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January 30, 2015 at 11:12am

Mac and Cheese Madness: Westside Tavern

Westside Tavern serves a thick, bacon jalapeno mac and cheese. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Of course Westside Tavern's mac and cheese pops.

The energy inside the attractive Westside Olympia restaurant and bar swells on a nightly basis. Bankers and bikers share fries. Hipsters and hillbillies hug. There's a book club chatting in that corner. There's a website brainstorm happening in the other corner. Craft beer and cocktails dot the landscape. If a juggler or someone dressed at Batman popped in at any part of the night, that catalyst would ignite the room into a frenzy - the bankers and hipsters would hug, the bikers and hillbillies would dance and a book club website would be born. Mass hysteria.

It's only naturally the Westside Tavern's mac and cheese consists of a "secret family recipe."  I did discover they blend four cheeses, elbow macaroni, jalapeños and house made bits of bacon topped with crispy bread crumbs with fresh jalapeño corn bread with housemade red pepper jelly. It's a rib sticker that pops with jalapeno spice. It could help sustain a sudden party situation. It could help keep the drive alive.

The Westside Tavern knows there are two guiding principles behind terrific mac and cheese: a combination of cheeses, never just one, and a high proportion of cheese to everything else. Velveeta, cheddar and heavy cream makes the creaminest, cheesiest mac and cheese. They also know ridged elbow macaroni helps the sauce cling to the noodles. And, homemade breadcrumbs and shaved cheddar on top is just badass.

Pop into the Westside Tavern, grab the huge portion of mac and cheese, and wait for Batman.

WESTSIDE TAVERN, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday-Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday-Saturday, 1815 Harrison Ave. NW, Olympia, 360.915.7839

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound

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

LINK: Westside Tavern won the Tournament of Burgers

January 28, 2015 at 10:48am

Beer Here: Gigantic Brewing, Avery Brewing, Hop Valley, Tides' Tapmaster line-up ...

Tides Tavern in Gig Harbor kicks off its Tapmaster program - 16 beers in the 28 days - Super Bowl Sunday.

As Super Bowl Sunday approaches, I'm thinking about beer. Who wants to be sipping wine or cocktails? Sudsy brews are de rigueur. Here are a few South Sound craft beer events to hit before the big game. Maybe you'll walk away with your Super Bowl beers.

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 28

Last week Double Mountain Brewing out of Hood River, Oregon, released their My Little Runaway-Belgian Style Cherry Ale. Like all beers at Double Mountain, the My Little Runaway is unfiltered for the purpose of preserving freshness and flavor. This cherry ale contains a small amount of natural fruit and yeast sediment that forms on the bottom of the bottle. No word if the beer will make an appearance at the Double Mountain Brewer's Night at Puyallup River Alehouse from 6-9 p.m.

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 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, beginning at 6 p.m.

THURSDAY, JAN. 29

Hey kids! Want to black out before the Super Bowl? Then you're in luck, cause Avery Brewing is bringing its demonically strong Mephistopheles Stout to The Copper Door beer store and taproom. First brewed in 2005 as the third installment in Avery's "Demons of Ale" series, it measures in at 14.5 percent alcohol. That's evil. Take note Uber drivers: The Stadium District beer store will also pour Avery's Tweak, Lilikoi Kepolo, Ellie's Brown Ale, India Pale Ale and White Rascal. Of note is the White Rascal, which was brewed at New Belgium last year while Avery built a 96,000-square-foot facility in the Gunbarrel area of Boulder - so it can push out around half a million barrels of beer annually. The new plant opens Feb. 16. The Avery Brewing Night at The Copper Door runs 6-9 p.m. Thursday.

FRIDAY, JAN. 30

How did Dick's Brewing raise more than $5,700 for American Cancer Society's Relay for Life of Lewis County this past September? It held a home brew contest and invited folks to celebrate the winners with beer drinking, auctions and raffles. The winner for the 4th Annual Beer for a Cure was Tom Rzadzki and his Black Rye IPA. Friday, Dick's Brewing will host a release party for Tom's beer from 3-7:30 p.m., as well as and having Black Rye IPA on tap at the brewery tasting room and neighboring NW Sausage & Deli.

