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September 15, 2014 at 12:29pm

Pizza And Beer Report: Now with more cider tonight

Katie Downs hosts Two Beers Brewing for a brewer's night from 6-8 p.m. tonight.

Need a Monday pick-me-up? Check out the always-amazing combo of pizza and beer at Katie Downs tonight. The Tacoma waterfront bar and eatery hosts Two Beers Brewing Co. and Seattle Cider Co. for a brewers' night from 6-8 p.m.

Pizza and beer is a match made in heaven, and everywhere else. Beer is known to cut through fatty, greasy and creamy types of dishes - such as thick crust cheesy pizza (read: Katie Downs.

The Pizza

Katie Downs is still going strong after Dr. John Hilger and Mike Ebert opened the tavern - which is now a bar - in the fall of 1982.

The waterfront restaurant and bar serves 6-inch and 12-inch deep-dish pizzas loaded, and I mean loaded with cheese. Each pizza is hand rolled and baked for 20 to 25 minutes. Katie Downs serves deep-dish pies so fat and smothered in golden-browned cheese; one slice is enough for a meal. The red sauce is rich and loaded with tomatoes - although many folks prefer the white sauce, as in the Rainier with its bay shrimp, artichoke hearts and red onion. The crust is buttery thick and chewy - so tasty that, long after your stomach is full, you just can't stop.

Katie Downs won the Weekly Volcano's Tournament of Pizza - the 2011 incarnation of our annual March Madness-themed food throwdown where eaters from the South Sound weigh in on the best of the best, whittling a field of 64 competitors down to one champion through daily, heated voting.

The Beer/Cider

Two Beers Brewing Co. began operations in a small Seattle basement in 2007 and today produces unique beers including six year-round, 13 seasonal and a host of intricate infusions in its 4,800-square-foot Seattle SoDo neighborhood brewery.

Joel VandenBrink, the founder of Two Beers Brewing, launched the Seattle's first cidery since prohibition last August, thanks to his Two Beers sales rep and former farm boy Eric Willard, who shared his small-batch ciders with VandenBrink. Diagnosed with Crohn's disease, which makes beer difficult to digest, VandenBrink launched the Seattle Cider Company. Cider is naturally gluten free and easier to digest.

Tonight's Lineup

KATIE DOWNS, 6-8 p.m., Monday, Sept. 15, 3211 Ruston Way, Tacoma, 253.756.0771

Filed under: Tacoma, New Beer Column,

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,

September 11, 2014 at 12:19pm

Reading Between The Lines: Powerhouse Brewery fall beer releases, plus the week in beer ...

Perusing Weekly Volcano scribe Jackie Fender's update on big menu changes and the addition of a bourbon bar at the Powerhouse Restaurant and Brewery, I noticed the downtown Puyallup brewery announced its fall beers:

Other new beverage delights include fall brew releases such as an Oktoberfest, a pumpkin-Graham Cracker brew and the Winter Warmer, which is dark and warm, and, Baird says, "everything you want on a cold day in a glass."

All three intrigue me. I'll keep an eye on the release dates.



The Copper Door beer store and taproom hosts a launch party for San Diego's Green Flash Brewing's season triple IPA Green Bullet from 7-11 p.m. New Zealand grown Pacific Gem and Green Bullet hops were used to create this bold IPA with notes of spicy pine, mango and pineapple. Also on tap will be Flash's Saison Diego, East Village Pilsner and Road Warrior Imperial Rye IPA.


Pint Defiance celebrates its two-year anniversary with an all-day party featuring a special 2nd Anniversary IPA. Read up on the beer store/taproom's history and party specifics here.

If Pint Defiance doesn't have enough farm animals for your liking, may I suggest the Hops & Crops Brew Festival at Mary Olson Farm in Auburn. The 67-acre, 1887 family subsistence farm welcomes a dozen or so breweries, including South Sound represent Harmon Brewing and Fish Brewing, from noon to 6 p.m. The Cottonwood Cutups are among several bands scheduled to perform.

