Always Drink Responsibly

08 May 2014

Seattle Beer Week 2014 - Day 1 Events

Thursday 05/08

  • All Day Chuck The Puck Up @ Chuck's 85th - A two day sours event over a year in the making. Featuring rare and hard to find sours from Almanac, The Bruery, Cascade, Black Raven, Deschut...
  • 11:00 AM Black Raven Takeover @Eureka! - Tap Takeover with Black Raven Brewing Co. Eureka! We will feature four beers from Black Raven including Hochzeit Pilsner, Sunthief Kristallwei...
  • 03:00 PM IPA takeover night at Geaux! - We’re celebrating Seattle Beer Week with a massive dose of hop-infused brews. It’s IPA takeover night at Geaux! We’ll have six different IPAs ...
  • 04:30 PM Beer Cruise with Diamond Knot - Come sail aboard the 100-foot Mystic Sea while sampling Diamond Knot beer and watching grey whales. The 2-and-a-half hour Seattle Beer Week sa...
  • 05:00 PM Beer Junction Goes Off-Centered - Tasting Flight: 90 Minute thru a Randal of Simcoe hops, Aprihop, Indian Brown, 61 Minute Also on draft: 120 Minute, World Wide Stout, Palo ...
  • 05:00 PM Dry-Hop 2013 XPA Firkin@Maritime - Special DH 2013 XPA Firkin on the bar.
  • 06:00 PM Stone Sprocketbier Tour Stop #1 - Stone Sprocketbier Brewers Tour Stop #1 – Elliott Bay Pizza & Pub – Join Sprocketbier Brewers for a night of Pizza and Stone Brew pairings alo...
  • 06:00 PM Bellevue Brewing Co Sensory Class - Join us at our Puyallup location for a Sensory Tasting Event featuring Scott Hansen, co-founder of Bellevue Brewing Company. With over 25 yea...
  • 06:00 PM Elysian Brewers Night@ Dog and Pony - lysian Brewers Night at The Dog and Pony Alehouse. Please join us for a night of limited release beers, give aways, and specials. Festivities ...
  • 06:30 PM Samuel Adams Food & Beer Tasting - The Boston Beer Company is America’s leading brewer of handcrafted, full-flavored craft beers. Founder and Brewer, Jim Koch, brews Samuel Adam...

04 January 2014

Walkable Wine Tastings in Downtown Seattle - From Pike Place Market to Bainbridge Island

Whether you are visiting downtown Seattle for an upcoming playoff game (Go Hawks!), quick weekend jaunt, conference, business trip, or whatever other purpose that takes you downtown, there are many an option to taste some delicious libations on foot! And there is always the option to hail a cab should you get tired or tipsy. Below I provide my suggested tasting route (with map) in the heart of downtown, near and around the legendary Pike Place Market & Post Alley. This is a fun adventure for the wine loving tourist, Seattle frequenter and local alike. I have tasted my way through this route myself, first as a tourist and later as a resident.

Almost anyone who visits Seattle wants to see or is taken to see Pike Place Market. As walkable as the area is, one should know the wine tasting options available amongst all of the seafood and flowers. Below you will see just how convenient a day or even half-day of tasting at the Market can be. And occasionally the market holds wine events so be sure to check the calendar!
  1.  Pike & Western Wine Shop- This gem of a wine shop offers free tastings every Friday from 3-6pm. Additional tasting events are offered but require a reservation, easily bookable online at their website. They offer a fine selection of not only Washington & Oregon wines but also French, Italian & other world imports. Grab a bottle for back at the hotel! Wine accessories also sold here.
  2. The Tasting Room Seattle- This rustic, cozy and inviting tasting room is a great way to get off the beaten path from the hustle & bustle of the market. Nestled in Post Alley, their tasting menu features seven Washington wineries: Camaraderie Cellars, Harlequin Wine Cellars, Latitude 46 North, Treveri, Willis Hall, Wilridge Winery and Wineglass Cellars. The best part? Everything in-house is available to taste and/or purchase. They offer meat & cheese plates too if you're feeling snacky.
  3. The Chocolate Box- This is one of my favorite places to relax and taste two of my favorite things- wine & chocolate! But if you don't like chocolate with your wine that's no problem- it is optional! The front of the store is a chocolate shop with truffles in flavor combinations of all kinds; at the back is the tasting bar with wine shop offering a hearty variety of Northwest wines. The staff is laid back, fun to chat with and welcoming to the beginner- I recommend this place to the newbie wine taster.
  4. Rachel's Ginger Beer- Wait, what? Beer? No, not exactly. Ginger beer does not contain alcohol and obviously it's not wine, but I had to add it to my list. After all that tannin, you may be in the mood for a pre-dinner cocktail or to kick it up a notch. Stop in RGB for one of their unique cocktails featuring a flavored ginger beer of your choice. Or, tell them your preferred spirit: gin, vodka, whiskey, tequila, and they will make you a creative libation. The best part? If your kids are with you they can enjoy just the ginger beer by itself!
If you're feeling adventurous and want a day trip out of the city on foot, you can still venture out for some wine tasting! Hop on a ferry from downtown Seattle to Bainbridge Island. (ferry schedules here). Just 30 minutes away, Bainbridge Island has four tasting rooms within walking distance of the ferry terminal (see map below). There are a total of seven wineries on the island, a brewery and a distillery. For more information visit Winery Alliance of Bainbridge Island.

