Northwest Military Blogs: Served blog

Posts made in: 'Lacey' (31) Currently Viewing: 21 - 30 of 31

October 15, 2014 at 10:23am

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

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

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

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 15

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

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

Read more...

October 6, 2014 at 11:52am

Top Rung Brewing Co. to release new beers, increase hours and host Hoptober party

Top Rung Brewing Co.'s head brewer Jason Stoltz, left, chats with new hire Mike Besser, while the fifth batch of Prying Irons IPA ferments. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

"Hey! It's the Top Rung guys!"

I don't know how many times I have heard those words spoken with glee. I've heard the words at beer festivals, including the Washington Brewers Fest. I heard the words at beer events, including the recent soft opening of Pacific Brewing & Malting Co.

Top Rung Brewing Co. founders Casey Sobol and Jason Stoltz draw attention.

It could be the Thurston County firefighters are, well, firefighters, and good-looking ones to boot.

It could be they're genuinely nice guys.

Mostly, the home brewers turned brewery owners draw attention because they brew damn delicious beers.

Recently, huddled around Pint Defiance specialty beer store's taps, I witnessed customer after customer choose the Top Rung Prying Irons IPA after a taste comparison. Stoltz, head brewer, is currently fine-tuning his fifth batch of Prying Irons.

>>> Casey Sobol and Jason Stoltz pouring their Top Rung brews at the Washington Brewers Fest at Marymoor Park this past June. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

The duo opened their Lacey brewery in April. The career firefighters - 20 years for Sobol and seven for Stoltz - had been brewing in a garage between shifts at the McLane/Black Lake Fire Department. It became real when the duo's Hosechaser Blonde grabbed the Dick's Brewing "Beer for a Cure" home brewing contest top prize in 2012 - and they began to shadow Dick's brewer Parker Penley. After finding investors, including Olympia Brewfest founder Mike Marohn, they opened a 10-barrel production brewery with tasting room off Hogum Bay Lane. Currently on tap are the award-winning Hosechaser Blonde, Prying Irons IPA, Raspberry Wheat, Good Jake CDA and My Dog Scout Stout, which they often run through a Randall loaded with chocolate and coffee. Two weeks ago, they released their first red ale, the 360 Red (a complete 360-degree assessment must be complete in order to size up an incident) with Cascade and Nugget hops and malts Red X, 2-Row, oats and Chocolate. The firefighting motif carries over into their tasting room, which is family friendly. Snacks are available, but substantial food arrives via local food vendors and food trucks. They do allow patrons to bring in their own food or have it delivered.

>>> Top Rung Brewing Co.'s 360 Red

Top Rung Brewing will host a Hoptober party Saturday. I caught up with Operations Manager Sobol for party details, his latest hires and upcoming beer releases.

WEEKLY VOLCANO: Tell me about the 360 Red.

CASEY SOBOL: This is the first Red we have done. We are very pleased with how it turned out. We've been happy with the color and balance. With all of our beers we may make some minor tweaks over time, but we are very pleased with the release of the Red.  We used a newer malt that we hadn't used before, Red X, and have been impressed with its performance and balance. It has received a great reception and is becoming very popular.  We expected that it would be a great offering to start in the fall. 

VOLCANO: Have you enjoyed running a brewery?

SOBOL: We enjoy the challenges and opportunities to come up with new recipes and the opportunity to see people enjoying our beer and talking about it.  We see ourselves as meeting a need in the community and providing people with a nice, relaxing atmosphere and place to congregate with family and friends while enjoying our craft beer.  It's also fun that both of us can brew and also do the "business" work. Obviously, the brewing is the fun!  But both Jason and I have divided up the work, and he took on the head brewer duties primarily and I took on the operations side of things. We both enjoy brewing.

VOLCANO: What did you not see coming once you turned on the machines?

SOBOL: Some of the time commitment and the challenges that create in trying to balance our time with our families, the brewery and our "full-time" jobs as firefighters. I think another challenge has been in distributing. We are self-distributing, which takes a significant amount of time and energy. I can't overemphasize the level of love and support we've received from our families in doing this and recognize the sacrifices that they have made as we fulfill our dreams and goals with the brewery and we can't thank them enough for that.

