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August 15, 2014 at 10:30am

Mac and Cheese Madness: Red Robin

Red Robin adds mac and cheese to its pork riblets. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Someone got their ribs in my mac and cheese! And that someone has a beak.

In the South, mac and cheese often accompanies barbecue ribs. It's as common and someone sticking their chocolate in peanut butter, or something. Red Robin, the local franchise that built its reputation on gourmet burgers, offers the Southern combination ($13.99) - meaning, like many Southerners, it treats its mac and cheese as a vegetable.

The ribs are the star of this dish, although a diminutive star. They're riblets - tiny tender triple S pork riblets. The meat fell off the bone and into my smile.

The mac and cheese, with its three Italian cheese sauce of Romano, Parmesan and assaigo, was topped with half-melted shredded mild cheddar. It felt and tasted like a sidedish.

RED ROBIN, various locations including close to Tacoma Mall, Lakewood Towne Center and two Puyallup locations, redrobin.com

August 11, 2014 at 2:39pm

The resurgence of Tacoma's beer legacy

Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. founders Steve Navarro, left, and Brent Hall began brewing beer July 30 at their downtown Tacoma brewery. Photo courtesy of pacificbrewingandmalting.com/photographer Jeremy Leffel

As far back as when Job Carr stirred wort alongside the banks of Commencement Bay, our city has had a love affair with beer. It is only natural that with a mix of working class Scandinavians, Austria/Hungarians and Germans that someone (if not everyone) would be mixing their own home brew.

In pre-prohibition Tacoma, the brewery district housed Heidelberg, Milwaukee and Pacific Brewing and Malting companies. Today, we have new local favorites such as Tacoma Brewing Company, Narrows Brewing and Wingman Brewers creating flavorful brews and bringing beer pride to the City of Destiny - and more are on the horizon.

Tacoma's Brewery District

The area between South 17th Street to South Tacoma Way on the east side of downtown was once home to some of the most productive and influential beer making facilities of the pre-prohibition Northwest. Today, the area contains warehouses and storage facilities with its former breweries in derelict condition or demolished in the name of progress (I'm looking at you, Holiday Inn.)

According to BreweryGems.com, one of the first breweries in the area was the New Tacoma Brewery, which was established in 1884. The company changed hands in 1886, taking on the name United States Brewing & Ice Co. In 1891, the brewery changed hands again and became the first major brewery in the area, The Milwaukee Brewery. Though solely a Tacoma company, owner Samuel Loeb named his company "Milwaukee" to reflect the 19th century's award-winning breweries of the Midwest.

In 1897, Milwaukee Brewery merged with Puget Sound Brewing Company to form the Pacific Brewing and Malting Company. The building that housed PBMC still stands today at 2515 S. Holgate St.

Just as PBMC was coming together, Columbia Brewing opened its doors a few blocks away. However, both Columbia and PBMC hit hard times during the dark days of prohibition, and PBMC  closed shop in 1914 when Washington state jumped the gun and ratified prohibition six years before it was mandated by federal law. Columbia Brewing kept its doors open by producing non-alcoholic beverages. When the company came out the other side of forced temperance, it changed its name to Heidelberg Brewing.

As one of the top three breweries in the West (along with Olympia and Rainier), Heidelberg Brewing made Tacoma synonymous with beer until the 1970s, when it finally closed its doors.

>>> Wingman Brewers co-founder Ken Thoburnserved beer during Wingman's third anniversary party in April 2014. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner 

The Modern Era

"We hope to reawaken the greatness of Tacoma as a beer town like it was with big breweries like Pacific and Heidelberg, but it may not look the same as it once did," said Ken Thoburn, brewer at Wingman Brewers, brewing beer in the shadow of the Tacoma Dome. "Instead of one huge brewery serving a large area, craft beer is moving toward a hyper local kind of product."

Tap handles in every bar and restaurant around the Northwest symbolize the progress Tacoma is making toward reinvigorating its brewing traditions. Today, it isn't uncommon to find locally brewed beers next to nationally established standbys. This shows growing momentum in the acknowledgment of what local beer artisans are producing.

