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October 15, 2014 at 10:23am

Beer Here: Green Flash Treasure Chest, 7 Seas Brewing experiment, Oktoberfests, pumpkin beer floats, Pike Brewing turns 25, fresh hop beers ...

ParkWay Tavern in Tacoma will pour Green Flash Treasure Chest beer to fight breast cancer Oct. 15.

The only thing more radical than autumn in the South Sound is drinking good fall beers during fall in the South Sound.


One in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually. One such individual was Green Flash Brewing Company co-owner Lisa Hinkley, who was diagnosed in 2010 and, through proper treatment and her strong will, has since come out the other side victorious. With the support of her San Diego brewery, Hinkley helps raise funds to fight breast cancer with an ale brewed specifically to benefit Susan G. Komen - Green Flash Treasure Chest. The style changes each year. This year, the Treasure Chest is a barrel-aged Belgian-style farmhouse ale made pink with the addition of plum purée. Beginning at 5 p.m., the ParkWay Tavern will tap the new beer, as well as 11 other Green Flash beers. The 2014 Treasure Chest is fruity and flowery with a very subdued spice that comes on in the finish. There will be loads of Green Flash prizes, a fancy gift basket from Deschutes and the ParkWay's own "garage sale."

Pints & Quarts Pub allows Firestone Walker Brewing Co. to take over its taps beginning at 6 p.m. Tastes are a $1 for each beer. Shell out $4, and drink a whole pint, as well as keep the glass.


October 1, 2014 at 4:13pm

7 Seas Brewing and 253 Heart release 253 Pilsner, nonprofits to benefit

7 Seas Brewing and 253 Heart have released 253 Pilsner, a lager with a portion of the proceeds benefiting local nonprofits. Courtesy photo

Two years ago, Tacoma resident Catherine Masucci brought together two of her creative friends. Turns out, they had a mutual admiration for each other.

"It was on a visit to 7 Seas in early 2012 when I discovered a 253 Heart sticker on one of the brewery's windows. I took a photo and texted it to my friend Steve Naccarato," Masucci explains. "I've always been a fan of the 253 Heart because I feel that it encompasses the love and pride the people of this area have for our great community," says Masucci.

"I thought, why not bring two local favorites together?"

Masucci contacted 7 Seas Brewing co-owner Mike Runion and suggested he meet her friend Steve, torchbearer of the 253 Heart.

The two men met.

The 253 Pilsner is on the street today.

"Even before there was talk of beer, we loved the design of 253 Heart and what it means," says Runion, who owns the Gig Harbor brewery with head brewer Travis Guterson. "It strikes a cord with us. It stands for pride of where you live - a love of place. And beyond the 253, the message is still there: No matter where you are from, it's about caring and having pride where you live."

The day the two men met there was indeed talk of a collaborative beer, but there was also talk of compassion, heart and give back to the community. Craft brewing companies such as 7 Seas Brewing have put the 253 on the map as the place to experience and purchase quality beer as well as support local causes. Now the Gig Harbor brewery will join forces with an even bigger Heart to support the community year-round.

The Heart

Before touring the world with his band, Motopony, artist/poet/musician Daniel Blue lived and breathed Tacoma. On Christmas Day, 2007, Blue doodled 253, turned the paper 90 degrees and saw that it had formed a heart. Over the next three years, the 253 Heart appeared on windshields, laptops, backpacks and anything owned by someone who held the area code close to his or her heart. Blue said the 253 Heart is about love of place. With music consuming his life, Blue passed the emblem to fellow Tacoma artist and friend, Steve Naccarato -  son of Stan, brother of Gordon -  a longtime Tacoman who had put his heart into baseball, acting, consulting on a primetime television show, opening restaurants including Shake Shake Shake, producing records, producing concerts, letterpress artistry, photography and the torch bearer of the 253 Heart. Naccarato has taken his second heart to heart commissioning artists to design products that showcase the creative energy and spirit of Pierce County, with a portion of the sales benefitting local charities.

Naccarato's Heart and heart beat harder after meeting Runion. Runion, a big presence with a heart to match, agreed their collaboration should have a strong charitable presence. A second meeting inked a mission to contribute $5,000 of 253 Pilsner sales to a revolving door of 501(c)(3) status nonprofits. The inaugural nonprofits were chosen based on current relationships. Naccarato believes strongly in Ben Warner and his Alchemy Indoor Skatepark and Education Center, the Tacoma-based organization striving to improving the relationship between skateboarders and the greater community - "to provide a free, dry, and safe place for local skaters to practice and develop their athletic, social, and educational skills," according to Warner.

"Ben is helping reshape the skateboard community here," says Naccarato. "He has such a passion for skateboarding. But, he has a big mountain to climb, with laws and perception. Resources are critical, and that's were we hope to help."

7 Seas Brewing chose Peninsula Hands On Art, an organization they believe in and have donated to in the past. Founded in 2003 by parents and local artists, the organization serves approximately 2,700 students in grades K-5 across six schools.

"Peninsula Hands On Art provides elementary schools with hands-on art projects taught by local artists around a particular curriculum. The money we raise will go toward purchasing materials," explains Runion.

Runion says the Peninsula art program is in place, but resources are crucial. He can see the program branching out from the peninsula and spreading across the 253.

"We wanted to find nonprofits where the money was really going to be used," Runion continues. "We wanted to work with nonprofits where five thousand dollars can make a huge change. If you want to make change happen, sometimes it just needs to happen from within. People who live in this community and want to make our community better can't expect others to come in and do it for us. The change has to come from within. That's why we want to give back, and work with nonprofits that are just getting off the ground."

"Money is so tight out there right now, and you can do only so many auctions and car washes," says Naccarato. "It's incumbent for the private sector to partner with the community and make it a better place to live."

