Northwest Military Blogs: Served blog

January 21, 2015 at 11:11am

Beer Here: Elysian IPA Fest, Firestone Walker, Hammerhead Ale, Manny Chao, Gigantic Brewing ...

Wish the Hammerhead Ale a happy 29th birthday at the McMenamins Spar Cafe in Olympia Sunday. Then drink it.

When it rains it pours, and although the forecast calls for rain Thursday through Sunday, it's pouring beer in the South Sound starting today ... or something.

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 21

Remember last week when you were staring at The Red Hot's chalkboard and you actually shouted "Breakside boyyyeee!" over the XTC song "Life Begins At The Hop"? You were all hopped up for Breakside Brewery Brewer's Night at the Sixth Avenue craft beer and hot dog joint. You were going to have some gold medal Breakside IPA and life would be dandy. Well, I have some bad news that isn't bad. Breakside night broke, and its Elysian IPA Fest night instead at The Red Hot (2916 Sixth Ave., Tacoma). That's right, Annie will be in the Hot house with the Seattle brewery's mainstay IPAs - The Immortal, Savant, Space Dust, I imagine - as well as some of their taproom-only IPAs. Oh, and a special shout out to Elysian for mailing me their new Sub Pop tribute pale ale, Loser. Digging the light, tropical flavors and seven percent ABV as I type this. ...

The Swiss Restaurant and Pub (1904 Jefferson Ave., Tacoma) has their beer dinners dialed in, offering multiple food courses paired with beer, beer production and history from brewers and reps, preparation details from the kitchen and lots of laughs. This month, Silver City Brewing teams up with The Swiss kitchen on a Wednesday night. Drop by the historic building with $40 to secure a delicious, fun time.

THURSDAY, JAN. 22

Details are still scarce, but what's certain is Firestone Walker Brewing Company from California will be at the ParkWay Tavern (313 N. I St., Tacoma) with beers and prizes, beginning at 5 p.m. Will 18th Anniversary Ale be available? Let's hope so. Its blend consists of nine different beers aged in various bourbon, plain oak and brandy barrels. The beers are Parabola, a Russian imperial oatmeal stout; Helldorado barleywine with buckwheat honey; Bravo imperial brown ale; Stickee Monkee quadrupel; Velvet Merkin oatmeal stout; Hydra Cuvee dark ale; Wookey Jack black rye IPA; Ol' Leghorn barleywine and Double Jack double IPA. Please, please, please ...

FRIDAY, JAN. 23

Hands On Children's Museum (414 Jefferson St. NE, Olympia) hosts "The Art & Science Behind Craft Brews" at 6:30 p.m. The museum will host beer tastings, beer-themed science experiments, art projects and more. The $25 admission fee includes free beer tastings and a souvenir glass. Barbecue will be available to purchase. Duh, adults only. Buy tickets at www.hocm.com/adultswim.

Several South Sound breweries will be getting weird at the Strange Brewfest in Port Townsend Jan. 23-24. Wingman Brewers, Ram Brewing, Fish Brewing and 7 Seas Brewing are among the 30 breweries pouring beers while bands go nuts for $30 at brownpapertickets.com or $35 at the door.

SUNDAY, JAN. 25

In 1983, unemployed Mike McMenamin bought the former Fat Little Rooster tavern in Portland and renamed it the Barley Mill. Brian McMenamin soon joined in and today they own threescore pubs, taverns, clubs, hotels, dance halls and a village called Edgefield. The McMenamins have the golden touch - to convert desuetude into quirky, funky, artful joints to gather and drink. One of the early McMenamins beers, the Hammerhead Ale, celebrates its 29th birthday. It's a classic Northwest pale ale and McMenamins top selling beer. The beer's signature Cascade hop nose and intense hopped flavor blend nicely with the caramel tones from the crystal malt. McMenamins Spar Café (114 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia) toasts the Hammerhead's old age by offering $3 pints of the 5.93 percent ABV ale all day Sunday.

If building skills to distinguish between beer flavors is your New Year's Resolution, then join Pacific Lutheran University Sous-chef Erick Swenson for his workshop on identifying flaws in beer at 2 p.m. in the 208 Garfield restaurant (208 Garfield, Parkland). He'll pull out the Siebel Institute Sensory Training kits, which contain 24 vials of pre-measured "standards" representing some of the most important flavors and aromatics found in beer. More details can be found here.

The Top Rung Brewing Co. beer pairing dinner with artisan catering company EZ Foods of Olympia has sold out.

