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August 3, 2014 at 9:33am

Olympia Brew Fest Recap: Try these IPAs on #IPADay Aug. 7

Olympia Brewfest was the perfect time to drink an IPA. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Thursday, Aug. 7, as you surely know, is a pretty big holiday: National IPA Day (or #IPADay, if you're joining the cause on Twitter).

No, it's not ridiculous. And, of course, National IPA Day isn't the only drink "holiday." Someone, somewhere has declared a day of recognition for every drink imaginable; there's National Irish Coffee Day, National Mulled Wine Day, National Tequila Day, National Margarita Day, National Rum Punch Day, International Beer Day, which was Aug. 1 (What makes that last one international? No idea.). ... Imaginary or not, these holidays have become a wonderful marketing opportunity for restaurants and brands and a crutch for the media, including the Weekly Volcano. We include a glorious drink and food holiday every week in the Buzz-O-Meter in our print version. Who am I to criticize International Gruit Beer Day if I can get a free Gruit out of it? And anyone can get behind National Margarita Day as an excuse to order an extra round.

OK, in my heart, I think these days are crap, but they're still fun every now and then. I couldn't care less about National Rhubarb Pie Day. But, when it's National IPA Day, or any beer day, I'm in.

Founded by social media beer aficionados "The Beer Wench" Ashley Routson and "Certified Cicerone" Ryan Ross, in 2011 as a way to link breweries, bloggers and beer drinkers, National IPA Day celebrates this particular style because the India Pale Ale is one of civilization's saner inspirations for a holiday: it evolved from a means of preservation during beers' arduous travels from England to India; nobody died or was tortured; nobody has to fast; nobody has to commune with the dead or celebrate war. All you have to do is be glad this good beer made it to America and enjoy the hell out of it - which I did at the 2014 Olympia Brew Fest.

More than half of the breweries at the third annual Olympia Brew Fest poured their India Pale Ales. In fact, it's the most entered beer style in many other major craft beer competitions. Every brewery worth its salt has an IPA in its arsenal. OK, they tend to get a bad wrap for being overly hoppy. Whatever. We are blessed with access to about 20-percent of the world's hop supply in Eastern Washington, with varietals unlike any others grown abroad. And, many new hop varietals have been discovered and developed to provide a range of subtle to bold spicing notes. But the reality is, lots of people love them. Because they're delicious. And, I am one of those people.

If you need a couple recommendations, I'm more than happy to divulge some findings from the Olympia Brew Fest. Here's a look at some wonderful IPAs from the Olympia beer festival for you to hunt down for Thursday's oh so hoppy day.

Colin Harvin handed me a 7 Seas Brewing Life Jacket Session IPA at the Olympia Brew Fest, which was a first. It's not my first Life Jacket. I enjoyed the highly drinkable, thirst quenching IPA loaded with Amarillo and Nugget hops and juicy hop aromas of tangerine and grapefruit at its release party in June. It WAS the first time Harvin handed me a 7 Seas beer. The former Wingman Brewers beer slinger recently crossed the Narrows Bridge to work for the Gig Harbor brewing company. 7 Seas Brewing, Life Jacket Session IPA, 4.4 percent ABV, 65 IBU

Nathan Reilly says construction on his Three Magnets Brewing Co. is going slow. The new downtown Olympia brewery won't open as quick as he'd like. He and his wife, Sara, owners of Darby's Café in Olympia, decided to release a few Three Magnets beers this coming week regardless. "Expect them at a few Olympia beer destinations such as the Eastside Club Tavern and, of course, Darby's," says Nathan. One of the beers to be released was available at the Olympia Brew Fest. Their Session IPA carries sticky candy and lush tropical fruit notes abound from the plentiful additions of El Dorado and Australian Galaxy hops in the whirlpool and dry hop, with a light malt backbone, featuring traditional English malts to create a clean biscuit flavor. It was refreshing under the hot sun. Three Magnets Brewing Co., Session IPA, 5.4 percent ABV, 50 IBU

Claire Tenenbaum of Double Mountain Brewery from Hood River, Ore., was pulling the handle on the newly released Clusterf#ck Single-Hop IPA. As I have previously mentioned, this wonderful IPA is a porch sipper with malt, citrus zest, grapefruit juice and and slight herbal hop flavors on the finish. Double Mountain Brewery, Cluster Single-Hop IPA, 7.3 percent ABV, 85 IBU