The 253 Pilsner will have a dedicated section on the 253 Heart website explaining why the two businesses joined forces, why they love the area and detailed information about the beer.

"It's where you can find out about projects related to the beer, follow the progress of the nonprofits, what happened to the funds, who will be the next nonprofits and a chance to nominate other nonprofits," says Runion. "And it's not just Tacoma, but Gig Harbor, University Place, Lakewood, Puyallup - It's the whole 253 area zone."

The Beer

A proponent of cans, due to the evils of sunlight and recycling costs of glass, 7 Seas Brewing will release the 253 Pilsner in gold cans.

"The 253 Pilsner can was produced by notable craft brew design leader Blindtiger - and it's striking," says Naccarato.  "We wanted to pay homage to the Tacoma brewers from a hundred years ago. Therefore, the can is old-school gold. 

"Not a lot of local brewers make Pilsners, but they did in the 1800s," continues Naccarato. "This Pilsner best represents the 253, its history - and 7 Seas has brewed a pale lager Pilsner better than the beer brewed back in the day."

"It took a while to put the whole project together due to the cans, but we strongly believe this is the way to do it," adds Runion. "We really wanted to bring back the old-school style, the gold can. We studied the old cans - the fonts, the colors, the styles. But, luckily, it won't taste like old tin cans."

Modern cans are coated in a water-based coating specially made to protect the beer.

7 Seas was the first microbrewery in Washington to can their beers. In 2008, weeks away from production, a fire destroyed their operation. They re-opened in a new Gig Harbor location and produced their first 7 Seas label key in July 2009. In 2012, the year they began producing canned beer, 7 Seas moved into an 11,000 square foot space in downtown Gig Harbor, which included a large taproom with 24 taps - with one tap devoted to a guest beer from a Washington brewery. Runion is a huge proponent of supporting the Washington beer industry.

Why a collaborative Pilsner?

"It's a nod to Tacoma's brewing history. Those breweries of yesteryear - the Hiedelbergs, the Columbias, the Olympias - produced old school light lagers," says Runion. "Lager take a lot longer to brew than ales. That's why craft brewers brew the ales. In two weeks, an ale is done. For a lager, it's more like six to twelve weeks. Sure, the financials are better to do ales. You can turn two to three times as many ales than lagers. But we have the space to brew lagers right now. And we always wanted to make a lager."

7 Seas Brewing co-owner and head brewer, Travis Guterson, brewed more than five test batches, with different hops and different malts, to try find the recipe they liked.

"Travis settled on Sterling and Cascade hops. It's a Northwest interpretation of a Pilsner," says Runion.

Hand-crafted with Northwest Pale and Pilsner malt, the 12-ounce gold can will go down easy at 5.2 percent alcohol by volume.

"We're super happy with the result," says Runion with a smile.

The 253 Pilsner will be delivered to distributors Tuesday and in stores beginning Wednesday. It will be available at bottle shops and independent grocery stores. In the spring, after the resets, the beer will find its way to the grocery store chains. The 253 Pilsner will be distributed up and down western Washington through 7 Seas' distributors.

A release party for the 253 Pilsner will be held at Shake Shake Shake in Tacoma's Stadium District, which is owned by Naccarato and his business partner, Robert Stocker. A date hasn't been nailed down, but expect nonprofits to be on-site to discuss their missions, and plenty of good beer to drink.

According to these two men, the whole idea is a charity first, and a beer second. They believe true fulfillment never comes from financial or material success. Happiness and deep sense of connection is their goal. Runion and Naccarato, and their cohorts, sit on the same mountaintop. Money comprises the base, but idealism, balance and good vibes more than tops the peak.

It just so happens the beer is delicious.

September 23, 2014 at 11:38am

Oktoberfest South Sound 2014: Calendar full of beer, dinners, music and dogs ...

Madchen reminded us in August that Little Creek Casino's Oct. 19 Oktoberfest will end the Bavarian season in the South Sound. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

We have the Fourth of July, Mexico has Dia de los Muertos, and Ireland has St. Patrick's Festival. When it came time for Germany to claim a holiday, they figured, why not just celebrate beer for a month? Touché, Germany. Since most of us can't make our way to Munich's massive Oktoberfest festival this year, giant halls, restaurants, boaters, bars and such in the South Sound are bringing Oktoberfest to us.


Wh-wh-WA? Pint Defiance has taken the "O" out of Oktoberfest and kicked it back to Oregon, or something. Wednesday night, the specialty beer store and tap will host (WA)ctoberfest, a celebration of Washington state craft beer. On tap will be Wingman Fresh Hop Northwest Pale, Boundary Bay Pilsner, Black Raven Hochtoberfest, Georgetown Tomtoberfest, Fremont Harvest Ale, Elysian Dark O' The Moon Pumpkin Stout and Schilling Spiced Apple Cider. Don't be surprised if you see a new limited edition Pint Defiance pint glass in the haus. 5-7 p.m., no cover, Pint Defiance, 2049 Mildred St. W., Tacoma, 253.302.4240


German music and food - and pizza. That's right; Katie Downs hosts The Gary Hausam Band, offers a special German menu and continues to serve cheesy, thick triangles of goodness at its Oktoberfest. Better yet, Full Sail will sail into the waterfront restaurant with ample LTD Lager. Of course, LTD means limited edition. Since 2006, the Hood River brewery has changed the recipe, showcasing an original, Bavarian-style lager every year. In 2014, Recipe No. 7 is back, which means an Oktoberfest with imported Czech Saaz and Yakima Sterling hops. Tip one now because this three-time gold medal winner won't see October. 6-9 p.m., no cover, Katie Downs, 3211 Ruston Way, Tacoma, 253.756.0771

