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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 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.

August 27, 2014 at 1:50pm

Nabbing a Nammy Sammy in Olympia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tournament of Sandwiches

Filed under: Real Deal, Olympia,

August 19, 2014 at 2:15pm

Cafe and music venue Obsidian to replace Jezebels in Olympia

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

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

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

WEEKLY VOLCANO: First, why the name Obsidian?

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

VOLCANO: How did this opportunity arise?

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

VOLCANO: What is your plan for Obsidian?

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

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

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

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

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

VOLCANO: When is your first show?

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

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

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

VOLCANO: Anything else you feel compelled to say?

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

Opening is slated for Oct 3. A website will launch soon. In the meantime, visit For booking inquiries, go to To send them a virtual hug, go to

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

August 18, 2014 at 11:16am

Tumwater Artesian Brewfest pays tribute to city's gaming history

Beer Pong is Tumwater. Courtesy photo

Entertainment has always been a keystone of Tumwater's identity. Even in the mid-1800s, when it was little more than a dusty pioneer town, Tumwater was a lively place, with no shortage of games.

Michael T. Simmons, who along with other pioneers who founded what would become Tumwater, invented beer pong. After working all day at the grist and saw mills, Simmons and the gents would ride their horses to downtown New Market, their settlement centered on the Deschutes River and Tumwater Falls, and set up a beer pong game in the middle of the street. They'd toss pebbles into tin cans full of beer, shouting "It's the water!" when the pebble found the bottom of the can, although research doesn't reveal why such a phrase was shouted.

In the 1850s, right around the time New Market became Tumwater, a nod to the glorious Tumwater Falls, the lumberjacks would gather on Sunday afternoons, pour beer into their dented tin cans and create challenges out of wood scraps. Stuffing the most wood into trousers soon gave way to deconstructing towers of wood pieces piece by piece until it collapsed, sending the culprit to the outhouse they all lovingly called the "Time Out." Reigning champion Jed Jenga dubbed the game "Stack 'Em Up, Knock 'Em Down."

Nov. 25, 1869, Tumwater was officially incorporated as a town. In celebration, the town folk tossed their "New Market" embroidered fanny packs in the trash tins. In keeping with the rich community tradition of games, those who could hit the tiny hole from faraway distances would win pretzel necklaces. At the end of the year, the champion would receive a big floppy hat and oversized sunglasses.

In the summer of 1895, Montana brewer Leopold F. Schmidt discovered Tumwater's artisan springs, shelled out $4,550 for property and within a year built five buildings by the Deschutes River comprising the Capital Brewery - a four-story wooden brewhouse, five-story cellar building, one-story ice factory, bottling/keg plant and, of course, a game hut. History hasn't been kind to the game hut; only verbal history has kept its existence alive. 

The Capital Brewing Company became the Olympia Brewing Co. in 1902, marketing its artisan water excellence with the slogan "It's the Water" for their flagship brand, Olympia Beer.

Prohibition messed with Oly Brewing's good life, the game hut fell victim to the emerging social gaming leader Milton Bradley and the property exchanged hands several times, as well as other historical tidbits of note.

I relay the Tumwater history lesson to prove Saturday's Tumwater Artesian Brewfest isn't a celebration of the city's rich beer history, but rather a re-boot of the city's gaming roots. Yes, 30 Pacific Northwest breweries will line the Tumwater Valley Golf Course's driving range, but the spotlights will shine on the events consuming most of the green grass - games. The beer festival folks present Beer Stein Holding Contest (men and women divisions), First Tee's Hole in One Contest, supersized beer pong, cornhole, volleyball, giant Jenga as well as a ride on a Mechanical Shark. I'm not prepared to make waves with Tumwater's notorious mechanical shark history. I have mouths to feed.

"Supersized Beer Pong is not an organized activity, it is just open to whoever is wanting to play," explains Jennifer Leach, special projects and event manager with the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau, as well as the producer of the Tumwater Artesian Brewfest. "The game is played with twelve red garbage cans and two volleyballs, following regular beer pong rules - however, it is difficult to remove the cups so they pretty much stay put."

No doubt Michael T. Simmons smiles from above.