Corvallis, Ore., brewery Mazama Brewing made the trip to Olympia for last year's Olympia Brew Fest. Enjoyable, they requested another invitation, with an IPA in their heads. Their Mosaic Eruption IPA made its debut at this year's beer festival, finished with Mosaic, Amarillo, a little touch of Citra and Centennial hops. I picked up flavors and aromas of fruit, mostly melon and pineapple. Mazama Brewing, Mosaic Eruption IPA, 6.0 percent ABV, 60 IBU

Olympia's Fish Brewing Company was, of course, pouring at the Port Plaza. Its Hodgson's Bitter End IPA hits the nose with pine, then fills the mouth with grapefruit-like citrus and a lightly caramel malt sweetness. Seek it out on National IPA Day. Fish Brewing Company, Hodgson's Bitter End IPA, 6.5 percent ABV, 70 IBU

Narrows Brewing Co. head brewer Joe Walts and I discussed IPAs several weeks ago. His Giant Pacific Octopus IPA - with Magnum, Columbus and Willamette hops and a malt profile of Great Western Northwest Pale, Best Malz Acidulated, Dextrose - is Narrows' best seller. And for good reason. Lots of grapefruit and orange peel. Narrows Brewing Co., IPA, 7.2 percent ABV

Iron Horse Brewery made the trip from Ellensburg to pour its very drinkable IPA, with the hop flavor and aroma on the finish. Iron Horse Brewery, Iron Horse IPA, 6 percent ABV

Seattle's Schooner Exact Brewing makes an excellent IPA. The 3 Grid IPA, its flagship, is for everyone. It leans on the Sessionable side, with earthy favors and ample carbonation keeps the hop bite. So good. Schooner Exact Brewing Co., 3 Grid IPA, 6.7 percent ABV, 62 IBU

Backwoods Brewing Co., the family-owned craft beer company from Carson, Wash., poured its Log Yard IPA. If you're looking for an IPA with fresh hops flavor and aroma with mild caramel malt this is the one.

There you go. All great IPAs to celebrate National IPA Day.

Here's a parting photo from the 2014 Olympia Brew Fest.

LINK: More photos from 2014 Olympia Beer Fest

August 1, 2014 at 12:15pm

Mac and Cheese Madness: Bar Bistro

Bar Bistro serves its rich and creamy Bistro Mac and Cheese in small and large portions. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Like wine, you can tell much from mac and cheese by smell, color and presentation, and though you may balk at using connoisseur techniques for such an Americana-addled food, it helps. With that in mind, take a drive over to Bar Bistro in Midland between Tacoma and Puyallup. Within the confines of the sleek bastion of delicious food and craft cocktails, I was served a beautiful, aromatic, tasty creamy mac and cheese in a fancy wide bowl. I stepped outside to check if I was in downtown Tacoma or Seattle. Nope, farmlands still surrounded the joint.

"Chef Jason Blessum takes fusilli pasta, roasted garlic puree, heavy cream and a balanced blend of smoked cheddar, aged white cheddar, pepper jack, Parmesan, Asiago and Romano cheeses, tops it with bacon bread crumbs, shaved Parmesan, then garnishes it with grape tomatoes and basil oil," says Bar Bistro owner Eric Poulin.

The Bistro Mac and Cheese ($12/$18) is a creamy delight. The al dente pasta is added to the cream, garlic puree and cheese mixture off heat until melted through. I enjoyed the dish as is, skipping the chorizo, jerk chicken or crabmeat additions. It doesn't need the extra flavors.

I'm also happy to report Bar Bistro has a Craft Beer Club. Text CRAFTBEER to 72727 to join. You'll receive a free craft beer after purchasing five. Bar Bistro has 20-plus beers, including local brews. Harmon Brewery will be in-house toward the end of this month for a four-course IPA dinner paring with a bonus summer blonde during the reception. Craft Beer Club members will receive the latest details on reservations and early bird specials on beer dinners and events.