TUESDAY, JAN. 27

Some 20 years ago, Manny Chao was the first employee at Mac and Jack's Brewery. With Chao's help, Mac and Jack's amber ale became the third best selling craft brew in the state. Five years later, Chao left Mac and Jack's and by 2002, he and his housemate, Roger Bialous, homebrewed their first beer - Manny's Pale Ale. In 2003, Chao was the number one employee at his Georgetown Brewing Company located in Seattle's Georgetown district. In 2013, Chao and Bialous produced 52,300 barrels of beer - the second highest in the state behind Red Hook. Meet Chao at the Georgetown Brewing Brewer's Night from 5-7 p.m. at Pint Defiance (2049 Mildred St. W., Tacoma), drink his Manny's Pale, Lovely Rieda Imperial IPA, Lucille IPA and Barrel-aged Chopper's Red Ale, learn the stories behind the beer names and maybe win a raffle prize.

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 28

Last month, Gigantic Brewing released its 2013 Massive! Barleywine. The aptly named barleywine always features one malt boiled for at least nine hours in the direct fire kettle, resulting in toffee and caramelized sugar malt flavors and evaporation over the long boil results in higher finished alcohol - 13.5 percent. Gigantic! Conquer this beer and meet its founder, Ben Love, when Pint Defiance (2049 Mildred St. W., Tacoma) hosts the Gigantic Brewing Company Brewer's Night from 5-7 p.m. The Portland brewery, which opened in 2011, will also tap its Gigantic IPA, Ginourmous IPA and Saboteur Baltic Porter. Go big!

In 1991, Homebrewer Jeff Lebesch opened New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colorado. The brewing company has ridden its Fat Tire amber ale across the country - most recently building huge plants in North Carolina, especially Asheville. There are other reasons they have become so big and successful. Le Terroir, La Folie and Tart Lychee are three of those reasons, but there are dozens more. Chat up and drink New Belgium beers at The Swiss Restaurant and Pub (1904 Jefferson Ave., Tacoma), beginning at 6 p.m.

January 20, 2015 at 11:33am

Eat This Now: Raw Enchiladas

Viva Tacoma's Raw Enchiladas are rawsome. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

Me: "Hey, will you pick up some grub from that little vegan place tucked away behind Starbucks in the Proctor District on the way home from work? It's Viva Tacoma. I'll send you the menu."

Husband (in jest): "I don't want any of the hippie food!"

I proceed to tell him what I'd like and what he would probably like and I call in the order.

Viva Tacoma - Vegan Cuisine boasts a menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner serving entrees concocted of only fresh, gluten-free, organic, whole, non-dairy products - which means zero animal products or processed sugars that leaves carnivorous beasts who consume probably morbid levels of processed sugars and animal products referring to such a lovely concept as, "hippie food."

Viva's menu manages to offer a delightful and diverse selection that seems approachable and, dare I say, sounds delicious.

My favorite Viva vittles are the Raw Enchiladas ($13.95) with seasoned walnut "meat" (I can't lie, seeing meat in quotations raised my suspicions) and a cabbage and nut cheese wrapped in a sweet cashew tortilla topped with New Mexico chili sauce, chopped lettuce, pico, cashew sour cream and guacamole.

The flavors were well balanced with an underlining sweetness that was perfectly paired with the chili sauce and pico. The biggest surprise was how satisfying the dish was since the portion size was not the usual ginormous you anticipate when ordering enchiladas.

Though I won't be making a lifestyle change anytime in the near future (read: EVER) Viva's vegan grub is a refreshing addition to quality Tacoma eats. I didn't even miss the meat!

VIVA TACOMA - VEGAN CUISINE, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, 2602 N. Proctor, Tacoma, 253.503.6498

Filed under: Eat This Now, Tacoma, Vegetarian,

January 19, 2015 at 12:15pm

Served Blog Banner Girl: Q&A with bartender/brewer Bethany Carlsen

Bethany Carlsen brews and serves Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. beers. 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 Bethany Carlsen.

Server Banner Girl, Jan. 19-25, 2015

Bethany Carlsen

Bethany Carlsen developed a love for craft beer and started making her own beer about six years ago while living in Seattle. He dream was, and still is, to eventually open up her own brewery. She quit her job as a personal trainer to start serving at The Ram in Northgate - with an eye on a brewer job. After a few months an assistant brewer quit and The Ram offered her the part-time position. She took it, and was quickly moved up to being the full-time assistant brewer at the Seattle Ram. She was there for two years before the head brewer position opened up at the Puyallup Ram. Bethany was the head brewer in Puyallup for a little over a year. She left the Ram and joined the Pacific Brewing & Malting team three months ago, where she brews beer and serves in the taproom.

Why do you serve?

"Serving is a great way to be a part of the beer community in Tacoma. I enjoy talking to the beer-lovers who come in, and helping those who aren't as in to beer to find one he or she likes that surprises them. There's a gateway beer for every non-beer drinker." 

Who is your favorite server?

"Sean and Kendra at the Parkway. They're awesomesauce and say hello to everyone by name when they walk through the door."