SATURDAY, JAN. 31

Eugene native and brewmaster Trevor Howard opened Hop Valley Brewing Friday, Feb. 13, 2009. Indeed, he and his father, Ron Howard, Jonas Kungys and Chuck Hare chose Friday the 13th. Good luck has only come their way, as Hop Valley has undergone incredible growth. Drop by the Pig Bar inside South Bay Dickerson's BBQ and get an early start on the brewery's six-year anniversary by sipping a healthy Hop Valley line-up, win prizes and get in on some tasty ribs from 6-9 p.m.

SUNDAY, FEB. 1

These days, South Sound pubs offer more activities than a cruise ship. Tides Tavern wants to make it crystal clear its 12th Annual Tapmaster program isn't about chugging yards of beer then taking a flying leap off the dock into the harbor. Instead, the popular watering hole in Gig Harbor wants you to enjoy its 16 taps through the month of February. Get to know each beer. Ask the beers questions. Ask the bartenders questions. If by happenstance you drink all 16 beers in the 28 days, the Tides will give you a nifty T-shirt and add your name to the wall of fame. Here is the 2015 Tapmaster beer (and cider) list: Fremont Pale Ale, Mac N Jacks IBIS IPA, Tides Tavern Long Ass Day X2IPA, American Brewing Blonde, Alaskan Amber, Tides Tavern Anniversary IPA, Manny's Pale Ale, Hilliard's Saison, Pacific Brewing Porter, Backyard Brewing Winchester Brown, Silver City Cold One Pilsner, Seattle Cider Company's Cider, Elysian Mens Room Red, Iron Horse Irish Death, 7 Seas Stout on nitro and Widmer Hefeweizen.

THURSDAY, FEB. 5

Plan Ahead: Engine House No. 9 will host a Trinity Brewing Night with five on tap and three different brews in bottles. Trinity head brewer and owner Jason Yester will be in the firehouse.

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 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 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.

December 30, 2014 at 10:25am

Beer Here: Happy New Beer and upcoming events

Happy New Year!

Ten ... nine ... Please, please tell me you're not at home while the clock's ticking. Not bidding adieu to the bucking Year of the Horse 2014 on the couch. Not munching stale popcorn. Not watching hair-gelled Ryan Seacrest hyperventilate you into Jan. 1. Eight ... seven ... six ... So that 2014 diet ended at 3 a.m. last New Year's Day when you went on a bleary-eyed Taco Time run. So you weren't nicer to your sister, never fixed the washing machine and have yet to visit your ailing grandmother. If you're resolving to drink more South Sound beers in 2015, now's your chance to get a jump on a resolution you just might keep. Five ... four ... Here are this week's local beer happenings to help push out with the old, and drink in with the new, or something - and no better way to set a tasty tone for the year than by ringing in 2015 while drinking beer. Three ... two ... one ...

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 31

The Harmon Brewing Co. Mobile will be racing down the highway New Year's Eve. First stop, a noon to 3 p.m. new Point Defiance IPA tasting at Olympia Total Wine & More, followed by a 4-7 p.m. PD IPA tasting at the Puyallup Total Wine & More with Spokane's No-Li Brewhouse in the house, too.

Beer will be flowing all over the South Sound New Year's Eve, including at taprooms. Puyallup River Alehouse invites Two Beers Brewing Co. and its sister business, Seattle Cider Co., to wear party hats at its downtown Puyallup locale, with raffle prizes and free champagne toast at midnight as part of the festivities. The long haul begins at 6 p.m.

Three Magnets Brewing Co. hosts a NYE shindig with Major Thompkins Imperial Oatmeal Stout in the firkin with figs, gates and bourbon, Wreathing Havoc Imperial Red Rye Ale in another firkin with cocoa nibs and Himalayan sea salt, and Whitewood Cider's Wassail Spiced Red Cap Cider in on the party, too.

Wanna have a Happy New Beer? Head over to Odd Otter Brewing Company for "An Otter New Year's Eve Party", kicking off at 8 p.m. The Tacoma brewery will be unleashing its holiday beer Winterface Ale at the party for those who score a limited number of tickets. A wristband reading "Have an Otter New Year - 2015" is proof you belong, with neighbor The Matador providing the munchies. The $49.99 ticket is available at oddotterbrewing.com.

The Red Hot will hold a Duvel toast at midnight.