BAR BISTRO, noon to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, 1718 99th St. E., Tacoma, 253.537.3655

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound


Flair to Midland: Bar Bistro is worth the drive

July 28, 2014 at 2:37pm

Winners announced for Aroma of Tacoma home brewing competition

Dioni De Morena of Redmond was the The Best of Show winner and received a $250 gift certificate to MASH Homebrew Supply. Not bad for a $7 entry fee.

The first-annual Aroma of Tacoma home brewing competition is in the books. Saturday, July 26, before the big Harmon Brewing Co. Progressive Party at Harmon Tap Room and The Hub, around 30 home brewers filled the tables in the Tap Room's Harmon Garden as Casey Williams and Trevor Nichol handed out medals and plaques to the best home brewers in the, well, the world as winners were announced as far away as Europe.

Harmon Brewing Co. and Mash teamed up to sponsor Aroma of Tacoma, but Williams and Nichol ran the show, inviting home brewers to brew beers in 23 beer styles using handcrafted products, containing ingredients available to the general public and made using private equipment by hobbyist brewers. Saturday, July 19, judges gathered at the Harmon Hub in Tacoma's Stadium District and sampled the "brew"-testant's beers. It was a BJCP sanctioned home brewing competition with Pro-Am selections.

Saturday morning, the regional home brewers gathered in the Garden to drink beer before 11 a.m. and laugh their asses off as Tacoma home brewers Williams and Nichol announced the winners. The names given to the home brews were freakin' hilarious. Here is the list of winners:

2014 Aroma of Tacoma HomeBrew Championship Winners

Pro/Am Selections

(Brewer's Name - Entry Name - Commercial Brewery - Style)

#1 - Randall Breedlove - The Geek - Tacoma Brewing Co. - IPA

#2 - Tim Frommer - C. D. Saison - Engine House No. 9 - Saison

#3 - Tony Ochsner - Waimea Blood Orange Pale Ale - The RAM - American Pale Ale

#4 - Jay Walker and Shawn Anderson - Hop Denim - Harmon Brewing Co. - Double IPA

#5 - Dioni De Morena - Die Wasp - Wingman Brewers - Kolsch

Light Lagers/Hybrids

(Place - Brewer's Name - Entry Name - Style - Club)

1st - Dioni De Morena - Die Wasp - Kolsch - Cascade Brewers Guild

2nd - Garth Donald - Forgotten Brew - Blonde Ale - Regicidre Brewing

3rd - Ernie Smith - DABble - Dortmunder Export - IBU (Intellectual Brewers Union)

Maillard Duck

(Place - Brewer's Name - Entry Name - Style - Club)

1st - Tony Ochsner - Black Dog - Schwarzbier - Chop & Brew

2nd - Chris Tracy - Marzen - Oktoberfest/Marzen

Ales of the British Isles

1st - Tony Ochsner - Talli The Timid - Mild - Chop & Brew

2nd - Jeffrey French - Frenchy's Bitter - Standard/Ordinary Bitter

3rd - Dioni De Morena - Highlands Calf - Scottish Light 60 - Cascade Brewers Guild

Freedom Ales

1st - Mark Aichele - 5280 Pale Ale - American Pale Ale

2nd - Andrew Czarniak - Red Right Returning - American Amber Ale - Bay Area Mashers

3rd - Mathew Wisner - Breakfast For Dinner - American Brown Ale

The Darkness

1st - Ken Buckley - Chocolate Covered Espresso Bean Stout - Foreign Extra Stout - Impaling Alers

2nd - Andrew Czarniak - Post Captain - Brown Porter - Bay Area Mashers

3rd - Brian Heckard - Vladimir Putin American Stout - American Stout

Wolf of the Willows

1st - Jay Walker - Hop Denim - Imperial IPA     

2nd - Patrick Dutmers - Super Sim IPA - American IPA     

3rd - Daniel Christensen - End Of The Line IPA - American IPA - IBU (Intellectual Brewers Union)

Battle of the Bulge

1st - Charles Macaluso - Big Dipper - Belgian Specialty Ale     

2nd - Tim Frommer - C.D. Saison - Saison    Cascade Brewers Guild

3rd - Chris Tracy - Stable Boy Summer Session Saison - Saison     

Honorable Mention - Steve Taylor - Bigfoot Belgian Pale Ale - Belgian Pale Ale

Belgian Strong/Strong Ales

1st - Kevin Blaylock - Bromance Barleywine - English Barleywine    Headlock Brewing

