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March 19, 2015 at 7:59am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: First Round Battles ...

Fifteenth seed Red Robin (pictured) takes on second seed Boathouse 19 in Tournament of Mac and Cheese action today. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

THURSDAY, MARCH 19: FOUR MAC AND CHEESE GAMES ON THE DOCKET >>>

It's March ... meaning Madness is in the air. Sixty-four well-oiled competitors (for the most part) will tip off and do battle - working their way through the tediously constructed bracket and toward ultimate supremacy.

We speak, of course, of the Weekly Volcano's Tournament of Mac and Cheese, which kicks off today. This year's Tournament of Mac and Cheese marks the continuation of an epic winning streak that began in 2010 with the Volcano's Tournament of Tacos, and continued with our Tournament of Pizza, Tournament of Breakfast, Tournament of Sandwiches and Tournament of Burgers.

This year, the tradition continues. The Volcano has the South Sound's best mac and cheese in its crosshairs, and it's up to readers to decide who walks away the winner.

Beginning today, 64 cheesy competitors (some baked) will tip off and do battle - working their way through the tediously constructed bracket and toward ultimate supremacy. Only one can be crowned king - so vote DAILY right here on our Served in the South Sound blog. Use the bracket to your righ to guide you through the matchups.

Then, at 6 p.m. Monday, April 6, join us at McNamara's Pub & Eatery in DuPont for the Official Tournament of Mac and Cheese Party - our winner will be announced during halftime of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game.

The daily mac and cheese battles here on Served in the South Sound are sponsored by BITE Restaurant & Bar inside the Hotel Murano.

OK, let's check out today's First Round mac and cheese battles. Vote for one mac and cheese dish per battle. Voting for today's mac and cheese battles ends at 11:45 p.m.




Tomorrow's First Round Mac and Cheese Battles

Game 1: The Galley at 7 Seas Brewing (3006 Judson St., Gig Harbor) vs. The Rock Wood Fired Kitchen (1920 Jefferson Ave., Tacoma)

Game 2: Bar Bistro (1718 99th St. E., Tacoma) vs. BJ's Restaurant (4502 S. Steele St. Tacoma)

Game 3: The Valley (1206 Puyallup Ave., Tacoma) vs. Half Pint Pizza Pub (2710 Sixth Ave., Tacoma)

Game 4: Pacific Grill (1502 Pacific Ave., Tacoma) vs. Tugboat Annie's (2100 W. Bay Dr. NW, Olympia)

January 12, 2015 at 10:16am

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

Renee Wagner will pour you a locally-made moonshine at Stuck Junction Saloon in downtown Sumner. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Every week we swap out the Served banner art above, introducing you to the people who serve food and drinks in the South Sound. This week, meet Renee Wagner.

Server Banner Girl, Jan. 12-18, 2015

Renee Wagner

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

Why do you serve?

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

Who is your favorite server in the South Sound?

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

What are you most proud to serve?

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

What's your current drink of choice?

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

Favorite movie?

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

What don't you serve?

"Trash cans! And I don't miss it." 

What's on your radar at Stuck Junction Saloon? 

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

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

LINK: Meet other South Sound servers

LINK: South Sound Happy Hour App

Filed under: Served Banner Models, Sumner,

January 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.

September 12, 2014 at 1:53pm

Lake Tapps Brewing Co. stuck on fun flavors ... but not stuck next to the Stuck River

The Lake Tapps Brewing Co. mixes history with modern, traditional with fun flavors, next to the Stuck River in Sumner. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

"Morgan Alexander is a cool guy," says Craig Martinson, one of four friends who opened the Lake Tapps Brewing Co. Aug. 25 in the Riverside Pub building next to the Stuck River Bridge in Sumner.

Alexander's name came up in conversation as the Tacoma Brewing Company founder shares the same passion with Martinson - brewing beer with non-traditional ingredients such as pineapple, cherries and raspberries. Martinson will be the first to admit he's not a chemist, but he's a scientist at heart. He enjoys experimenting in his brewery room, adding peaches and jalapenos to his creations. He might not have a mathematical degree hanging on his brewery's wall, but the longtime brewer knows what he is doing. He's been brewing on a one-barrel system out of his Lake Tapps home's garage with his friends for quite some time - friends who are now his business partners - Glenn Adams, Vance Hanbidge and Lee Martin.

"A jalapeno beer is not a unique idea. Trust me, I have had many. What WE try to do is have a fresh jalapeno smell and a fresh jalapeno taste, with a little burn," says Martinson. "A guy came in the other night and said, ‘Dude, I have had 30 jalapeno beers and this is the first one that actually tastes like a fresh jalapeno.'"

It's true. It tastes like a fresh jalapeno. It's delicious.

Besides the Jalapeno Ale, Lake Tapps Brewing Co. currently has on tap their Banana Peach Ale and Coconut Porter - two beers, according to Martinson, that are so popular he's brewing more.

Martinson says they'll try to keep 10 to 12 beers on tap, with a couple guest taps, such as Graham's M.T. Head Brewing's Zuess IPA and its lager, both available now. Other Lake Tapps Brewing beers you can drink now are the Pale Ale, Citrus Blonde with orange and grapefruit, CDA, Stout, Porter, Amber and refreshing ISA. Their IPA is currently not available.

The fresh hops are in and will make an appearance soon, as will be a pumpkin porter and pumpkin blonde. Martinson also has been experimenting with a first-time ingredient that he wants to keep a secret.

What's not a secret is the brewery's future forced move. In the early 1900s, the building, known as the Riverside Tavern, resided on the other side of the Stuck River. After the Stuck River Bridge was built in 1927, the building relocated to its current location at the corner of Valley Avenue East and Bridge Street in Sumner, where it was eventually renamed the Riverside Pub. The bridge over Stuck River on Bridge Street is slated for demolition and replacement by 2015, which will be diverted through the Lake Tapps Brewing Co.'s current location. Martinson and crew are pondering moving the building, including to a location on the east side of Bridge Street.

Until then, the brewery is open Thursday through Saturday, 4 p.m. to close.

The brewery has erected a giant flatscreen with cozy furniture from neighboring Old Cannery Furniture Warehouse. If the Seahawks are on the tube, the brewery will open one hour before the game.

The Lake Tapps Brewing Co. doesn't have a kitchen, but serves pretzels and peanuts. They allow patrons to bring in food, and deliveries are accepted.

LAKE TAPPS BREWING CO., opens 4 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 13708 Valley Ave. E., Sumner, 253.750.0869

Filed under: New Beer Column, Sumner,

About this blog

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

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