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 7

Puyallup River Alehouse hosts Bainbridge Island Brewing for a brewer's night. They have been brewing Kommuter Kolsch, Bainbridge Pale Ale, Port Blakely Brown, Battle Point Stout and its most popular beer, Eagle Harbor IPA, since opening in June 2012. Will they bring their "Beeritos" - a brew that includes Cool Ranch Doritos - to the Alehouse? Drop by from 6-9 p.m. and find out, and maybe win a prize.

FUTURE THINGS ARE COMING

The beer hits your tongue. You try to identify different flavor components in the beer. Is it bitter? Earthy? Are there fruity flavors? Smoke? How about grassy, herbal flavors? Zeroing in on the various flavors in different beers will help you begin to isolate the styles that you like the most, at least according to beer geek Erick Swenson. The Pacific Lutheran University sous chef holds special beer nights at the school's neighboring restaurant 208 Garfield. In January, he's hosting the four-part "Perfecting Your Inner Beer geek" series using the Siebel Institute Sensory Training kit every Sunday afternoon, beginning Jan. 11. The cost is $10 each, or $36 for the series. To sign up, visit 208garfield.com.

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.

Hands On Children's Museum hosts "The Art & Science Behind Craft Brews" at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 23. 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.

December 23, 2014 at 11:04am

Greatest Christmas carols paired with beers

Christmas is better with beer.

The International Society of Pairologists has released its definitive list of 10 Greatest Christmas Carols of All Time And The Beer That Pairs With Each. The revered group of retired piano tuners who are also home brewers spent the entire year of 2014 holed up in their headquarters in Orting, Washington, listening to more than 800 Christmas carols and drinking 7,200 beers.

According to Rudolph Pinglehead, the distinguished president of the society and co-writer of the unauthorized biography of Josef Mohr, the author of "Silent Night," the tuner home brewers listened to every Christmas carol at least 11 times. "Once for the lyrics, once for the tune, nine times to pair the perfect beer."

Pinglehead, who hails from Düren, Germany, said he is aware that everyone might not agree with the list. "We were strictly objective, and did not let sentimental associations or drunkenness cloud our judgment."

I was disappointed to see several favorite Christmas carols not included. Where is "O Tannenbaum?" Where is "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas," "The Christmas Song" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas?" How about "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?" The biggest outrage is the omission of "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer," Elmo and Patsy's poignant ballad of loss and redemption.

Nevertheless, we shouldn't let subjective partisanship ruin the holidays.

Without further ado, here are the 10 Greatest Christmas Carols of All Time And The Beer That Pairs With Each, with commentary and analysis by Pinglehead.

1. "Santa Baby." As voiced by the sexy Eartha Kitt, this song asks the eternal question: "Santa honey, I really do believe in you, let's see if you believe in me." Eartha doesn't beat around the bush as she implores Santa to "hurry down the chimney tonight," and "fill up my sock." She assures Santa that she will wait up for him, and ends up with a provocative offer he can hardly refuse: "Come and trim my Christmas tree." Beer Pairing: The International Society of Pairologists found a spicy, dark rich beer to loosen up Santa. Seattle's Fremont Brewing took their Bourbon Barrel Abominable, aka B-Bomb - a winter ale with spicy aroma, dark roasted chocolate malt and rich notes of bourbon, wood and vanilla - and infused it with coffee and cinnamon to create the Coffee Cinnamon Bourbon Abominable. It's the bomb, Santa baby! Available at 99 Bottles in Federal Way, Gravity Beer Market in Olympia, Pint Defiance and The Copper Door in Tacoma

2. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." This perennial favorite, sung by former jockey Jimmy Boyd, takes a humorous approach to a child's shocking discovery of his mother's infidelity. "Mommy" and "Santa Baby" are just two of many songs dealing with the theme of Santa as sugar daddy. Beer Pairing: The Pelican Pub & Brewery in Pacific City, Oregon, brews a beer that pairs with Mommy's merry adulterer - Bad Santa. This mysterious dark elixir is filled with complex malt flavors and aromas with toasted malt and roast character, blending seamlessly to the alluring herbal hop aroma that comes from copious amounts of Fuggle hops. Bad Santa doesn't care if you've been naughty or nice, he just wants Mommy. Available at Gravity Beer Market, Pint Defiance and Tacoma Boys