2nd - Dioni De Morena - Red Bulldog - American Barleywine - Cascade Brewers Guild

3rd - Brian Heckard - Garbo Golden Ale - Belgian Golden Strong Ale


1st - Ernie Smith - G Ma's Porch - Fruit Beer - IBU (Intellectual Brewers Union)

2nd - Charles Macaluso - Barking Dog Of The Hair - Wood-Aged Beer     

3rd - Darren Gordon - Bourbon Barrel Vanilla Russian Imperial Stout     Wood-Aged Beer     

Honorable Mention - Nicholas Marianetti - Ginger Kumquat Saison - Fruit Beer

The Kitchen Sink

1st - Gregory Marlor - Vitis Vinifera - Specialty Beer - CHUG

2nd - James Frazer - Spruce Springsteen - Specialty Beer - Hill City Homebrewers

3rd - Daniel Christensen - Symphony - Specialty Beer - IBU

Filed under: New Beer Column, Awards, Tacoma,

July 26, 2014 at 10:25am

Olympia Brewfest hosts regional breweries for Aug. 2 festival

The Olympia Brewfest returns to the scenic Port Plaza on the waterfront of Budd's Inlet's West Bay Saturday, Aug. 2. Courtesy photo

Over the years, I've been to a lot of beer festivals. Many of them boast, "146+ beers from 73 breweries!" Those are the ones I now avoid. Much like Austin's SXSW Music Festival these days, long lines can eliminate my enthusiasm.

To me, a beer festival is about three things:

1. Sampling rare and one-off beers,

2. Reconnecting with and meeting new people in the beer world, and/or

3. Seeing the latest crazy beer-centric T-shirts.

Olympia Brewfest is right up my alley. It will host 34 or so regional breweries, each pouring two beers - definitely enough in a seven-hour period, and it promises to provide a more intimate atmosphere than I'd get at the bigger fests. It reminds me of the Gig Harbor Beer Festival in May, which was a blast.

"A committee and I handpicked these breweries," says Mike Marohn, Olympia Brewfest founder and director. "We tasted all the beers, including beers from the 12 or so breweries we turned away."

Marohn has his sights on being the best beer festival in Washington state, in terms of quality. It's all about the beer. And, he knows beer. A beer drinker well before the craft brew explosion, he would often visit his friend at the Olympia Brewing Company's taproom, and drink his favorite Olympia Dark beer.

"When the Schmidt family owned the brewery in the 1970s and early '80s, the brewery was using thirty-two yeasts," says Marohn. "When Pabst Brewing Company bought in 1999, the yeast count when down to six."

Today, Marohn has part ownership in two breweries - Top Rung Brewing in Lacey and Unknown Brewery Company in North Carolina. Brad Shell, who worked for Terrapin Beer Co. in Georgia, Rogue Ales in Oregon and Fish Brewery in Olympia, left Fish last year to open Unknown in Charlotte.

"Brad had many tips on how to run a beer festival, and I listened before launching the inaugural Olympia Brewfest in 2012," says Marohn.

In August 2011, Marohn was gazing at the Port of Olympia Plaza from his office building, watching the annual Sand in the City celebration. He thought, "This would be an excellent spot for a beer festival."

The Olympia Brewfest returns to the scenic Port Plaza on the waterfront of Budd's Inlet's West Bay Saturday, Aug. 2. Eight brewery booths will butt up against Anthony's Homeport Restaurant, with another 16 facing the water by the Market Place Building and a tent by the amphitheater with 10 or so additional breweries. Marv's Marvulus BBQ, O'Blarney's Irish Pub, Lucky Eagle, Blend Café and other restaurants will serve food by the fence. DBST funkadelic rock band, Beyond The Fringe and Endangered Species will provide the drinking soundtrack on a stage close to the tower.

The festival runs from 1 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 2. Admission is $25 in advance and includes 6 tickets (each ticket is a 5.5-ounce pour), which includes a commemorative mug. Tickets will be $30 at the gate. Additional drink cards for six more tastes will be available for $8. Designated driver tickets are $5.

Funds raised by the Olympia Brewfest will assist the Thurston County Chamber Foundation's Small Business Development Program. Fish Brewing of Olympia and Top Rung Brewing from Hawks Prairie are contributing sponsors to the event. Other South Sound breweries include Kastellan Brauerei, Three Magnets Brewing, 7 Seas Brewing, Dick's Brewing, Narrows Brewing and Whitewood Cider.