What are you most proud to serve?

"Local craft beer that I've helped make. We just tapped an oatmeal stout recently that is darn tasty. I'm proud of all our beers at PB+M." 

What's your current drink of choice?

"That's like picking your favorite child. When I'm not drinking delicious dark beers or IPAs, I tend to drink wine or good ol' Vitamin "R," aka Rainier. 

Favorite movie?

"The Big Lebowski"

What don't you serve?

"Food! You can bring your own food (and children) in to the taproom but we don't have a kitchen." 

What's on your radar at Pacific Brewing & Malting Co.?

"We just brewed a Belgian Golden Ale that will be out in a couple weeks, and the next seasonal after that is going to be a Saison." 

PACIFIC BREWING & MALTING CO., 4-10 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, 610 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.383.2337

LINK: Meet other South Sound servers

January 19, 2015 at 10:34am

A Sip of Community: Tacoma's Odd Otter Brewing offers novel experience

Odd Otter Brewing Company awards discounts to active-duty military.

In the orchestra of craft beers, the Odd Otter Brewing Company sits first chair. And those chairs happen to sit in an historic building in downtown Tacoma. Wedged in at 716 Pacific Ave., the building's history and the beers served therein create a sense of connectivity to the community.

"Tacoma is just a great place to be in," says John Hotchkiss, one of the Otter's five founders. "We believe in the unifying power of beer; it brings people together and builds a sense of community as this building has over the years."

Owen McGrane, Pablo Monroy, Derrick Monroy and Teresa Smith are the other founders.

Built in the late 1880s, the building has been home to a number of enterprises, to include a Sailors and Soldiers Club during the Great War and a USO Center that admitted African-American soldiers during the Second World War.

Talk about an historical antecedent to building community, T-town's community.

What's more, the building's hosting of organizations supportive of the military is stunning, simply, stupendously serendipitous.

Three of the company's founders - Hotchkiss, McGrane and Pablo Monroy - possess military backgrounds.

And then there's the symphony of beers that wait to play upon the palate.

McGrane is an award-winning home brewer with a decade of experience. According to Hotchkiss, McGrane's skills are evident in every sip of the 15 varieties of beer the company offers.

"The beer we brew is created to capture an experience," Hotchkiss explains.

Much like music captures your mind and soul, Odd Otter's beer captures your palate and heart.

In offering their patrons something unique in the enjoyment of beer, the company offers a tasting room and five-ounce classes with which to sample the various brews.

What's more, if so inclined - bring food. Odd Otter doesn't house a kitchen, but allows outside food.

Like the otter, the gestures of sampling a brew with a bit of pizza are refreshingly playful and fun and nice.

"As to the ‘Odd' in our name, it captures the different approach it take to experience we offer in beer," says Hotchkiss.

Again, talk - and drink - about community. The harmony is overwhelming - much like an orchestra seated and performing in the middle of Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma.

To learn more about this orchestra of craft beers in a building cloaked in history, visit www.oddotterbrewing.com.

ODD OTTER BREWING COMPANY, 11-2 a.m. Thursday-Sunday, 716 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.209.7064

Filed under: New Beer Column, Tacoma,

January 18, 2015 at 8:42am

Seahawks Football: Watch today's championship game in a brewery drinking newly released beer ...

Pacific Brewing assistant brewer Bethany Carlsen has a Potomac Oatmeal Stout with your name on it during the game today. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

The Seattle Seahawks thoroughly beat the Green Bay Packers 36-16 on the opening night of the NFL season - but a lot has changed since Sept. 4. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers took a chill pill and is the favorite to win League MVP. Looking to become the first team since New England from the 2003 and '04 seasons to reach consecutive Super Bowls, the Seahawks have won seven straight and 10 of 11, and has reason to feel cautiously optimistic about the next step. The NFC's final game of the 2014-2015 season looks to be a better game than its first. The NFC championship game kicks off at 12:05 p.m. at CenturyLink Field, broadcasted on FOX.

Sure, you love Seahawks football, but you also love South Sound craft beer. You often order something you've never tasted, just to see what it's like. You might have gotten into the habit of filling a growler at a brewery every weekend, or stopping by the neighborhood bottle shop two or three times during the week. But, have you watched the Seahawks in a championship game in a brewery drinking a newly released beer?

Of course you will. ...

Pacific Brewing & Malting Co.

Potomac Oatmeal Stout

ABV: 5.9%, IBU: 43

Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. might have opened in downtown Tacoma Sept. 20, 2014, but yesterday they released their first stout. Paying tribute to the Tacoma's original taproom, Potomac Sample Room - which was located at the original Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. on Jefferson Street over 100 years ago - the almost black Potomac Oatmeal Stout could be called a boozy candy bar. Not that this stout is sweet. It's not; it's just the flavors sweeping across my tongue could just as easily describe haute chocolat - creamy, chewy, chocolate and rich like cocoa powder stirred into ice cream. It's silky smooth, and easy to drink.