"Beer Stein Holding Contest contestants line up and must hold a one-liter stein, filled with Olympia Beer, straight out in front of them," explains Leach. "There is no supporting of the arm allowed, and no bending or leaning of the body. The last one holding their stein wins."

Obviously, this game is borrowed from Germany. I have submitted a FOIA request.

"The hole-in-one contest is 168 yards long; prize still to be determined," says Leach. "There will be footballs, Frisbees and other balls available for play; however, there is no organized game. There will also be volleyball nets and cornhole games set up - everything is very casual, much like a backyard barbecue."

The Mechanical Shark wasn't discussed. Not shocking.

The Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau's hope was to create an environment where there is plenty to do besides tasting beer, wine and cider, especially for those people who are the designated drivers for the group or simply don't (gasp) enjoy beer.

"The reason we have so many activities is that we wanted to be unique from other beer festivals or brew fests, providing things to do besides standing or sitting and tasting beer," explains Leach. We wanted to create a fun environment to appeal to the 21 to 35 crowd. However, people of all (drinking) ages will certainly have a great time at the event, especially with such a wide range of activities.

Leach disputes gaming lead to the creation of the Tumwater Artesian Brewfest, which was renamed from the last year's Tumwater Oktoberfest.

"The idea of Tumwater Artesian Brewfest originated with the desire to celebrate Tumwater's brewing history, as the former home of Olympia Beer," says Leach. "That is why in addition to all the microbrews available, we will have Olympia Beer on tap, to honor the former Olympia Brewing Company's impact on the Tumwater community."

The Visitor Bureau's goal was to host Pacific Northwest breweries, so Leach and the committee hand-selected breweries from Washington and Oregon. South Sound breweries pitching booths on the driving range include 7 Seas Brewing, Dick's Brewing Co., Fish Brewing Company, Harmon Brewing Co., Kastellan Brauerei, Narrows Brewing Co., Three Magnets Brewing Co., Top Rung Brewing Co. and Wingman Brewers. Olympia Beer will make its way north from Los Angeles, thanks to the Pabst Brewing Co. Oregon breweries including 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Base Camp Brewing Co., Full Sail Brewing Co., GoodLife Brewing and Pelican Brewing Co.

Tickets are $20, $15 military and $10 designated driver before Aug. 22, increasing by $5 each at the gate. Five taste tokens and a 6-ounce plastic glass will be your award, with an additional buck for each additional tasting. There will also be 12-ounce souvenir glasses for sale. Tickets are available at, or at the Bureau, 103 Sid Snyder Ave. SW in Olympia.

So Saturday, as you hurl an enormous ball into enormous cups, you and Tumwater founder Michael T. Simmons will be united on this earth, caught in the dance of pioneer vision and jovial drinking games. "It's the water!"

TUMWATER ARTESIAN BREWFEST, 1-8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23, Tumwater Valley Golf Course, 4611 Tumwater Valley Dr. SE, Tumwater, $10-$25,

Tumwater Artesian Brewfest breweries (as of Aug. 18)

  • 7 Seas Brewing Co. • Gig Harbor, WA
  • 10 Barrel Brewing Company •  Bend, OR
  • Bainbridge Island Brewing • Bainbridge Island, WA
  • Base Camp Brewing Company • Portland, OR
  • Brickyard Brewing • Woodinville, WA
  • Dick's Brewing Company • Centralia, WA
  • Fish Brewing Company • Olympia, WA
  • Fremont Brewing Company • Seattle, WA
  • Full Sail Brewing Company • Hood River, OR
  • GoodLife Brewing • Bend, OR
  • Hales Brewery • Ballard, WA
  • Harmon Brewery • Tacoma, WA
  • Iron Horse Brewery • Ellensburg, WA
  • Kastellan Brauerei • Lacey, WA
  • Madsen Family Cellars • Lacey, WA
  • Narrows Brewing • Tacoma, WA
  • NoLi Brewhouse • Spokane, WA
  • Northwest Mountain Winery • Lacey, WA
  • Olympia Beer • Los Angeles, CA
  • Orlison Brewing Co. • Airway Heights, WA
  • Pelican Brewing Co. • Pacific Beach, OR
  • Port Townsend Brewing Company • Port Townsend, WA
  • Scatter Creek Winery • Tenino, WA
  • Seapine Brewing Company • Seattle, WA
  • Stottle Winery • Lacey, WA
  • Three Magnets Brewing Company • Olympia, WA
  • Top Rung Brewing Company • Lacey, WA
  • Westport Brewing Co. • Westport, WA
  • Whitewood Cider Co. • Olympia, WA
  • Wingman Brewers • Tacoma, WA
Filed under: New Beer Column, Olympia,