For current info, visit the event Facebook page. And if you go, hit up the Twitters at #OlyBrewfest and say hi if you see me.

As of this writing, there are 34 breweries signed up to pour at the 2014 Olympia Brewfest:


Filed under: New Beer Column, Olympia,

July 25, 2014 at 3:06pm

Beer:45 - Time for Kim Archer and Elysian's Night Owl Pumpkin Ale

Kim Archer's "My Friend" 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 regional 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 looks exhausted. The 2014 Best of Tacoma issue got the best of him. Plus, his whole "I'm not going to get a haircut until the Best of Tacoma is on the street" probably wasn't his best move. Right now, he's kicked back in his chair, half asleep as this year's "Best Band" winner Kim Archer's "My Friend" song is cranked, with a Elysian Brewing Night Owl Pumpkin Ale half-cocked in his hand.

"Kim Archer's music is a mixture of blues, soul and classic rock licks," writes Rev. Adam McKinney, describing Archer in this week's 2014 Best of Tacoma issue, which is on the street. "A typical live performance of hers will feature plenty of lively covers and heartfelt originals. She's not breaking the mold, exactly, but her presence and delivery has garnered her a passionate fan base. The community of singer-songwriters and their fans has always been a tight-knit one in Tacoma, with more than their share of supportive open mics and bars that tend toward the blues and the folk.

"I'm honored to be voted best band," says Archer in the article. "I think, when it comes down to a decision being made by the readers and the voters, it's extra special. It feels really awesome."

In regards to the Kim Archer song Pappi is listening to today, "My Friend," it's the title song on her 2011 CD.

"It's about the connection you have with people over time ... no matter how far away you are, or how long it's been since you've seen them," Archer says. "I wrote it for my mother, who is my best friend."


Elysian Brewing Co. in Seattle sent Pappi an early release of their Night Owl Pumpkin Ale, scheduled to hit the shelves and taps Aug. 1. Elysian brewed over seven pounds of Oregon pumpkin per barrel, and includes seven different malt varieties, green and roasted pumpkin seeds, Magnum hops and pumpkin in the mash, boil and fermenter. It's definitely pumpkin forward, but the conditioning of allspice, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and ginger shines. This pumpkin brew is easy drinking at 5.9 percent ABV.

Pappi has a smile on his face.

July 24, 2014 at 1:01pm

Harmon Tap Room Reserve Series beers announced, including a tribute to John O'Gara

Harmon Tap Room Reserve Series beers will be available at its Progressive Party July 26. Photo courtesy of Facebook

It's a big weekend for Harmon Brewing Company. Saturday marks the official merging of its two St. Helens neighborhood sister restaurants Harmon Tap Room and The Hub into one giant beer complex. In celebration, a "Progressive Party" will be thrown from 1-6 p.m., where those who pay $15 may meet head brewer Jeff Carlson and his crew, drink specialty beers, taste the new menu, sample desserts from Harmon's new in-house baker and, of course, hug a Harmon employee. Space is limited; grab your tickets at The Hub and Harmon Tap Room. Harmon will also unveil its Hop Coffee enterprise at the party. Hop Coffee will operate out of the Harmon Tap Room, serving Bluebeard Coffee Roasters espresso accented with Harmon beer reduction syrups. If that wasn't enough, the party will also take time out for the Harmon and Tacoma homebrewing supplier MASH to hand out awards for their homebrewing competition, Aroma of Tacoma.


In regards to the "specialty beers" available during the Progressive Party, head brewer Jeff Carlson has released the goods. The following Harmon Tap Room Reserve Series beers will be available Saturday, and will remain on tap at the Harmon Tap Room after the party.

In honor of John O'Gara, the ParkWay Tavern's long-time manager who passed away this past spring, Carlson has brewed the Old John Barrel Blend; an old ale brewed with Pale 2-Row, Dark Munich, Crystal 15 and a little 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 ParkWay Tavern also has a little shindig on Saturday.

