keep portland hoppy! (part 1)

Well it’s September, which means the beginning fall to me!  It also means that I am taking a hiatus from beer.  I know, it’s crazy!  But alcohol in general doesn’t really help my healthy weight loss goals.  So, I am taking the next month off – I’m calling it Sober September!

Don’t worry friends, I have a few posts to share with you over the next month, starting with day 1 of our trip to Portland in July.  I know it’s only 2 months late, but better late than never!  Stay tuned for October and one of my fave styles of beer – PUMPKIN!

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We love Portland, like really LOVE it.  We try to make it down at least once a year – this year we decided on 4th of July.  We also really love Oregon beer, so what better way to spend our visit than tasting some of the best beer around?

We got into town late in the afternoon and decided to stop at Hopworks Urban Brewery for a bite to eat.  We know we like their beer, but had heard great things about the food and wanted to try their whole line up of brews.  Since it’s located in eastern PDX on the opposite side of the river and downtown where we were staying, it seemed like a good choice before we checked in and parked the car for the weekend.

HUB

Unknowingly, we stopped in during happy hour and were pleasantly surprised by the great HH menu.  We each ordered a slice of the pizza (cheese for me, slice of the day for the hubs) their pub pretzel (served with stoneground mustard and beer cheese sauce) and 2 mixed green salads.

All of the food was great.  The pretzels are sticks served in a pint glass and the beer cheese sauce is delish!  The salads were really good and the balsamic vinaigrette was amazing.  The pizza rivaled Pagliacci (my favorite) in Seattle.

We ordered the sampler of all beers on tap – 10 total.  They were all very solid beers – even styles we don’t typically enjoy.  I was really impressed.  My fave was probably the Ace of Spades Imperial IPA – so good!  All of their beer is organic too, if you’re into that kinda thing.

tap list

tap list

The atmosphere is super cool and fits in perfectly with Portland’s bicycle obsession.  The beer sampler tray is made from a bike wheel!

10 beer sampler

There are bike frames lining the ceiling over the bar!

IMG_2510

bike frames

They really found a way to recycle everything – keg planters!

keg planters

This place is a definite must stop for anyone visiting Portland!

Stay tuned for day 2 of our beercation in PDX…

fort george brewing in astoria, or – home of the goonies!

We’ve been craving a weekend away and Memorial Day seemed like the perfect excuse.  It’s already a 3 day weekend, so why not take Friday off and make it 4!  We booked a trip to Long Beach, WA in hopes to get in a little R&R to start off the summer right.

While planning this trip, I realized that Astoria, OR is only a quick 30 minute drive south of Long Beach.  Astoria is famous for being the filming location of some pretty iconic movies…if you grew up in the 80′s you know what I’m talking about.  Both The Goonies and Kindergarten Cop were filmed here.  Astoria is more recently becoming known as home of Fort George Brewing - hence the drive to Astoria this past weekend.  You didn’t think I would miss an opportunity to try this place out when I’m only a hop, skip & a jump over the border did you?

The view on our drive down.

So we made our way down to Astoria on Saturday, enjoying the beautiful drive through Cape Disappointment State Park.  We got to FG around 2pm and I was surprised by how busy they were so late in the afternoon.  There was a 20 minute wait even to sit in the bar.  This place is family friendly – just in case you have kidlets who enjoy visiting breweries with you.  We ended up getting seats up at the bar and ordered a sampler while perusing the menu.

I was BLOWN away by the sampler!  11 tastes!  Probably one of the best samplers I’ve ever had!

sampler platter

Here’s a rundown of the brews we sampled (all of my reviews can be found on Untappd):

1811 Lager
Quick Wit
Divinity
Sunrise Oatmeal Pale Ale (OPA)
Nut Red Ale
Beta IPA 2.2
Tender Loving Empire NWPA
Spruce Budd Ale
Working Girl Porter
Cavatica Stout
Vortex IPA

I have to say – I was really impressed with all of the brews, even the styles I don’t typically enjoy were great!  My favorites were probably the OPA and the NWPA (which is a seasonal release, so try it while you can).