VOLCANO: I swear longtime beer blogger BrewDad poured me a Red Ale in your taproom Thursday.

SOBOL: Ahhh, Mike Besser.  We made the decision to hire two positions at the beginning of October, albeit sooner than we had anticipated doing.  But that decision was made as we found the amount of time we could commit to distribution wasn't where we wanted it to be and working in the tap room every night we were open in addition to our 24-hour fire department shifts was burning the candle at both ends a little too much.  We had the opportunity to meet Mike a couple years ago and he has been an excellent resource and extremely knowledgeable with beer.  He is well known, respected and has a very positive attitude.  Additionally, he has a wealth of contacts locally and we believe that he will be able to give the time and attention to our distribution that we want and help the brewery meet it's distribution goals.  We also hope to bottle in the near future, which will be another addition for distribution. Mike will also help with events and occasionally in the taproom.  In addition to Mike, we have hired Brittany who will work as a Tap Room associate and will also help with events and marketing.  They are both excellent additions to the Top Rung Brewing family. 

VOLCANO: I hope Mike continues to write at brewdad.com.

SOBOL: He will. We certainly encourage Mike to continue with that independently.

VOLCANO: How many batches have been released at Top Rung?

SOBOL: We are now on our 18th batch of beer overall, which is our Trashed Pumpkin Ale (see below).  Our fifth batch of Prying Irons IPA is in the fermenter now. We also brewed our first pilot batch of our Double IPA, which will be released at our brewer's night at Pint Defiance Thursday, Oct. 9, and at the Washington Beer Commission's South Sound IPA Fest at Tacoma's Union Station, Oct. 18. We had hoped to release some in the taproom but ran short. We'll plan to brew more. In regards to the Prying Irons IPA recipe, there have been some minor changes and adjustments to the amount of caramel malt and hop additions. In scaling up our recipes we knew the IPA would be the hardest to replicate just because of the challenges with hop utilization. This proved to be true. Welcome to craft brewing.

VOLCANO: Have you been well received in the firefighting community?

SOBOL: Yes, we do get firefighters from all over who visit the brewery. It's great to talk with them and have them visit.  We were especially pleased to hold our 9/11 Memorial run event here at the brewery on September 11th.  It was pretty emotional, and we couldn't have been happier with the outcome to remember those lost. This will be an annual event.

VOLCANO: What's next for Top Rung? 

SOBOL: We plan to continue to step up our production and distribution around Thurston, Pierce and Lewis counties. We will also continue to work on releasing some additional beers as part of our line-up. We are starting to get in more of a groove with our scheduling and timing of beer releases. 

Coming up, we will be releasing our Pumpkin Ale at our Hoptober party Oct. 11 - as well as an Imperial Stout and a Black Lager.  We will also be brewing some other beers on our pilot system and releasing them as a "Pilot Series" for in the taproom only and special events. 

On Thursdays, we will continue to do our "Thirsty Thursday" and run a beer through our Randall. 

And lastly, we will start to open on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. in a couple weeks and will have the Seahawks on!

The Top Rung Brewing Co.'s Hoptober party will consume the taproom, front patio and the large parking lot behind the brewery from 2-9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11. Expect barbecue food, games such as cornhole, ladder toss and Jenga. As mentioned, Top Rung's Pumpkin Ale will be released at the party. Bluegrass trio The Outlanders will perform three sets beginning at 6 p.m. There isn't a cover charge.

TOP RUNG BREWING COMPANY, 4-9 p.m. Thursday, 2-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 8343 Hogum Bay Lane NE, Suite B, Lacey, 360.239.3043

Filed under: New Beer Column, Lacey,

October 3, 2014 at 10:16am

Mac and Cheese Madness: Farrelli's Wood Fire Pizza

Farrelli's Wood Fire Pizza in Lacey serves a creamy mac and cheese with a spicy sausage option. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

President Thomas Jefferson allegedly ate mac and cheese when he was at home in Monticello. What makes American comfort food comforting is its monotony - that mercifully uninflected drone of starch and fat that we can eat without being required to think, that we can eat and eat and eat without needing to handle knives or really chew. That's how we do it here, and we're a superpower. Mac and cheese is how pasta might always be served if Americans had invented it: Plain, easy and cheap.