The resurgence started in the mid-'90s with Engine House No. 9 and the RAM Restaurant and Brewery followed by the Harmon Brewing Co. During the last 20 years, Tacoma's seen great strides in its craft beer movement with Narrows Brewing Co., Wingman Brewers and Tacoma Brewing Company. Five founders - three with local military ties - will open Odd Otter Brewing Co. on Pacific Avenue before October.

Additionally, surrounding Pierce County cities have spawned their own local flavors. Gig Harbor's 7 Seas Brewing has been making big waves since it opened in 2008. Powerhouse Brewing Company and Puyallup River Brewing offer tasty options in Puyallup.

With the assistance of Tacoma's Mash or Puyallup's Station U-Brew, the number of locally brewed concoctions coming from home brewers is growing exponentially. Who knows what mad genius is out there creating your next favorite beer?

At the 2014 Washington Beer Awards, Tacoma brought home six medals. E9 collected three. The Harmon brought home two. Wingman rounded out the showing with two medals. Notably, Puyallup (Tacoma's agrarian neighbor) had a big winner with Puyallup River Brewing grabbing three medals.

But in Tacoma, a few medals doesn't translate as a beer superpower.

>>> Harmon Brewing Co. co-owner Pat Nagle revamped his Harmon Tap Room's beer garden this spring, reopening it as the Harmon Garden last month. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

"Imagine if EVERY pub and restaurant in the greater Tacoma area always served at least three Tacoma breweries on tap all of the time. This would be a phenomenon in and of itself," said Pat Nagel, co-owner of the Harmon Brewing Co. "It would provide enough business for all of the local breweries to meet their goals for production and build loyal customers supporting local business. It's a win/win. The breweries grow, the beer scene grows, the restaurants are supporting local and benefiting from this because their customers are local and they appreciate it."      

Pacific Brewing and Malting Company Redux

In September, the Pacific Brewing and Malting Company will be reborn. Not directly affiliated with the original PBMC, the new Pacific Brewing and Malting pays homage to Tacoma's illustrious brewing past. Previously, rights to the PBMC name, logo and recipes were held by Engine House No. 9. E9 even used the PBMC motto "Best East or West" to describe its own beer during the late '90s, which it continues today. This year, Steve Navarro, with help from investors, bought the "expired" rights to the PBMC name and will be using the Pacific Brewing and Malting name to usher in its own creations.

"When we started brainstorming names for the new brewery, a friend, who also happens to be one of the original investors, thought it would be great to bring back one of the cornerstones of the original Tacoma brewing industry. Being that we live in Tacoma and appreciate its history, we naturally gravitated to Pacific Brewing and Malting Co.," explained Navarro, co-owner and head brewer.

With a number of established local brews around T-town (such as E9, Harmon, Wingman and the RAM), PBMC has a lot of recent history to live up to.

"For such a small city, Tacoma has a very sophisticated beer community that spans all ages. They know what they like, and they like quality craft beer," Navarro continued. "The brewing community here is very supportive of one another and have been a huge help for me as I have been trying to open our brewery.

"One of our flagship beers is going to be a pale lager ... (like the) company's flagship beer from 1897 to 1915, (which was) known as Pacific Beer. I entertained the idea of staying within the style of a pre-prohibition style lager, but decided to create my own interpretation of the beer," Navarro said of the similarities between the original and new PBMC. "I think that our pale lager can act as a gateway beer for those beer drinkers who are just starting to explore what craft beer is."

The New PBMC will be located at 615 Commerce St., with its brewery doors opening out to Pacific Avenue.

We All Win When There Is More Beer      

"(Tacoma is) on the verge of being a true player on the craft beer scene - like Seattle, Portland and Bend," said Nagle. "We have key people not only brewing great local craft beer, but we also have smart, hip pubs serving great local craft beer like Parkway, The Red Hot, The Swiss, The Hub, Meconi's, The Office, the Social and many others. We also have awesome people running specialty bottle shops like 99 Bottles, Pint Defiance, World Beer Tacoma and the new Copper Door near us in the Stadium District. All of this is so important in building loyal beer drinkers that really want to get to know the beers."

Whether you drink Harmon's Browns Point ESB or the Narrow's Galloping Gertie Golden Ale, it is a good time to be a beer drinker in T-town.

August 8, 2014 at 11:52am

Mac and Cheese Madness: The RAM Restaurant and Brewery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do some heavy lifting today.