August 4, 2014 at 9:44am

Served Blog Banner Girl: Q&A with Hana Klimek of Cooper Point Public House

Cooper Point Public House server Hana Klimek is a hoot. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

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

Server Banner Girl, Aug. 4-10, 2014

Hana Klimek

Hana Klimek has been with Cooper Point Public House since it opened in January 2014. Actually, after she answered a craigslist ad, she helped owners Sam and Melissa Rasmussen and Sam's mother, Catherine Kathrein, convert El Nopal Mexican restaurant on Olympia's Westside into the Northwest-style public house in December 2013. Klimek is still at Cooper Point, serving craft beers, pours from small-scale distilleries and a tasty "Dish Pit Burger" with a big smile.

Why do you serve?

"I serve because I love people! That being said, Cooper Point Public House is owned and operated by some of the best people I know. Going to work never feels like a chore; it's a team effort and I always feel like I'm surrounded by family." 

Who is your favorite server in the South Sound?

"Natalya Gimson at Vic's Pizzeria. I have tremendous respect for all the ladies and gents preparing as well as serving food in a pizzeria. I know it can't be easy and I appreciate hard work when I see it." 

What are you most proud to serve?

"Anything and everything on our menu. Among my personal favorites are our Caesar with calamari and our delicious crab cakes."

What's your current drink of choice?

"Kentucky Mule. It's the drink that introduced me to bourbon. Enough said." 

Favorite movie?

"Jaws. Saw the film around the age of 4, and my fear grew into fascination quickly. ... Thanks Dad!" 

What don't you serve?

"Funky fake food. I am proud to be a part of a restaurant that serves quality food and drinks. I love our menu because we really have something for everyone and the food is as genuine as the people who prepare it."

What's on your radar at Cooper Point Public House?

"My radar? I'm just the daygirl. My advice, get to the Point!"

LINK: Meet other South Sound servers

Filed under: Served Banner Models, Olympia,

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

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 24, 2014 at 3:54pm

"Extreme Chef" winner Chef Amadeus cooking at Olympia's Budd Bay Cafe the next two nights

Chef Amadeus / photo courtesy of Facebook

Remember Extreme Chef? The Food Network produced the show for two seasons (2011-12) where seven chefs were forced into extreme and grueling culinary challenges after being dropped into extreme locations, with one contestant being "thrown off the island," so to speak, each week. Hosted by world traveler Marsh Mokhtari, three chefs competed at a time, often swimming across a lake for ingredients then cooking on a car engine while a bear mauled them in a dust storm. At the end, the winner got to kill the losers with his or her bare hands, or something.

Anyway, Chef Amadeus, the winner of Extreme Chef season one, will be cooking at Budd Bay Café in Olympia tonight and tomorrow night, invited by the Thurston County Visitors and Convention Bureau.

Chef Amadeus grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., cooking with his grandmother who was from Puerto Rico and mother from Philadelphia. He honed his skills in the Navy beginning in the mid-'80s. On a visit to the Pacific Northwest, Chef Amadeus fell in love with the freshness of our food and wine country. He now visits our area April through September, often a chef for hire in people's homes.

Obviously, Chef Amadeus will cook a couple specialty dishes the next two nights. If the Big One finally hits our area, rest assured Chef Amadeus can handle it and deliver your meals. Nothing rocks Chef Amadeus.

BUDD BAY CAFÉ, 525 Columbia St. NW, Olympia, 360.357.6963

Filed under: Olympia, What’s Cooking,

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,

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Any Spring beers?

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