"We'd like to see interest in herbal brewing expand, but we don't want to put ourselves in that category," says Robert Horner of Propolis Brewing. "So much of what we're doing is influenced by place, French-Belgian brewing, the countryside, old England, Old World. Our ales, they're herbal, but they have a lot more in common with a Westmalle or Dupont than most of the gruits on market."
'Washington' on Serious Eats
Washington State offers a range of ciders unlike those in any other part of the world. We spent the last few days touring the state from glass to glass to find the best ciders this hotbed has to offer: here are the highlights.
2Bar Spirits is one of the few grain-to-bottle operations that have opened in the three years since the easing of laws gave birth to Washington State's fledgling craft distilling industry.
A ton of interesting small breweries have opened in Washington in the last 3 or 4 years. Here are a few of them to seek out on your next trip west.
The Hangover ($9.50) is just what the carb doctor ordered: "a double order of crispy browns topped with homemade sausage gravy." Additional protein comes from two eggs, which I ordered over easy so that the yolks could run down the potatoes.
We tried a few popular and widely-available Columbia Valley-sourced bottles from Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia Crest Grand Estates (both part of the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates collective). You can usually find Columbia Crest for around $10, whereas the Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley wines are closer to $14. But are the extra few dollars worth it?
Weekends are an especially good time to go to Huong Binh, located in a restaurant-filled strip mall in the Little Saigon section of Seattle's International District.
It's the Starbucks Capital of the USA, the birthplace of specialty coffee in America and the only place you can reliably get a cappuccino at the laundromat—so why aren't there more truly exceptional coffee places in Seattle? We've got our hunches—it's a city steeped in a certain tradition of coffee, and one where there's plenty of coffee that's at least very good—so digging the most special cafes out of the throngs of "specialty cafes" can be a toughie. And though any rundown of the top of the tops in the Emerald City is sure to incite minor street riots, we're pleased to point you toward the truly best stops on the Seattle Coffee Tour, as we see it.
In 1989, Charles and Rose Ann Finkel took over Liberty Malt Supply Company, founded in 1921, and opened The Pike Place Brewery in the La Salle Hotel under the Pike Place Public Market—a landmark spot in Seattle and one of the longest running continually operated farmers' markets in the US. In 1995 Pike moved to a new location next to the market and changed name to Pike Brewing Company. The current location is a multi-level brewery, pub, restaurant, and beer museum. Check out our snapshots of the brewery behind the scenes.
While the Seattle area is known today as a great beer destination, its brewing history goes back nearly to the city's official founding, and far pre-dates Washington's statehood. It is a convoluted story of changing ownership, expansion and re-consolidation that could easily merit its own book—so consider this the short version.
When I was invited by the Washington State Wine Commission to check out Eastern Washington's grape-growing areas in mid-October, I figured the grapes would be picked already, and we'd probably be looking at stripped-bare vines and smelling the sweet, bready aroma of juice fermenting into wine in the cellar. But it's been cool in the Northwest—so cool that harvest was just beginning when I arrived.
This is the last stop on our amber ale road trip up the West Coast. These amber (and sometimes red) ales are one of the styles the Pacific Northwest is known for, and it's now pretty easy to see why. These amber ales manage to strike a balance between bready, biscuity malt and fragrant, fruity hops. Many great Washington beers don't make it far from their breweries, but we were able to try nine different amber ales from the Evergreen State.
I wish I could say this riesling kicked ass (since that's what they're going for with the name) but for me it was so-so. There's a splash of tangy lemon-lime flavor and hint of nectarine, plus a little fizz on the tongue and a tart green apple bite.
This wine is the result of a partnership between Washington's Long Shadow Vintners (founded by Allen Shoup of Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia Crest) and Nahe winemaker Armin Diel. It's one of the nicest Washington State rieslings we've tasted.
For me, this mouthfilling Washington wine is all about finish. As you swallow, tart apples dipped in honey linger and linger, tumbling into mineral water. You can wait for minutes after each sip; sit with the bottle for hours.
There is something distinctly American about the ciders coming out of Tieton Cider Works. At their core, they are representations the Pacific Northwest landscape—they're simultaneously lush and adventurous. But upon further inspection, there is also a defined European heritage in these complex, yet refined, apple blends. The result of this lineage is a cider that works as well at a Michelin starred restaurant as it does at a backyard barbecue. This week we had a chance to catch up with Brooklyn transplant Cindy Richter, the original cider maker and a current partner at Tieton Cider Works in Tieton, Washington.
Since opening in 1995, Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro in Bellingham, Washington has been pouring some of the best Northwest style beers in the country. We recently got a peek behind the scenes.
The book is far more than just a list of breweries, tasting rooms, and pubs. It's an in-depth look at the Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia brew scene that is spiked with history, factoids, and profiles of Pacific Northwest beer pioneers.
Black Raven Brewing in Redmond, Washington is a hit. Since opening in the spring of 2009, they nabbed a 1st Place People's Choice Award in the 2009 Washington Brewers Winter Festival and won the 2010 Northwest Brewing News reader's choice award for best brewery in Washington. On any given day, crowds wait in the parking lot for the doors to open.
A few weeks back, I visited Seattle for a few days. I was by myself, and on the lookout for friendly places with good drinks. I struck gold at Zig-Zag Cafe. With a name like that, you don't expect to find a world-class bar, particularly not on the odd side street off of Pike Place Market where it's located. But Murray Stenson, the veteran barman behind the counter, was recently named "The Best Bartender in America" by a panel of fellow bartenders at the Tales of the Cocktail festival in New Orleans last July. Deservedly so.