has a future. Fox Island Brewing is sly like a fox. Tacoma World Beer changed hands. Fish Brewing now has cans.  

You can't pull a chair out from under these folks. They kicked the chair over.

What do you have planned? Maybe you'll meet your new beer business partner at one of these events tomorrow night.


Beer entrepreneurs Renee and Barry Watson host Loowit Brewing from 5-7 p.m. at their Pint Defiance Specialty Beers and Taproom. The Watsons have spent a lot of time visiting brewers in Vancouver, Washington. Loowit is one of their favorites. Devon Bray and Thomas Poffenroth opened Loowit in 2012 specializing in approachable, well-balanced ales. Expect to drink Shadow Ninja IPA, Flawless Victory IPA, Two Sixteen Red Ale and Der Couvensteiner Dunkel, among others. The Watsons will have the raffle machine running, too.

The Red Hot will more a bunch of Full Sail beers including Top Sail Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Porter, 2013 Full Sail Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout, 2015 Full Sail Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout, Full Sail 27th Anniversary Wheat Wine, Powder Stash Pale and Session IPA, beginning at 5 p.m.

Meet Rob Brunsman from the newly distributed Hop Valley Brewing Company from Eugene, Oregon at the Puyallup River Alehouse. Hop Valley opened their doors on Friday, Feb. 13th, 2009 in Springfield, Oregon. Their brewery is placed on the same grounds that used to be the hot-bed for hop production before prohibition, and is a marker to those that drink their beers, that they are proud to still be using the same local hops that once supplied the industry. Since opening, they have accomplished a lot, including increasing their overall production from 1,000 barrels/year to 12,000 barrels with their current setup in Eugene, and have also won a couple World Beer Cup medals. Brunsman has beer and prizes from 6-9 p.m.

According to Laurelwood Brewing Co. in Portland, Oregon, coffee and beer can help ignite your creative juices. They posted this ditty on their blog: "What's the drink you reach for to get that first burst of motivation at work? That's right, coffee. But how many of you have had that ‘lightbulb moment' after a couple of beers? It turns out both coffee and beer are good for your creative process, each in their own way." They suggest you head to their Brewer's Night from 6-9 p.m. at The Swiss Restaurant and Pub, drink their Organic Portland Roasting Espresso Stout, and think of your next brilliant idea. I predict the rich, chocolate flavors and warm, roasted aromas will inspire the idea to have another.

Filed under: New Beer Column, Tacoma, Puyallup,

February 23, 2015 at 4:33pm

Eat This Now (Weekend): Bertha's Big ol' Biscuits

Bertha's Big ol' Biscuits features two biscuits, housemade sausage gravy and hash browns. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

When you walk through the doors of Stadium District's Shake Shake Shake it's like walking through a time warp portal delivering you smack dab into a rad, vintage burger joint: think soda machine, clean cut, bee bopping bunny hoppin', McFly fun with creamy delectable shakes and damn tasty burgers. The vibe is rad and the grub is good.

Just when I thought it couldn't get much better Shake Shake Shake rolls out of bed earlier with breakfast on the weekends. Oh yes, and it has just gotten better.

Large perfectly prepared waffles with golden brown edges and fluffy interiors are adorned with strawberries, caramel, whipped topping and even Nutella. Le sigh. Also on the morning menu are Pig-sicles, Scramble Scramble Scramble, Stadium Bowl Breakfast, Shakin' Egg Sandwich and several dishes paired with Bloody Marys or Mimosas.

There was one Shake Shake Shake breakfast dish that stood out: Bertha's Big ol' Biscuits ($5.99/$7.99). The biscuits are the proper fluffy consistency - not too dense - while the housemade sausage gravy highlights loads of tasty meaty bites and a nice creamy pepperiness you expect from your breakfast gravy.

I'm fairly certain the "hash browns" are really tater tot crumbles. I'm not complaining; I believe tots are the best manifestation of the potato.

Bottom line, check out Shake Shake Shake for breakfast before the masses catch on and the wait times are as severe as the rest in town. This menu is the bee's knees and will have you saying, "yum yum yum."

SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE, 8-11:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, 124 N. Tacoma Ave., Tacoma, 253.507.4060

>>> This is one spicy Bloody Mary!

Filed under: Breakfast, Eat This Now, Tacoma,

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