3. "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas." Everyone loves this upbeat song by Burl Ives, who played the role of Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - a large, brash and vulgar plantation millionaire who believes he has returned from the grave. Beer Pairing: Iron Fist Brewing out of Vista, California, makes a Dark Days Imperial Stout with 11 percent ABV. It's a pitch-black beauty aged in brandy barrels with a chocolate after taste. It's perfect for Big Daddy's dark side. Available at Gravity Beer Market and 99 Bottles 

4. "A Marshmallow World." This was a popular hit in the '50s, and deserves a comeback. The gifted Arthur Godfrey with the Chordettes and the Cherry Sisters performed it. Mr. Godfrey makes effective use of onomatopoeia as he croons, "It's a yum-yummie world, made for sweethearts." Beer Pairing: The yummy Candy Cane Porter by Harmon Brewing Co. pairs well with the song, as Candy Man Jeff Carlson who uses 13 candy canes per keg of the deep brown goodness. The peppermint is forward, almost overwhelming the roasted malt and cocoa notes. Carlson makes the world taste good. Available at the Harmon Tap Room in Tacoma

5. "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town." The consensus among the pairologists was that the best version of this song about a vindictive voyeur - "He sees you while you're sleeping, he knows if you're awake, he knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake" - was done by the Beach Boys, with their sweet voices belying the dark theme of the song. You better watch out, indeed. Beer Pairing: And you better watch out for Maritime Pacific's Jolly Roger Christmas Ale, which is also sweet with just a hint of harsh booziness to it. The official insignia for this English Strong Ale style is a smiling skull-and-cross-bones, reminder to all to enjoy their Jolly, but afterward you better be good for goodness sake. Available at Gravity Beer Market, Pint Defiance, Tacoma Boys and The Copper Door

6. "Mele Kalikimaka." This is an admirable attempt to incorporate other cultural traditions into our provincial WASP celebration of Christmas. Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters tell the inspiring tale of the Three Wise Men getting lost on their way to Bethlehem, and ending up in Hawaii. Beer Pairing: Duh ... Tacoma's Wingman Brewers has planes and coconuts. It's Stratofortress Aged in Bourbon Barrels on dark rum-soaked cedar planks with notes of figs and ripe fruit will get you to Hawaii (aloha 11.4 percent!). Their P-51 Coconut Porter will keep you there (aloha 8 percent!). Available at Wingman Brewers' taproom, as well as Gravity Beer Market, 99 Bottles, Pint Defiance and The Copper Door

7. "Blue Christmas." This was the favorite song of many pairologists, with its complex use of "blue" as a trope. Blue snowflakes, blue memories, etc. We all agreed that only Elvis captures the full blueness of the carol, managing to say blue 13 times in his version. Beer Pairing: Pacific Brewing & Malting Co.'s Griswold's Winter Warmer, an easy drinking malty 8.5 percent ABV ale named after the Clark Griswold who was extremely blue after his employers renege on the holiday bonus he needs. "Hey! If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one," says Griswold. "I'd like Frank Shirley, my boss, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane with all the other rich people and I want him brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head, and I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit he is! Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where's the Tylenol?" Available at Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. in Tacoma

8. "Grandma's Homemade Christmas Card." There are many Christmas carols about Grandma, but our panel believed that this song says it all. Merle Haggard sings of his elderly grandma making a Christmas card out of scraps of discarded magazine inserts. Beer Pairing: 53 Peaks Brewing Co.'s Nut Brown. You'll have to go over many rivers and through many woods to reach Grandma's House, a Denver brewhouse and pub that allows other aspiring breweries the opportunity to create their beers on their brewing system, cover their tap handle with a knitted sweater and sell them through the taproom. 53 Peaks Brewing Co. is one of Grandma's grandkids, and its Nut Brown with Traeger roasted cashews and pecans, has Grandma pinching their cheeks with joy.