10 November 2013

Guest Blogger: A Consumer's Review of City Fruit Cider Tasting Fundraiser

My friend Leah invited me to go to a Cider Tasting Fundraiser for City Fruit (, last Thursday. They are a local organization that works to reclaim urban orchards, show people how to harvest and use what they need, and to share the rest.
We met up at Little Uncle in Pioneer Square. It serves Thai street food in a very cute place, and the food was just perfect for the tastings.
We started with two selections from Tieton Cider: Cider Makers Reserve, and Holiday Cheer. The Reserve is aged in burbon casks, and has that nice mellow taste, not sweet, with vanilla and a bit of fruit, which goes well with the apples. A must buy on my list.
The 2nd sample was the Holiday Cheer - the pourer called it "an apple pie in a glass." And it was. Sweeter than the Reserve, with the cinnamon and spices that come with holiday foods. I really liked this, Leah thought it was too sweet. A special occasion buy. 
We moved on to the Snowdrift Ciders; they were offering two, a Dry English Style, and a New England Style. The New England Style was a bit dry, with a nice after taste. I caught some honey and caramel, but not overwhelming. The Dry English was dryer, but had a round flavor. I would get either (or both) of these for home.
The Alpenfire tastings were Pirate's Plank - dry, hoppy - that I did not like; and Spark, a light crisp drink. What a contrast.
Finn River had their Habanero Cider - habanero chilies and apple - which is a no go for me. But the Black Current is always a favorite - a nice finish to any event.


08 September 2013

Drinking Your Apple a Day - Review of Cider Summit Seattle 2013

The first Friday of September 2013 welcomed the 4th annual Cider Summit Seattle presented by Whole Foods. Cider makers from across the Northwest poured their concoctions of fermented apples. And fermented apples are delicious. If you don't think so then I'll gladly argue you have not tasted local ciders. (Note: we are counting B.C., Oregon & Montana as "local" for the purposes of this piece as the cider summit represented the greater Pac NW)

Tasting cup with 2Towns' Pommeau
A huge plus was that unlike many of the larger scale fests and tastings, it was actually nearly feasible to sample every cider on hand (so long as someone else was driving). Many familiar names were on hand pouring; it was good to see tried & true Washington favorites Finnriver & Tieton as well as less local Woodchuck (Vermont) & Samuel Smith (UK). Even Ace (California) made an appearance. One of our preexisting favorites, Sea Cider from B.C. was on hand- try their "Prohibition"!

Not to knock the ones we know & love well, but our goal was to taste the ciders we had not heard of or hadn't had a chance to try previously. And we were wowed!

"O Sweet Hatchetation!"

 The Oregon ciders we tasted impressed us more than the previous night's epic lightning storm. In particular, Portland Cider is hitting the off-dry nail on the head with their "Sorta Sweet" and likewise with their "Kinda Dry"- truth in advertising and thirst quenching. Carlton Cyderworks got us hooked on their "Carry Nation" - a dangerously delicious semi-sweet and who can resist their colorful labels reverent to cider's history in America? (Read up on the real Carrie Nation here)
When it came to the fruit ciders I have to award my favorite pick to Blue Mountain Cider for their cherry infused cider. I could really taste the cherry come through without an overpowering tartness. If you want to knock someone's socks off with flavor and fool them into thinking they are drinking a liquor, serve up some 2Towns' "Pommeau", a port-like blend of cider and apple brandy. At 20% ABV, it isn't for the faint of heart!