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

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound

July 23, 2014 at 11:50am

Celebrate the rain with El Toro's new margaritas

El Toro now serves a Horny Margarita.

It appears we are getting this summer's entire allotment of rain all in one go. And as glad as we are for our parched earth to get the much-needed precipitation, let's face it: After all these straight days of sun all this rain is a little ... shocking?

Let's celebrate. El Toro has introduced new margaritas.

"Yes, we have new margaritas," says Ruben Arias Jr., executive manager of El Toro Restaurants, with locations in Tacoma, Puyallup, Lakewood and University Place. "Our house, Gold and Cadillac are standard and we have always served them. But the rest are new. We put this menu three weeks ago."

Blended or on the rocks, salt or no salt, classic or all fruited up - El Toro has your back today.

July 3, 2014 at 4:50pm

Beer Here: Where you are drinking this coming week in the South Sound

Happy Fourth of July!

Put on your stars and stripes and your red, white and blue: the Fourth of July is tomorrow! Here are a few upcoming South Sound beer events to ponder while you wave your sparklers in the air like you just don't care.

FRIDAY, JULY 4

If there is anything better than life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it is a national holiday falling on a Friday. So go forth South Sound this Fourth of July and pursue happiness. I'll be declaring my independence from beer garden to beer garden at Tacoma's Freedom Fair along Ruston Way. Duke's Chowder House, RAM and Katie Downs will host music stages with adjoining beer gardens.

SUNDAY, JULY 6

Pint Defiance's Sunday Beer Sampler pits the United States against England. From 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. you may drink 4-ounce pours of beers from the U.S. and England for $4.50 total. After you drink your sampler, stand up and shout the winning country.

MONDAY, JULY 7

Five days before it throws its five-year anniversary bash, Gig Harbor's 7 Seas Brewing will take over the ParkWay Tavern's taps, beginning at 5 p.m.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 9

Puyallup River Alehouse has brewer's nights scheduled through September. The downtown Puyallup face for Puyallup River Brewing's beers, as well as multiple guest beers on tap, has the marketing thing down. Next up, Backwoods Brewing Company from little ol' Carson, Wash. Head brewer Jordan Tanasse will load up the jalopy with four different Backwoods brews, plus swag for the raffle, and hit the trail for the 6-9 p.m. spotlight.

Pint Defiance hosts the Stone Brewing Co. crew from San Marcos, Calif. for a night of favorites, special brews such as the Stochasticity Project, and PD's infamous raffle from 5-7 p.m.

THURSDAY, JULY 10

While Van Halen was telling everyone to "jump," brothers Kurt and Rob Widmer opened their brewery with $50,000. It was a slow start. In 1986, the Widmer Brothers introduced their Hefeweizen to America. The rest is history. In 2008, Widmer and Red Hook merged to form what would later be titled Craft Brew Alliance, the ninth largest brewer in the nation. The Copper Door hosts a Widmer Brothers Brewer's Night from 6-9 p.m. Meet the brewer, chat beer history and drink limited release Widmer beers.

PLAN AHEAD

Gig Harbor's 7 Seas Brewing hosts its fifth year anniversary with a beer, music and food noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, July 12. This brewery knows how to party.

The Harmon Tap Room will set up a nine-hole miniature golf course and host a competition from 4-6 p.m. July 12.

Saturday, July 19 marks the one-year anniversary for Tacoma's Narrows Brewing Company. A craft beer-style party will be held at its brew house, the restored Mill Building in Narrows Marina at the bottom of 19th Street, from 6-11 p.m. Dubbed "Breakers Ball" - a fishing community reference to a favorite location off Pt. Richmond - the party will include a performance by Stephanie Anne Johnson, as well as the release of its Barrel Aged Black Saison.

June 26, 2014 at 3:13pm

Beer Weekend: Beerversary, brew dinner ... plus photos

Monkey works the taps during Double Mountain Brewery Night at The Swiss June 18. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Americans are drinking more craft beer, but they're also making more of their own at home. This is a friendly reminder the Aroma of Tacoma HomeBrew Championship competition is on, with an entry deadline of July 17.

OK, a few beer events happening over the next couple of days. ...