9. "Suzie Snowflake." Sung by heartthrob George Clooney's grandma, Rosemary Clooney, this particular carol is a vivid example of the carpe diem tradition. "I haven't long to stay," says Suzie Snowflake, just before she lands on the back of a border collie out for a walk. Beer Pairing: Rogue Yellow Snow IPA. While IPA is not commonly a winter beer, the southern Oregon brewery's winter-seasonal IPA with its bracing clean hoppy bitterness up front fits the bill. Suzie snowflake's dog walk will, no doubt, end with her falling in yellow snow; might as well enjoy a juicy fruit beer with a long-stay bitterness. Available at Tacoma Boys

10. "Frosty the Snowman." The pairologists were moved to tears by the picture of poor Frosty running here and there all around the square, frantically trying to have some fun before he melted away. If you listen carefully to the song, you realize Frosty is not quite the jolly, happy soul he was made out to be, condemned as he is to melt away, the sun being hot that day. Some dissenters saw in Frosty's promise to come again some day as a reference to Christian resurrection. Beer Pairing: ScuttleButt Brewing Company's 10 Below Ale. While the name suggests this Imperial Dunkelweiss from the Everett, Washington, brewery could keep Frosty from melting, the 7.4 percent ABV strong chocolate flavors of 10 below Ale is exactly what one needs to keep warm. It's a malty beast with just enough hops to make it drinkable, and make Frosty's fate forgettable. Available at Gravity Beer Market and The Copper Door

December 19, 2014 at 12:18pm

Croissant Quest Olympia: À la recherche du the ideal crescent

Kyle LaCasse offers a tray of croissants during a busy time at the San Francisco Street Bakery in Olympia, Dec. 19. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Like the Roman cornetto, New York bagel or San Francisco sourdough, the croissant is a baked good linked inseparably with a city. That magical place, of course, is Paris, the City of Lights and walking off calories, and that's strange because croissants are in fact Viennese. They can also be called viennoisseries, and their arrival in France dates within the last 200 years. You can bake them at home, except you won't because, although they require just half a dozen ingredients and water, you're obliged to start making them two days in advance.

I'm no professional baker. I admit that up front. But I fell profoundly in amour with croissants in Paris, so much so that I breakfasted on impeccable crescents from the brasserie La Renaissance on Rue Ordener in the 18th for a week straight. Since I got back, I've been on the hunt for the perfect croissant, or at least as close as I can get to it in Olympia. Let me also state for the record that, as with pizza, sex or Paul Thomas Anderson movies, an imperfect croissant is still pretty freakin' amazing.

I started at Wagner's European Bakery and Café, because although owner Rudy Wagner was born and trained in Bavaria, his restaurant smells so fantastic it lured me like a siren. Wagner's croissants are crispy and fluffy, with a taste balance shifted more toward the salty than the buttery. The interior is cool, unlike the slightly-warm versions preferred in Paris, with a flavor of chewy white bread. Bonus points for the Charlie Brown Christmas special music and inviting holiday directions, serious European points deducted for the server who thought I'd ordered something called a "café ¡ole!" No, server. No.

>>> Rhone Geha enjoys his croissant at The Bread Peddler in downtown Olympia, Dec. 19. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Then it was off to The Bread Peddler, which offers not only standard butter croissants but also varieties including vanilla bean sugar croissants - very tempting, but I stayed on target - and what Americans might call croissandwiches. The standard croissants here are small, about half the size of other specimens, and their crusts have a sugar-crystal crackle. That said, the pastries are delicious, with fluffy room-temperature interiors and welcome buttery aftertaste. The product's egg wash also leaves a noticeable flavor of yolk. Just remember to order two.

>>> Bonnie Elsey offers a bowl of fresh baked croissants at Mom's Baked Goods in Olympia, Dec. 19. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

I'd heard promising reports about the croissants at Mom's Baked Goods, a carryout establishment with cinnamon rolls the size of grand pianos. Their croissant is also a monster, more loaf than roll. That heft means its crust has little crispiness, so the product is more of a sweet, buttery bread with an aftertaste of sugar. It's the least similar to a Parisian croissant of the pastries I sampled, but it does have the makings of an absolutely unbeatable ham and Swiss croissandwich. Also, the bill came in at just two dollars flat for a tasty 500 calories of food. I guess Mom expresses caring through baking.

My quest met its satisfying end at San Francisco Street Bakery, whose croissant had exactly the right crispiness and size. Its interior was so airy you could almost fly a drone through it. To my palate, the pastry had the most balanced flavor of the four, especially its just-slightly-salty aftertaste. I do wish the product were nuked a few seconds, but again, I'm expressing minor quibbles. You won't go too far south with any of these products. Some sell out early, though, so arrive as close to opening as you can. It'll also improve the interior temperature of the pastry.

