From Fremont to Pin-Up: Stina’s Weekend of Beer Drinking

Since this was Dikla’s first time to the Fremont Oktoberfest, we decided to do two separate write-ups about our time at the festival. If hazy memory proves right, I have been to the Fremont beer festival five times before. This was my first time going late in the day on a Friday, and I can honestly say that I now remember why I prefer festivals during the day: you can find your group easier, you can hear the conversation going on around you and you aren’t battling Theta Delta Chi for a 4 ounce beer taste. But all that aside…

Fremont Oktoberfest: The Beers
I started off my evening with the Snoqualmie “Harvest Moon”. This beer reminded me a lot of Hales Harvest Ale and it was a moderately hoppy, easy drinking fest bier. Truly a perfect way to kick off Oktoberfest. After a detour at the Miss Buxom contest (no, we did not win) I moved on to the Mad River Brewing Company, who was pouring a double IPA that was ridiculously (in a good way) hoppy and had a nice floral note throughout the flavor.

On a side note, while I may not have been able to hear a single conversation going on around me, I will say that I truly enjoyed the cover band.

An always exciting sight to see is the Deschutes Brewing Company Traveling Barrel, and especially so on Friday because they had Jubelale on tap. The first of the season, Jubelale just inspires me to want to brew. Classified as a winter ale, it is a wonderful warmer, with hints of dark fruit and molasses. Perfect for long winter nights. After a visit to the barrel, we continue on to Stone, where they were pouring a delicious smoked porter. I tried this back-to-back with the Flyer’s Porter, and while I liked both, the Stone Porter was a true favorite of the evening. maybe I really like beers that taste like bacon…

Overall, a lot of the beers that were at the festival have been there in the past. Some of the new-comers for me were Big Al’s, 192 Brewing Company and Goose Island Beer Co. While I didn’t get to Big Al’s, we did do a stop at 192 Brewing Co., where we had the pleasure of talking to the owner of the brewery, one of the few industry people that were around on Friday evening. Finally, at Goose Island, the Matilda was a perfect way to end the evening. Noted as a Beligian Style, it was a beautiful golden color and bursting with flavor.

Again, as this was not my first time to the festival, I can say that I miss the days when they had it in the hole under the bridge. It may have been smaller, but I feel like the new location (for the last 3 years now, I know…) is almost unwelcoming. Which was certainly not the problem the next day when we went to Emerald City Brewing Co. in Sodo/Georgetown.

Emerald City

Pouring their Dottie Lager, the Emerald City Brewing event was an awesome way to come down from the Fremont Festival. Held in the parking lot of the Old Rainier Brewing Company, this event focused on the beer, getting to know the beer company and supporting a new establishment. The beer itself was a delicious, almost vienna lager-like style, so it was amber in color, smooth and with an almost toast-like flavor. Absolutely perfect for the brats that you could buy.

The crowd was a fun mix of beer enthusiasts and friend’s of the brewery, so we had no problems finding people to talk to and not having to fight crowds. A perfect way to spend a gorgeous Saturday afternoon.

As for the pin-up reference, the Emerald City Brewing Company has one awesome logo and I am fairly sure she is my inspiration for an upcoming photo shoot. Cheers!

From Annual Oktoberfest to New Brewery Grand Openings!

This weekend was PACKED with beer events here in Seattle.

Fremont Oktoberfest, Friday night, 9-24-10, by Dikla

This was my very first Fremont Oktoberfest EVER. Yes, I was a newbie to the event. To be honest, the rumors that had previously prevented be from going were: It’s crowded and expensive (ie. you don’t get much bang for your buck). My experience was that neither of these things were a problem last night.

The crowds up until probably about 10 o’clock were relatively manageable and tame. My two big complaints about Friday night were that the crowd was a bit more of a frat-fest then a beer fest, and the volunteers (which I would assume would be about the same any of the days at the festival) were pretty much there for the free-beer and had no clue about what they were pouring. I was hard pressed to get any good information or chatter about the beers at the festival as the common response to, “So tell me about this beer” was, “Umm…it’s beer?”