SEAHAWKS VIEWING: Their family-friendly taproom has plenty of communal seating and standing room to watch the game on the sole big screen. There's no food service, but outside food is allowed, and Sammy's Pizza will deliver. If you pull up on your bicycle, you'll receive a $1 off your first pint (entire month of January), thanks to Downtown On The Go. 610 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.383.2337

Top Rung Brewing

Lacey Dark Lager

ABV: 5.8%, IBU: 27

Yesterday, standing shoulder-to-shoulder at Wingman Brewers' Porterpalooza, one of my shoulders was pressing against Top Rung Brewing's co-owner Casey Sobol and the other shoulder against Top Rung's salesman Mike Besser (BrewDad). "Aren't you releasing a new beer today?" I asked the gents. "Yes, our Lacey Dark Lager, but it's Porterpalooza. What are you going to do?" replied Sobol. They were actually dropping off kegs, so we raced back to their Lacey brewery for a sip of the new dark beauty. The Lacey Dark Lager, a tribute to their hometown, is Top Rung's ninth beer since Sobol and head brewer Jason Stoltz opened the larger brewery and taproom in April 2014. The session able dark lager goes down easy, with Pilsner, Munich, Black Prinz and Midnight Wheat for the grain bill and Sterling hops. It's crisp and refreshing, yet dark and malty.

SEAHAWKS VIEWING: A giant television screen hangs before a sea of bench tables, high-tops, couches and bar stools. The family-friendly, firehouse-theme taproom served limited snacks, but the Red Rover Grill food truck will be parked outside the brewery, with a wings special. 8343 Hogum Bay Lane NE, Lacey, 360.915.8766

Three Magnets Brewing Co.

Karakterbier Brett Saison

ABV: 6.2%, IBU: 40

Evergreen State College alumni Nathan and Sara Reilly, who have been running Darby's Cafe for the past nine years, opened Three Magnets Brewing Co. in downtown Olympia this past November. They hit the lottery when they hired head brewer and "Local Sourcing Liaison" Pat Jansen, who also hit the lottery with assistant brewer Jeff Stokes, who also runs the Three Magnets bar. Together, they brew a wide range of craft beers, but it's their Funkatorium section of their beer menu that draws beer enthusiasts like a magnet. By Funkatorium, I mean their sours, farmhouse ales and white ales, especially when they play with Brettanomyces (a.k.a. Brett) - a slow-growing wild yeast that when added to beer can give it a funky barnyard taste. Earlier this week the Brett was back when they released their Karakterbier Brett Saison, a Brett finished hoppy farmhouse ale made with German Pilsner and Vienna malts for a "peppery, floral, fruity, spicy nose that carries over onto the tongue with flavors of crackers, bread, pineapple, and a light farmhouse funk finishing with a dry and refreshing bitterness," as stated on their Facebook. The description nails it; and pairs well with their Two Mini Burgers ($7.50) off their happy hour menu.

SEAHAWKS VIEWING: Months before their Three Magnet's opening, the Reillys squeezed a ginormous big screen television in their living room. Seahawks football, as well as soccer, is important to them, and the huge screen was purchased when the brewery was just studs and nails. During Seahawks games, the Three Magnet's happy hour menu is on, which means $1 off pints 50 cents off snifters and delicious, gourmet appetizers range from #4-$7.50, including the 3.5-ounce Painted Hills all natural house ground chuck Two Mini Burgers(!). The giant TV sits in the taproom, but there is a family-friendly dining room on the other side of the brewery. 600 Franklin St. SE, Olympia, 360.972.2481

7 Seas Brewing

Belgian Blonde, Tap Room Reserve
ABV: 6.2%, IBU: 15

This week, Gig Harbor's 7 Seas Brewing released its Belgian Blonde, a spicy medium-bodied beauty specifically for its taproom. An authentic Belgian Trappist yeast strain provides a delicate Belgian character; European Pilsner, Aromatic, and a touch of domestic Pale ale malts deliver a grainy, slightly up-front malt sweetness; while Golding hops - consisting of a group of traditional English aroma varieties which have been cultivated since 1790 - accent the distinctly spicy, peppery and fruity yeast driven phenolic character of this medium-bodied, slightly creamy blonde ale. The clean, refreshing brew is poundable yet flavorful.

SEAHAWKS VIEWING: Streaming NFL games is not restricted to sneak peaks during church. The Gig Harbor brewery might not house televisions, but 7 Seas bartender Max says many folks nestle up to the taproom's long tables and stream the games on their computers. FOX Sports GO has streamed 101 NFL Games on its website and tablet app, including the playoff games. 3006 Judson St., Gig Harbor, 253.514.8129

January 14, 2015 at 1:53pm

Eat This Now: Radiator Whiskey Tots

Jump in your car now.

