Northwest Military Blogs: Served blog

Posts made in: August, 2014 (32) Currently Viewing: 21 - 30 of 32

August 19, 2014 at 2:15pm

Cafe and music venue Obsidian to replace Jezebels in Olympia

Nathan Weaver, left, and Chris Beug are turning the old Jezebels into Obsidian, a cafe and music venue in downtown Olympia. Courtesy photo

A few weeks ago, Jezebels, a club in downtown Olympia, closed its doors. Now, as demolition takes place, the rumor mill is churning about what's going on behind those same doors. Is it a concert venue? A cafe?  A bar?

We caught up with new owners and seasoned musicians Nathan Weaver and Chris Beug about their vision for Obsidian, and how that includes all of the above.

WEEKLY VOLCANO: First, why the name Obsidian?

TEAM OBSIDIAN: Obsidian is a black crystal formed from fast cooling volcanic lava. It is essentially volcanic glass. We chose the name because of the healing and purifying properties associated with the stone. Many people believe that obsidian absorbs negative energy.  Beyond that, it is simply a beautiful word.

VOLCANO: How did this opportunity arise?

OBSIDIAN: We've been planning on opening a venue in downtown Olympia for many years. A little over a year ago we began working in earnest to find the right property. The location we chose has a perfect layout for a concert hall-cafe and lounge and we couldn't be happier with how the design of the space is progressing.

VOLCANO: What is your plan for Obsidian?

OBSIDIAN: Our goal has always been to join in the longstanding Olympia tradition of supporting underground music and art while simultaneously providing a safe space for our community. During daytime hours, Obsidian will be a cafe and coffee house. We'll offer a full menu with local, organic and gluten-free options that will include waffles, sandwiches, salads and small plates. The cafe will also feature Stumptown coffee, traditional espresso drinks, Nitro Toddy and a selection of handcrafted tea blends. We'll also carry locally sourced baked goods delivered daily from Left Bank, Blue Heron and Bearded Lady bakeries.

After dark, the lounge will offer a selection of craft cocktails, local craft beer, hard cider and wine while providing unique ethereal ambience.

Obsidian's main focus will be booking live performances of all varieties. The concert hall will be well equipped with a proper stage, powerful PA system, lighting rig and sound engineer. Events will be a combination of all ages and 21+.

VOLCANO: So the space will be divided in half - the front will be a café and coffee shop and the back will be the show space?

OBSIDIAN: Yes. We have gutted every inch of the previous build-out and are completely redesigning the venue. The aesthetic of Obsidian will be an amalgamation of the building's existing industrial architecture and organic elements such as cedar and natural fibers. We hope to create a warm, creative and inspiring space.

VOLCANO: When is your first show?

Obsidian: We're putting together a grand opening for the fall arts walk. We are currently available for booking requests October through December. Obsidian will book local and established national acts regularly and will host DJs every Friday night. We are launching an online event calendar that will be updated weekly.  

VOLCANO: What do you feel sets you apart from other venues in town?

OBSIDIAN: We have both had the chance to perform in some of the best and worst venues in the world. We're taking what we've learned about what works and what doesn't and are applying it to Olympia. I don't think anyone else is doing this.

VOLCANO: Anything else you feel compelled to say?

OBSIDIAN:Olympia has long been known as a hub of Pacific Northwest culture, particularly in the realm of music. We both feel extremely grateful for this opportunity to contribute to such a rich history.   

Opening is slated for Oct 3. A website will launch soon. In the meantime, visit https://www.facebook.com/obsidianolympia. For booking inquiries, go to booking@obsidianolympia.com. To send them a virtual hug, go to obsidianolympia@gmail.com.

OBSIDIAN, opening Oct. 3, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., all ages until 11 p.m., 414 Fourth Ave. SE, Olympia,  

August 20, 2014 at 10:14am

Yo sour heads! Engine House No. 9 offers 50 sour beers this weekend

Mouth-puckering beers bonanza this weekend at Engine House No. 9.

If you've never tasted a sour beer, your first reaction might be: "That's not beer?"

You take another sip. "This is like drinking a rind of a grapefruit."

Tart, light in alcohol, sharp, funky and pungent with odd hues: Sours are more than an acquired taste. Some call it the Limburger cheese of beer.

It's not flawed beer, unintentionally infected with lactobacillus. Brewers add the bacteria strain as well as pediococcus for the mouth-puckering flavors, a traditional method developed by the Belgians hundreds of years ago. The Belgians also inoculated the beers with brettanomyces, a yeast strain that imparts funky, barnyard-ish flavors.

