We started our beercation at a poker tournament at a local casino in Kirkland where I hung on for a few hours but ultimately a bad string of cards took me down. Sean, my fiance, was uncharacteristically knocked-out in the first few minutes of the tournament and promptly went to play black jack and work on his All American Badge on Untapped. After the casino, we stopped by Black Raven Brewing Company in Redmond for a few drinks before lunch. I was shocked and fell instantly in love with Black Raven. I am used to seeing breweries in business parks, but never are they as big with as much seating as Black Raven. This is supposed to be small? No way! There was at least 10 or more tables and a bunch of seating, and I loved that all their tables and chairs were re-purposed wood with natural edges…it was a lovely touch. No matter how awesome and obsessed I was with the internal feel, all that really matters is how the beer tastes. I tried their Trickster IPA which was 7% ABV with 70 IBU’s and it was pretty fantastic. It was a very drinkable IPA with a great floral biscuit flavor so it comes at no surprise that it won NABA 2009 Silver Medal – Strong Pale Ale category. This is a great local spot so if you are in the area you need to stop by – it’s worth it!
Later that day, I convinced my sister to take us to Epic Ales because I have heard lots of positive things about them. Little did I know, it was the smallest tap room I have ever been to! It was probably a 9×10 room and a little counter with four taps and 22oz. bottles to purchase. The brewer, Cody Morris, was behind the counter and had two beers on tap but offered an additional taster for us out of a personal growler! Now that’s what I call passionate! His beers are so interesting and innovative and prove to be true to the title of craft beer being that all the beer is made mainly by him in small 31 gallon batches. We tasted the Solar Trans Amplifier which is a Whitt with ginger and chamomile that has a nice crisp taste. Another beer we tried was the Cinco Plantas brewed with Epazote which a mexican tea leaf that has similar characteristics of tarragon and fennel. The last one we tried was the Partly Cloudy (from the growler) which was a summer seasonal that had some nice melon (cucumber?) and citrus flavors. We bought La Mesa Negra to take home which was a dark beer with some awesome sour notes. Bottom line: Epic Ales are bravely doing some seriously interesting things and don’t seem to have anything I would categorize as boring. Check out their facebook page for event updates including their new “gastropod” beer dinners!
The following day we drove from Kirkland, WA to Portland,OR to visit as many Portland breweries we could in one day without getting too drunk. Sounds easy, but it takes some finesse because it’s really easy to get carried away when surrounded by so many great places to try. Armed with my list of hopeful visits, we started at Upright Brewing Co. This was the one out of all of them I was the most excited to visit because they are so hard to get in Orange County. The brewery is downstairs in a celler of a business building, which threw me off at first, but I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the “secret society” feel going on down there. We tasted the Alphaphylactic Hop, Four, Five, Six, Offen Weisse, Engelber Pilsner and Flora Rustica. The one I liked the best out of all the tasters was Flora Rustica. It was flavorful and light and simply amazing. Also, I am pretty sure I spotted @SamuraiArtist getting cut barrels from Upright when I was on my way in. I was too chicken to talk to him though. Didn’t want to have that awkward “I’m your friend on Twitter” conversation, I just wanted to get my hands on Upright beer.
The second place we went to from there was Hair of the Dog Brewing Company. This completely stole the show. The tasting room was nice and open with the garage-door roll-up wall (that seems to be very trendy in Portland and Seattle) and a bunch of stuff that you can order from the menu. Sean was immediately drawn to the 2008 Cherry Adam from the rare bottle list. We settled on that and four tasters each. I tried the Doggie Claws, Fred, Adam, and Ruth. They were all very good but Holy Crap was the Cherry Adam from the Wood 2008 amazing. It had a nice tart flavor with oak-infused alcohol burn. Needless to say, were were getting pretty hungry and Hair of the Dog’s menu looked good so we ordered the pickled plate and the meat plate. It came with crusty-rustic bread and (best thing that I am now obsessed with) unsalted butter with sea-salt on it. Can everyone copy this please?! I now want sea salt on all my butter bowls that come with bread.
The third place we stopped was Cascade Brewing Company where I had their Cherry Lemon Quad which was really good. Their tap room was different because they literally had barrels that they were pouring from in the walls. I had met-up with some friends so I didn’t get to try everything we ordered but from what I heard they make some amazing stuff. I am kinda upset I didn’t get to try the Bourbonic Plague. From there we noticed there was a street fair going on and decided to stop by. We ended-up stumbling upon a Rogue garage sale where they were selling cases of their beer for ridiculous prices. Basically I had to hold Sean back, but that didn’t prevent him from buying like 4 or 5 cases. From there we went to Rogue’s Pub location in downtown Portland where I had their Raspberry Lambic floated on their Chocolate Porter which was fantastic. I am can’t really enjoy a huge glass of Lambic but paired with a chocolate porter was heavenly. Also, I had a blend that was inspired by a Snickers bar which really came close to the real thing. Sean also bought way to much stuff because he spotted the Single Malt Whiskey and the Dead Guy Whiskey so needless to say it was an expensive day. From there we went to the Whiskey Soda Lounge (same owner as Pok Pok) and feasted on their amazing chicken wings and pad thai and oysters. Those chicken wings are seriously addicting! After eating we took the long 4 hour drive back to Kirkland.
The following day we went to Vashion Island for a Butchers benefit hosted by Skillet and Farmstead Meatsmith at Island Meadow Farm. There was an awesome video made which you can view here. We brought the majority of the Rouge beer that we had bought the day before, which was a huge hit with all the guests who came to the event. The event was a gathering/celebration for Farmstead Meatsmith who was recently funded on Kickstarter to start educating people about proper butchering techniques via free webisodes. A bunch of people who funded the Kickstarter campaign attended as well as the friends and family’s of Skillet and Farmstead. The island farm where it was hosted was beautiful and buzzing with life. It was truly a perfect end to a grand vacation.
But wait, that’s not all! The following morning my boyfriend proposed to me so I am now engaged! Sorry guys, I know you were hoping to seal me away, but it’s too late and you lost your chance. We have tentative plans to have a destination wedding in Ireland! So I went to Washington with a boyfriend and flew home engaged…how things change.