Nordic Vacation

The next eleven posts will all be from my three week trip to Sweden and Finland (and a day-trip to Estonia) in August 2015. It was a relaxing but interesting vacation, and that was what I needed at the time. In addition to all the usual sightseeing, I found some cool bars and breweries, and after visiting the Omnipollo bar and pizzeria, I finally came up with a blog rule for gypsy brewers. If they have a flagship (or original) bar that serves a bunch of their beer, then visiting it will be sufficient for a blog post. (I put in the flagship/original requirement because Mikkeller has a bunch of bars around the world, but then they announced they’d be taking over the old AleSmith brewing equipment and space, and so soon they will have an actual brewery to visit. But I’ll keep that wording anyway. Why not.)

So yeah, posts on four breweries in Sweden, six in Finland, and one in Estonia coming up. I’m still debating whether or not to do a compendium post on beers I tried from breweries I didn’t visit, but I probably won’t. No need to create more work for myself. Aside from doing more travel and visiting more breweries, that is.

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2014 / 2015

Well, 2014 has drawn to a close, and I just barely managed to write up all the new breweries I visited way back in 2013. I can rattle off plenty of excuses for my meager blog output, but they all add up to Procrastination. My 2015 resolution will be to post at a steadier pace, regardless of whether people read it or not. The eventual goal is to get caught up on my backlog, which at this point is 13 breweries and one cidery, as well as a bazillion beers to add to old posts. Now that the 2013 entries are done, though, I feel like I can start working on those updates without falling too far behind on new posts. Heck, I’ve got all year to get those new posts done!

There are, however, at least a dozen new breweries in the Puget Sound area I want to visit, and a trip to the Bay Area coming up where I’ll hit a few more, and suddenly 2015 sounds like it’ll be pretty busy. I may need to dial down the beer intake for a bit in order to get caught up. Funny how that works.

Anyway, the new posts to look forward to include three new places in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood, three on the eastside, two in Bellingham, and three in Corvallis. Yeah, I didn’t do a whole lot of travel last year. That’s another resolution for 2015, travel more.

Housekeeping

The rate at which I’ve been writing and updating posts has been substantially lower than the rate at which I’ve been visiting new breweries and trying other offerings from ones I’ve already blogged. I suppose I could say that I’ve been too busy drinking beer to work on the blog, but that’s kind of a silly excuse – I just haven’t been sitting down in front of the computer and transcribing my little notes. So I need to re-focus because there are 16 breweries I have yet to write up and 30 or so to update. The next two in the pipeline, M.T. Head and Puyallup River, I visited on a long bike ride from over five months ago. There are also four exotic international breweries I visited during a Memorial Day weekend climbing trip to Skaha in British Columbia. Need to make a dent in this backlog before more breweries open, such as Bad Jimmy’s, Stoup and Helios (and those are just in Ballard).

The main hurdle is I usually scribble my tasting notes in one of those fancy Moleskines, which adds some visual legitimacy to my beer sampling, but slows down the process of getting what I write into the blog. I’ve been thinking of buying one of those tablet devices in order to type the notes directly into a blog post, but there are too many choices out there. The iPad Mini is nice but expensive. The new Nexus 7 looks good, but then it’s a question of wi-fi only or 4G. Might just have to flip a coin. Another advantage of the tablet is people will think I’m checking email or the web. You know, doing something important, rather than writing mysterious things in a notebook, which looks suspicious. Looking different is bad – everyone knows the outsider chimp gets beaten to death by the others. Well, okay, so I may be exaggerating a bit, but I need to somehow justify spending the money on a nifty new tablet.

And then recently, instead of finishing up a post, I looked through a couple shoeboxes of old pictures to see if there were any of breweries I visited pre-blog, thinking that I might start amassing tasting notes on their beers because I don’t know when or if I’ll get around to visiting them again. Places like Rogue, Deschutes, Pelican, Sierra Nevada, North Coast, Mad River, etc. I really like having a picture for each brewery for some reason. But nope. Bunch of photos of coastline and mountains, but no breweries. Probably for the best – I’m behind enough as it is.