SEE ALSO: Oktoberfest Dinner at the Hotel Murano


The Red Hot will celebrate its Oktoberfest with a nod to acclaimed Bavarian brewery Ayinger Brauerei, located in the town of Aying, just a few miles north of the Munich area. Ayinger beers are characterized by a pronounced maltiness (in flavor and aroma) - accenting more than many of the beers from the major Munich breweries. Ayinger uses a significant portion of locally-grown barley and wheat to produce their beers. The water comes from the brewery's own well, and the hops come from the famous Hallertau region of north-central Bavaria, and Spalt, an area near Nuremberg. 11 a.m. to close, no cover, The Red Hot, 2914 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.779.0229

Fish Brewing Company's 16th Annual Oktoberfest will pack their downtown Olympia brewery. There you'll find all the things you've come to expect from a Fish Oktoberfest: down home, ole' fashion, ass kickin' southern-roots band The Slow Rollers and high energy funk, soul and sexy The Brown Edition. Live German oom-pah bands would only squash the groove. These two bands will pump out tunes to incite beer guzzling, various delicious wursts (there is no such thing as too much wurst), a sneak peek at the Hobbit beer series and an obscene amount of Leavenworth Biers Oktoberfest. 4-10 p.m., $25-$30 at, Fish Brewing Company, 515 Jefferson St., Olympia,


The Harmon Brewery & Eatery and the Harmon Tap Room present a week's worth of Oktoberfest fun. Click here for details.


Tides Tavern has been pouring craft beer since my boat shoes matched my Flock of Seagulls hair color. I've never attended their O-fest, but I'll endorse anything these folks do, sight unseen. From the day's opening, the waterfront restaurant will pair food with Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen, one of the most highly-respected märzens. An Ayinger rep will be in the haus from 5-8 p.m. 11 a.m. to close, no cover, Tides Tavern, 2925 Harborview Dr., Gig Harbor, 253.858.3982


SEE: Oktoberfest Northwest at the Washington State Fairgrounds


It's that time of year again. The leaves are changing, the air is crisper and the schnitzel is shooting out of tanks. Yep, you guessed it. It's Oktoberfest time at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The JBLM Oktoberfest celebration begins at 11 a.m. at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Fest Tent. The event, lasting until 10 p.m., will feature German-themed music, entertainment, food and brew. The Oktoberfest celebration is free to attend. The menu at JBLM's Oktoberfest celebration will feature schnitzel, bratwurst, potato salad and sauerkraut, just to name a few items. Meals can be bought a la carte starting at $2 or as a menu starting at $9. Maisel's Weisse, Spaten Lager, Veltins and Zunft will be available for purchase. A variety of live bands will take the stage throughout the day. The Bonnie Birch Bavarian Band kicks things off at 11 a.m., ringing in Oktoberfest with traditional accordion and tuba music. The day's soundtrack will also feature polka bands and the Spazmatics, the popular ‘80s cover band. Kids may enjoy foam sword fights, pony and hay rides and a climbing wall. Adults will compete in a keg toss, stein hoist and tricycle race. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., free admission, MWR Fest Tent, behind Bowl Arena Lanes on Liggett Avenue, Joint Base Lewis-McChord,

SEE ALSO: YachtoberFest at the The Foss Waterway Esplanade

SATURDAY, OCT. 5        

Summer is coming to an end, but it's far from the end of park season. Soundview Veterinary Hospital in Tacoma hosts their version of bark in the park when its Dogtoberfest runs wild in Kandle Park. The event will feature a costume contest, obstacle course, hot dogs and refreshments, and other activities to keep both you and your pet entertained. Leashed, licensed and well-behaved pets welcome. Bonus: The Copper Door will have a booth in the park, handing out coupons for discounted 7 Seas Brewing and Wingman Brewers harvest beers back at its 12 N. Tacoma Ave. store. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., free admission, Kandle Park, 2323 N. Shirley, Tacoma, 253.759.4001


You've attended Bayview School of Cooking's "Fridays Uncorked" nights. You've casually sipped five or so wines as you gazed out at beautiful Budd Bay. Feeling good, you mosied downstairs to the Thriftway grocery store and bought five Tyson Breaded Chicken dinners, telling your kids to cook it and like it. Oct. 10, the wine series goes Oktoberfest as five German beers and German-style beers will be poured for $5. Also expect oom-pah music, pumpkin carving demonstration and customer judging of employee carved pumpkins. Does Tyson make schnitzel? 5-7 p.m., $5, $7 for paired plates, Bayview School of Cooking, 516 W. Fourth Ave., Olympia, 360.754.1448

Top Rung Brewing Co. in Lacey will take its operation outside, hosting an outdoor beer garden for a fall party. Founders Casey and Jason are Thurston County firefighters, so if they don't want to call it an Oktoberfest celebration, then it's cool with me. Expect food, games and their new 360 Red Ale. Besides the area code in Lacey, 360 also has a firefighter meaning: a complete 360-degree assessment must be completed in order to size up an incident. I know I'll be sizing up the 360 Red Ale, made with Red X, 2-Row, Oats and Chocolate malts, Cascade and Nugget hops and American yeast. It rings in at 5.8 percent ABV. 2-9 p.m., no cover, Top Rung Brewing Co., 8343 Hogum Bay Lane NE, Lacey, 360.239.3043


Wingman Brewers will host a pumpkin and Oktoberfest party with the release of an Oktoberfest and several pumpkin beers. 509 Puyallup Ave., Tacoma, 253.651.4832


The most memorable sight during this year's Olympia Brew Fest? Most guys would stumble over their words, but eventually admit it was the two young lasses dressed in Bavarian attire promoting the 2nd Annual Oktoberfest at Little Creek Casino. The guys have the pictures to prove it. The Shelton casino will have "authentic" German cuisine and more than 30 varieties of beer from around the world as well as wines and spirits. A traditional keg-tapping ceremony will be held at noon followed by live entertainment! Admission is $10 per person and includes a souvenir beer mug and 10 tasting tickets. Noon to 8 p.m., $10, Little Creek Casino, 91 W. State Route 108, Shelton, 800.667.7711

September 17, 2014 at 2:02pm

Beer Here: Your week in beer in the South Sound

If you do one this this week, be sure to drink Top Rung's My Dog Scout Stout through a Randall loaded with coffee and cocoa nibs. Bow wow yo yippee yo yippee yay!