Low on carbonation, sours are actually full and robust, the finish often dry. The flavor is not so much the flip side of hoppy bitterness as a step beyond: bitter and sour are practically kissing cousins. For the adventurous drinker, sours offer something different from the hop bombs that dominate the Pacific Northwest. Wine drinkers tend to enjoy sours due to similar complex characteristics.

During the days when serfs clapped coconuts behind knights, Belgian lambics were the bomb, exposed to the barnyard bacteria and wild yeasts. Today, more and more American breweries are utilizing mixed-fermentations with non-isolated yeast strains such as lactobacillus and brettanomyces to release wild-fermented beers. American sour ales follow the Belgians path, although they tend to be produced in smaller batches, aged in oak barrels and then blended for taste.

The catalog of lambic flavors is vast. If you run across a kriek, you're about to drink a lambic with cherries. Framboise pops with raspberry. Peach is actually "peches" in the lambic world. Gueuze is a blend of young and old aged lambics, with a secondary fermentation life.

Wild yeast sours come in Gose, smoky Lichtenheiner and Flanders red styles. Flanders reds often have hints of black cherry or currant, and are aged in oak barrels.

Berliner weisse is a traditional German style, a slightly sour, dry wheat beer. Think champagne - tart and really lively in carbonation.

While sours are becoming more popular in the South Sound, they remain firmly on the margins of the craft beer world. Engine House No. 9 has been striving to change that trend. Head brewer Shane Johns' face is anything but sour when he chats up his Sour Fest, a two-day nod to European and American sours launching Saturday, Aug. 23. It's E-9's biggest beer festival of the year.

"Couldn't be happier with how Sour Fest is shaping up," Johns told me last month. "Have some super special stuff in bottle format. And I have received almost every keg on my wish list. Going to be some tough decisions made as to what beers go on tap first and what will be back-ups."

Johns is serious about his Sour Fest. So serious he didn't release the beer line-up to his staff, not even E9 bartender and brewroom fellow Todd McLaughlin.

"I have no idea what he has up his sleeve," says McLaughlin. "I do know he has a couple super secret and awesome sours he's going to release at 11 a.m. Saturday."

News Tribune Lifestyle Editor Sue Kidd scored a peek at a large portion of Johns' sour list. Check it out here.

ENGINE HOUSE NO. 9 SOUR FEST, 11 a.m. to close Saturday, Aug. 23-Sunday, Aug. 24, Engine House No. 9, 611 N. Pine St., Tacoma, 253.272.3435

Filed under: New Beer Column, Tacoma,

August 21, 2014 at 11:07am

Tonight: Tacoma's STINK Tank hugs five Washington wines

Ah, lovely. Photo courtesy of Facebook

Like many people, I was introduced to the Chenin Blanc grape via Vouvray, the crisp, well-balanced wine of France's Loire Valley. Due to its easy drinkability and medium dryness, I think Chenin Blanc gets a somewhat undeserved rap as a "training-wheels" wine. That is, not really for serious wine drinkers.

Hogwash.

It's true that the tendency of Chenin Blanc winegrowers to overproduce and over-irrigate can result in bland, undistinguished wines. And with Chenin Blanc, there are plenty of those. But a really good Chenin Blanc - say, from a Washington state wine grower such as Cedergreen Cellars - can be a truly memorable bottle of wine.

Tonight, Kris Blondin, owner of STINK Cheese and Meat meets and its neighboring wine bar, STINK Tank, offers tastes of five Washington wines she digs, including a 2011 Cedergreen Cellars Chenin Blanc, a delicious wine born to pair with white cheese. Yes, please.

In celebration of Washington Wine Month, Blondin will pour fun and unusual varietals, along with light snacks and "cook cats" for $5 per person, 5-7 p.m. at the STINK Tank, 628 St. Helens in Tacoma's Triangle District.

Filed under: Wine, Tacoma,

August 22, 2014 at 10:59am

Mac and Cheese Madness: Pacific Grill

Pacific Grill's Mexi Mac + Cheese is creamy delicious. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

The line between ethnic cuisines is blurring faster than an eye chart after a bottle of tequila. America may be the melting pot of the world, but that doesn't mean it's necessary to throw anything that's handy into the double boiler, does it?

What Mexicans have been calling burritos since the first Taco Time opened, oh, about a thousand years ago, only now they've been reincarnated under the name wraps. At least that's what they call them when they fill them with Caesar salad, corned beef and cabbage, and chicken soup with matzo balls, all things which God wouldn't have created had he known someone would end up stuffing them in a tortilla.