All that being said, we return to our state of Washington for our favorite cider overall- Methow Valley Ciderhouse's "Honey Bear". A balanced sweet cider infused with honey that is lip smacking good. We were told to pair it with spicy Thai food for a yin-yang experience on the taste buds. If you're feeling hoppy, we recommend Eaglemount's Raspberry Hopped Cider - a best of both worlds, when cider met hops.

There is still a way to try these ciders and many, many others! Your local bottle shops as well as Whole Foods Market has all Pac NW ciders on sale through September 15th in celebration of Washington cider week! And if you're a commitment phobe, head to Capitol Cider for a bite to eat and more ciders on tap than anywhere else in town.

Drink an apple a day- after all, cider is gluten free so already it's better for you! ;)

18 July 2013

Close Encounters of the Snobbery Kind- A Philosophical Examination of "Wine Snobs"

One can hardly attend a wine event these days without overhearing someone discussing an encounter with a wine snob and simultaneously experiencing one firsthand at some point in the evening. Such a scenario inspires me to write and so tonight I shall address this issue from my own philosophical path and ponder something we all love to hate- wine snobbery.

But first- it isn't just wine snobbery. Beer snobbery is out there too. And cider. And mead. And vodka, gin, whiskey- everything. Why? Because pretentiousness will exist on some level amongst any group of humans with a shared interest. Take any large meeting you've ever been in- there's always that one person who has to keep talking and talking for they can't resist the urge to show they are the smartest one in the room. Somehow the word "snob" has become conjoined to "wine" in our time- why is this, when snobbery is not exclusive to it?

Perhaps it is because of economic status and the associated imagery that comes to mind... the more affluent drinkers in the population sipping their glasses of wine, pinkies up, on their yachts or in their mansions while the rest of us pop open can after can of Budweiser trying to figure out how to pay the electric bill. "Bud? Eew!" - now that's what a "beer snob" would say...

Which brings me to my next point- it all depends on how you're defining "snob". I have friends who consider themselves wine and/or beer snobs, admittedly so. In this context, they are deemed "snob" because it refers to either extreme pickiness in what they choose to drink or the level of knowledge they have about the beverage. I am, by this definition, a complete and utter beer snob for I am particularly biased towards Belgian beer. Sommeliers and cicerones are totally screwed in this scenario because their wealth of knowledge and tasting ability makes them snobs by default. Yes, this seems unfair, for the more any of us taste, the more we will recognize, the more our palates develop, the more "snobs" we become. It is a part of the process.

The other definition is the one that gets under peoples skin- the attitude. And I must clear the air here and say, I have yet to meet a winemaker or brewer who ever came across as a snob to me; they love to share their experiences, knowledge and passion for the craft with those wishing to learn. No, most often the guilty are not the ladies and gents who actually do the work crafting your beverage- and make no mistake, wine making and brewing is a labor intensive process, not the misconceived glamorous hobby many think. Just try it next chance you have a volunteer opportunity at a vineyard or brew house. The pretentious attitude that carries on the wine snob stigma is propagated by the consumer. Yes, Joe Schmo consumer who thrives on being that one person who has to keep talking and talking because they can't resist the urge to show they are the smartest one in the room. Sound familiar?

The damage the wine snob stigma can do is affect the impression a first or second timer has before they ever walk in the door of a tasting room or event. I have observed it and overheard it. People shying away because wine tasting is "elitist" or "I don't know enough about wine to go in there", "I don't know how to describe what I taste", "I am no good at it and will be embarrassed" - Damn! Talk about taking the fun out of it! This is why I believe it is so important for shops and tasting rooms to maintain a friendly and inviting atmosphere that welcomes all levels of palates.

Unfortunately, it only takes that first bad experience to turn someone off, many times for good. And from the many stories I have heard, it is always the same snob- a consumer from Napa or Sonoma or someplace viticulturally superior, who can sniff the notes a mile away like a bloodhound and loudly proclaims all they taste upon one sip. Good for f***in you, I say. To the novice taster I say keep on tasting. Wine, beer, and spirits in and of themselves are no part of snobbery. Don't miss out just because of a few rotten eggs in the bunch.