SATURDAY, JUNE 28

Northwest Brewing Company (1091 Valentine Ave. SE, Pacific) celebrates its second anniversary with an all-day party beginning at noon. A $5 cover lets you see a bunch of bands.

Fremont Brewing beer will flow at Morso (9014 Peacock Hill Ave., Gig Harbor) beginning at noon. Casey Gish from Fremont will be onsite from 1-4 p.m. to discuss and pour Wandering Wheat, Seasonal Summer Solstice Ale, Universale Pale Ale, Interurban IPA and Brother Imperial IPA.  There is a $5 fee per person for this event, which will be refunded with a growler fill. 

SUNDAY, JUNE 29

Brett Porter, brewmaster at Goose Island Brewery joins Jere Scott, executive chef at Stanley & Seafort's, for a five-course beer dinner at the fine-dining restaurant on the cliff above Tacoma. The cost is $69.95 per person. Reserve your spot for the 6 p.m. dinner at 253.473.7300.

Let's take a look at people drinking beer in the South Sound this past week. ...

Pint Defiance on the edge of Fircrest hosted Deschutes Brewery Wednesday, June 18. >>>

The Swiss Restaurant & Pub hosted Double Mountain Brewery Wednesday, June 18 >>>

Puyallup River Alehouse hosted Narrows Brewing Co. Wednesday, June 25 >>>

LINK: Photos from The Red Hot's re-opening on Sixth Avenue

June 26, 2014 at 2:01pm

Cooking Class Alert: HG Bistro Chef Rich at Bayview Monday

This salmon dish photo arrive with the cooking class alert.

Last night I stopped by HG Bistro, or The Goose, for its crab mac and cheese, a dish that will post in my Mac and Cheese Madness column in the near future. It's been awhile since I visited the Tuscan style, fine dining spot buried in on of Puyallup's less attractive areas. Two baseball games and a boisterous dude happy with his waterfront living situation entertained the bar.

Owner Tim Hall and his ancestors have owned the building for 45 years, from fireplace shop to the Hungry Goose Eatery and eventually HG Bistro, when Tim went from manager to owner in 2005. Instead of sandwiches and gifts, HG now serves 14-ounce Kobe New York steak from Snake River Farms ($32), Creole seafood and grits ($24), quinoa sautéed with kalamata olive salsa, shallots and zucchini-squash ($15) and a mighty tasty "Crab Mac" ($19), just to name a few.

I have Goose on the brain because I just received word HG Chef Richard Bretana will be sharing his seafood expertise at 6 p.m. Monday, June 30 at the Bayview School of Cooking in Olympia. According to Bayview hype, "Chef Rich loves to feature seasonal, local food in dishes that are as beautiful as they are scrumptious. His menu this evening starts with a Grilled Prawn Salad with Asparagus, Charred Tomato Crema and Greens with Strawberry Vinaigrette. The entrée is a summery Oven-Roasted Herb-Rubbed Salmon served with Greek Quinoa-Orzo Salad with Olive Salsa and Honey-Ginger Vinaigrette. The sweet finale is a decadent Flourless Chocolate Cake with Fresh Cream and Berry Compote. Learn to make the special dishes tat make HG Bistro a destinations restaurant."

Bayview says there are a few spaces left in front of Chef Rich, so jump on the $55 ticket now. Complementary wine pairing is part of the deal just in case you need a nudge.

HG CHEF RICHARD BRETANA DOES SEAFOOD, 6-8:30 p.m., Monday, June 30, Bayvoiew School of Cooking at Bayview Thriftway, 516 W. Fourth Ave., Olympia, $55, 360.754.1448

June 23, 2014 at 11:13am

Beer Here: Beer Float Social and a busy Wednesday

Beer Float: Is this level of decadence even legal? There should be a secret codephrase, at least.

One of my favorite memories of my Lakewood childhood was Career Day at Oakbrook Elementary, instead of sitting in on the physician's lecture or learning about animals from the local veterinarian, I helped a classmate's mom make root beer in a giant garbage pale. In my memory, the root beer tasted roundly sweet, like cane sugar soda does - I don't remember Mrs. Laakso dumping corn syrup into the concoction. After each of us took turns stirring, the principal - who also must not have cared much for the medical arts sessions - arrived with frosty (glass! not styrofoam!) mugs each with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The joy from our little room was far greater than those listening to heartbeats in the next room. Of course, those inspired by the stethoscope probably play gold every Wednesday and have a receptionist.