Speaking of Mexican, adding Dorito crumbs and iceberg lettuce to elbow macaroni and dubbing it "Mexican mac and cheese" probably got someone into Princeton, but it's just wrong.

You won't find any piñatas or enormous velvet sombreros hanging from the ceiling at Pacific Grill, but I'll be damned if Chef Gordon Naccarato and crew haven't fused America and Mexico into one helluva Mexican mac and cheese dish. The "Mexi Mac + Cheese" ($13.95) blends sharp white cheese and Fontina, cumin, smoked paprika, corn, black beans, cilantro with radiator pasta and tortilla strips. I opted for the extra $2.95 pulled pork, which obviously pairs well with the savory dish. So delicious.

Ondelay! Ondelay! Bring me another because I just raced through this semi-creamy mac and cheese delight faster than Speedy Gonzales could turn El Gringo Pussygato into OMG Cat.

PACIFIC GRILL, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday, 5-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, lounge open later, 1502 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.627.3535

August 25, 2014 at 8:12am

Served Blog Banner Boy: Q&A with Devon Fankhauser of STINK Tank wine bar

STINK Tank bartender Devon Frankhauser serves 4-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. 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 Devon Fankhauser.

Server Banner Boy, Aug. 25-31, 2014

Devon Fankhauser

Devon Fankhauser has been pouring wine and delivering gourmet mac and cheese and toasted cheese sandwiches to STINK Tank customers for just about a year. Before serving at the Tacoma triangle District wine bar, Fankhauser was part of the crew at Gayle Orth Catering. An offshoot of STINK - Cheese and Meet deli next door, the STINK Tank, a word play off "think tank," Fankhauser delivers pours without interrupting conversations. He knows people are changing the world over glasses of wine and specialty beers.

Why do you serve?

"I enjoy serving because I am a very social person. I love interacting with the public and I enjoy what I do??."

Who is your favorite server in the South Sound?

"This is a tough question. ... I think I would have to pick Wendell from Hilltop Kitchen. He is always nice and approachable and he makes fabulous cocktails."

What are you most proud to serve?

"I sometimes get childishly excited about a particular wine. If I love it and share with folks who also love it, and that makes me happy."

What's your current drink of choice?

"What I drink is so situational; it depends on what I'm doing, if and what I am eating, what time of the day it is, etc. I guess because it is still summer and so warm out, I love a good Rosé. It's the perfect afternoon wine for a hot summer day. I can't imagine a picnic without a good Rosé, they just go hand in hand."

Favorite movie?

"Hmm ... I would probably have to say Amélie. It's such a colorful and beautiful film. I also really like Good Bye, Lenin."

What don't you serve?

"Over-the-top, unwarranted friendliness. If we strike up a conversation that wonderful, but if we don't that's OK, too. I like service that is to the point without a lot of unnecessary chatter."

What's on your radar at STINK?

"I love any of the weekly specials. They are things that are not on the menu so you can't get them all of the time."

LINK: Meet other South Sound servers

Filed under: Served Banner Models, Tacoma, Wine,

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 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 27, 2014 at 9:43am

How to do the ParkWay Tavern IPA Fest Aug. 30

Celebrate the IPA with your community at the ParkWay Tavern Aug. 30. Photo credit: Pappi swarner

You're either at Bumbershoot or the ParkWay Tavern's IPA Fest Saturday, Aug. 30. Both events will be packed with people. I believe the Seattle music and art festival slightly edges out the Tacoma Stadium District tavern's gathering in terms of attendance numbers. Also, Bumbershoot has more Slovakian Gypsy acrobats.

The ParkWay's IPA Fest is a huge deal. It has been circled on calendars for months. Vacation days have been submitted. Relatives have been shunned. The ParkWay's taps will be consumed by 32 deliciously bitter India pale ales from 11 a.m. to close. It's a true tribute to hops and those who love them.

Nothing but IPAs may sound monotonous, but the originally British India pale ale style comes in a wide variety of flavors these days, from strong, malty double and imperial IPAs such as Valholl The Mother In-Law, Laurelwood Megafauna and Sound Brewing Humulo Nimbus to fruity IPAs such as the Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin and Caldera Dry Hop Orange, and spicy rye IPAs such as the one from Bellevue Brewing Company. Don't forget the dark, roasted black IPAs such as the new Dick's Midnight Ride Black IPA.