As the autumn leaves begin their annual shift from gold and green to deeper hues, so should your drink. Variety is the spice of life, so visit several South Sound breweries this week and fall in love with the autumn flavors of the changing seasons.


Top Rung Brewing Co. will run its My Dog Scout Stout through a Randall loaded with coffee and cocoa nibs from 4-9 p.m. I can tell you first hand the flavor will blow you away.

208 Garfield offers another Beer & Bacon night beginning at 6 p.m. Hosted by beer geek Erick Swenson, you'll receive an assortment of beer and bacon to mix and match for $10.

Puyallup River Alehouse hosts Cockrell Hard Ciders' launch party at 6 p.m. Puyallup's First hard cidery will tap its four ciders: original, Dry, Dry Hopped and Valley red raspberry. Expect T-shirts and growler raffles as well as glassware giveaways.


You have to drink beer on Friday. So, fill up the tank. The Odin Brewing Company and taproom has moved to 402 Baker Blvd. in Tukwila, about a half-block due east of the Southcenter shopping mall. The grand opening offers live music, raffles for Odin schwag and tasty bites from 5-7 p.m.


Narrows Brewing Co. head brewer Joe Walts celebrates the release of his Oktoberfest beer with a party on the deck. That's right Hans, live music, food vendors and a German Marzenbier-ish beer with Munich and Vienna malts from 6-11 p.m. There's no cover during Oktoberfest, Franz.

Morso wine bar will pour seven beers from German brewery Ayinger, including its Oktoberfest, beginning at noon. Expect a brewplate special.

Wingman Brewers hosts Made In Tacoma, a Tacoma-based business veritable farmers market featuring 21 Cellars Winery, Bluebeard Coffee, Comeback Sports, Creative Colloquy, Dave's Meats, Ice Cream Social, Libertine Tacoma, Lifestyle Brewery Tours, Tacoma Tree Salvage and Wingman beers from 5-11 p.m.

Dick's Brewing Company hosts the 4th Annual Beer for a Cure, a fundraiser for the Lewis County Relay for Life event. Homebrewers will square off for a chance to have their beer brewed in the Dick's Brewing system. Also expect raffle prizes, food carts, live music and a silent auction from 2-8 p.m.

Celebrate the Hub at Gig Harbor's first year anniversary all day at its digs next to the Tacoma Narrows Airport (1208 26th Ave. NW). Expect food and drink specials, a raffle for a Fly and Dine package and live music.


Hold onto an anchor because 7 Seas Brewery is blowing into The Swiss Restaurant and Pub for a brewer's night featuring Cascadian Dark Ale, Ballz Deep Double IPA and Life Jacket Session IPA to name a few. Expect raffle prizes and beards from 6-8 p.m. 

August 26, 2014 at 11:12am

Eat This Now: Dork Balls

Dork Balls are a duck and pork meatball concoction that is utterly divine. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

Hi, my name is Jackie Fender, and I am an addict. A burger addict.

It's true! My amore for juicy beef patties sandwiched between buns is almost at an embarrassing height of burger fandom. I could go on and on about some of my favorite burgers, but feel like the hamburger has gotten an unfair amount of attention from me in past "Eat This Now" columns. So today, while I'm recommending a burger joint, I'm going to mix it up.

Let me begin by saying visit Lunchbox Laboratory because ... well, because it has great burgers and a wide variety of condiments, cheeses and sides. So you can be hankering for just about anything and find the burger for you. Pair that with a kitschy interior that highlights a vintage appeal, including an old-school tin lunchbox collection that is quite impressive, and you've got a play on "laboratory" styled dining. This includes cocktails served in beakers, a mad-scientist ambiance in general and a focus on housemade sauces, rubs, batter and more that feature fresh and organic ingredients with fun, compelling flavor combos.

You should also visit Lunchbox Laboratory for its Dork Balls ($8.99). We aren't calling them derogatory names for being nerdalicious, but rather "Dork" is a duck and pork meatball concoction that is utterly divine. Three tasty D(uck)(P)ork meatballs are dipped in the housemade white corn batter and fried. The exterior is golden brown and beautiful, whispering a little sweetness and reminding you of corndogs at the fair. The meatball inside is tender and tasty. Paired with pickled daikon radish and a balsamic hoisin reduction on the side, you get a little Asian flair and a damn tasty appetizer.

If you haven't been by Lunchbox Laboratory,I say give it a go for a little bit of a dining adventure. The service staff will exuberantly educate you about their food alchemists' delectable, delicious vision.

LUNCHBOX LABORATORY, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, 4109 Point Fosdick Dr. NW, Gig Harbor, 253.432.4061

Filed under: Eat This Now, Gig Harbor,

August 26, 2014 at 9:37am

Slew of South Sound brews to be released this fall

Puyallup River Brewing unleashes two pumpkin beers Friday, Aug. 29 at its Puyallup River Alehouse.

It seems sort of sinful to complain about the glorious sunshine of late, but that's exactly what I'm doing this week. Enough already. I'm ready for some autumn brews.