Along with carhops and car-bound family meals, having a root beer float seems like an equally bygone-era idea - rich and sweet and heavy yet utterly wholesome, like putting a slice of cheddar cheese on your apple pie, or so I hear.

All of this is a pretty lengthy preamble to this New Beer Column submission - and thanks, if you've stuck around this long.

I graduated from Oakbrook, and root beer for that matter. I now prefer beer with my ice cream. Seriously, stop scowling. Unwrinkle your nose. It works, thanks to stout's coffee and cocoa undertones, which pair well with the creamy vanilla.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to beer floats: "Ooh, that sounds delicious," and "Ooh, I'd rather drink Purina pet food runoff." But despite a small cadre of haters, beer floats have been slowly dripping into the mainstream. Red Robin has been leading the charge, offering shakes made with Guinness and Blue Moon. Los Angeles hosts a Beer Float Showdown. Maritime Pacific Brewing Co. in Seattle has been serving Jolly Rogers Christmas Ales floats for years.

Beer can help bring some bitterness and dryness to an ice cream, which is traditionally sweeter than other desserts. It has this great functionality. But as artisan ice cream makers seek local ingredients that push the envelope, craft beers offer new dimensions, preferably a strong stout or fruity ale, such as Bourbon Stout, Raspberry Stout, Cherry Stout, Vanilla Stout, Citrasicle Orange Vanilla IPA, Cherry Ale, Raspberry Ale and Jasmine Green Tea Pale ... from Tacoma Brewing Co.

Tacoma Brewing Co. will team up with Tacoma's artisan Ice Cream Social for a night of beer floats Saturday, June 28. From 2-9 p.m., Ice Cream Social will plop a scoop of its chocolate, vanilla, salted caramel, lavender, bourbon stout and non-daily coconut creations into parfait glasses. "Or pint glasses if I run out of fancy glassware," says Morgan Alexander, co-owner of Tacoma Brewing Co.

"The first time I had a beer float was at the ParkWay Tavern. It was on their Randall," says Alexander. "It was Southern Tier Brewing Company's Crème Brulee Imperial Milk Stout, which is so rich it's hard to drink a whole pint. Then the ParkWay added ice cream to it - so delicious. I knew then I wanted to hold a beer float night."

The darkest, most concentrated beers, such as stouts, tend to make the best base for beer floats as the water in beer tends to create icy textures, making it difficult to make a creamy ice cream with discernible beer flavors.

Ice Cream Social, which is scheduled to open Tuesday, June 24 on Sixth Avenue next to The Red Hot, began as a food truck, with the goal of sourcing locally.

"Ice Cream Social is all about providing the highest quality product to our customers. We believe the best way to achieve this is (by) purchasing local, all-natural ingredients," said Jamie Van De Wege, co-owner of Ice Cream Social. "Providing a consistent, high-quality ice cream also depends on the freshness of our ingredients. We can only guarantee this by sourcing locally as much as possible."

Besides beer floats, Alexander will run his delicious Broken Window IPA through a slushie machine. Someone will undoubtedly experience brain freeze that night.

For a little warmth, The Rolling Crust pizza guy will roll up with his portable wood-fired oven at 5 p.m.

Kim Thompson contributed to this column.

BEER FLOATS SOCIAL, 2-9 p.m., Saturday, June 28, Tacoma Brewing Co., 625 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, 253.242.3370

BEER HERE

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 25

Speaking of Tacoma Brewing Co., The Red Hot has ordered a couple of its kegs for its new space, which opens Wednesday, June 25. It will close at the end of today, spend Tuesday moving everything next door, and re-open at the corner of Sixth Avenue and North Junett Street.

Puyallup River Brewing and its Ale House (120 S. Meridian, Puyallup) hugs it out with visiting Narrows Brewing Co. over beers, giveaways and raffle prizes from 6-9 p.m.

Yo Sourheads! A Pucker Party will go down at Pint Defiance (2049 Mildred St. W., Tacoma) featuring special sour beer draft releases 5-7 p.m. Expect Oude Bruins, Berliner Weissebiers, Krieks, Sour Blondes from Petrus, Lost Abbey, Jolly Pumpkin, Cascade and many others.