The Diva's pose with the contestants of the annual Miss Buxom Contest. Ooo la la!

All that being said, let’s talk about the beers.

As would likely be expected at an Oktoberfest, most (about 95%) of the beers were Oktoberfests or dark in style. You were hard pressed to find a pilsner, blond or even wheat beer on tap at any of the tents at the festival. This, of course, worked out very well for me, as I had a wide selection of porters, stouts, dark ales and traditional Oktoberfests to choose from.

Starting off at Tent 1, I tried the Mad River Brewing Co. Serious Madness Black Ale. I’d say one of my top 3 of the night. A definitely good beginning, this incorporated most of the qualities I look for in a beer: Rich, flavorful (malt and molassesy) with a relatively clean finish.

A little taste of Mad River's Serious Madness Black Ale and Snoqualmie's Harvest Moon.

On to Tent 2, where I had the 21st Amendment Brewery (probably one of my favorite breweries around these days) Hell or High Watermelon Wheat beer. This was one of the very few “light”, hefeweizen style beers at the festival. I tried it mostly out of curiosity (as I’m always curious to see if flavored beers are going to be any good) and because I like 21 Amendment a great deal and have a lot of respect for their brewing. The Watermelon Wheat was very tasty, and had a good balance of the sour fruit combined with the classic wheat beer flavor. Nothing was overpowering or “funky” tasting. Definitely a nice summer beer.

Beer Tent 4 I had the Stone Smoked Porter. Again, I just recently fell in love with smoked porters (I used to be sort of afraid of them, but then my first was the Left Hand Smoked Porter and realize, “Oh, this doesn’t taste like an ashtray!”) and I was excited to finally try the Stone on tap. It has a fantastic balance of subtle smokey flavor with the classic porter taste. I think smoked porters are pretty much the most perfect hamburger beer there is out there, as a dark beer lover.

Tent 5 I had the Midnight Ale by Trade Route Brewing. I hadn’t ever heard of this brewery before yesterday, they are located out in Pacific, WA and definitely have some quality beers. The two they have at Oktoberfest are the Midnight Ale (which was extremely similar in style and taste to the Serious Madness Black Ale) and the Feuerbier Smoked Ale. Both were tasty and unique, kudos for bringing some classy dark beers guys!

Tent 6 included a tasting of the Goose Island Beer Co. Matilda (A wonderful classic Belgian style ale – very rich and fruity), Kona Brewing Co.’s Pipeline Porter (which we like to call, “The perfect beer for beer-showers!” That stuff will REALLY wake you up!) and the Firestone Walker Brewing Co.’s Oktoberfest. Definitely wanted to try the Firestone Walker as I’ve had a couple of their beers on tap at Collin’s Pub and they are always remarkably good, and they also brought home 6 awards at this years GABF, so that’s a real accomplishment! As I expected, their Oktoberfest (a marzen style) was fantastic.

The only beer I will truly say I did NOT like (and nearly spit out immediately) was the 192 Brewing Co.’s Granny’s Apple Ale. We were able to spend a good amount of time talking with the brewer from 192, and he’s a wonderful guy with a great appreciation and love for the beer making process. I look forward to trying some of his other creations, but the Granny’s Apple was NOT for me. It just kinda tasted like flavored beer water.

All in all, this was a very fun, educational event. I learned a few good life lessons for beer festivaling yesterday that I will not soon forget: Don’t go on Friday night. Don’t drink two pints of beer at a pub before hand. And don’t expect the volunteers to be anything more than college students with a vocabulary consisting of this two word phrase: Free beer.

The new Emerald City Brewery, Grand Opening, Sat. 9-25-10

As we walked up, we weren’t quite sure what was going on here. Keep in mind, The Old Rainier Brewing building is a huge Seattle landmark that has sort of had a revolving door of tenancy and it’s been YEARS (over 10 to be exact) since there’s been beer brewed here. But, this crowd made it known that brewing at the Old Rainier is BACK BABY!

This was a pretty low-key, low-brow event with a few hundred people drinking $4 pints of Dottie’s Seattle Lager out of plastic cups, the taps were out of red and white coolers, and the brats were being grilled up towards the back with cream cheese, mustard and grilled red peppers and onions. Needless to say, this was our kinda event.