If you haven't attended the ParkWay's IPA Fest, I have a few tips. Get there early. Duh. No, really. Get there early. If you score a bar stool, you can sell it for $500. You'll have a ringside seat to the staff's mosh pit of craziness. If you feel as if you're being ignored, glance back at the line out the door. I'll guarantee you'll be served faster sitting at the bar.

Know the IPA list before entering the line. There is often a beer list printout floating around. The IPAs will be chalked on the wall. Snap a photo with your phone if need be. When your waist hits the bar, it's go time. If you stutter, you'll be thrown in IPA Jail. If someone spaces and steps in front of you, don't freak out. There's plenty of time and plenty of beer.

No doubt 6-ounce tasters will be the glass of the day, which is the way it should be. It's not a day for a full pint of Double IPA. There are too many different beers to spend so much time and volume on one. But don't shy away from quantity - order two or three at a time for efficiency. Then, take your beers for a stroll down the side walkway to the backyard beer garden, and chill out with friends. Listen to live music beginning at 3 p.m. Enjoy burgers and ribs off the barbecue.

The ParkWay will tap 32 IPAs Saturday. Here is a partial list of IPA Festival beers the tavern posted on its Facebook:

  • 21st Amendment Hop Crisis
  • Bale Breaker Top Cutter
  • Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin
  • Bear Republic Mach 10
  • Boneyard RPM
  • Boulevard Single-Wide
  • Breakside ALS Double
  • Caldera Dry Hop Orange
  • Crux Outcast
  • Double Mountain Hop Lava
  • E-9 Nameless #26
  • Elysian Space Dust
  • Everybody's Country Boy
  • Firestone Walker Double Jack
  • Freemont/Oscar Blues Simultaneous Release
  • Ft. George Powered By Ho
  • Georgetown Dry Hopped Lucille
  • Gigantic Brewing IPA
  • Green Flash Citra Session
  • Heathen Mega Dank
  • Laurelwood Megafauna
  • Old School House Ruud Awakening
  • pFriem Family IPA
  • Port Brewing Anniversary Ale
  • Rainy Daze Hypocrite
  • Silver City Dry Hop Whoop Pass
  • Sound Brewing Humulo Nimbus
  • Stone 18th Anniversary
  • Tacoma Brewing Aristotle's
  • Two Beers Fresh Hop
  • Valholl The Mother In-Law

IPA FESTIVAL, 11 a.m. to close, Saturday, Aug. 30, ParkWay Tavern, 313 N. I St., Tacoma, no cover, 253.383.8748

Filed under: New Beer Column, Tacoma,

August 27, 2014 at 1:50pm

Nabbing a Nammy Sammy in Olympia

Nammy's Vietnamese Deli and Bakery's lemongrass pork Sammy is ready to eat. Photo credit: Nikki McCoy

Besides the fact that I love rhyming, "Nammy Sammy" is what comes to mind when someone says, "Hey, what should we grab for lunch?"

Nammy's Vietnamese Deli and Bakery in the heart of downtown Olympia is a local favorite. Their banh mi battled in our Tournament of Sandwiches food contest last year. In addition to the awesome flavor explosion of perfectly baked, crisp, yet soft bread piled with fresh ingredients such as cilantro, jalapeño, and carrots, and traditional Vietnamese spiced meat or tofu, the best aspect of Nammy's banh mi is its price. The sandwiches hover around $3: including the hand-shredded coconut chicken sandwich simmered in coconut broth ($2.99), the meatball sandwich ($3.25) and the traditional favorite lemongrass pork ($3.75).

In fact, the entire menu is inexpensive. A sandwich, a bowl of wonton soup and an order of eggrolls rings in for less than 10 bucks. (I know where Adam and Nicky should take their first date - if they ever get one).

Lunch rush can be a little busy, but there is usually a place to sit and eat, or call ahead and grab Nammy's to go.

Next time, I will try the Aloe Vera Juice, perhaps paired with a macaroon for dessert.

NAMMY'S VIETNAMESE DELI AND BAKERY, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 513 Capitol Way S., Olympia, 360.918.8337

SEE ALSO

Tournament of Sandwiches

Filed under: Real Deal, Olympia,

August 28, 2014 at 11:41am

Words & Photos: The Swiss hosts Mac & Jack's Brewing Co. for a four-course beer dinner

Keith Carpenter of Mac & Jack's Brewing thanked The Swiss owners Jack and Carol Ann McQuade for a lovely dinner last night. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

As someone who has spent a great deal of time in the company of chefs, the majority are certainly no strangers to beer. Sometimes consumed before (or even during) a dinner service, and most definitely after, it's a part of daily life in the South Sound restaurant industry.