June 20, 2014 at 3:01pm

Beer:45 - Time for SweetKiss Momma and 7 Seas Ballz Deep Double IPA

SweetKiss Momma's "Dirty Uncle Deezer" 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 paired SweetKiss Momma's "Dirty Uncle Deezer" with 7 Seas Brewing's Ballz Deep Double IPA.

"The song was inspired by a buddy of mine named Deezer Hooch, who is the front-man for the band Martha Dumptruck out of Seattle," explains Jeff Hamel, lead singer and guitarist with SweetKiss Momma, the rebel country-fried rock band from Puyallup. "He is a great performer, and I wanted to try and convey the swagger and sheer badass-ness that he emits on stage. It is somewhat biographical, in that he really is "half a gangster, half a pimp, three-fourths lover and all band news" and his wife's name really is Hannah, but I'm not certain if she was ever into Roller Derby, as the song suggests. She really is a sweetheart, completely the opposite of her portrayal in the song."

Musically, it started with a great riff from guitarist Aaron Arnold that initially sounded like a "Master of Puppets"-era Metallica rip-off until drummer Jimmy Hughs and bassist Jeremy Hamel helped slow it down and move it a bit more to the pocket.

"Really, the song is a warning about making room for love in your life, because you're going to need it when things get difficult, and it's going to find you whether you like it or not, so you may as well make a place for it," says Jeff Hamel.

"As we were recording the solo at the end, our producer Ken Coomer (Wilco, Uncle Tupelo) kept asking Aaron to make it more "rough" and "sloppy" - terms not oft associated with Arnold's near virtuosic playing," continues Jeff Hamel, and since those are two extremely accurate descriptions of MY guitar playing, I got the ‘opportunity' to jump in and lay that sucker down. My first, and probably last, recorded guitar solo - though it was pretty awesome to use a POG pedal on it that once belonged to Sylvain Sylvain of the New York Dolls."

SweetKiss Momma will tour Europe early next year.

Saturday, June 21, you can hear the band's dirty guitars, down-home lyrics and whiskey-licks for free at Doyle's Public House, beginning at 9:30 p.m.

Since Jeff Hamel is a fan of 7 Seas Brewing, Pappi is pairing "Dirty Uncle Deezer" with the Gig Harbor brewery's delicous Balls Deep IPA, a massive double version with resiny Yakima Valley hops, hard-hitting malt, leafy bitterness and caramel flavor. It rings in at 8.4 percent, right in Pappi's wheelhouse.

Filed under: Gig Harbor, Puyallup, Music,

June 17, 2014 at 9:28am

Heather McClung: From Curtis Jr. High to Schooner Exact Brewing Co.

Heather McClung photographed in her Schooner Exact Brewing Co. taproom. Photo credit: Richard Baker

Former University Place photographer Heather McClung is rapidly becoming Seattle's Baroness of beer. As co-owner of Schooner Exact Brewing Co., she had never tasted a beer until she entered college. She is presently president of the Washington Brewers' Guild. Running a business can lead a person to drink, especially if the business is a brewery. Difficulties with personnel, equipment, inventory, payroll, taxes, customers, are just some of the problems a small businessperson encounters. Heather accepts the challenges with a smile and seems to relish the turmoil of business ownership along with the great joys.

Before her dip into beer, Heather developed an interest in photography while attending Curtis Jr. High, in University Place. Because of a great eye, her skills grew quickly and while still in the ninth-grade she entered a photograph she had taken with a borrowed Hasselblad camera into the 1998 Washington State Photographic Competition to outshine 2,998 participants and win "Best of Show." Since she leaned toward art, owning a business never entered her head, not even in college.

>>> Heather McClung's 1998 Washington State Photographic Competition "Best of Show" photograph

At U.P.S. she studied art with an emphases in photography and after graduating she landed a job as a photographer with a dotcom company. Unfortunately the glamorous and creative life of a photographer did not follow and she spent most of her time photographing car parts. She moved into teaching but found that job equally unrewarding. It also led her to brewing beer. She never enjoyed sweet, fizzy drinks and beer was a natural alternative. Beer helped fulfill some of her creative tendencies since she could experiment with different mixes and techniques.