All in all, San Francisco Street's croissant was the most comparable to those I had in Paris. It was also served with a disdain bordering on disgust, a quality many Americans say reminds them of France. Bon appétit, mes amis!

WAGNER'S EUROPEAN BAKERY AND CAFE, open 7 a.m. weekdays, 7:30 a.m. Saturday, 8 a.m. Sunday, 1013 Capitol Way S, Olympia, 360.357.7268

THE BREAD PEDDLER, open 7 a.m., 222 N Capitol Way, Olympia, 360.352.1175

MOM'S BAKED GOODS, open 7 a.m. Monday - Saturday, 916 4th Ave. E, Olympia, 360.943.0993

SAN FRANCISCO STREET BAKERY, open 6:30 a.m., 1320 San Francisco Ave. NE, Olympia, 360.753.8553

Filed under: Olympia, Breakfast,

December 17, 2014 at 10:31am

Beer Here: Lagunitas night, Pelican party, holiday sweaters, Troll Crank ride ...

Ho ho ho yo!

You're lagging in the Christmas spirit this year. Just like last year. And the year before. Scrooging has always been your go-to reaction to the yuletide, but as your grow older, fatter and more sentimental, it's increasingly unacceptable to be crotchety and contrarian. It's unsavory. So, you decide to be proactive. You set aside this coming week to gorge yourself on Christmas cheer. By which I mean beer. ...

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 17

Engine House No. 9's 25 Days of Christmas beer-a-day countdown is going strong. Stop by 611 N. Pine St. and discover today's present.

Harmon Tap Room is hosting the 12 Beers of Christmas, tapping a different small batch holiday brew, every day, for 12 days in a row. By the way, the Tap Room just added 10 new taps.

Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, California, releases anticipated seasonals every year with high levels of alcohol and names as charismatic and irreverent as any beer might hope for - Lagunitas' own Imperial IPA, brewed since 1996, is called Maximus. Brown Shugga, a seasonal brew from Lagunitas, was created in 1997 as the result of an attempt to rescue a failed batch of Olde GnarlyWine Ale by adding "boatloads of brown sugar" - or so the story goes, anyway. Fingers crossed, The Swiss will be pouring it at its Lagunitas Brewer's Night from 6-9 p.m. Yeah, yeah, yeah, woo!

As I have written ad nauseam, a steady stream of big, goonish stouts are filling shelves and taps. Some of these seasonals are worth the fuss and price (Deschutes' The Abyss, for example - head to The Red Hot Sunday) while many others are lopsided thanks to hyper-inflated alcohol content and overblown flavor infusions. Pelican Pub & Brewery's Tsunami Stout rises to the top. With a color only a few minutes from midnight and a thick but clean pour, it has a satisfying, but not overpowering (7 percent), heariness. Big, roasty cocoa flavors dominate, but hopheads will find that Magnum and Willamette hops impart a slice of crisp citrus and a cherry topper. Drink it and eight other Pelican brews at 99 Bottles, beginning at 5 p.m. The first 48 people to check in at the Federal Way beer store will score a free Pelican glass.

The 2nd Annual Cheers to Winter Beers event takes place at 6 p.m. in the Puyallup River Alehouse. Here's the deliciousness owner Eric Akeson has planned for patrons: 10 Barrel Pray For Snow, Alaskan Winter, Elysian Bifrost, Widmer Brrr, Redhook Winterhook, Anderson Valley Winter Solstice, Naked City Potlatch Smoked Maple Brown Ale, The Lost Abbey Merry Taj Christmas IPA, Puyallup River Old Pioneer Winter Ale and others. "Our 2014 Old Pioneer Winter Ale is a new recipe for this year," says Akeson. "Last year, we brewed a malt-forward Amber Ale with vanilla beans and lavender. This year, we're brewing an Imperial Red IPA-style beer, with a big, dry hop that all the hop heads are going to love." Santa will arrive at 7 p.m.

THURSDAY, DEC. 18

Top Rung Brewing runs its My Dog Stout through a Randall loaded with candy canes beginning at 4 p.m.

How much wood can the Woodchuck Hard Cider chuck if the Woodchuck Hard Cider could chuck wood? I have no idea, but Topside Bar & Grill is allowing the Vermont cidery to take over four of its handles, beginning at 6 p.m.