Over at the Chinese Reconciliation Park on the Ruston Way waterfront in Tacoma, Wingman Brewers will be pouring a special brew made with flaked rice, lychee fruit and ginger as part of the Moon Festival from 1-8 p.m.


The ParkWay Tavern isn't calling it good after its recent massive IPA Fest. The North Slope Tacoma pub hosts the San Marcos, California, Belgian-inspired brewery The Lost Abbey and its brews. I have no idea what will be poured, but my guess the beers will be high in alcohol and at least one named after some poor chap who forgot it was his turn to drive the plague cart.

September 9, 2014 at 11:38am

Oktoberfest Northwest turns 10, includes Stein Dash 5k and Manuela Horn and the Oktoburlesques

Manuela Horn and the Oktoburlesques headline the 2014 Oktoberfest Northwest at the Washington State Fairgrounds Oct. 3-5. Photo courtesy of Facebook

Beer! Lederhosen! Beer! Bratwurst! Beer! Yodeling! Beer! Manuela Horn and the Oktoburlesques! Beer! Oktoberfest Northwest has all of these fine things, but, most importantly, it has beer.

A press release for this year's event just landed at the Weekly Volcano World Headquarters. Check it. ...

The 2014 Oktoberfest Northwest, October 3, 4 and 5 at the Washington State Fair & Events Center, celebrates its 10th year with a Munich-inspired Festhalle Biergarten, authentic entertainment, traditional German foods and fun games for all ages. The exciting array of events for this year's festival includes the Hammerschlagen Tournament of Champions, the always-popular Weiner Dog Race, and the Oktoberfest Northwest Stein Dash 5k. Participants run with a souvenir stein which is filled in the beer garden at the end of the race. The 5k takes place on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. and all ages are welcome. To sign up, click on Once again, $3 discount coupons for event admission will be available at participating Pierce and South King County Safeway stores from mid-September though the event dates.

Manuela Horn and the Oktoburlesques take over the weekend as the Oktoberfest Northwest 2014 headliner. Manuela has been entertaining audiences around the world for 10 years, best known for her performances in Teatro Zinzanni, the movie "Rent," and TV show "America's Got Talent."  Known as the Australian Amazon, standing 6 foot 2 inches, this yodeling, dancing and all-around-entertainer and her show is sure to delight audiences of all ages. Fans of Oktoberfest also won't want to miss the Enzian Schuhplattler dancers, the Beer Barrels, AlpenBand CA and other acts that add to a lively Oktoberfest celebration. Oktoberfest Northwest is known throughout the region for providing authentic German entertainment and the 2014 event will feature another outstanding line-up of performers crooning everything from Edelweiss to polka versions of popular rock songs. Oktoberfest Northwest is a collaborative effort between Festivals Inc. (producers of the Bite of Seattle) and the Western Washington Fair Association. Discount admission coupons are available at participating South King County and Pierce County Safeway stores. 

For information on corporate and group packages, please call (425) 295-3262.  For general festival information, go to

September 8, 2014 at 12:40pm

Brewing Pint Defiance: Specialty beer store and taproom celebrates second anniversary

Renee and Barry Watson opened Pint Defiance specialty beer store and taproom Sept. 10, 2013.

The South Sound - Pierce County especially - is quickly becoming a major craft beer destination. With long standing places such as Engine House No. 9, The RAM, Powerhouse and Harmon Brewing Company, to newer breweries such as 7 Seas Brewing, Wingman Brewers, Tacoma Brewing Company, Narrows Brewing and Puyallup River Brewing to not quite opened Odd Otter Brewing and Pacific Brewing and Malting Company, the choices for awesome craft beer are long and varied. But a hub hidden away in a strip mall on the edge of Fircrest, Pint Defiance, which will celebrate its second anniversary Saturday, is quickly becoming one of the centers of the local craft beer scene.

