Monday, January 28, 2013

Winter Beer Month: Seattle Brewery Tour

It’s a foggy day in Seattle so what better way to warm up than with an indoor Winter Beer Tour.

Unfortunately for me, fortunately for my liver, I decided I needed a January cleanse so I’m just along for the ride.  I asked my friend Roy if he’d come be my taste buds on this post and he happily agreed.

We started the day in The Woods – the wonderfully welcoming tasting room for Two Beers Brewing Co.  Despite its location in the industrial district of South Seattle the brewery is warm in a sea of concrete.  Its green and brown walls filled are filled with woodsy murals and scripted timelines of the brewing process.  They are informative while adding to the pleasing aesthetic of this Seattle Brewery, currently celebrating its 5th Anniversary.  As we sit down at the slab of wood the separates the room from the taps, every table in the place is occupied and a variety of colored pints reflect around the room as light from the grain bag covered cylindrical lights shines down from the unfinished ceiling above.   Enough about the decor – let’s get to the beer.

Jive Espresso Stout 5.6%

“If you’re looking to fill up on one glass – this one isn’t it,” said Roy. “It’s got the forward notes of coffee and chocolate but it has a nice clean dry finish – almost closer to a porter – typical of beers with this ABV.”

Hearth Winter Warmer 7.2%

“A deceptive beer that isn’t boozy despite the 7.2%,” observed Roy.  “It’s easy to drink and almost “light” as 7.2’s go anyway he said.“

As far as the wintery flavor he said that the cloves pop on the taste buds but the oak is subtle, if there at all – sharing that, in his option, it is not a smoky beer. 

As Roy sits and ponders, while staring intently at the hockey game playing on the screen above the bar, he comments that if you’re looking for a spiced beer this one is worth a try.

Next we head just a couples miles up the road to Emerald City Beer Company.  Neither Roy or I had been to this brewery before and I didn't check out their tabs before our adventure, which lead to a bit of a surprise.

Despite getting to Emerald City Brewery just before its scheduled closing time the bar was packed. Since only one empty stool remained we grabbed a spot on the dark brown leather couch in the back.  Where I tried to curl up and stay warm with little luck.

"This is like hanging out in your buddy's converted garage which is not quite finished and is never quite finished," describes Roy.

The concrete rectangular room is accented with green paint, silver legged bar stools with a round black vinyl seats and a few wooded pieces to warm the room up.  The garage feel is solidified by the roll up garage door that is cracked today but can open up wide during those few warm days of summer.

I've failed to mention so far that this 'buddy's garage brewery' sits on the ground floor of the iconic Rainier Brewery building in South Seattle. Partially for that reason, according to the article in the bathroom, the brewery focuses its energy in Lagers [insert surprise expression].

While not a "winter beer" Roy decided that trying a Lager was actually perfect.  

"A Lager is a true winter beer rather than these winter ales that you could make at anytime of year," he said.

As we sat on that couch I was literally shaking as Roy sipped on his Dottie Seattle Lager, Seattle's very own 4.9% session lager.

He sips on his half pint processing as he goes.  Telling me it's very drinkable, light, bright and crisp.  He tells me he notes the straw.

"Everything a Lager should be, it's great," he said.

Another sip and he reiterates it tastes citrisy and of straw, giving Brew Master Rick Hewitt "Full marks, this guy did a good job."

As the bar cleared Roy finished the half pint and I tried to defrost myself enough to pull myself off the couch.

"This is a really good lager by the way," exclaimed Roy for the third time. "And who the hell makes Lagers in Seattle."

We wanted to stay in SoDo and hit another tasting room but to our dismay -- everything closes earlier than we would've wanted so we had to head north.

We landed in the Greenwood neighborhood at Naked City Brewery.  The warmest of all our stops today this is one that has the primary feel of a restaurant, that happens to pour its own beer.  Along with a dozen of its own taps, Naked City touts a selection of a dozen other microbrews giving everyone who stops in an option to fit their palette.

Naked City Bindlestiff Winter Warmer 8.0%

"Less spicy than the Hearth Winter Warmer, cleaner finish and bitter orange peel," said Roy.

He described it as a mildly spiced dark amber with a clean citrusy finish that barely lingers.  He expected more malty winterness in this beer, something that is big and boozy.

“For an 8% though, it is very easy drinking," he said.  “Personally, I want more maltiness but that would obviously change the ABV and the flavor and would make me drunker”

Obviously -- it's maybe a good thing our brewery tour only had three stops instead of the five I had imagined because I don't know if we needed anybody to be "drunker" - well, maybe me.

Thanks for your help Roy - I couldn't have kept Month of Sobriety going without you.


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