The second Harmon beer is the Left Handed Nomad, which was brewed for the anniversary of the Tacoma Rugby Club. It's a hoppy light bodied blonde ale with citrus, melon and tropical/fruity flavors and aromas. The flavors and aromas come from five different hop varieties - Sterling, Amarillo, Centennial, Cascade and Citra. The grains Carlson used to balance the beer out and create its wonderful color were 2-row pale, a German Pilsner malt, Carahell and White Wheat. It rings in at 5.1 ABV and 35 IBUs.

The third release is its Super Samurai; a single hop barleywine featuring Sorachi Ace hops. Name appropriately, this barleywine is big, bold and aggressive with 11 percent ABV and 102 IBUs.

Fourth, its Cascadian Dark Ale Black Tartan will be in the house. The full-bodied IPA is brewed with six different malted barleys and chocolate wheat, and hops Colombus, Amarillo, Simcoe and Zythos for the dry-hop. Harmon's Black Tartan grabbed a silver medal at the 2014 Washington Beers Awards for its combination of roasted malts with citrusy and piney hop notes. If you can't decide between a stout and an IPA, chose this combination of booth. It rings in at 7.4 percent ABV and 84 IBUs. Only one keg remains, so Saturday may be your only chance.

Finally, the Reserve Series Barrel Aged Saison is Harmon's latest release in its Tap Room Reserve Series of beers. The Mt. Takhoma Blonde is the base of this beer, fermented and aged in a wine barrel, with two different strains of Saison yeast. While fermenting in the barrel Carlson also added some candied Ginger and three different tea blends from Ubis in Tacoma. Expect a combination of aromas and flavors with a slight tart and dry finish. It rings in at 5 percent ABV and 18 IBUs.

There you go. There's Carlson's summer gift to you.

HOP COFFEE OPENING/PROGRESSIVE PARTY/AROMA OF TACOMA AWARDS, 1-6 p.m., Saturday, July 26, Harmon Tap Room/The Hub, 204 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, 253.212.2725

Filed under: New Beer Column, Tacoma,

July 23, 2014 at 6:27am

ParkWay Tavern to celebrate 79th birthday, youngest employee tells all

Happy 7th birthday ParkWay Tavern!

Back in the days before new taproom arrivals were noted in Tweets and brewers dropping off kegs morphed into four-course beer and food pairing events, there was the ParkWay Tavern, nestled in Tacoma's North Slope Historic District. The classic neighborhood bar still stands, surrounded by historic homes and fronting a busy street. In fact, the ParkWay looks pretty good for turning 79 Saturday. Sure, It went through a slight facelift eight years ago, adding the brick patio and party lounge to gain back some youth. But, you certainly won't find a restroom with fancy-schmancy bathroom fixtures that look like the bastard offspring of the IKEA catalog.

In the grand scheme of things, the craft beer industry is still young, and the new pubs and taprooms showcase that youth with slick designs and huge wooden communal tables. The ParkWay grew into the craft beer industry, serving pitchers of Bridgeport IPA for those trying to play pool with warped sticks in the early 2000s. Over the years, the tavern has been home to the area's most knowledgeable beer aficionados, including Barry Watson (now co-owner of Pint Defiance with wife, Renee) and John O'Gara, the 52-year-old ParkWay long-time manager who passed away from health issues this past spring (RIP). Jeff Fraychineaud still owns the joint (as well as the Corner Bar four blocks away). Bartender Sean Jackson moved into O'Gara's management position, but still can match wits when bartender Nicholas Brosier turns it on (here's proof).

The ParkWay is good. It's secure with its age. It proudly shows its wrinkles, and flaunts it with historic Tacoma prints and retro beer signage covering the walls. The latest and greatest craft beers line up behind the bar. It's where the service industry and alcohol reps drink, as well as those beyond walking distance. And, it's going to sing happy birthday loud and strong Saturday, although doctors are on call at nearby Tacoma General.

The ParkWay's "79th Birthday Partay" includes a "Badass Tacomacentric Beer Line Up," a beer garden in its backyard, Chad's BBQ out front, punkgrass band Rusty Cleavers jammin' around 3 p.m., Mr. Gibson's FroYo Wagon pulls up around 4, plus the release of the new ParkWay Tavern hoodies.

One of the proudest at the party has only worked there three months, the day shift on the weekends. Former Tacoma School of the Arts student and once Weekly Volcano intern Emily Meyers is 56 years younger than the tavern, "but we get along just fine despite the age difference" she says.