Farrelli's Wood Fire Pizza's mac and cheese is a mash up between simple and sly, childhood and adulthood, cheap and chic. Its mac is creamy, buttery and yet still classy - with the option of adding spicy sausage. It's meaty elbow macaroni swimming in mozzarella, cheddar and Parmesan with a small blanket of cheddar and two buttery garlic focaccia strips.

Jefferson also allegedly enjoyed pull-tabs and Oktoberfest pizza. He would have enjoyed hanging at the hidden Farrelli's in Lacey. He would have enjoyed the mac and cheese even more.

Grab a baked dish of comfort and cheer on your favorite team in Farrelli's huge lounge.

FARRELLI'S WOOD FIRE PIZZA, 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday-Thursday, 11-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 4870 Yelm Hwy. SE, Lacey, 360.493.2090, also in DuPont, Frederickson, Parkland, Sumner and Tacoma

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound

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

September 5, 2014 at 1:23pm

Why you didn't see Instagram shots of Three Magnets beer last night, and the Magnets beers you may shoot this autumn

Here a photo of two guys playing Ping Pong at Rhythm and Rye yesterday. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

It was 3:45 p.m. yesterday and I was sitting in my car, waiting for Andy Geertsen to open his Rhythm and Rye club in downtown Olympia. Needing to kill 15 minutes, I searched the Internet. The Price is Right was on my smartphone. Bob Barker put his arm around a gaunt middle-aged woman while they watched a cardboard mountain climber ascend a cardboard mountain, singing:

Laaa dee doody

Laaa dee doody

Laaa dee doody dooooo...

I watched Bob Barker giving away dinette sets to sunburned retirees until I caught the door open in my rearview mirror.

"I'm one of two in the area to score Black Raven Brewing Company's Trickster IPA. Want one?" Geertsen asked.

"Laaa dee doody indeed!" I replied, which drew a blank stare.

Easy drinking on a hot Thursday afternoon, the Redmond-based brewery's American IPA had a light fruit aroma with full hop flavor.

I convinced Geertsen to be this blog's "Server of the Week" beginning Monday, which he happily accepted. We also chatted up Rhythm and Rye's burgeoning Thursday night jam hosted by The Brown Edition's guitarist Tarik Bentlemsani, potential brewer's nights at the club and the soon-to-open Three Magnets Brewing Company down the street and around the corner.

"Crap. I need to meet those folks at Farrelli's Pizza in Lacey right now."

Out the door and into Hell. ...

Google Maps warned it wasn't going to be easy, and that's without it knowing about my full bladder.

I fought maniac Seahawks fans, construction and one millisecond "turn here" instructions, with my sight's on the Three Magnets Brewing Company's Brewer's Night at Farrelli's Wood-Fired Pizza, and the added bonus of catching the season opener and chatting with brewer Jeffery Stokes about his fall releases.

"Sorry, folks! We're closed for two weeks to clean and repair America's favorite family fun park. Sorry, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh!" ... except it wasn't Marty Moose with bad news for the Griswold family but rather similar sign stating Farrelli's was closed due to remodeling setbacks, with the hopes of opening today at 2 p.m.

Brewer's Night cancelled. No option to punch a moose in the nose existed.

Like an idiot, I let two scary-looking vampire girls in red leather pants and glittery lipstick outside neighboring Mayan Mexican Restaurant shy me away from bladder relief, so I made the long, painful journey back to Tacoma.

Relieved, with joy from a Deschutes Pinedrops IPA and Seahawks talent from a barstool at Dirty Oscar's, I sent Stokes a request for his fall goods.

For being two weeks away from officially opening, Three Magnets is busy.

"Our flagship beers will continue to be produced such as the Rainy Day IPA, Brewers Best Bitter and Helsing Junction Farmhouse Saison," states Stokes. "As the season changes, we will shift our saison toward a slightly roastier malt profile to complement fall harvest ingredients and botanicals from Helsing Junction Farms that we will incorporate into the beer. Blending two unique Belgian yeast strains makes this offering unlike any other on the market creating a ‘Farmhouse meets Trappist Double' feel and flavor."

New brews will include two fresh hop beers sourcing El Dorado and Meridian hops from Oregon and Citra and Mosaic hops on the other side of the Cascades, to create unique fresh hop beers with a lighter malt base.