Many incorporate craft beer into their masterpieces. After all, craft beer is lower in alcohol than wine or spirits, broader in its number of styles and achievable taste elements, and more about providing flavor than either of the aforementioned beverages. Craft beer can absolutely enhance the dining experience. Whether accompanying a dish or serving as a flavor-adding component in a recipe, craft beer can and does make a difference. I discovered that last night at The Swiss Restaurant and Pub.

Keith Carpenter, the Mac & Jack's Brewing Company's representing for south and west of King County, dropped by The Swiss Restaurant & Pub to chat up the Redmond brewery's history and pair beers with a four-course dinner. Mac & Jack's head brewer Caleb Osborn made the trip down, too.

Flanking the middle room of The Swiss, diners were treated to Mac & Jack's Serengeti Wheat - a crisp, refreshing unfiltered American style Hefeweizen as Carpenter gave an oral history of Mac Rankin and Jack Schropp's beer company - founded in 1993 in Schropp's garage. Yes, there really is a Mac and a Jack. The flagship African Amber started as a house beer for Bruce Springer's Park Pub next to the Woodland Park Zoo. Springer, who owned the pub at the time, played off the Zoo theme to create the name. The next house beer Mac created for the Park Pub was Serengeti Wheat; it was named in the same fashion. Brewed with plenty of Yakima valley hops, it yields a wonderful citrus finish, which glowed in the sunshine beaming through The Swiss. After the two beers grabbed the state's beer drinkers' attention, in a big way, the two brewers made the big jump, quit their day jobs and moved their operation to Redmond. Solely a draft beer operation, Mac & Jack's recently purchased a small 22-ounce bottling machine and will be bottling occasional special release beers, such as their Bourbon Barrel-Aged Cascadian Dark Ale.

Scott Cleese, chef at The Swiss, came out with a bang. His lamb nachos was just one memorable taste in a procession of courses incorporating Mac & Jack's brews into the recipes, then paired with the beer ingredient. Cleese's ground lamb roasted in African Amber should be placed on The Swiss' permanent menu. Strong flavors such as lamb overwhelm light beers. That's why the complex, heavier African Amber pairs well. Bravo to the lamb, cherry tomatoes and pickled onions piled high on seasoned plantain chips with mint tzaziki. 

Mac & Jack's also occasionally brews some special release beers. The latest is their Ibis IPA, which is a 6.9 percent ABV IPA with 65 IBUs. It is brewed with Amarillo and Mosaic hops.

"Ibis is actually a South American bird. It's one of our first beers that is dry-hopped in tank. It's filtered; it's very floral, very fruity, with a lot of tropical notes," explained Osborn. "A lot of people get pineapple, papaya. It has a clean finish. It's very drinkable."

Staying with the fruit theme, Cleese added the IBIS IPA to his juice potion, creating a flavorful scallop ceviche with grilled and chilled pineapple, mango and papaya.

Course three featured Mac & Jack's more bitter IPA, the Two Tun. According to Osborn, it's generously hopped late in the boil, with a more bitter front and citrus on the end - the opposite of the IBIS - and dry-hopped in the keg with Amarillo hops. Cleese added the IPA to black pepper and peach for a favorable barbecue sauce that coated his fork-cutting, braised short ribs. The couscous arrived perfect, accompanied with roasted baby carrots and edamame.

Where there's smoke, there's usually fire, but in this case there's vanilla instead. Mac & Jack's smoky, coffee-flavored BlackCat Porter was infused into vanilla ice cream; a huge hit among last night's crowd. The beer's mocha head painted a perfect picture.

Don't let a conversation with Carpenter pass you by. After 14 years at Mac & Jack's, 28 years in the beer business, this Mount Tahoma grad has sidesplitting Tacoma stories, as well as a wealth of beer knowledge. As we enjoyed the fabulous Mac & Jack's "farewell beer" - Maker's Mark barrel-aged Cascadian Dark Ale - Carpenter told stories of Tacoma taverns cashing paychecks in the 1980s and brewing beer in Tacoma's Nalley Valley. The best story told last night was Swiss owners Jack and Carol Ann's 3 a.m. exodus from a Gorge concert. Don't play the "Safety Dance" near them.

Mac & Jack's will release the bourbon barrel-aged Cascadian Dark Ale Monday.

SEE ALSO

Georgetown Brewing Company beer dinner at The Swiss

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

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