Boy howdy, I am reeling with all that 2015 has already endowed yours truly with. The close of 2014 brought a sigh of relief and welcoming arms because I was exhausted from wrapping paper catastrophes, ugly sweater partying and last minute holiday shopping.

I've rang in the New Year with a bang by celebrating a birthday and journeying to a writer's retreat, which left little room for eating out ... in the South Sound. My little adventures took me far and wide, so in this week's "Eat This Now" comes from the heart of Seattle. My husband and I ventured for live entertainment at the Showbox and, since I rarely hang out in Seattle, I used the great and mighty social media to ask my homies where one eats pre-Showbox-rock-out-shenanigans. I was met with a score of culinary delights. Of all the recommendations I chose Radiator Whiskey, because, uh, WHISKEY is the one thing I require to properly celebrate my old age. I. Was. Not. Disappointed.

Radiator Whiskey is a tricky little joint to find with minimal signage street side. It is located directly across from Pike's Place Market - just a short elevator ride and walk down a wonky quiet hallway away. There is, in fact, loads of whiskeys, whiskey cocktails made by well informed "mixologists" and a small menu featuring gourmet eats such as Lamb Neck Sloppy Joe, Turkey Drum Confit and even half a pig head smoked. While sipping on your fancy bourbon concoction or any one of their barrel-aged handpicked whiskeys, you can watch two dudes in their very intimate and unimpressive looking kitchen bust out beautiful dishes with ease.

As a woman of simple pleasures, I gave their tots ($8) a try. Yea, their tots.

These tots are the best tots known to man. These tots start out simple enough, like a generous portion of perfectly crisped tot shaped tater bites. Radiator Whisky then ladles a generous scoop of their housemade gravy atop. This isn't your grandmama's gravy, it's so much better and I can't even really tell you what's so amazing about it except its perfect and as though that wasn't enough they add a perfect single, sunny side up egg. Creamy, crispy, yolk porn-y appetizer goodness is the result. Just add a few shakes of some hot sauce and I'm in heaven.

Radiator whiskey needs to open a second location in Tacoma.

I may as well have died and met my maker - who would, of course, equally admire the brown boozy nectar.

RADIATOR WHISKEY, 4 p.m. to midnight Monday-Saturday, 94 Pike St., Suite 30, Seattle, 206.467.4268

Filed under: Eat This Now, Booze,

January 12, 2015 at 11:22am

Power to the Porter: Porterpalooza returns to Wingman Brewers

P-51 Porter's posterity will pour during Porterpalooza Jan. 17. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Poor Porter. What was once the most popular style of ale in 18th century London, Ireland and the American colonies - beloved by George Washington and a possible business adventure for Thomas Jefferson - the Porter fell on hard times. Roughians Pale Ales, Mild Brown Ales and Stouts shoved beer foam in Porters' face, eventually taking over Northern European taste buds. In mid-19th century America, German immigrants opened their long mohair coats with larger beers dangled inside, winning the hearts of Blue and Gray, as well as the Gold out West.

Oh, but Porter once had supporters. In the early 1700s, it was common for London pub patrons to ask for blends of the various available brews. Historical documents say the Brits called their mixed beer beverage "Three Threads" using a third of a pint each of ale, lager and a strong brew called "Twopenny." Eventually, bartenders told the Three Threadheads to take a flying leap off the London Bridge. Around 1730, a brewer named Harwood came up with a solution. He re-created the flavor of Three Threads into a single craft beer called Entire before it reached the pub. This beer came to be loved by porters and other physical laborers, and so earned its name, Porter.

But, a century later, PBS - Browns, Pales and Stouts - grabbed the public dollars, pushing Porter to the postern.

It wasn't until the late 20th century when bearded guys in Jean Vigne T-shirts, better known as American craft brewers, pulled the Porter out of the scrap heap, strapped on their prize power over finesse bibs, highly hopped the brew, incorporated smoked malts and placed it on a pedestal. The new American brewers created a smooth, balanced, dark brew with subtle roasted-malt flavors of coffee and chocolate bound by a sort of tart, minerally twine. OK, it wasn't a full-bodied, full-flavored and often full of alcohol Stout sitting in its leather chair by the fire, but rather one notch below, sharing the Stout's color but different in that it lacked the Stout's intense roastiness. That's so Porter - balanced, with modest levels of alcohol and plenty of room for delicate, complex aromas and flavors, sitting on a stool next to a trashcan fire, one notch higher than shivering Lager 20 feet away.

Does Porter have you now? Has its rise to power inspired you? Are you so joy-filled you spread your love for Porter on Instagram or SnapChat? Or fill a little locket with Porter and clasp it around your neck?

