Sunday, May 22, 2011

Seattle Beer Week - Shaun's picks

Seattle Beer Week is upon us and I have been remiss in my duties to folks who, for some reason, want to know what I think. I've put together my picks and favorite events from the huge array that the great community of brewers, taphouses, and beer enthusiasts have offered us in our great city of Seattle this week. The easy answer is get out there to whatever events you can attend as all these events will be great ones! Remember it's a marathon and not a sprint so pace yourself and keep your head or you'll miss out. check out my picks after the jump...

There are all kinds of fantastic events for the beer enthusiast in Seattle this week. We are truly living in a great time to be a beer drinker in city that truly values the art and craft.

If I had to break it down by type I'd say there are three types I highly recommend getting to in order get a good cross section and have an amazing experience.

  1. Meet the brewers/special releases
  2. Beer and food pairings
  3. Competitions
Beer week started on Thursday and goes until the 29th. More than a week, but hey, we aren't quite big enough to steal all of May from bike riders.

So far I've been to Julia's beer pairing dinner with Alaskan Brewing and it was fantastic. The chef really out did himself with some tasty and thoughtful plates that showed off his skill as well as the beer. I don't know what was more inspired, the beef shortrib braised in Alaskan Smoked Porter or the Chocolate Carmel lava cake with Oatmeal Stout reduction. 5 courses with beer pairings for $40/head. A raging deal on top of it! We had a special treat along with the meal... The fine gentlemen from Alaskan brewing brought a case of his secret stash of 1998 vintage Alaskan Smoked Porter! We tasted it alongside the 2010 and it was...so much more than the 2010. I was blown away by how well it aged. The bitter coffee and smoke had mellowed into a lighter coffee flavor with more of the wood smoke complexity emerging. I could taste the bark, wood, and even the soil the Alder tree was grown in. I only have 8 more years to wait for my '08. :)

I then stopped by Full Throttle Bottles on Saturday to meet Dave Walker from Firestone Walker Brewing and gather my allotment of this year's Parabola Imperial Stout. The fine folks at Full Throttle were pouring FW Double IPA, the 11th Anniversary Reserve, and the 2011 Parabola. That 11th Anniversary (now 3 years old) was so amazing I can't tell you what this year's Parabola tastes like. So I picked up the 14th anniversary alongside and had Dave sign all of them for me. A great guy who truly enjoys the beer culture and appreciates all of us enthusiasts. So go find an event where a brewer will be presenting their beers and go meet them. As Mark has said previously; "The craft brewing industry is 99% asshole free." They're all great people and enjoy meeting and chatting with you.

Now on to my picks. Keep in mind this is no slight to the rest of the events. It's tough to choose and I will be missing out on some amazing events even in this list. Go to whatever you can get to. It's all worth it.

Here are my must do's: (Yes I know many are at the same time. Loving beer ain't for the faint of heart!)
  1. Elysian's Firkin Firkin on 5/25. They always have a great friendly competion between 5 Washington beers and 5 beers from another state. Last year was California and this year is Colorado. They definitely don't sandbag this event.
  2. Hair of the Dog at Bottleworks on 5/22. It started 2 hours ago but what the heck. Wherever Alan Sprints goes you know there's going to be great beer and something special up his sleeve. A great opportunity to meet one of the great artists in the industry. Word has it there is something special and new with him this week...
  3. Dogfishead night at the Roanoke 5/23. No one will be there and they will have bottles of Bitches Brew. 'Nough said.
  4. Exploration of Hops with Sierra Nevada Brewing 5/24. Hops are a PacNW right and what better way to learn about them then from one of the pioneers.
  5. Black Raven Brewers night at Hopvine 5/24. I love Black Raven's offerings and I can walk home from Hopvine.
  6. Across the Gorge at Naked City. 4 really strong brewers go head to head. What could be more fun!
  7. Old World/New World 5/25. compare some great European benchmarks to some new world upstarts. Man I don't remember the last time I had a Sam Smith Oatmeal stout...
  8. Tomme Arthur at the Dray 5/25. Meet Tomme (Head Brewer at Port/Lost Abbey) and drink some special treats in an intimate setting at the Dray.
  9. Sourfest at Brouwers 5/26. Yes it's worth the lines and insanity.
  10. Full Sail Bourbon Brews at Beveridge 5/26. OMG!!! Top Sail is my absolute favorite Porter!
  11. Hopworks Beer Dinner at Treills 5/27. The menu looks amazing and Hopworks Urban Brewing never disappoints.
  12. Elysian/New Belgium Tandem 5/28 at Hopvine. I'm a huge fan of their collaborations and Trip series. Did I mention i can walk home from here?
  13. Pliny Who? at Old Town Ale House 5/29. If you haven't had either of the Pliny's on tap you should go and experience it. Go early as there will be a line and it will sell out quick.

Okay so those are my picks. Granted I am leaving a lot of great events on the table and some are purely based on where I live so don't take it as gospel. Just get out there and get to know your beer community!




1 comment:

MJS said...

Sam Smith's on tap?? Any Pliny the Younger expected at the Pliny Who? Event? Sounds like an outstanding roster of events.