I caught up with Meyers before Saturday's big bash.

WEEKLY VOLCANO: Why did you choose the ParkWay Tavern to sling beers and food?

EMILY MEYERS: I had actually been a patron of the ParkWay before I started working there. It was a favorite spot when I was living on I Street. Even when I moved out of the area I would still ride my bicycle down for a drink and a bite to eat. I thought it was a homey tavern with really amazing and sweet bartenders.

VOLCANO: What are your favorite ParkWay experiences so far?

MEYERS: My favorite experiences so far, because I anticipate many more to come, have been getting to know my weekend regulars. They are a varied and interesting bunch to say the least. I also loved being a part of World Cup mayhem, groups of boisterous fans keeping me on my toes as a new bartender. Being hired when I did has allowed me to get to know the ParkWay in the summertime: patio plus puppies and craft beer make for a wonderful first bartending experience.

VOLCANO: I have been capitalizing the "W" in ParkWay to match the sign in front of the building. Condemn or allow?

MEYERS: I'll allow it! The snazzier you can get with the ParkWay the better.

VOLCANO: How cool is bartender Katie Lowery?

MEYERS: On a scale of one to ten? Freaking fantastic. Best sense of humor and so chill.

VOLCANO: What's the craziest thing you seen longtime ParkWay bartender Nicholas Brosier do?

MEYERS: Oh my gosh, where do I start? I would have to say when he confiscated a light-up "disco stick" and proceeded to pull a Gandalf. He basically twirled it then slammed it down and yelled, "Though shall not sass!"

VOLCANO: What's your favorite piece of art hanging on the wall?

MEYERS: My favorite picture has to be the one above the middle booth by the pool table. It's of a kindly looking barkeep with the biggest handlebar mustache. He reminds me so much of Jordan (the fiancé). Even one of his friends said, "Look Jordan, it's a picture of you when you're older!" A close second is the long sign above the entrance to the pool table stating that the liver is evil and must be punished.

VOLCANO: When you're off duty, what beer do you take out to the ParkWay's front patio?

MEYERS: I'm usually drinking any amber or saison I can get my hands on. I like something that's different with a lot of flavor.

Thanks Emily. Happy birthday, ParkWay Tavern! Here's to another 79.

PARKWAY'S 79th BIRTHDAY PARTAY, 2 p.m. to close, ParkWay Tavern, 313 N. I St., Tacoma, 253.383.8748

Filed under: New Beer Column, Tacoma,

July 21, 2014 at 10:15am

Beer Here: Clusterf#ck tasting at Cooper Point Public House in Olympia

Claire Tenenbaum keeps Double Mountain Brewery beers flowing in the South Sound. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Hop growing in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States is a proud tradition dating back to the late 19th century. Ideal growing conditions and highly skilled producers make our region home to some of the finest hops in the world.

The Late Cluster hop is the oldest American variety grown continuously in the Northwest. Known as the Pacific Coast Cluster, it was widely grown at the turn of the century and was the leading cultivar, until the decline of acreage in California and Oregon was counter-balanced with the growth of the hop industry in Washington, where the Early Cluster became dominant. Until the late 1970s, Cluster was one of only a few varieties growing in the U.S. and accounted for most of the country's hop acreage.  It is an excellent general-purpose hop with well-balanced bittering potential and aroma properties. The storage stability of its alpha acids is among the best in the world.

Today, Crystal, Chinook, Centennial, Cascade and Citra are the hop varietals currently en vogue at craft breweries across the nation.

What about Cluster?

Cluster is not grown in the capacity it once was, it has faced a similar fate as many varieties falling to the shadows of the more bitter hops previously mentioned. Cluster's flavor profile and bitterness ranking make it ideal for moderately light ales. Still, Cluster production in Washington state has grown by 45 percent in the last five years.

Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom in Hood River, Ore., is a fan of this early American hero hop. Cluster is the star in the brewery's seasonal Clusterf#ck Single Hop IPA, which has been released mid-June since 2011. Claire Tenenbaum, who has been with Double Mountain for the last four years, lived in Hood River for the first three, but now lives in Tacoma, held the beer's Western Washington release during a brewer's night at The Copper Door in Tacoma's Stadium District June 26.