Three Magnets will produce double IPAs ringing in at 8.5 to 9 percent alcohol by volume.

Also in the pipeline are a series of Single Malt And Single Hop pale ales, or S.M.A.S.H., showcasing hop varietals including Mandarina Bavaria, Meridian and Ahtanum.

"For maltier offerings, we will bring forth one and possibly more of the following: a gently smoked English Brown Porter, a Scottish Ale or perhaps a Pumpernickel Porter," states Stokes. "As we get closer to the holiday season, an Imperial Stout almost seems like a must as well.

"On the more unique and experimental side of things, we will release in October our Just BEET It! Pale Ale. Incorporating beets into the boil kettle helps create a delightful pink hue and a robust earthiness in the mouthfeel. Using classic Northwest C hop varieties, this beer touches on citrus covered beets with a moderate bitterness to help offset malt sweetness."

Laaa dee doody dooooo!

SEE ALSO

The story behind Three Magnets Brewing Company

Filed under: Lacey, Olympia, New Beer Column,

September 5, 2014 at 9:49am

Mac and Cheese Madness: Mac N' More

Mac n' More serves one of the creamiest mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

No, I'm not high.

Yes, I write a weekly mac and cheese column. And, one might be hard pressed to find a weed-loving soul who scoffs at mac and cheese, the ultimate comfort food. But, my answer to the questioned posed via email was, "Not right now."

Aghast was a reader who claimed I must be out of my mind not visiting Mac N' More in Lacey during the 18 weeks since I launched this South Sound treasure hunt.

I explained I've been too high and was paranoid to venture out of my (comfort food) zone.

Kidding.

Truth is, I have pulled up a chair at the Lacey strip mall eatery a dozen or so times since Steve and Katrina Cobb opened the mac and cheese centric restaurant in 2012. Steve, who has seen the world through a restaurant kitchen window while his wife, Katrina, served in the Army, tweaked his macaroni and cheese recipe during a 25-year journey. After tasting the famous macaroni and cheese at S'mac in New York City, and making the final adjustment, the Cobbs felt confident enough to open their own joint at the corner of Martin Way and Dutterow Road.

Mac N' More serves nine variations of macaroni and cheese, with the option to create your own dish. A four-cheese "secret" recipe serves as a base, although the Cobbs have since let the world know Tillamook sharp cheddar is part of the equation.

The light creamy "original" sauce deserves a trophy on its own, but receives its crown with added ingredients such as pickled jalapeno, spinach, jammy onions, bacon, chili beans, to name a few. The Cobbs also offer nine creations of their own, including two mac and cheese creations that top all dishes on the menu - which includes chicken breasts, salads, burgers, sandwiches and shareables. The "Buffalo" mac and cheese includes chicken strips smothered in buffalo sauce, green onions and blue cheese ($8.85), while the "Loaded Potato Mac" ($8.85) arrives loaded with bacon, potatoes, green onions, sour cream and more cheddar cheese. The "Meat Loaf" mac and cheese is hot on their elbows.

Steve has perfected his pasta preparation, producing a firm elbow macaroni that holds the light sauce.

The portions will satisfy any appetite. After indulgence such as the aforementioned, it's hard to imagine how an ice cream sandwich, apple pie or shake could be added - but the option exists, as does a weekend breakfast.

MAC N' MORE, 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 9323 Martin Way, Lacey, 360.455.3290

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound

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

September 3, 2014 at 12:15pm

Tomorrow: Three Magnets Brewing beers paired with pizza

Olympia's newest brewery will be at Farrelli's Pizza in Lacey Sept. 4.

Three Magnets Brewing Co. is busy pushing out kegs as work continues on their much-anticipated brewery and brewpub, slated to open mid-September at 600 Franklin St. in downtown Olympia. As I have previously mentioned, Three Magnets is the brainchild of Nathan and Sara Reilly, who also own Darby's Café in downtown Olympia.

If you can't wait for a couple of weeks, you can find Three Magnets brews at Olympia hangouts such as The Brotherhood Lounge (Session IPA), Eastside Club Tavern (Session IPA), Darby's Café (Session IPA and Brewers Best Bitter), Cooper Point Public House (Brewers Best Bitter) and growler fills at Gravity Beer Market (Brewers Best Bitter).