Stina does the brat in one hand, beer in the other so well!

After last nights all-night-boozer (pretty much sums up the first part of my post), this was just what we needed to calm our hangover and enjoy the unusually hot autumn evening. We were so excited to see everyone serving up beer that they actually knew about and like! As it stands (from chatting with some of the event staff), Emerald City Brewing is opening up in the #4 stall in the large concrete building, with it’s first beer on tap being the Dottie’s Seattle Lager. This is a fairly light (medium red), traditional “Vienna style” lager that is easy to drink and great with a brat. When we say easy to drink, I mean we had no trouble at all polishing off three each while spending an hour and a half mingling and talking beer with fellow Seattlite beer enthusiasts. We should be seeing, in the next couple weeks, the brewery opening its tasting room and bringing some new beers on tap that will join the ranks of other wonderful brewing happening in and around the SODO/Georgetown district.

Dikla delights in her first pint of Dottie's Seattle Lager.

Suffice to say, we were extremely happy to help celebrate this momentous occasion, and even purchased some of the exceptionally stylish and well done apparel for Emerald City Brewing. Looking forward to being able to write more about these guys soon, cheers and congrats guys!

From Annual Oktoberfest to New Brewery Grand Openings!

This weekend was PACKED with beer events here in Seattle.

Fremont Oktoberfest, Friday night, 9-24-10, by Dikla

This was my very first Fremont Oktoberfest EVER. Yes, I was a newbie to the event. To be honest, the rumors that had previously prevented be from going were: It’s crowded and expensive (ie. you don’t get much bang for your buck). My experience was that neither of these things were a problem last night.

The crowds up until probably about 10 o’clock were relatively manageable and tame. My two big complaints about Friday night were that the crowd was a bit more of a frat-fest then a beer fest, and the volunteers (which I would assume would be about the same any of the days at the festival) were pretty much there for the free-beer and had no clue about what they were pouring. I was hard pressed to get any good information or chatter about the beers at the festival as the common response to, “So tell me about this beer” was, “Umm…it’s beer?”

The Diva's pose with the contestants of the annual Miss Buxom Contest. Ooo la la!

All that being said, let’s talk about the beers.

As would likely be expected at an Oktoberfest, most (about 95%) of the beers were Oktoberfests or dark in style. You were hard pressed to find a pilsner, blond or even wheat beer on tap at any of the tents at the festival. This, of course, worked out very well for me, as I had a wide selection of porters, stouts, dark ales and traditional Oktoberfests to choose from.

Starting off at Tent 1, I tried the Mad River Brewing Co. Serious Madness Black Ale. I’d say one of my top 3 of the night. A definitely good beginning, this incorporated most of the qualities I look for in a beer: Rich, flavorful (malt and molassesy) with a relatively clean finish.

A little taste of Mad River's Serious Madness Black Ale and Snoqualmie's Harvest Moon.

On to Tent 2, where I had the 21st Amendment Brewery (probably one of my favorite breweries around these days) Hell or High Watermelon Wheat beer. This was one of the very few “light”, hefeweizen style beers at the festival. I tried it mostly out of curiosity (as I’m always curious to see if flavored beers are going to be any good) and because I like 21 Amendment a great deal and have a lot of respect for their brewing. The Watermelon Wheat was very tasty, and had a good balance of the sour fruit combined with the classic wheat beer flavor. Nothing was overpowering or “funky” tasting. Definitely a nice summer beer.

Beer Tent 4 I had the Stone Smoked Porter. Again, I just recently fell in love with smoked porters (I used to be sort of afraid of them, but then my first was the Left Hand Smoked Porter and realize, “Oh, this doesn’t taste like an ashtray!”) and I was excited to finally try the Stone on tap. It has a fantastic balance of subtle smokey flavor with the classic porter taste. I think smoked porters are pretty much the most perfect hamburger beer there is out there, as a dark beer lover.