Following her very short teaching career, where she met Matt, who was also brewing his own beer, she moved into supermarket management. Everything she learned along the way eventually helped her become a successful businessperson - her artistic knowledge, working with people, especially children, and her management skills.  When she and Matt decided to get married, they brewed all the beer for the wedding. Because the beer was a big hit they started brewing larger batches and eventually bought a half-barrel system they set up in the living room.

>>> Schooner Exact Brewing Co. brewery room. Photo credit: Richard Baker

>>> Schooner Exact Brewing Co. taproom. Photo credit: Richard Baker

Their reputation for great beer spread quickly and pubs, restaurants and taprooms started featuring everything from Profanity Hill Porter and Gallant Maiden Hefeweizen to 3 Grid India Pale Ale. Brewing was becoming a full-time job so they both quit their jobs and expanded the brewery from living room and garage to a business in South Park. Business grew quickly, however, as word of their beer spread, so they moved again to their present location at 3901 First Ave. S., Seattle.

Last year they sold 5,000 barrels of beer and, after landing a recent contract with several chain grocery stores, should increase production for a record year.

>>> Heather McClung's artwork hangs at Schooner Exact Brewing Co. Photo credit: Richard Baker

Heather maintains a relaxed atmosphere at the brewery and insists that the freshest ingredients be used in all the restaurant food. The storefront patio, adjacent to a Vespa shop, has an almost European feel. Her artwork and photographs decorate the walls and she has just bought a new Cannon camera.

Schooner Exact maintains an intimate relationship with its customers and offers various brewing activities. They now arrange field trips to a hop farm in Toppenish where participants enjoy a special lunch prepared by top chef Warren Peterson, and harvest hops for their own personally brewed beer.

As president of the Washington State Brewer's Guild, Heather spends time working with legislators in Olympia. The Guild is dedicated to educating Washington state policy makers about the advantages of small breweries, building a strong community of brewers, and fostering a balanced view about the benefits of moderate beer consumption.

Heather sees small breweries growing in Washington to meet the thirsty needs of residents and beer aficionados.

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BEER HERE

Wednesday, June 18

Fort George Brewery in Astoria has, once again, brewed its 3-Way IPA, a collaboration with Block 15 and Boneyard breweries. In celebration, its showing the IPA and its other beers the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Its 2014 IPA Odyssey tap takeovers tour will set up fort at the ParkWay Tavern (313 N. I St., Tacoma) beginning at 5 p.m.

Located in an historic 1992 warehouse in downtown Bellingham, Boundary Bay Brewing Company have been brewing beers since 1995. In fact, last week it began brewing its 5,000th batch of beer. The BBBC makes its way south for a 6-9 p.m. brewer's night at the Puyallup River Alehouse (120 S. Meridian, Puyallup). Expect Boundary beers, giveaways, raffle prizes and dollar tacos.

The Swiss Restaurant & Pub (1904 Jefferson Ave., Tacoma) hosts Double Mountain Brewery out of Hood Rover, Ore., for a brewer's night and raffle 6-9 p.m.

Pint Defiance (2049 Mildred St. W., Tacoma) welcomes Deschutes Brewing Co. from Bend, Ore., for a brewer's night and raffle. Expect Not the Stoic Quad, 2103 Abyss Imperial Stout, Fresh Squeezed IPA. Twilight Summer Ale and other beers on tap 5-7 p.m.

Thursday, June 19

208 Garfield (208 Garfield St. S., Parkland) will be pouring summer shandy samples 6-9 p.m. for $6. Beer Geek Erick Swenson will be pouring half-beer and topping them off with lemonade, ginger ale and orange soda.

Pint Defiance pulls a double-header with Deschutes June 18 and Boulder's Avery Brewing the next night 5-7 p.m.  Rub elbows with the Colorado team and drink White Rascal Wit, Karma Belgian Pale, Avery IPA and a rare keg of Out Of Bounds Stout. Raffle prizes o'plenty.

Wednesday, June 25

Puyallup River Brewing hugs it out with visiting Narrows Brewing Co. over beers, giveaways and raffle prizes from 6-9 p.m.

A Pucker Party will go down at Pint Defiance featuring special sour beer draft releases 5-7 p.m.

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