There's an even better way to show your love for Porter.

Ken Thoburn, brewer-owner of Wingman Brewers in Tacoma, will pay homage to Porter during the brewery's annual Porterpalooza celebration Saturday, Jan. 17. On tap will be nine different Porters - all made by Wingman.

Thoburn and his crew will offer creative variations on their flagship P-51 Porter: Coconut, Peanut Butter Cup, Vanilla Rum, Chili Pepper and Sichuan Pepper Corns, Maple Pecan, Chocolate Orange, Smoked Sea Salted Caramel, Mexican Chocolate and Cinnamon Raisin. The celebration not only allow Thoburn and his crew to exhibit their Porter polish, but also select winners for a spot in the regular rotation. Porterpalooza gave birth to their staples Coconut Porter and the Peanut Butter Cup Porter.

"We brewed with Peanut Butter first for Strange Brewfest (Port Townsend) a few years ago making a peanut butter-coconut beer. After that, we decided to try the peanut butter-chocolate combination in our P-51 Porter for 2014 Porterpalooza last January," says Thoburn. "It was a huge hit, so we brought it back for the Washington Brewers Festival last June and since then, we've had non-stop requests to make it again. Since we cave easy to pressure from our customers, we decided to make it again for Porterpalooza 2015 - this time to also put it into 22-ounce bottles as a seasonal so everybody - not just those at Porterpalooza - can get their hands on it."

Thoburn says he learned the precise technique of adding copious amounts of peanut butter and chocolate to the post-fermented beer from the Big Al Brewing folks in Seattle.

"There has been much trial and error in trying to add oily products to beer," says Thoburn, "but we think we finally got it right."  

The P-51 Porter was Wingman's first real beer recipe. 

"It goes back to 2008 when Derrick (Moyer) and I were home brewing," explains Thoburn. "At the time, Lazy Boy Porter from Everett was my favorite beer around, so we tried to emulate that. The beer was initially made for a friends birthday and called ‘Nalty's Tall Order Porter' since he's a tall dude and asked us to make a Porter for his birthday party. The beer went over so well with our friends that it remains the only recipe we've never changed since Wingman started. We now make P-51 Porter for our taproom, local sale, can sales, Coconut Porter and now Peanut Butter Cup Porter. They are all the same base recipe made with Washington-grown barley and Moxie valley hops. I don't know exactly how much we make each year but I think it makes up around a fourth of our production ... it sure seems like I make it a lot."  

Thoburn feels he can control the amount of flavor in Porters best when he adds the flavoring components after fermentation. The exception to this is when he uses fresh fruit; he often ferments the beer with fresh fruit. He says ample aroma is lost during fermentation and the flavors of ingredients change greatly during fermentations, which is why he likes to add elements in afterward.  

What advice would Thoburn give an up-and-coming craft brewer when considering how to brew a Porter product? 

"Find a yeast you like," he says. "I love the flavors that we get from our traditional English Ale yeast.  The yeast is a bear to work with, but I think the end product is worth it.  After you have a yeast picked, it's time to decide if you want the beer to be chocolaty and smooth or roasty and bitter - or even some combination of those items. Selecting caramel malts and what kind of roasted malts you use and in what quantities can be tricky. As a professional brewer, I would never be able to come up with a recipe like P-51 now. It uses an absurd amount of specialty malts - malts that taste like caramel, chocolate, coffee, biscuit and such. It goes against conventional wisdom to brew a beer with so many specialty malts but when we made the recipe, we didn't know any better and turns out it works."  

Also available during Porterpalooza will be Wingman's Bourbon Barrel Aged Big Baby Flat Top Imperial Stout, aged in Willet Distillery barrels from Kentucky.

"The Big Baby Flat Top Imperial Stout" was at our Denizens of the Dark event last month and it will be in bottles during Porterpalooza," Thoburn says. "We have had it aging in barrels since last March and we're very excited to release in bottles as the second beer in our Bourbon Barrel Aged Series."  

A $5 cover secures a commemorative Porterpalooza glass and a first pour; all other pours cost $4 each.

If you're looking for a little decadence with a lot of history, pull up a stool at Porterpalooza and ask Thoburn to pull you a Porter.

PORTERPALOOZA, 2-11 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 17, Wingman Brewers, 509 ½ Puyallup Ave., Tacoma, $5 cover, 253.256.5240

Filed under: New Beer Column, Tacoma,

January 12, 2015 at 10:16am

Served Blog Banner Girl: Q&A with bartender Renee Wagner of Stuck Junction Saloon

Renee Wagner will pour you a locally-made moonshine at Stuck Junction Saloon in downtown Sumner. 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 Renee Wagner.