Tent 5 I had the Midnight Ale by Trade Route Brewing. I hadn’t ever heard of this brewery before yesterday, they are located out in Pacific, WA and definitely have some quality beers. The two they have at Oktoberfest are the Midnight Ale (which was extremely similar in style and taste to the Serious Madness Black Ale) and the Feuerbier Smoked Ale. Both were tasty and unique, kudos for bringing some classy dark beers guys!

Tent 6 included a tasting of the Goose Island Beer Co. Matilda (A wonderful classic Belgian style ale – very rich and fruity), Kona Brewing Co.’s Pipeline Porter (which we like to call, “The perfect beer for beer-showers!” That stuff will REALLY wake you up!) and the Firestone Walker Brewing Co.’s Oktoberfest. Definitely wanted to try the Firestone Walker as I’ve had a couple of their beers on tap at Collin’s Pub and they are always remarkably good, and they also brought home 6 awards at this years GABF, so that’s a real accomplishment! As I expected, their Oktoberfest (a marzen style) was fantastic.

The only beer I will truly say I did NOT like (and nearly spit out immediately) was the 192 Brewing Co.’s Granny’s Apple Ale. We were able to spend a good amount of time talking with the brewer from 192, and he’s a wonderful guy with a great appreciation and love for the beer making process. I look forward to trying some of his other creations, but the Granny’s Apple was NOT for me. It just kinda tasted like flavored beer water.

All in all, this was a very fun, educational event. I learned a few good life lessons for beer festivaling yesterday that I will not soon forget: Don’t go on Friday night. Don’t drink two pints of beer at a pub before hand. And don’t expect the volunteers to be anything more than college students with a vocabulary consisting of this two word phrase: Free beer.

The new Emerald City Brewery, Grand Opening, Sat. 9-25-10

As we walked up, we weren’t quite sure what was going on here. Keep in mind, The Old Rainier Brewing building is a huge Seattle landmark that has sort of had a revolving door of tenancy and it’s been YEARS (over 10 to be exact) since there’s been beer brewed here. But, this crowd made it known that brewing at the Old Rainier is BACK BABY!

This was a pretty low-key, low-brow event with a few hundred people drinking $4 pints of Dottie’s Seattle Lager out of plastic cups, the taps were out of red and white coolers, and the brats were being grilled up towards the back with cream cheese, mustard and grilled red peppers and onions. Needless to say, this was our kinda event.

Stina does the brat in one hand, beer in the other so well!

After last nights all-night-boozer (pretty much sums up the first part of my post), this was just what we needed to calm our hangover and enjoy the unusually hot autumn evening. We were so excited to see everyone serving up beer that they actually knew about and like! As it stands (from chatting with some of the event staff), Emerald City Brewing is opening up in the #4 stall in the large concrete building, with it’s first beer on tap being the Dottie’s Seattle Lager. This is a fairly light (medium red), traditional “Vienna style” lager that is easy to drink and great with a brat. When we say easy to drink, I mean we had no trouble at all polishing off three each while spending an hour and a half mingling and talking beer with fellow Seattlite beer enthusiasts. We should be seeing, in the next couple weeks, the brewery opening its tasting room and bringing some new beers on tap that will join the ranks of other wonderful brewing happening in and around the SODO/Georgetown district.

Dikla delights in her first pint of Dottie's Seattle Lager.

Suffice to say, we were extremely happy to help celebrate this momentous occasion, and even purchased some of the exceptionally stylish and well done apparel for Emerald City Brewing. Looking forward to being able to write more about these guys soon, cheers and congrats guys!

Sausagefest!

Piva Divas do Redhook Sausagefest 2010

You should all thank us. Seriously. Whenever the two of us decide to go to an outdoor beer event, the weather turns wonderful. So we probably should have grabbed sunblock on our way out the door, because it was a gorgeous sunny day in Woodinville, WA for the Redhook Sausage Festival.

Souvenir beer mugs galore!