Seasonal beers are nothing new for South Sound breweries. Summer is better with a farmhouse ale. Fall isn't fall without a pint of Oktoberfest. And of course, many anxiously await autumn for the arrival of pumpkin ales and stouts. Here's what's on tap this fall at South Sound breweries.

Worn out from his big Sour Fest over the weekend, Engine House No. 9 head brewer Shane Johns says he has several different barrel beers on the autumn docket. Johns will also release his annual fresh hop Spikes Harvest Ale, made with fresh hops from friend Spike's backyard. Also scheduled for release will be an Oktoberfest as well as a new batch of Tacoma Brew Bohemian-style Pilsener.

7 Seas Brewing's Sails Ambassador Rob Brunsman released his paddle, let his kayak drift and told me they're releasing their harvest ale this coming week. Inspired from the respected traditions of German Oktoberfest and Vienna Marzen style of beers, the 7 Seas Fest-Ale blends German Munich and Vienna malts as a base, receiving a bit of spice from German Hersbrucker and Czech Saaz hops. It's a smooth, earthy brew, perfect for an autumn paddle around Commencement Bay.

>>> Thanks for the pic, Rob!

Puyallup River Brewing Co. hosts its Pumpkin Release Party at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 29. Its downtown Puyallup storefront, the Puyallup River Alehouse, packs them in during brewer nights and releases, and I don't expect Friday to be any different with the release of its Jack O'Lahar Pumpkin Ale and silver medal winning Black Pumpkin Saison. PRB will release its We Are The Champions IPA just in time for the Seahawks season opener. Down the leaf-covered road will be the Imperial Pumpkin Cream Ale, Gourdy Wow! Spiced Pumpkin Saison Regal and Aketoberfest, a harvest ale. "We'll probably also do a pumpkin stout at some point," says brewmaster Eric Akeson.

"We have a bunch of exciting beers this fall," says Wingman Brewers co-founder and head brewer Ken Thoburn. "In September, we will be releasing our 2014 Vintage Sour. This year it is a Brett Berliner Weisse. Then in October we will be releasing our fall seasonal can ‘Beazle ESB'." Wingman will also release its oak-aged scotch ale Heavy Bevvy and its Belgian-style triple Miss B Havin. In November, expect to drink the 2014 release of Stratofortress and a Bourbon Barrel Stratofortress.

Narrows Brewing Company will release its Oktoberfest lager during a party Sept. 20, which coincides with the start of Oktoberfest in Munich. "In the couple of months that follow, we'll bring back the Imperial Red as a fall seasonal - and hopefully add it to our bottled lineup, collaborate with Northern Pacific Coffee Company to brew the beer equivalent of a Turkish coffee and release a blended old ale - assuming the year-old beer in wine barrels with Brettanomyces is ready," explains Narrows head brewer Joe Walts. Also, beer historian Ron Pattinson of the popular beer website Shut Up About Barclay Perkins will be at the brewery Nov. 8.

Tacoma Brewing Company celebrates its two-year anniversary in late October. Head brewer Morgan Alexander says he'll be releasing a bourbon barrel-aged stout around the same time as the party at his Tacoma Triangle District brewery. "We're also very close to releasing our Dr. Alexander's Hard Ginger Ale in bottles," says Alexander.

The Harmon Tap Room throws a weeklong Oktoberfest beginning Sept. 29. Expect games, German grub, German barmaid, 99 red balloon release and beers.

I couldn't reach all the South Sound brewers. Some were camping. Some are not open yet, as in the case of Pacific Brewing and Malting Co., Odd Otter Brewing Co. and Three Magnets Brewing Co., which all will be releasing a ton of beer this fall.

So even though I'm whining about the great South Sound weather, I'm happy for it to hold on just a little longer, so that you can enjoy a few of these beers with family and friends at your next barbecue or picnic.

August 11, 2014 at 2:39pm

The resurgence of Tacoma's beer legacy

Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. founders Steve Navarro, left, and Brent Hall began brewing beer July 30 at their downtown Tacoma brewery. Photo courtesy of Jeremy Leffel

As far back as when Job Carr stirred wort alongside the banks of Commencement Bay, our city has had a love affair with beer. It is only natural that with a mix of working class Scandinavians, Austria/Hungarians and Germans that someone (if not everyone) would be mixing their own home brew.

In pre-prohibition Tacoma, the brewery district housed Heidelberg, Milwaukee and Pacific Brewing and Malting companies. Today, we have new local favorites such as Tacoma Brewing Company, Narrows Brewing and Wingman Brewers creating flavorful brews and bringing beer pride to the City of Destiny - and more are on the horizon.

Tacoma's Brewery District

The area between South 17th Street to South Tacoma Way on the east side of downtown was once home to some of the most productive and influential beer making facilities of the pre-prohibition Northwest. Today, the area contains warehouses and storage facilities with its former breweries in derelict condition or demolished in the name of progress (I'm looking at you, Holiday Inn.)

According to, one of the first breweries in the area was the New Tacoma Brewery, which was established in 1884. The company changed hands in 1886, taking on the name United States Brewing & Ice Co. In 1891, the brewery changed hands again and became the first major brewery in the area, The Milwaukee Brewery. Though solely a Tacoma company, owner Samuel Loeb named his company "Milwaukee" to reflect the 19th century's award-winning breweries of the Midwest.

In 1897, Milwaukee Brewery merged with Puget Sound Brewing Company to form the Pacific Brewing and Malting Company. The building that housed PBMC still stands today at 2515 S. Holgate St.

Just as PBMC was coming together, Columbia Brewing opened its doors a few blocks away. However, both Columbia and PBMC hit hard times during the dark days of prohibition, and PBMC  closed shop in 1914 when Washington state jumped the gun and ratified prohibition six years before it was mandated by federal law. Columbia Brewing kept its doors open by producing non-alcoholic beverages. When the company came out the other side of forced temperance, it changed its name to Heidelberg Brewing.