Thursday, during the Seahawks' opening game against the Green Bay Packers, Three Magnets is teaming up with Farrelli's Wood Fire Pizza for a brewer's night, which means an opportunity to meet brewers, win cool schwag and drink new beer.

"Three magnets beer couldn't come to our community at a better time," said Dan North, lead bartender at Farrelli's in Lacey. "The brewing scene in Olympia had kind of gone stale in my mind. The energy and vibe these guys are creating is something this town needs."

Three Magnet's Rainy Day IPA, the Brewers Best Bitter and Rye Ale will be on hand.

A beer enthusiast, North sums up two of the samples: "The Rainy Day IPA is a perfect representation of a NW IPA, great color and aroma. It's strong at 7.4 percent, but still easy drinking with some great citrus notes on the finish. The ESB has great flavor and is not watery at all like a lot of ESBs out these days."

"Farrelli's is a company that strives to make relationships with great companies like Three Magnets and others. We are all about bringing in new and exciting beers for our guests," adds North. "This is why I love being part of this company. I am super excited for the brewer's night this Thursday."

"What is most amazing to us, is all the local businesses that have supported us," says Nathan. "Over the past decade of being business owners, we've noticed that there are two types of businesses - those that believe it's ‘everyone for themselves' and those that believe that ‘we're all in this together.' We feel so fortunate to be part of the latter group."

THREE MAGNETS BREWING BREWER'S NIGHT, 5:30-8:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept 4, Farrelli's Wood Fire Pizza, 4870 Yelm Hwy. SE, Lacey, 360.493.2090

Filed under: New Beer Column, Lacey,

September 1, 2014 at 11:25am

Fall Business: Top Rung Brewing and Harmon Brewing

Top Rung Brewing Co. has several beers scheduled for release this fall. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

(Cue Tangerine Dream soundtrack)

The dream is always the same. It's July. Instead of going home, I go to the brewpub. I ring, but nobody answers. The door is open, so I go inside. I'm looking around for the people, but nobody seems to be there. And then I hear the mash-lauter-tun running, so I head to the backroom to see what's what. Then I see it, this ... pumpkin ale, this incredible ale. I mean, what is it doing there I don't know, because it's July ... but it's a dream, so I go with it.

"Who's there?" a voice says.

"Ron," I say.

"What are you doing here?" the voice asks.

"I don't know what I'm doing here; what are you brewing here?" I ask.

"I'm about to release our pumpkin ale," the voice says.

"It's freakin' July," I reply.

No response.

Then I say: "You want me to go?"

"No," the voice says. "Want a sip of my new pumpkin ale?"

So now, I'm getting enthusiastic about this dream. So I head toward the beer, but it's hard to find through all the fall beer promotional swag and stuff; I keep losing the beer. Cardboard pumpkins bounce off my head. Finally I get past the swag ... and I ... find myself in a brightly fluorescent lit grocery store with towering displays of Bud Light and end-cap cases of Ruffles Sour Cream and Strychnine and hormone-injected, meat-like slabs that hiss at me as I walk by. I've ... just made a terrible mistake. I'll never drink local craft harvest and pumpkin ales and laugh with friends as leaf remnants fall off our crisp pullovers and mix with scattered roasted pumpkin seeds on the floor. My life is ruined.

I wake up drenched in sweat every time, mostly in fear I'll actually release this nonsense to the public. Wait.

Is it fall yet? Almost.  

Craft breweries across the country (and the world) are releasing their varied versions of the fall seasonal - from fresh hopped brews to classic Märzen/Oktoberfest style offerings. The South Sound is no exception. Last week, I posted local breweries' release plans for the next few months. A couple local breweries were left off the list, such as Top Rung Brewing Co. in Lacey and Harmon Brewing Co. in Tacoma. Maybe the head brewers were enjoyingdeep azure seas and delicious star-addled skies and crazily overdressed mariachi bands or other delights, but they have answered the call this week.Here's what will be in their glasses this autumn. ...