Pint Defiance is a carefully laid out bottle shop with a 50 foot long, 16 door wall cooler full of beer, meads and ciders and a small bar with 10 taps usually staffed by co-owner Barry Watson and his crew of experts R.J. Adler, Justin Johnson, Clare Hayford and Scott Travis. Barry and his wife and business partner, Renee, have been brewing the idea of opening a specialty beer store and taproom for years.

Mashing The Ingredients

Asked about the genesis of the shop, Barry replied, "Not to simplify the answer, but we opened the store out of the love for craft beer, especially Northwest beer. I've worked in the industry for so long, and absolutely love it." Barry's grandparents owned the C Street Café in Tacoma.

Barry was in school studying computers, working part-time at the ParkWay Tavern. His interests quickly changed, and after a stint managing the ParkWay, he went to work for a local beer distributor. His knowledge of the industry doubled after he and Renee opened the Rosewood Café off 26th and Warner in 2003, which quickly became North Tacoma's go-to spot for scratch soups, sandwiches, Giant Cowboy Cookie and a notable wine and craft beer offering, especially after Sunday bicycle rides.

The Watsons sold the restaurant to Richard and Gretchen Benzin in January 2012, whom they knew could maintain the magic, and were ready for the next chapter.

>>> Barry Watson, co-owner of Pint Defiance Specialty Beers and Taproom, sips a brew. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Fermenting The Idea

Barry had been knocking around the idea of a store solely dedicated to craft beer for quite some time. He promised his family he wouldn't start a new chapter without closing the previous one. Plus, they needed a break.

The break lasted about two months. Barry had his eye on Tacoma's Westside.

"Sure, we're Northend folks living just off Sixth Avenue, but we felt the Northend had craft beer covered with the Engine House, The Red Hot, ParkWay and The Spar. ... There are a dozen other good places to grab a quality craft beer in that area. Metropolitan Mark, Thriftway and Tacoma Boys also do a nice job of stocking great beer. We wanted to differentiate ourselves, and reach another market. Yet, not too far for our Northend friends to drive."

Unable to completely cut himself off from the industry Barry filled in shifts at The Red Hot craft beer and hot dog joint while the duo researched locations and the specialty store business. His friends thought he was crazy to open a beer store. The Watsons knew it would work.

>>> R.J. Adler, assistant manager at Pint Defiance, left, and co-owner Barry Watson proudly display the store's popular T-shirt. Photo courtesy of Facebook

A play off Point Defiance Park, the Watsons opened Pint Defiance at 2049 Mildred St. W. Sept. 10, 2012. Located in the space that formerly housed Mario's Mercato Italiano on the edge of Fircrest, the 1,800 square feet store houses 1,000 or so beers, ciders and meads in a long, narrow bright space, which includes a bar, high and low top tables and a retail section stocked with clever promotional T-shirts, including the poplar I Hop Tacoma with an actual hop replacing the word.

The duo shares responsibilities, although Renee spends more time in the office while Barry pulls more taps. They're hand-in-hand during beer research trips, which happens often. They spend time with brewery owners and head brewers, researching the beers before allowing them in their cold cases.

The Watsons hired friendly, beer experts to help run the store and taproom, and encourage them to suggest beers and contribute ideas.

>>> Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

"I'd like to take credit for all of our great ideas, but Renee and our staff have come up with really good ideas," Barry says with a laugh. "Our newest full-time employee, Scott Travis, came up with the idea of our Seattle Beer Week Marathon. We crushed through 70 kegs in eleven days."

Filtering The Flavor

When you browse up and down the cold case trying to select a few 22-ounce beers you maybe haven't tried yet, the staff at Pint Defiance inevitably comes up and asks you with concern if you need help. And that's what makes Pint Defiance beer heaven. They can help you decide among Belgian Trappists and Northwest IPAs, debate the merits of Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp 12-pack even though you don't drink milk stouts, and explain the new Washington state liquor laws, including SB 6442 allowing cider to be sold in growlers. And if you already have your mind made up, just let the staff know what you need, and they'll send enough 10 Barrel Brewery beer to keep your party rolling straight to the cash register where you wait to pay.