As one of the top three breweries in the West (along with Olympia and Rainier), Heidelberg Brewing made Tacoma synonymous with beer until the 1970s, when it finally closed its doors.

>>> Wingman Brewers co-founder Ken Thoburnserved beer during Wingman's third anniversary party in April 2014. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner 

The Modern Era

"We hope to reawaken the greatness of Tacoma as a beer town like it was with big breweries like Pacific and Heidelberg, but it may not look the same as it once did," said Ken Thoburn, brewer at Wingman Brewers, brewing beer in the shadow of the Tacoma Dome. "Instead of one huge brewery serving a large area, craft beer is moving toward a hyper local kind of product."

Tap handles in every bar and restaurant around the Northwest symbolize the progress Tacoma is making toward reinvigorating its brewing traditions. Today, it isn't uncommon to find locally brewed beers next to nationally established standbys. This shows growing momentum in the acknowledgment of what local beer artisans are producing.

The resurgence started in the mid-'90s with Engine House No. 9 and the RAM Restaurant and Brewery followed by the Harmon Brewing Co. During the last 20 years, Tacoma's seen great strides in its craft beer movement with Narrows Brewing Co., Wingman Brewers and Tacoma Brewing Company. Five founders - three with local military ties - will open Odd Otter Brewing Co. on Pacific Avenue before October.

Additionally, surrounding Pierce County cities have spawned their own local flavors. Gig Harbor's 7 Seas Brewing has been making big waves since it opened in 2008. Powerhouse Brewing Company and Puyallup River Brewing offer tasty options in Puyallup.

With the assistance of Tacoma's Mash or Puyallup's Station U-Brew, the number of locally brewed concoctions coming from home brewers is growing exponentially. Who knows what mad genius is out there creating your next favorite beer?

At the 2014 Washington Beer Awards, Tacoma brought home six medals. E9 collected three. The Harmon brought home two. Wingman rounded out the showing with two medals. Notably, Puyallup (Tacoma's agrarian neighbor) had a big winner with Puyallup River Brewing grabbing three medals.

But in Tacoma, a few medals doesn't translate as a beer superpower.

>>> Harmon Brewing Co. co-owner Pat Nagle revamped his Harmon Tap Room's beer garden this spring, reopening it as the Harmon Garden last month. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

"Imagine if EVERY pub and restaurant in the greater Tacoma area always served at least three Tacoma breweries on tap all of the time. This would be a phenomenon in and of itself," said Pat Nagel, co-owner of the Harmon Brewing Co. "It would provide enough business for all of the local breweries to meet their goals for production and build loyal customers supporting local business. It's a win/win. The breweries grow, the beer scene grows, the restaurants are supporting local and benefiting from this because their customers are local and they appreciate it."      

Pacific Brewing and Malting Company Redux

In September, the Pacific Brewing and Malting Company will be reborn. Not directly affiliated with the original PBMC, the new Pacific Brewing and Malting pays homage to Tacoma's illustrious brewing past. Previously, rights to the PBMC name, logo and recipes were held by Engine House No. 9. E9 even used the PBMC motto "Best East or West" to describe its own beer during the late '90s, which it continues today. This year, Steve Navarro, with help from investors, bought the "expired" rights to the PBMC name and will be using the Pacific Brewing and Malting name to usher in its own creations.

"When we started brainstorming names for the new brewery, a friend, who also happens to be one of the original investors, thought it would be great to bring back one of the cornerstones of the original Tacoma brewing industry. Being that we live in Tacoma and appreciate its history, we naturally gravitated to Pacific Brewing and Malting Co.," explained Navarro, co-owner and head brewer.

With a number of established local brews around T-town (such as E9, Harmon, Wingman and the RAM), PBMC has a lot of recent history to live up to.

"For such a small city, Tacoma has a very sophisticated beer community that spans all ages. They know what they like, and they like quality craft beer," Navarro continued. "The brewing community here is very supportive of one another and have been a huge help for me as I have been trying to open our brewery.

"One of our flagship beers is going to be a pale lager ... (like the) company's flagship beer from 1897 to 1915, (which was) known as Pacific Beer. I entertained the idea of staying within the style of a pre-prohibition style lager, but decided to create my own interpretation of the beer," Navarro said of the similarities between the original and new PBMC. "I think that our pale lager can act as a gateway beer for those beer drinkers who are just starting to explore what craft beer is."

The New PBMC will be located at 615 Commerce St., with its brewery doors opening out to Pacific Avenue.

We All Win When There Is More Beer      

"(Tacoma is) on the verge of being a true player on the craft beer scene - like Seattle, Portland and Bend," said Nagle. "We have key people not only brewing great local craft beer, but we also have smart, hip pubs serving great local craft beer like Parkway, The Red Hot, The Swiss, The Hub, Meconi's, The Office, the Social and many others. We also have awesome people running specialty bottle shops like 99 Bottles, Pint Defiance, World Beer Tacoma and the new Copper Door near us in the Stadium District. All of this is so important in building loyal beer drinkers that really want to get to know the beers."

Whether you drink Harmon's Browns Point ESB or the Narrow's Galloping Gertie Golden Ale, it is a good time to be a beer drinker in T-town.

August 3, 2014 at 9:33am

Olympia Brew Fest Recap: Try these IPAs on #IPADay Aug. 7

Olympia Brewfest was the perfect time to drink an IPA. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Thursday, Aug. 7, as you surely know, is a pretty big holiday: National IPA Day (or #IPADay, if you're joining the cause on Twitter).