Top Rung Brewing

"We will be brewing our Red next week," says Casey Stobol, who opened Top Rung Brewing Co. with fellow Thurston County firefighter and head brewer Jason Stoltz this past spring. "We will also be working on our Imperial Stout and a Dark Pumpkin."

The two brewers will also release some fun one-offs on their pilot system. Stay tuned.

Harmon Brewing Co.

Our main fall release will be our Fall Ball Imperial Harvest Ale," says Harmon Brewing Co. head brewer Jeff Carlson. "The Harmon Harvest is an Imperial Red/Amber brewed with an extra helping of Munich malt to give it a rich, deep amber color and complex malt body."

Other malts in the Fall Ball include Melanoidin, Dextrin, 15L, 45L and 120L Crystal malts, finished with a little chocolate malt.

Centennial, Liberty and Fuggle hops represent.

"We have also added a touch of pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice to round off the finish," adds Carlson.

Expect 8.1 percent alcohol by volume and 51 International Bittering Units.

"We will also offer our Headless Horseman Pumpkin Spiced Blonde occasionally throughout the fall," says Carlson. "A couple of other cool things we have coming up is our first bottle releases for our Tap Room Reserve Series - the Old John Barrel Blend and Super Samurai Barley Wine."

In honor of John O'Gara, the ParkWay Tavern's long-time manager who passed away this spring, Carlson has brewed the Old John Barrel Blend; an old ale brewed with Pale 2-Row, Dark Munich, Crystal 15L and some pale chocolate malts. It was hopped with Liberty, Fuggle and Cascade hops. The whole batch was transferred into three barrels - two whiskey barrels and one wine barrel - then blended. It rings in at 9.7 percent ABV and 45 IBUs.

The Super Samurai is a single hop barley wine featuring Sorachi Ace hops. Name appropriately, this barley wine is big, bold and aggressive with 11 percent ABV and 102 IBUs.

"The Super Samurai is a warrior against all other barley wines," Harmon hype claims. "Challenge it if you dare."

Filed under: New Beer Column, Lacey, Tacoma,

August 8, 2014 at 11:52am

Mac and Cheese Madness: The RAM Restaurant and Brewery

The RAM Restaurant and Brewery serves a sturdy mac and cheese. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Artisan ice cream, craft beer, food trucks, artistic cocktails: South Sound dining is either emerging from or headed into a culinary construction zone. But many South Sound restaurants refuse to reject the notion of comfort food. And sitting at the very top of the comfort food pyramid is mac and cheese.

Today marks the 15th mac and cheese dish I have tried since launching this Friday series in May, as a precursor to the Weekly Volcano's Tournament of Mac and Cheese in Spring 2015. Ladies and gentlemen, I present the RAM Restaurant & Brewery's version. ...

Ever been to a barbecue in someone's backyard and someone brought macaroni and cheese in a floppy foil pan? So wrong. If the RAM brought its mac and cheese in said pan, the pan would surely collapse with the contents possibly injuring a small child. Curly, swirly meaty Cavatappi macaroni is the star of The RAM's mac and cheese - a huge, heavy pile of it with a Parmesan and cheddar cheese sauce in a supporting role. Each Cavatappi noodle could feed a small family.

The RAM calls its mac and cheese "creamy, cheesy, ooey-gooey" on its menu. It's not. The spoon riding shotgun is laughable. The noodles topple off the dish-to-mouth device. Sure, the cheese coats the noodles, including some Panko breadcrumbs, but after the noodles disappear, not much remains in the bowl.

No, it's a meat and potato kind of mac and cheese. Each mouth full is filling and satisfying. Did you get sacked twice, hit four times and run around like a maniac last night? This mac and cheese can heal. Are you fighting a tropical storm in a swimsuit while juggling a Mai Tai? This is your reward.

Additional flavor can by added to The RAM's housemade recipe ($8.99) in the form of blackened chicken (2.99), roasted jalapenos (99 cents), hickory smoked bacon ($1.99), blackened prawns ($4.99), sautéed vegetables ($1.49) and sautéed mushrooms ($1.99).

Do some heavy lifting today.

RAM RESTAURANT & BREWERY, locations in Federal Way, Lacey, Lakewood, South Hill Puyallup, Tacoma, theram.com

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound

July 18, 2014 at 3:09pm

Beer:45 - Time for for Jeremy Silas and Top Rung Brewing Co.