Server Banner Girl, Jan. 12-18, 2015

Renee Wagner

Cynthia Soos, owner of the Pacific Coffee House in downtown Tacoma, opened Stuck Junction Saloon in March 2014 in downtown Sumner. The former Main Street Bar & Grill/Bottomz Up Bar & Grill/Sharkey's Pub spot has turned the kitchen around - thanks to Hawaiian native Rida Reed - serving mind-blowing burgers made from ground chuck and brisket from Puyallup's Blue Max Meats, as well as shined a spotlight on craft beers and opening the doors for a crowded house every Thursday for James Coates' open mic. Soos recruited her favorite bartender, Renee Wagner, from the former Nifty's Fifty's across from Tacoma Community College, to lead her bar staff. Wagner has a serious talent for multitasking - engaging and interacting with guests, making drinks, directing staff and keeping a clean bar.She also throws out an immediate eye contact and smile, putting waiting customers at ease.

Why do you serve?

"It's all about the people. I love seeing new faces, as well as familiar faces, too. The full array of people keeps me smiling and on my toes."

Who is your favorite server in the South Sound?

"Rachel Wagner - ho happens to be my sister. She runs Legends, the bar at Denny's in Lakewood. Rachel has turned that bar upside down. It went from making no money to being a super successful, Bengals-hosting karaoke spot. I look up to her. She got me started in this bartending adventure."

What are you most proud to serve?

"Our food! It's fresh and never frozen. Our chef Rida Reed puts a spin on plain dishes; the execution is amazing. From burgers to seafood to pulled pork nachos - you can't go wrong."

What's your current drink of choice?

"The mojito. Stuck Junction serves it with fresh mint, fresh fruit and, with my spin of a housemade simple syrup ... I have become a muddling fool. The outcome is ridiculous good." 

Favorite movie?

"Hummmmmmmmm. I'm a sucker for a corky comedy - so Waiting and Grandma's Boy are up there pretty high on my list."

What don't you serve?

"Trash cans! And I don't miss it." 

What's on your radar at Stuck Junction Saloon? 

"Moonshine. We have a superb product from the RackHouse line by Parliament Distillery right here in Sumner. With flavors from Burn Box to Sour Cherry, Parliament puts a spin on it. And the finished product is amazing!"

STUCK JUNCTION SALOON, 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday-Wednesday, 11-2 a.m. Thursday-Saturday, 1005 W. Main St., Sumner, 253.826.4408

LINK: Meet other South Sound servers

LINK: South Sound Happy Hour App

Filed under: Served Banner Models, Sumner,

January 9, 2015 at 2:07pm

Mac and Cheese Madness: The Homestead Restaurant and Bakery

If you like it thick ...

Pop the cap on your Lipitor bottle mac-and-cheese lovers. This week's Mac and Cheese Madness column moseyed over to The Homestead Restaurant and Bakery.

South Tacoma Way's classic cowboy diner serves many winners below its wagon wheel ornamentation. "Bakery" is, indeed, part of its name, and the house-baked fluffy biscuits, coffee can bread, pies and cinnamon rolls confirm. The slow-roasted pot roast is a solid choice. And the awesome honky-tonk and early blues masters (John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and Blind Willie McTell) bounce off the aged cedar walls.

It's three sunny side eggs, fried chicken and meatloaf all around. The pancakes are huge and fluffy; the omelets are decent, and the hash browns are perfect. 

The prices are ridiculously low across the board.

What makes a great mac and cheese is perhaps more intensely subjective than pizza crust preferences. Is it thick, creamy cheese sauce or a layer of cheesy crust? Some say it requires a generous topping of seasoned breadcrumbs, while others are staunchly anti-crumb. The Homestead's version ($4.25!) was elbow macaroni with an ultra-thick casserole concoction of Cheddar, American, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and seasoned breadcrumbs. It was not my thing. I found it too thick, with a Campbell's cream soup texture.

Did I mention you receive a free slice of housemade cream pie with dinner?

THE HOMESTEAD RESTAURANT AND BAKERY, breakfast, lunch, dinner, 7837 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma; 253.476.9000

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound

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

January 7, 2015 at 1:55pm

Beer Here: Hop Valley, Tacoma Runners, Guzzling For Gorillas, 7 Seas Brewing ...

Powerhouse restaurant & Brewery has unleashed its Jan-u-cherry saison. Best get on that before it's gone. Photo courtesy of Facebook

Well looky here, it's 2015. And we hope you rang in the New Year exactly how you wanted to. But just because some of us may have partied hard last week, doesn't mean we're not going to take January lying down. Hell no. We're going to get out there and live it - and so should you.

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 7

Powerhouse Restaurant & Brewery (454 E. Main, Puyallup) has been releasing its Sourhouse series of barrel-fermented saisons over the past month. This week, their merlot barrel fermented saison with dark cherries Jan-u-cherry has hit the snifters.

Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. (610 Pacific Ave., Tacoma) proclaimed their New Year's resolution is a happy hour every Wednesday-Friday until 6 p.m. And it is so. Expect dollar off pints and discounts on growlers.

Puyallup River Alehouse (120 S. Meridian, Puyallup) hosts Bainbridge Island Brewing for a brewer's night, 6-9 p.m. Expect to drink Eagle Harbor IPA, Puget Sound Giant Hoptopus, Arrow Point Amber, and a barrel-aged olde ale.

THURSDAY, JAN. 8

Hop Valley Brewing Co. out of Eugene, Oregon, will head to the house of burgers and brisket - Stuck Junction Saloon in historic downtown Sumner - for brewer's night festivities and HVB beers, including Double D Blonde Ale, Alphadelic IPA, V.I.P (Vanilla Infused Porter) and Festaroo Winter Ale, their winter warmer. HVB rep Rob Brunsman will kick off the craziness at 6 p.m.

Forget light and low-carb beers. The Tacoma Runners have a better method for fighting fat: They run then drink beer. They're the classic drinking group with a running problem. They meet at 6:30 p.m. every Thursday at a Pierce County alcohol-slinging joint, run 3 miles and then return to the starting line to celebrate. This week, the group will meet at the Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. for Moon Yard Ales, Dirty Skoogs IPA, Donkey Puncher ESB and elevated heart rates.

SUNDAY, JAN. 11

Pacific Lutheran University Sous-chef Erick Swenson offers a four-part, beer-tasting class launching Sunday at 208 Garfield restaurant, running consecutive Sundays through Feb. 1. Read the full story on Swenson's classes here.

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 14

In the late '80s, only 248 mountain gorillas remained in the wild, no thanks to civil wars, dangerous diseases, poaching and the devastating consequences of increased habitat loss. And although the number of gorillas living in the wild has now risen to more than double thanks to the efforts of such groups as the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund, the situation is still tenuous. Disease remains rampant, and logging and land development continue at an alarming rate. Clearly, there's only one thing to do: drink beer. Tacoma's Drinking for Conversation folks present "Guzzling for Gorillas," where 50 cents of every draft beer sold at Doyle's Public House will be donated to the MGCF. If you enjoyed Drinking for Lynx last month at the ParkWay, you'll certainly enjoy guzzling beers at Doyle's Public House (208 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma), beginning at 5 p.m. Who's wearing a gorilla suit that night?

7 Seas Brewing in Gig Harbor is unleashing head brewer Travis Gutterson on Pint Defiance (2049 Mildred St., Tacoma) to answer questions and hug it out with his fans, beginning at 5 p.m. In Gutterson's trunk will be a bunch of 2013 Wheelchair Barleywine. The Pint Defiance folks will also run 7 Seas' Rude Parrot IPA through a Randall full of fresh hops.

Harmon Brewing Co. will takeover the taps at Ammar's Mediterranean Grill (409 E. 26th St., by Tacoma Dome) from 5-7 p.m. You'll receive a raffle ticket with every Harmon beer.

SATURDAY, JAN. 17

Wingman Brewers (509 ½ Puyallup Ave., Tacoma) will host their annual Porterpalooza in which they'll offer creative variations on their flagship P-51 Porter, from 2-11 p.m. Expect to drink the following variations on their Porter theme: Coconut, Peanut Butter Cup, Vanilla Rum, Chili Pepper and Sichuan Pepper Corns, Maple Pecan, Chocolate Orange, Smoked Sea Salted Caramel, Mexican Chocolate and Cinnamon Raisin. Also available during PorterPalooza will be Wingman's Bourbon Barrel Aged Big Baby Flat Top, aged in Willet Distillery barrels from Kentucky. So good! A $5 cover secures a commemorative glass and a first pour; all other pours cost $4 each.

Bayview School of Cooking teams up with Elysian Brewing to present "New Year- New Beer, A Brewery Dinner with Elysian Brewing" at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17. Bayview chefs and Elysian's regional manager will pair beers with a five-course dinner, and discuss all aspects at the school (516 W. Fourth Ave., Olympia). The dinner will include Avatar Jasmine IPA partnered with chicken wings in a spicy peanut sauce and the Split Shot Stout matched with coffee and ancho chili flat iron steak with a green chili apple relish and garlic mashed potatoes. Nice. Tickets are $75 and reservation is required at 360.754.1448.

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 21

The Swiss Restaurant and Pub (1904 Jefferson Ave., Tacoma) has their beer dinners dialed in, offering multiple food courses paired with beer, beer production and history from brewers and reps, preparation details from the kitchen and lots of laughs. This month, Silver City Brewing teams up with The Swiss kitchen on a Wednesday night. Drop by the historic building with $40 to secure a delicious, fun time.

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

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