Not only was the beer good, the food was also delish and something to be raved about.  Jason had the burger and fries, I had the turkey sandwich with a salad.  Both were served on fresh rolls baked at the bakery next door – YUM!  We also splurged and had the jalapeno poppers (hey, we were on vacation).  They were to DIE for!  Stuffed with BACON cream cheese and dipped in Vortex IPA strawberry jam, I could barely stop eating them even when the spiciness was literally burning my mouth.  I can totally see now why this place had such a wait – it’s worth it!

taps

A few other things I really liked about FG:

    • Beer is served in mason jars (I think I need to start a collection – beer just tastes better out of a mason jar).
    • Many of their tap handles are handmade at a local glass blowing studio.
    • The sampler comes with a personal description of each beer (or at least ours did).
    • The brewers are actually working behind the bar and will talk beer with you.
    • The atmosphere is pretty cool – the building used to be an old auto shop back in the day.
    • They sell the most awesome growlers I’ve ever seen (yes we splurged and bought one).

coolest growler ever

If you are ever in Astoria, near Astoria, or even just passing through Astoria, you need to put Fort George Brewing on your list of places to visit.

Oh, and put Mikey’s house on that list too…

Goonies never say die!

Cheers!

‘tis the beer festival season

Summer is the best time of year for local beer festivals in the Seattle area!  You can enjoy tasting new brews from June to September!

Father’s Day weekend, June 14-16, kicks off the season at the WABL Washington Brewers’ Fest at Marymoor Park in Redmond.  This will be the second year at Marymoor since changing venues from St. Edward’s State Park in Kenmore.  My personal opinion is that Marymoor is a better venue for this event.  It’s wide open and not as hilly, plus there are shady areas and more to do in the park if you need to take a break from beer drinking (those tokens can really add up!).  And, best of all, parking is ample – as opposed to the very limited parking available in Kenmore.

This festival is a 3 day extravaganza, beginning Friday June 14, that includes beer, food, live music, crafts and tons of fun!  WABL hasn’t released the full list of breweries and their tasty concoctions (I will be sure to fill you in as soon as it’s published), but it’s pretty safe to assume that the usual breweries will be there.  Check out my “local flavor” tab for an idea.  Lots of brewers bring something new or special for this festival along with 2-3 standards.  Last year Black Raven had a pina colada IPA that was to die for and Diamond Knot brought their “then” new Industrial Red!

One of the other great things about this festival is that, being it’s held Father’s Day weekend, it’s family friendly (Saturday/Sunday)!  Now all our friends with little ones have no excuse not to come out and enjoy some of the best beer Washington breweries have to offer!

wa-brewers-fest-2011-logo

July 13th brings the WABL Bremerton Summer Brewfest on the Bremerton waterfront.  This is the 3rd annual, and although we’ve never attended this fest, I’ve heard great things about it!  Maybe this year we’ll have to hop on a ferry and check it out!

bremerton-brewfest

Everett will be hosting their 2nd annual WABL Everett Craft Beer Festival on August 17th.  This one is held right in downtown Everett on a closed city street.  While smaller than the big fest in June, the regulars will be there pouring their awesome brews and live bands will keep you entertained.  Riding the bus to downtown Everett is also pretty convenient from really anywhere in the north end.

200x193EverettCraftBeerFestival

September 7th is the Tacoma Craft Beer Festival.  This year the festival is moving to Cheney Stadium – which seems like the perfect venue to me!  This will be our first year attending and I can’t wait!  While I’m pretty up to speed on most of the local breweries Seattle northward, I am looking forward to checking out some south sound brews.  I’m sure 7 Seas and the Harmon will be in attendance, but I know there are a few out in the Puyallup/Graham area that I’ve never tasted.

TCBF2013

So, grab your sunglasses, a pretzel necklace and a designated driver (or cab/bus) and meet us at one of these festivals!  Even if you aren’t a big beer fan, you’re sure to find something that pleases your palate!

Cheers!

diamond knot 2.0

As most of you already know, Diamond Knot is one of my favorite breweries.  Their flagship restaurant/brewery on the Mukilteo waterfront closed in January for a remodel/expansion.  I’ve been waiting with bated breath for them to reopen…

Finally the announcement came that their grand opening was Saturday April 6, and that they were officially “unofficially” open the week leading up to the grand opening.  So, Friday night we made our way down to the new & improved DK  for beer, peanuts, stonegrill goodness and to check out the new digs.