FRIDAY, DEC. 19

Want to drink a Cozy Sweater while wearing an ugly holiday sweater? Twisted Kilt Irish Pub hosts an ugly sweater party with an emphasis on Iron Horse Brewery beers, including Irish Death, Mocha Dream and said sweater. Expect a DJ spinning and giveaways, beginning at 9 p.m.

SATURDAY, DEC. 20

Top Rung Brewing hosts an ugly holiday sweater festival from 2-9 p.m., with a contest going down at 7 p.m. Santa will drop off a food truck. The Outlanders will play bluegrass beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Randall will be working overtime.

Also hosting an ugly holiday sweater party is Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. Those who don holiday cheer will receive a dollar off every pint, from 6-9 p.m., and entered into a contest to win a PB&M gift basket.

Itchin' for an excuse to pull that bicycle out of storage and get some extra wear out of your Santa hat? Saddle up and get ready to ride through the streets of Tacoma drunkon candy canes and the drinks they garnished. The Tacoma Mob Rider invites revelers to jump on their pedal-driven sleighs and eat and drink their way through Tacoma, Saturday. The Troll Crank zaniness begins at 7 p.m. inside the canned beer and bicycle shop Broken Spoke. From there, the pack moves on to other fine establishments, which will be revealed over cans of beer at the Spoke. It's free to participate, but you'll be shelling out cash for anything you eat or drinkalong the way. Tacoma Mob Rules asks you to dress festive, with a nod toward Crosby sweaters.

Tacoma Stars have dubbed Saturday, Dec. 20, "Wingman Brewers Night" for their soccer match against the Arlington Aviators. Wingman beer is now pouring at every match in the Far Post Bar at the Tacoma Soccer Center (2610 East Bay St., Tacoma). Saturday, beginning at 7:30 p.m., added giveaways and handshakes from the Wingman crew are an added bonus.

SUNDAY, DEC. 21

The Red Hot hosts its 3rd annual Darkest Day festival, while across the street Engine House No. 9 unleashes its 2014 Snow Cru, plus a multitude of other E9 big beers. Details on these Tacoma joints' celebrations of the longest night of the year can be found here.

MONDAY, DEC. 22

Fish Tale Brew Pub hosts the 15th Annual Holiday Brass Bash at 7:30 p.m. Trumpeter Andy Omdahl will lead a brass-tastic band, rattle beer pints and the donation boxes for Thurston County Food Bank.

December 10, 2014 at 10:29am

Beer Here: 25 Days of Christmas, WinterFest, Winter Beer-nanza, 12 Beers of Christmas ...

Top rung Brewing in Lacey will release its Heavy Irons Double IPA Dec. 13. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

There are five gazillion beer events around the South Sound this coming week. And as much as I enjoy checking out your Untappd beer count, I want you to take care of yourself enough to reach next Wednesday. It's hard enough work juggling lagers and stouts and ales without all those ciders and meads, so I thought I'd suggest just a few beer events for this coming week. But, first, consider a clone: Yeah, yeah, I know it's unethical. But I'm talking about beer here. Since you can't have Drinks for Lynx at the ParkWay at the same time as tossing a few Odin beers back at the Puyallup River Alehouse, you are going to have to let your morals slide just a little bit. I like to dress my close up in a smart bobbed wig. It's best not to be too conspicuous.

BEER HERE

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 10

The ParkWay Tavern will host Drinking for Conservation's "Drinks for Lynx" night. Fifty cents of every beer, cider and wine sold between 6 and 10 p.m. will go to help Conservation Northwest protect the lynx. DFC donates to organizations with missions the committee believes in - helping animals and the environment.

Odin Brewing of Seattle has released a small batch of Equinox Porter with the non-spore forming genus of yeast Brettanomycesafter months of aging the brett tartness and earthiness blend with bourbon flavors in barrels. Will it be at the Odin Brewer's Night at Puyallup River Alehouse? Show up between 6-9 p.m. and find out, or at least be in the running for raffle prizes.