Now, traditionally, a sausage festival is something that one finds themselves at when attending a party that is overwhelmingly male-attended. However, this Sausagefest was geared toward focusing on another kinds of meat: bacon, as well as brats, salami, meatballs…*sigh* But the meat was not just reserved for the food. Redhook also brewed up their “Meathook” which is a beer that sports some “bacon essence.” In reality, it was just a really good smoky dark beer that, while we could taste bacon (some of us didn’t know it was bacon beer until after finishing a pint!), it was not overwhelmingly meaty in flavor. And when paired with a brat, well it truly is a meat party in the mouth. For those of you that have enjoyed smoked-porters in the past (such as Alaskan Smoked Porter), this was a somewhat lighter version of that.

The rest of the beer line-up was all Redhook (understandably) and the favorites of the day for us were the Late Harvest Ale and the Copperhook. The Late Harvest Ale was hands down the winner of the day, and not only is it a really nice blend of malt and hop, but it is absolutely beautiful in color. The beer title is self-explanatory: It’s the beer you drink as the weather starts to turn from summer to fall. As soon as we got home afterward, this was a definite purchase for a nice easy drinking beer as the nights get longer.

Everyone enjoyed their selection of beer and meat, inlcuding Stina, Dikla's mother, her mother's boyfriend Ernie and Dikla's boyfriend Thomas.

Features of the festival included the UW vs. Nebraska game on the big screen (we won’t go there), a rock climbing wall, Molly Moon’s Ice Cream, 13 food vendors, a few of those being Uli’s Sausage and Salumis, as well as a main stage for music. Kudos to Molly Moon’s for including “Blackhook Porter” ice cream on their menu. Dikla can attest, this was delicious stuff.

Lookie! It's the Molly Moon truck!

We can certainly say that the turnout (probably due to the unexpectedly good weather) was much greater than we had anticipated. Lines just to get into the festival went way down the block and parking was sparse. When we first arrived at 12:30, the vendor lines weren’t too bad, but as the day progressed and the crowds got larger (and admittedly a little more…um…belligerent?) the line for beer was almost unmanageable. While we applaud Redhook’s quick decision to begin filling plastic cups with beer ahead of time to cut down on the line time, it should be noted that the line time to fill your beer was easily ~30 minutes.

This picture truly needs no caption.

In addition to the festival, the main restaurant and the brewery tour were also running at capacity. We jumped on the 3PM tour with Spencer, and, as always, it didn’t disappoint. For those of you unfamiliar with the Redhook Brewery Tour located upstairs from the main pub, this is pretty much a quick overview of their history and beer-types and ALL YOU CAN DRINK beer for $1. Not to mention a gorgeous little 4 oz Redhook glass. The tour typically features five beers (their classics and seasonal), the history of Redhook and their beers and, added bonus, one adorable plushy yeast doll (I think his name was Mr. Yeasty?) At the end of the day, we all got to pick our favorite beer of the tour and the breakdown was heavily weighted toward the Late Harvest. It goes without saying that after a full day of sausage-festing and beer touring, we were all ready for a nap.

To better describe how brewing is done, this little guy was used to demonstrate the function of yeast in the process.

(Did we mention we started the day at a winery?)

Coming up next (tomorrow in fact!) the Divas will be hitting one of the biggest events of the Seattle Beer Year – Fremont Oktoberfest.

Oktoberfest…

…where a liter of beer is not encouraged, but expected.

Wait…we should be writing this at the Schottenhamel tent.

Oktoberfest is upon us and it is time to usher in to all of our tummies the malty amber goodness that comes with this time of year. So if you can’t afford a trip to Germany, then here are some brews that will sate your thirst.

Spaten Oktoberfest

Available on tap and in the bottle, the Marzen Oktoberfest is a great way to become acquainted to the Märzen style of beer. A Märzen is traditionally sweet but with a dry finish. This particular brand has a biscuit-like quality that is refreshing and not overly bitter. Spaten is the grand-daddy of Oktoberfest, as it was first brewed in 1872 as the first Oktoberfest beer. Spaten Oktoberfest is on tap currently at Collin’s Pub in the Pioneer Square area (Downtown Seattle).

The Divas enjoying a stein each of Spaten Oktoberfest at Collin's Pub (Pioneer Square, Seattle)

Another good choice for a Märzen if you’re looking to pick up a nice, traditional German Oktoberfest (from Germany), we recommend you pick up a 16.9 oz bottle of the Aylinger Oktoberfest for only $2.99 at your local Trader Joe’s!