Bike Tour 2012

Bike Tour 2012

Beginning of Bike Tour 2012, aboard the Soundrunner ferry from Seattle to Kingston

Back in 2009, I went on my first bike tour, a five day scenic route to the San Juan Islands via Port Townsend.  A friend of mine came up with the itinerary, and I added three breweries that fit the logistics (Port Townsend, Water Street, and San Juan).  Since then I’d been thinking about another tour, and when a number of factors all fell into place — a contract job ended, the weather was great, there was a convenient ferry running from Seattle to Kingston, and I found a friend who would join me for two days in the middle — I quickly got my gear together and hopped on the bike for a six day trip:

  • Day One: Soundrunner passenger-only ferry from Seattle to Kingston (to be discontinued end of September, unfortunately), bike from Kingston to Dungeness Spit Recreation Area next to Sequim, camp.  This would be the longest day.
  • Day Two: Continue along the Olympic Discovery Trail from Sequim to Port Angeles, find a cheap room for the night.
  • Day Three: Black Ball Ferry to Victoria, bike the Galloping Goose trail to the Sooke Potholes, camp.
  • Day Four: Bike the Galloping Goose back to Victoria, stay in the Ocean Island Hostel.
  • Day Five: Bike the Lochside trail to Sidney, camp at McDonald Park (part of the Gulf Islands National Park).
  • Day Six: Ferry to Anacortes, bike to Mt Vernon, Amtrak back to Seattle.

For the brewery-visiting portion of the bike tour, there were, in theory, 16 places I could have explored.  The following are the ones I missed.  The others will all eventually appear as individual blog posts.

  • Fathom & League Hop Yard – Sequim, WA – Found a growler of their Krabben Kölsch at the Red Rooster grocery but didn’t buy it because of the bike-unfriendly size.  It was also on tap at the Alder Wood Bistro, but by the time I’d set up my tent at the Dungeness Spit campground I didn’t want to bike back into town.
  • Dungeness Brewing – Port Angeles, WA – Tiny brewery who have a tap at Barhop, but I didn’t get to visit their operation.  Their Jalapeño IPA at Barhop was really good, but I’d prefer to try a few more of their beers and have some semblance of a brewery visit before writing up a post.  Their web site leaves a lot to be desired.
  • Lighthouse Brewing – Victoria, BC – Production-only brewery, but they’re hoping to have a taproom open before the end of the year.
  • Driftwood Brewing – Victoria, BC – Production-only according to their web site, but word on the street was they had just opened a taproom for growler fills.  Didn’t really have time to find out, though.
  • Moon Under Water Brewpub – Victoria, BC – Showed up before 10pm Saturday night, but they’d closed early because of lack of customers.  Uh oh.  I hope they’re still around next time I visit Victoria.
  • La Conner Brewing – La Conner, WA – Just didn’t have enough time between Anacortes Brewing and North Sound Brewing.

So, the final tally for Bike Tour 2012 came out to:  6 days, 3 ferries, 2 countries, 10 breweries.  Not bad.

Bicycle Ale-Liance

Ale-Liance IPA

The limited Ale-Liance IPA from Schooner EXACT at the Bicycle Alliance office

I’m a big fan of biking to breweries, in case you hadn’t noticed, and the month of May is Bike to Work Month (or just Bike Month, as now seems to be the case). To celebrate, the Bicycle Alliance of Washington and Schooner EXACT Brewing put their collective heads together and came up with the Ale-Liance IPA. The Bicycle Alliance does a lot of great bicycle advocacy work across the state, and Schooner EXACT makes a lot of great beer. I dropped in on the Ale-Liance release party for a free pint or two, and was not disappointed. So yeah, just wanted to help spread the word on all this: Go for a bike ride! Drink a fine Ale-Liance IPA! Enjoy the beautiful weather Seattle is finally getting!

Not-so-formal Introduction

Welcome to the new home for my brewery blog!  It was originally hosted on a friend’s server, but I thought it was time to give it its own space.  I started it, as you can see, in November 2008, about a month after a road trip to Oregon during which I visited seven breweries.  The first several posts are fairly minimal because I didn’t know I was going to start beer blogging, but they do get more detailed eventually.

I don’t have any formal rules about what qualifies as an “official” brewery visit, but in general I like to set foot in the main production brewery or its associated taproom.  I don’t need to do a tour.  Taster/sampler trays are preferred, but not required.  I don’t blog about macrobreweries or the larger chain brewpubs, but I’m sure there will be exceptions.  There are always exceptions.  Once I’ve published a post, it goes into maintenance mode, and I update it with any new beers from that brewery I try, whether it’s from a re-visit or from somewhere else.  I’m not sure yet how I’ll handle breweries that don’t have any sort of visiting hours, other than not writing about them, but I’ll think of something.

That’s pretty much all you need to know.  Thanks for making the trek to my little corner of the web!  Cheers!

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