First I’d like to share all the things I love about Diamond Knot:

  • beer (duh)
  • *chilled* (straight from the cooler) glasses for above mentioned beer
  • thai chicken pizza
  • peanut shells on the floor
  • buzztime trivia
  • beer (oh, I already said that)
  • the hole in the wall atmosphere
  • awesome staff

Now I’ll say, that the new DK still has almost everything that I love and a few new loves…

  • beer
  • thai chicken pizza
  • peanut shells on the floor
  • awesome staff
  • fresh cut french fries
  • tots!

That’s right – there’s no more Buzztime trivia!!!  At least I didn’t see it on any of the TV’s and I didn’t see the charging game stations anywhere!  Now that’s definitely not a deal breaker, but I am a little sad.  They are also currently lacking the ice cold mugs – but in their defense, our waiter told us that they invested in some new industrial “chillers” and that they were just too busy to be able to let the mugs cool after the dishwasher and to make it into the chiller.  I think this kink will be worked out quickly.

For those of you unfamiliar with Diamond Knot, this used to be a 21+ establishment.  Now that they’ve expanded, they are family friendly on the new side and the pub side (which really hasn’t changed much except for a super awesome new bar – pics to follow) has remained 21+.  I have to say, it’s a little weird waiting for a table while enjoying my Industrial IPA with kids and strollers all around me, but I’m sure that this will come in handy when we want to get together with our friends who now have kids – I mean, who wouldn’t choose DK over Red Robin?

 

new family friendly dining

new family friendly dining

The new espresso/ice cream bar is great idea – especially with the walk up window outside.  I can see this being super popular during the summer months.

espresso/ice cream bar

espresso/ice cream bar

The only real major change I noticed on the pub side was new barstool seats at the actual bar and a new & improved bar.

new & improved bar!

new & improved bar!

The menu has also been updated to include burgers, fries, tater tots and some really yummy sounding desserts!  They are also now serving breakfast!  Can’t wait to check it out!

My stonegrill philly cheesesteak - yum!

My stonegrill philly cheesesteak – yum!

Overall I’m excited about the new DK, maybe a little nostalgic for the old DK, but SO glad they’re finally back open!

Welcome back Diamond Knot!

peanuts and IPA – 2 peas in a pod

Cheers!

ballard + beer = happy

Last weekend we headed down to Seattle for the evening and an impromptu brew tour!

First stop – NW Peaks Brewery in Ballard.  I had actually never even heard of NW Peaks, but we happened to drive by and decided to stop in for a taste.

This place is tiny.  It shares a building with Hilliards (which is on my to try list) and only had 4 brews on tap.  I was a bit disappointed at first because there was no IPA, but after tasting the Eldorado Pale and the Redoubt Red, my disappointment quickly faded.  The red was definitely my favorite and pale was fresh & hoppy.  We sat out in the sun in their makeshift yard surrounded by chainlink fence and enjoyed our taster which also included the Esmeralda Ale and the Stuart Stout (all of which I rated on Untappd).

NW Peaks Brewery

If you’re in the area I highly recommend checking out NW Peaks Brewery and if you’re planning a brew tour, I would add them to the list!

Next up was Reuben’s Brews!  Reuben’s has been on my list for awhile.  I’ve been hearing about them since before they opened last summer.  I had the chance to taste a few of their offerings at the Winter Beerfest this past December and instantly fell in love.  I was so excited when I finally had the chance to share their amazing beer with Jason!

This place is awesome!  They had 12, yes that’s right, 12 different beers on tap.  You can make your own sampler by choosing any of the 12 options.  Adam, the owner/brewer was working and remembered me from the Winter Brewfest (which kinda made my day).  My favorite was the Imperial Rye IPA…SO delicious!  Check out all of my ratings on Untappd.  We will definitely be visiting Reuben’s again soon and suggest you do so too!

Reuben's Brews

Our last stop was Big Time Brewery in the U District.  Being back on the Ave definitely brought me down memory lane, but I wasn’t much into beer during my college years (unless you consider Keystone Ice beer…) so I don’t know too much about this place.  I have to say, most everything we tried was so-so.  My favorite was the Icculus IPA – it was grapefruity & hoppy.  I’m not sure how soon we’ll be back though…unfortunately there was some funny business with our credit card charge and when I called to talk to a manager they weren’t too interested in helping me.  If you do venture down to Big Time, I recommend the Icculus and paying cash.

Cheers!