Paulaner Oktoberfest

Another traditional Oktoberfest beer, Paulaner is a delicious lager to toast in honor of the season. In our opinion, the Paulaner Oktoberfest is best served in a liter glass which you get to keep. This is perfect if you are located in the Seattle area, as Charlie’s on Broadway is offering the liters of Paulaner on their guest tap right now, along with the option to buy the glass for $3 as a kind reminder of the delicious beer you just enjoyed.

Stina enjoys a liter of the Paulaner Oktoberfest at Charlie's on Broadway (Capitol Hill, Seattle)

Hale’s O’Brien Harvest Ale

Not an Oktoberfest style, but introduced at this time of year, this is a great ale alternative to the two lagers listed above. Hoppy at the finish, this beer has been brewed for the last 21 years by the folks at Hales as a way to usher in the fall season. A gorgeous amber color, it even looks like the Autumn season and has the distinction of winning the silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival.

Around town…

The Ram Brewery just recently introduced their Oktoberfest to their seasonal tap. Available in pints and in growlers (deals on growlers Friday and Saturday!), their take on this style is a tasty malt-trip with somewhat dry finish. Rock Bottom brewery is also debuting their Oktoberfest on September 16th, which will become part of their seasonal rotation for the fall.

And of course, for those of you looking to experience a variety of fall ales, the Fremont Oktoberfest will soon be upon us. Look for us there, trying the beers and negotiating discounted prices on brats.

This concludes the Divas’ post for today. The ladies will be heading out to Woodinville tomorrow morning to partake in some fantastic sausage and beer festivities over at Redhook for the Redhook’s Sausage Fest! Should be a good time, so stay tuned for our next blog post covering the event!

Cheers!

Cider Summit NW 2010 wrap-up

It was a perfect day for the First Annual Cider Summit NW. By the time the sun had done a number on our shoulders, we had tried over 40 ciders and discovered that not all ciders are created equally.

The Divas arrive at the First Annual Cider Summit Northwest at South Lake Union Discovery Center.

Located right across the street from Whole Foods in South Lake Union, the festival had 55 different ciders representing the Northwest and Canada, but with a few European imports for variety. We started our day with some traditional English ciders and ended with an all-organic cidery located in Port Townsend, WA. And some highlights of what we tried in between are as follows…

Wandering Aengus

Based out of Salem, OR, this cidery brought a wide selection of ciders to the festival, including some delicious varieties that incorporated different flavors from the traditional apple. With seven ciders to choose from, we sampled five different types. Starting with the most “traditional” apple-cider flavor, the Wanderlust and the Bloom were both mildly sweet with a light mouthfeel and with strong apple notes. Moving on to the more “experimental” ciders that they brought, we tried the cherry, which was a good example of a cider with cherry notes, but not overwhelmingly pie-like. The most interesting cider they brought was a cider with hops, which was surprisingly floral but not bitter or overwhelmingly strong in hop flavor. But the clear favorite from the selection provided was the Wickson, which was a single-varietal cider made with only Wickson Crab apples which was a delicious, clean and dry cider that was both bursting with apple flavor and provided a unanimous thumbs up from our group, even though not all of us were fans of the drier type of cider.

Tieton Cider Works

Tieton's cider display.

Who knew there was a Tieton, WA? Who even knows how to pronounce Tieton, WA? Well…the things you learn at a cider festival!

Located 15 minutes northwest of Yakima, WA, this cidery brought three different varieties for our sampling pleasure. The most versatile of the ciders they brought was the Wild Washington Apple, which was our favorite of their selection. Mildly sweet and a gorgeous golden color, the Wild Washington Apple had a wonderful apple flavor that was well balance with caramel notes. Of the other two available to try, the Blossom Nectar was a super sweet cider with a melon flavors but may have been a little too sweet for our palate. We also tried their cherry, which was more an essence of cherry flavor in an apple cider than a straight forward cherry cider. The representatives of Tieton also spent a period of time talking to us about their operation, which was a unique opportunity to hear what they are working on now and what to anticipate into the future. Also, their facility includes an amazing orchard that from the air resembles their logo (extra points for creativity!)