No, it's not ridiculous. And, of course, National IPA Day isn't the only drink "holiday." Someone, somewhere has declared a day of recognition for every drink imaginable; there's National Irish Coffee Day, National Mulled Wine Day, National Tequila Day, National Margarita Day, National Rum Punch Day, International Beer Day, which was Aug. 1 (What makes that last one international? No idea.). ... Imaginary or not, these holidays have become a wonderful marketing opportunity for restaurants and brands and a crutch for the media, including the Weekly Volcano. We include a glorious drink and food holiday every week in the Buzz-O-Meter in our print version. Who am I to criticize International Gruit Beer Day if I can get a free Gruit out of it? And anyone can get behind National Margarita Day as an excuse to order an extra round.

OK, in my heart, I think these days are crap, but they're still fun every now and then. I couldn't care less about National Rhubarb Pie Day. But, when it's National IPA Day, or any beer day, I'm in.

Founded by social media beer aficionados "The Beer Wench" Ashley Routson and "Certified Cicerone" Ryan Ross, in 2011 as a way to link breweries, bloggers and beer drinkers, National IPA Day celebrates this particular style because the India Pale Ale is one of civilization's saner inspirations for a holiday: it evolved from a means of preservation during beers' arduous travels from England to India; nobody died or was tortured; nobody has to fast; nobody has to commune with the dead or celebrate war. All you have to do is be glad this good beer made it to America and enjoy the hell out of it - which I did at the 2014 Olympia Brew Fest.

More than half of the breweries at the third annual Olympia Brew Fest poured their India Pale Ales. In fact, it's the most entered beer style in many other major craft beer competitions. Every brewery worth its salt has an IPA in its arsenal. OK, they tend to get a bad wrap for being overly hoppy. Whatever. We are blessed with access to about 20-percent of the world's hop supply in Eastern Washington, with varietals unlike any others grown abroad. And, many new hop varietals have been discovered and developed to provide a range of subtle to bold spicing notes. But the reality is, lots of people love them. Because they're delicious. And, I am one of those people.

If you need a couple recommendations, I'm more than happy to divulge some findings from the Olympia Brew Fest. Here's a look at some wonderful IPAs from the Olympia beer festival for you to hunt down for Thursday's oh so hoppy day.

Colin Harvin handed me a 7 Seas Brewing Life Jacket Session IPA at the Olympia Brew Fest, which was a first. It's not my first Life Jacket. I enjoyed the highly drinkable, thirst quenching IPA loaded with Amarillo and Nugget hops and juicy hop aromas of tangerine and grapefruit at its release party in June. It WAS the first time Harvin handed me a 7 Seas beer. The former Wingman Brewers beer slinger recently crossed the Narrows Bridge to work for the Gig Harbor brewing company. 7 Seas Brewing, Life Jacket Session IPA, 4.4 percent ABV, 65 IBU

Nathan Reilly says construction on his Three Magnets Brewing Co. is going slow. The new downtown Olympia brewery won't open as quick as he'd like. He and his wife, Sara, owners of Darby's Café in Olympia, decided to release a few Three Magnets beers this coming week regardless. "Expect them at a few Olympia beer destinations such as the Eastside Club Tavern and, of course, Darby's," says Nathan. One of the beers to be released was available at the Olympia Brew Fest. Their Session IPA carries sticky candy and lush tropical fruit notes abound from the plentiful additions of El Dorado and Australian Galaxy hops in the whirlpool and dry hop, with a light malt backbone, featuring traditional English malts to create a clean biscuit flavor. It was refreshing under the hot sun. Three Magnets Brewing Co., Session IPA, 5.4 percent ABV, 50 IBU

Claire Tenenbaum of Double Mountain Brewery from Hood River, Ore., was pulling the handle on the newly released Clusterf#ck Single-Hop IPA. As I have previously mentioned, this wonderful IPA is a porch sipper with malt, citrus zest, grapefruit juice and and slight herbal hop flavors on the finish. Double Mountain Brewery, Cluster Single-Hop IPA, 7.3 percent ABV, 85 IBU

Corvallis, Ore., brewery Mazama Brewing made the trip to Olympia for last year's Olympia Brew Fest. Enjoyable, they requested another invitation, with an IPA in their heads. Their Mosaic Eruption IPA made its debut at this year's beer festival, finished with Mosaic, Amarillo, a little touch of Citra and Centennial hops. I picked up flavors and aromas of fruit, mostly melon and pineapple. Mazama Brewing, Mosaic Eruption IPA, 6.0 percent ABV, 60 IBU

Olympia's Fish Brewing Company was, of course, pouring at the Port Plaza. Its Hodgson's Bitter End IPA hits the nose with pine, then fills the mouth with grapefruit-like citrus and a lightly caramel malt sweetness. Seek it out on National IPA Day. Fish Brewing Company, Hodgson's Bitter End IPA, 6.5 percent ABV, 70 IBU

Narrows Brewing Co. head brewer Joe Walts and I discussed IPAs several weeks ago. His Giant Pacific Octopus IPA - with Magnum, Columbus and Willamette hops and a malt profile of Great Western Northwest Pale, Best Malz Acidulated, Dextrose - is Narrows' best seller. And for good reason. Lots of grapefruit and orange peel. Narrows Brewing Co., IPA, 7.2 percent ABV

Iron Horse Brewery made the trip from Ellensburg to pour its very drinkable IPA, with the hop flavor and aroma on the finish. Iron Horse Brewery, Iron Horse IPA, 6 percent ABV

Seattle's Schooner Exact Brewing makes an excellent IPA. The 3 Grid IPA, its flagship, is for everyone. It leans on the Sessionable side, with earthy favors and ample carbonation keeps the hop bite. So good. Schooner Exact Brewing Co., 3 Grid IPA, 6.7 percent ABV, 62 IBU

Backwoods Brewing Co., the family-owned craft beer company from Carson, Wash., poured its Log Yard IPA. If you're looking for an IPA with fresh hops flavor and aroma with mild caramel malt this is the one.