While Pint Defiance sees its share of beer newbies, the specialty beer and taproom is also home to a who's who of West Coast brewing. Grab a barstool and within a half hour a brewer, distributor, patron with 1,000 or more distinct beers on the Untappd app or a top customer for Barry's days managing the ParkWay Tavern will drop by for a beer. Barry can name all the breweries in Astoria, Oregon, even notable but hidden Buoy Beer Company, because he's visited them all. The middle table at Pint Defiance was a gift from Rob Widmer, who threw it in his truck and drove it up from Portland. South Sound head brewers celebrate their birthdays at Pint Defiance. And Pint Defiance's almost weekly Brewer's Nights, more often than not, include prided possessions from the represented brewery's owners as raffle prizes.

>>> Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

"Pint Defiance has become a destination for beer lovers," says R.J. Adler, assistant manager at Pint Defiance. "I've seen countless people make friends at the bar just by asking, ‘What are you drinking?' People who love craft beer love to talk and share and have a seemingly endless well of generosity. I was helping a couple pick out some beers one day, and we got to talking about Russian River Brewing and how they had recently decided to stop distributing to Washington in early 2013. I mentioned that I have never tried one of their sours that we had carried previously, Supplication. The couple bought a few bottles, thanked me, and left. About an hour later, I'm pouring a pint and someone reaches over the bar and sets a bottle in a brown paper bag in front of me. That same couple came back just to give me a bottle of Supplication. I was gobsmacked. I have hundreds of stories like this of the generosity that the craft beer community has. And Pint Defiance gives them a place to circle around."

"I think why people come to drink at Pint Defiance is because of our atmosphere and customer service," says employee Justin Johnson. "We all pride ourselves in our knowledge of craft beer and providing a welcoming environment. I personally enjoy talking to people and getting to know them. As cheesy as it sounds, I like having a pub where everyone knows your name. We are all a fun group of people who enjoy sharing a laugh over a pint."

Clinking Pints

Pint Defiance has squirrelled away some special kegs for the second anniversary celebration.

"We wanted to show off some of our favorites as well as showcase a few unique offerings," explains Barry. "I don't want to give too much away, but know that there will be a little something for all tastes. IPAs, sour, barrel-aged porter, cider, pale and others. Elysian Brewing Company brewmaster Steve Luke has been sneaking us special kegs all year for events. This time around, he is advancing us a keg of what Elysian will be entering in this years Great American Beer Festival - The Quarter Nelson Pale."

Besides Elysian, expect some of the Watsons' other favorites such as Almanac and Dogfish Head, plus a few rarities.

Barry's Beer Camp "No Sleep ‘Till Chico" Coffee Vanilla Porter will also be in the house. Barry was fortunate to attend Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp, the Chico, California brewery's full-immersion, hands-on beer education where - in addition to learning everything about the pioneering brewery - distributors, brewery owners and select industry campers such as Barry work with Sierra Nevada brewers to develop a name, concept and recipe for a new beer of their choosing, which is produced and distributed to a very select number of accounts. Apparently Barry is an "A" student, which you'll discover Saturday, if you haven't tasted the porter.

Of course, it's not a second anniversary party without a second anniversary beer. Thanks to Stoup Brewing in Seattle, the 2nd Anniversary IPA will be on tap Saturday.

"I met Brad Benson from Stoup Brewing back in March when we hosted the Tacoma leg of the Hop-Mob Triple IPA Fest. We were so impressed with his young brewery that Renee and I started making trips to Ballard to sample his beers and bring kegs back to Pint Defiance," explains Barry. "They have since hired a sales manager so we can get their beers more regularly and have had much of the Stoup line-up in regular rotation. I asked Stoup to brew our anniversary beer after Brad and I bonded over 10 Barrel Brewing Co.'s O.G. Wheat IPA. We both liked how uniquely the wheat in the grain bill of that beer changed the overall mouthfeel of the beer and how well it showcased the hops."