Carlton Cyderworks

Gotta love these gorgeous Carlton Cider bottles, featuring Citizen, Carry Nation, and Duke - Apple/Blueberry (not yet available to buy in Washington!)

One of the smaller producers at the event was Carlton Cyderworks. Out of Carlton, OR, the first thing of note were the unique bottles.The glassware is imported specially from Germany and labels are the product of the cider-makers 80+ year old father’s artwork. The highlight of this cidery was the blueberry cider, called Duke, which was like biting into a blueberry but in an alcoholic beverage way (so better than just eating straight fruit). What stood out so much about this cider is that it was a departure from many of the other ciders we had and made for a great palate break. We also sampled their semi-sweet cider, called Citizen, and it was a wonderful example of a straightforward apple cider that was not overwhelmingly sweet, being well balanced by acid and an almost hay-like flavor finish.

Crispin Cider Co.

Inovative in their cider styles, Crispin was definitely one of the reigning favs for the festival.Of all the cider producers of the day, the one that stood out the most for us was Crispin Cider Co. With a unique approach to cider-making, as well as some of the most avant garde ciders at the festival, the folks from Crispin were happy to talk with us about their product, as well as their interest in moving into the Washington market. Based out of California, Crispin makes a cloudy cider and experiments with flavors and yeasts to make a forward-thinking product. We tried all their varieties, of which they brought four. The Honey Crisp was cloudy-gold in color, and a nice balance of sweet and tart that really highlighted the addition of honey. The two more experimental varieties were the Saint, which was made with Trappist-Belgian Yeast, and the Landsdowne, which was a cider brewed with Stout Yeast. Between these two, the Landsdowne was our favorite, since it had all the things we loved about cider combined with the things we love about beer. Finally, the highlight of the day for some festival goers was the Br’er Rabbit, which was a rhubarb-elderberry cider that was really unique in flavor, and also in the almost cranberry color. Overall, we were most impressed by this cider producer because they really took the time to explain their vision for their cider, and you could really taste this vision in their product.

And the rest

A couple of other specific ciders that tickled our fancy that we would also just like to give quick mention to were the Eaglemount (Washington) Ginger Cider and the Sea Cider ( BC) Rumrunner. The ginger was pleasantly spicy as ginger flavored drinks tend to be, combined with the apple made it a perfect sipping cider for a hot summer day. The Rumrunner was worth it’s weight in ABV heft, at a lofty 12%. Dark in color and rich in flavor, we were all able to put our weight behind this cider, especially the liquor lovers out there.

Pictured from left to right we have the two Red Barns (Fire Barrel & Sweety Pie) and the two Sea Ciders (Pippins & Rumrunner)

After three straight hours of sucking back cider, the Divas found that all they craved was a good ol’ beer in order to cleans our pallets and purge ourselves of all that sweet, fruity stuff. But all-in-all we agreed this festival was a huge success and an enlightening, educational experience. It was a small, yet intimate crowd and we certainly appreciated getting a good deal of face-time with the cider brewers and representatives that were there. They were all very excited about their products and integrating them into the Northwest drinking culture. Special thanks to Cindy who spent some time chatting with us about the Northwest Cider Association and what they have in store for in the coming months. We’ll be curious to see how these Northwest Cider brands move forward, whether we see more of them in our local stores or on tap at our near by haunts. Looking forward to tracking how this festival looks in the next few years and if we’ll start to notice a serious trend towards an ever-growing cider culture in the Pacific Northwest.

Cheers!

Healing the world, one beer at a time.

At last, we have taken our love for all that is brewed to a new level and sharing it with the world (or at least maybe the 5 people we might be able to get to read this thing). Tomorrow, these crazy bitches hit South Lake Union in search of the perfect Northwest cider at Seattle’s First Annual Cider Summit.

http://www.cidersummitnw.com/

Stay tuned for pictures, critiques, and all around epicness.

Northwest Piva Divas out.