There you go. All great IPAs to celebrate National IPA Day.

Here's a parting photo from the 2014 Olympia Brew Fest.

LINK: More photos from 2014 Olympia Beer Fest

July 19, 2014 at 1:00pm

Beer Saturday: E9 Berliner Fest, Rainy Daze, Narrows Brewing party ...

Narrows Brewing Co. celebrates its first anniversary with a party tonight.

Today's weather forecast in the South Sound calls for cloudy and partly cloudy skies through the night. Today's beer forecast calls for ...

Engine House No. 9 has tapped the kegs for its Berliner Fest, an event celebrating German sour beers.  Fourteen plus beers Berliner Weisse and Gose are on tap, which includes the E9 Tacoma Weiss with peach and golden raspberry variants. Read the full story on Berliner Fest here.

The Harmon Brewing Co. and Mash Homebrew Supply have teamed up to host "Aroma of Tacoma," a Beer Judge Certification Program sanctioned home brewing competition with Pro-Am selections. Saturday, judges will gather at the Harmon Hub in Tacoma's Stadium District and sample the "brew"-testant's beers in a morning and afternoon session.

Rainy Daze Brewing from Silverdale takes over the taps at Morso in Gig Harbor beginning at noon. Expect the Mind Funk, gold medal Hypocrite Double IPA. Pourhouse IPA, silver medal Rainy Rye IPA and English Pale to take the attention away from Morso's plethora of wine. Rainy Daze brew master Mike Montoney will hang from 1-4 p.m. There's a $5 cover.

Narrows Brewing will host a one-year anniversary party titled "Breakers Ball" from 6-11 p.m. Stephanie Anne Johnson will perform. Local food trucks and vendors will be on site. Read my interview with Narrows' head brewer Joe Walts in the New Beer Column.

July 11, 2014 at 1:48pm

Beer Weekend: 7 Seas Bash, Bremerton Brewfest, Art on the Ave ...

Scene from 7 Seas Brewing's Third Anniversary Bash / photo by Pappi Swarner


7 Seas Brewing isn't just the maker of delicious craft beer. It isn't just at the forefront of the "beer in a can is cool again" movement. It's a local business doing things the right way and an entity that knows how to party - as will be proven when 7 Seas throws its fifth annual anniversary bash in its parking lot Saturday. According to co-owner Mike Runion, you can expect "Grab Ass, Awesome Local Musicians, Tom-Foolery, Delicious grubs, Leisure, Relaxation and Sunshine" from noon to 8 p.m. at its Gig Harbor brewery.

"We are pulling out all of the beers we can for the bash," says Runion. "Probably 18 to 20 different 7 Seas beers on tap - a few are only a single keg left. 

The following beers will be available at the 7 Seas Brewing 5th Annual Anniversary Bash Saturday: British Pale, Cutt's NW Amber, Rude Parrot IPA, CDA, Port Royal Export Stout, Ballz Deep Double IPA, Broken Mast Brown, Reign Man ESB, Life Jacket Session IPA, Depth Finder IRA, Oatmeal Raisin Imperial Stout, Dry-Hopped Pilsner, Red Hot Session IPA, Swiss 21st Anniversary Imperial Red, Slow Rye'd Rye IPA, Bavarian-style Hefeweizen and SMASH Plisner.

Click here to see my 7 Seas Brewing anniversary party commercial.

Four the fourth year, ferries will be unloading folks with funny hats, pretzel necklaces and T-shirts proclaiming they love beer in every way possible into downtown Bremerton. The 2014 Bremerton Summer Brewfest will bump up participating Washington breweries to 30, pouring more than 70 summer style beers, from noon to 6:30 p.m. It's a short walk from the Bremerton Ferry Dock, with live music by Driftin Harbour Rats at 1 p.m. and The Echo Devils at 4, with the South Sound represent, including 7 Seas Brewing, Dick's Brewing, Fish Brewing, Harmon Brewing, Narrows Brewing, Northwest Brewing, RAM Brewery and Top Rung Brewing. Randalls are big at this festival, too. The $20 advance/$25 door fee includes a tasting cup and six tokens each good for a 5-ounce taste. Additional tokens may be purchased at $1.50 each or four for $5. For more details, go to

If you don't have kids of your own, playing miniature golf is not much more than a nostalgia trip. Fond memories of a round with Mom and Dad and going out for ice cream afterward provides its appeal, not the challenge of putting the ball in the holes. The Harmon Brewing Company has your nostalgia needs covered and then some with its family-friendly Mini U.S. Open Put Putt Tournament, a nine-house course weaving through its venues The Hub, Harmon Tap Room and its beer garden, the Harmon Garden from 4-6 p.m. At 6:30 p.m., an award ceremony will be held in the Harmon Garden. At stake are team high score, individual high score, individual low score and lowest team score. The grand prize is two free rounds at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place, home of the 2015 U.S. Open. Two-dollar pints make everyone a winner.


Tacoma's popular Art on the Ave community festivals adds a Tasting Lounge this year, located next to the 6th Ave Photography building on Sixth Avenue. As of press time, Harmon Brewing, Tacoma Brewing Co. and soon-to-open Odd Otter Brewing Company will join Cork! Wine Bar, offering five tastings for $10. The Lounge will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

With a festival-loaded weekend, you might want to bring it down a notch Sunday. Pint Defiance continues its popular Sunday Sampler series, this week offering tastings from the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp. From 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., flights of four 4-ounce pours will be served for the cost of a normal pint. Expect to drink Firestone Walker, Oskar Blues, Victory Brewing and Bell's/Sierra Nevada.

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