Bittered with Millennium hops, finished with Falconer's flight and dry hopped with a combination of Amarillo, Simco and Falconer's flight, the 2nd Anniversary was brewed with two-row barley, red, flaked and crystal wheat, ringing in at 6.2 percent ABV and 45 IBUs.

"The 2nd Anniversary IPA is fantastic," notes Barry. "Brad and I wanted to put a twist on an IPA without it being a novelty. We made a wheat-based IPA with strong color and terrific palate - really rich, and more full-bodied than a traditional IPA. Starts off nice and citrus-y and hoppy, then once you swallow it, the palate is wiped clean and ready for the next taste. Stoup is certainly a brewery to watch. Not only do they make fantastic beer, but they play well with others and collaborate a lot."

Typical of Pint Defiance Brewer's Nights, the two-year anniversary party will be lively, full of beer chatter and pats on the back from Barry and Renee, who will be the first to admit none of their success would have happened without their staff and customers. A lot of stores in the South Sound sell beer, but then, a lot of stores sell batteries and toilet paper, too. Pint Defiance is the place to go if you want to hang with people who revel in beer - who really love the stuff.  

PINT DEFIANCE TWO-YEAR ANNIVERSARY, 11 a.m. to close, Saturday, Sept. 13, Pint Defiance, 2049 Mildred St. W., Fircrest, free admission, 253.302.4240

Filed under: New Beer Column, Fircrest, Tacoma,

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!


The story behind Three Magnets Brewing Company

Filed under: Lacey, Olympia, New Beer Column,

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 3, 2014 at 8:13am

South Sound IPA Festival headed to Tacoma's Union Station

Bennett Thurmon had his sights on Tacoma's Union Station for years. The co-producer of the Tacoma Craft Beer Festival wanted to host a more intimate drinking session at the downtown Tacoma historic building. He imagined a classy affair with candlelight and Tivoli lights.

The Washington Beer Commission beat him to it. The official state beer commission will ride the enthusiasm of last week's IPA Fest at the ParkWay into Union Station with 24 Washington breweries pouring 50-plus IPAs at the inaugural South Sound IPA Festival Saturday, Oct. 18. Intimate yes, in terms of the number of breweries and the venue, but the event will be broken into two sessions of 750 attendees each: the first session will run noon to 4 p.m. and the second session from 5:30-9:30 p.m.

Stay tuned for more details.

Filed under: New Beer Column, Tacoma,

September 2, 2014 at 11:13am

Washington state ranks 5th in beer, South Sound's Fish and Harmon receive shout-outs

Sucks to be Iowa. Photo courtesy of Thrillist/Jennifer Bui

According to Thrillist, Washington state is the No. 5 state in the nation when it comes to beer.  In fact, Olympia's Fish Brewing and Tacoma's Harmon Brewing Co. even receive shout-outs. Check it:

5. Washington

Washington has long been one of the most formidable beer states, growing the majority of the country's hops and giving hipsters something to drink with Olympia and Rainier, until those breweries sold out like so many grunge bands. We kid, of course, because Washington's home to more than 200 breweries, highlighted by greatness like Seattle's Elysian and Pike, the organic pioneers of Olympia's Fish, Stevenson's powerhouse Homo Erectus-brewing Walking Man, and Tacoma's Harmon. But Washington also achieves greatness with "micro" beers for the masses, brewers like Pyramid and Redhook that bottle inexpensive bombers that help convert the skeptics across the nation to craft beer via the allure of a lower price tag. That, of course, draws the ire of beer snobs...  something that always happens when a local company finds tremendous success. Especially in Seattle. Because popularity is sooooooo lame. But lucky for them, there are enough breweries in the state to let them have a lesser-known go-to pint, and a quality one at that.


C'mon Washington! Let's get after No. 4 Michigan, No. 3 Colorado, No. 2 California and No. 1 Oregon.

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,

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