"We use the Cluster in every stage of the brewing process - in the kettle, the hop oil and again in the fermenter for dry-hopping - so you're going to get delicate floral note at the top, the nose of the citrus on the hop side, and this really delicate bitter hop at the end. It's real clean, at 7.3, with an 85 IBU," explains Tenenbaum.

Pilsner and honey malts are used to form the baseline.

Dipping the nose in the pint, I'm hit with malt, citrus zest and grapefruit juice. Taste is much the same with citrus zest, grapefruit juice and slight herbal hop flavors on the finish. It is, indeed, clean, with a slightly crisp mouth feel. This is a delicious, IPA porch rocking chair sipper.

"This year's Cluster has a sunny glow, and it dried out really well. It's cluckful of flusters, and with the dryness the hop aroma really pops," says brewer and Double Mountain proprietor Matt Coughlin in a release. Obviously, I had to include the quote in this column.

Tenenbaum will be pouring Clusterf#ck Single Hop IPA from 6-9 p.m. Wednesday, July 23 at the Cooper Point Public House in West Olympia. She'll also pour Double Mountain Brewery's Kolsch-In Cologne (unfiltered and generously hopped), Homestead-Orange (drinkable Northwest pale ale) and Lil Red Pils (generous amounts of Vienna and Munich malts with Yakima-grown noble hops).

If you can't make the Double Mountain Brewer's Night at Cooper Point Public House, you can find Clusterf#ck in Olympia at Eastside Club Tavern and Total Wine & More; in Tacoma at Dorky's Arcade, Pint Defiance, The Copper Door, Tacoma Boys and Total Wine and More; in Bonney Lake at NW Caps N Taps; and the Total Wine & More in Puyallup, just to name a few.


Wednesday, July 23

The Rainy Daze Brewing folks will hang at the Puyallup River Alehouse in downtown Puyallup from 6-9 p.m. Brew master Mike Montoney will be there. Glassware giveaways and raffle prizes induce more daze.

Sierra Nevada will drop by The Swiss Restaurant and Pub in downtown Tacoma for a Brewers Night from 6-9 p.m. The Hoptmum Imperial IPA and New Developed Hop IPA have been released. Will they pour at The Swiss?

Uinta Brewing will take one down and pass it around at 99 Bottles in Federal Way from 5-7 p.m. West Coast sales guy Joe Mastrorocco will be in the house.

Thursday, July 24

The Copper Door in Tacoma's Stadium District hosts those pioneers from Alaskan Brewing Co. beginning at 6 p.m.

See Also

Cooper Point Public House strives for Northwest feel

Filed under: New Beer Column, Olympia,

July 19, 2014 at 1:00pm

Beer Saturday: E9 Berliner Fest, Rainy Daze, Narrows Brewing party ...

Narrows Brewing Co. celebrates its first anniversary with a party tonight.

Today's weather forecast in the South Sound calls for cloudy and partly cloudy skies through the night. Today's beer forecast calls for ...

Engine House No. 9 has tapped the kegs for its Berliner Fest, an event celebrating German sour beers.  Fourteen plus beers Berliner Weisse and Gose are on tap, which includes the E9 Tacoma Weiss with peach and golden raspberry variants. Read the full story on Berliner Fest here.

The Harmon Brewing Co. and Mash Homebrew Supply have teamed up to host "Aroma of Tacoma," a Beer Judge Certification Program sanctioned home brewing competition with Pro-Am selections. Saturday, judges will gather at the Harmon Hub in Tacoma's Stadium District and sample the "brew"-testant's beers in a morning and afternoon session.

Rainy Daze Brewing from Silverdale takes over the taps at Morso in Gig Harbor beginning at noon. Expect the Mind Funk, gold medal Hypocrite Double IPA. Pourhouse IPA, silver medal Rainy Rye IPA and English Pale to take the attention away from Morso's plethora of wine. Rainy Daze brew master Mike Montoney will hang from 1-4 p.m. There's a $5 cover.

Narrows Brewing will host a one-year anniversary party titled "Breakers Ball" from 6-11 p.m. Stephanie Anne Johnson will perform. Local food trucks and vendors will be on site. Read my interview with Narrows' head brewer Joe Walts in the New Beer Column.

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,

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Any Spring beers?

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