The holiday season brings rich, heavy beers, and those with delicate spices really shine. "Winter warmer" traditionally refers to malty, dark beers that sometimes have a cola-like flavor profile, but contemporary craft brewers are happy to slap the label onto almost any kind of beer released for the December market. Through Jan. 31, Pints & Quarts and O'Blarney's Irish Pub host WinterFest '14, a "passport" affair where drinkers can score a 16-ounce Pilsner glass by drinking five winter beers at each joint, receiving stamps for proof.

Speaking of a bunch of beers ... Are you participating in Engine House No. 9's 25 Days of Christmas beer-a-day countdown? Head brewer Shane Johns has tapped a special beer to drink every day until Christmas. So far, E9 Nameless IPA #33, Samichlaus, 2013 Delerium Noel, 2012 Port Old Viscosity, Boneyard Bone A Fide, The Bruery Bois, 10 Barrel's German Sparkle Party, Lost Abbey's Merry Taj and Firestone Walker's Agrestic have been tapped. Day 10? Stop by 611 N. Pine St. and discover today's present.

Speaking of gifts ... Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. debuts its Belgian Abbey Ale today. Brewed in the tradition of Belgian Trappist beers, the Belgian Style Dubbel is complex, malty and fruity. It's open from 4-10 p.m.

THURSDAY, DEC. 11

Here we are, clamped firmly in winter's dismal, rime-curdled armpit. Fortunately, my projected schedule for the next two months includes plenty of winter beers, including Pint Defiance's annual Winter Beer-nanza party, beginning at 5 p.m. The specialty beer store and taproom will convert seven of its taps into winter cheer dispensers: Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (2014), Black Raven Festivus Holiday Ale, Lost Abbey Merry Taj IPA, Bale Breaker High Camp Winter Warmer, pFriem Belgian Christmas Ale, Heathen Reindeer Tears Barrel-Aged Barleywine and Atlas Spiced Pear Cider. In addition to big beers, Pint Defiance will host a "Christmas Cookie Potluck," asking patrons to don a holiday sweater and deliver cookies for all to enjoy. Emergency Food Network donations will be collected at the door.

SATURDAY, DEC. 13

Dec. 13-24, the Harmon Tap Room will host 12 Beers of Christmas, tapping a different small batch holiday brew, every day, for 12 days in a row. If you enjoy a brew for each of the 12 days, you'll receive a complimentary engraved mug. Day one begins with a party, tapping the Candy Cane Porter at 11 a.m. Drink it, stamp your passport and take a tour of the brewery until 3 p.m. Ivan Russian Imperial Stout will be tapped Sunday.

A few decades back, ugly holiday sweaters were a gift as reviled as fruitcake. These days, however, the yuletide look is going through a bit of a renaissance. No longer a style exclusively for crazy old ladies, tacky, sequined sweaters are now sold at Target. They can be found on hipsters, bar crawlers, teens at malls and other folks who like a little irony in their wardrobe (while also benefiting from their cozy warmth). This Saturday, Dick's Brewing Company hosts its Ugly Sweater Christmas Party from 3-7:30 p.m. in its tasting room. Don't forget to bring unwrapped toys and non-perishable food.

Top Rung Brewing Company will unleash its hoppy Heavy Irons Double IPA Saturday. This truly delicious, 8.2 percent ABV was brewed with Simcoe, Amarillo, Cascade and Nugget hops. When you need a double, grab the Heavy Irons.

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 17

Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, California, releases anticipated seasonals every year with high levels of alcohol and names as charismatic and irreverent as any beer might hope for - Lagunitas' own Imperial IPA, brewed since 1996, is called Maximus. Brown Shugga, a seasonal brew from Lagunitas, was created in 1997 as the result of an attempt to rescue a failed batch of Olde GnarlyWine Ale by adding "boatloads of brown sugar" - or so the story goes, anyway. Fingers crossed, The Swiss will be pouring it at its Lagunitas Brewer's Night from 6-9 p.m. Yeah, yeah, yeah, woo!

Over at the ParkWay Tavern, Paso Robles' Firestone Walker Brewing Company is one of the country's finest brewers of traditional ales and lagers. There's a reason that the California brewery has won the Great American Beer Festival's Mid-Size Brewery of the Year honor so many times. When Firestone releases a new beer, you can rest assured that it's been well executed. The ParkWay will tap the full gamut of Firestone, beginning at 5 p.m.

SEE ALSO

Cheers to Winter Beers at Puyallup River Alehouse Dec. 17

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