Jeremy Silas' "Spiritual Girl" is blasting out of our publisher's office.

Every Friday after 2:45 p.m., when workday decorum is thrown out, Weekly Volcano publisher Pappi Swarner pops open a local brew, tilts back in his rickety office chair and cranks his Frazier Model Seven speakers. And as interns inappropriately learn from Pappi during their orientation, nothing tastes better than pairing local music with local beer. Pappi picks one song and repeats it until he can see the bottom of his glass. When the music stops, we know he has left the building.

Today, Pappi has a grin from ear to ear. He's happy how next week's Best of Tacoma came together. Therefore, he's paired Jeremy Silas' "Spiritual Girl" with Top Rung Brewing Co.'s My Dog Scout Stout.

Tacoma musician, artist and poet Jeremy Silas recently self-released his debut album, It's Your Way EP, at digital music stores worldwide, including iTunes and GooglePlay. A longtime fan of Silas, Pappi skipped the new album; instead he's blasting Silas' new "Spiritual Girl" single, which is under review by SONY. The single is posted on Talenthouse Artworks, which is open for public vote.

Currently, YouTube is the only medium where "Spiritual Girl" is available. It's the first song Jeremy Silas wrote under his Atlas Alas pseudonym, so the song is special to him.

"I have tried for years to hold a band together. Yet, I was always the last man standing. Last March, I woke up and wrote the music and words to 'Spiritual Girl.' It just came out. I feel as though my soul was finally quiet enough to really ((((HEAR)))) the music. I created Atlas Alas because I wanted an identity other than my own name. I wanted to grasp a personal movement within the art form of music. Atlas Alas became my bridge to this place."

"'Spiritual Girl'" is a special kind of love song, it is inspired by a sweet young lady I dated many years ago who passed away from cervical cancer. She was a natural beauty. She was spiritual. She was a dear friend. I understand it can feel like sacred territory just uttering the word, ‘Spiritual' since it's connotations are so broad and personal to so many people, yet I had to, especially in context to how one person can make another person feel.

"I wanted an urban beat, a soulful vocal and poetic lyrics ... ‘All ancient jewels and wise lonely fools can't see ... what you mean to me ... You're captivating to me ... Spiritual Girl.'"

Riding on the theme of love, Pappi has paired "Spiritual Girl" with his new love, the My Dog Scout Stout by Top Rung Brewing Co. in Lacey. He goes on and on about its chocolate and coffee flavors, and its easy drinking with eight different dark malts. In fact, Pappi dropped by Top Rung last night when brewers Jason Stoltz and Casey Sobol ran the stout through a Randall loaded with coffee beans and chocolate nibs. He won't shut up about it. He loves it.

Filed under: New Beer Column, Lacey, Music,

June 1, 2014 at 1:24pm

2014 Summer drinking calendar for the South Sound

It will happen this summer. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

If you're like me, you're probably left wondering where May went. It seems that just yesterday spring began. But now it's time to kick off June, and the summer drinking season can officially begin. The lawn can wait.

JUNE 6

Talbott Vineyard Wine Tasting

Morso will tentatively pour 2011 Sara Case Chardonnay, 2012 Diamond T Pinot Noir, 2012 Kali Hart Pinot Noir, 2012 Logan Chardonnay and 2012 Logan Pinot Noir. There is a $5 fee per person for this event and is refunded with a wine purchase. Any wines purchased from the tasting may be served without a corkage fee on the night of the tasting. 5-7 p.m., $5, Morso Wine Bar, 9014 Peacock Hill Ave., Gig Harbor, 253.229.0187

Emerald Downs Brewer's Night

Northwest Brewing Company will be at the track with $2.50 craft pounders, Ottomatic DJ, prize drawings and more. 5-9 p.m., Emerald Downs Race Track, 2300 Emerald Downs Dr., Auburn, $7 entrance fee, 253.288.7000

JUNE 11

Georgetown Brewer's Night

Puyallup River Alehouse hosts Georgetown Brewing Company for a night of Georgetown beers, giveaways, raffles, dollar tacos and more. 6-9 p.m., no cover, Puyallup River Alehouse, 120 S. Meridian, Puyallup, 253.268.0955

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