Everyone knows I love craft beer; it’s the reason I started drinking the barley beverage, after all.
While I started off drinking Stouts and Porters, I inevitably diversified my consumption to include IPAs, ESBs, Saisons, Hefeweissens, Bocks, and a variety of Ales. Some of them even made their way into my repertoire of “go-to beers”. Not too long ago, the selection seemed slim, but nowadays there is a vast array of craft beers at your local liquor store, or even your local pub. In fact, since 2010 there have been 1200 new brewery licenses issued. Now, try to name ten off the top of your head. If you can, kudos, if you can’t…start drinking more beer!
On a recent trip to Tulalip for the annual Taste of Tulalip, I attended a craft beer seminar where we learned about five very different breweries and five of their very different brews. Sampling was involved, of course.
The panel, which consisted of representatives from Sierra Nevada Brewing, Deschutes Brewery, Samuel Adams, Lagunitas Brewing and Two Beers, took a moment to explain their beers, while allowing the audience to sip and take tasting notes. Naturally, the reps tried each others’ beers, throwing in commentary as they saw fit.
“If you’re making good craft beer you’re simply taking people away from commercial beer; it isn’t typically a competitive industry,” explained Joel Vandenbrink, Chief Brewmaster of Two Beer Brewing (shown far left). “So, if you want to love your job and meet great people, become a brewmaster.”
The audience was fairly involved as well, asking questions throughout the panel discussion and tasting. In addition to learning about the individual beers that we were sampling, we learned about the craft beer industry in general, be it statistics or thoughts on pairing.
“It’s hard to screw up pairing beers with food because beer is so versatile. For example, a great pairing that you wouldn’t necessarily expect is IPA and carrot cake,” stated Danna G., Key Account Manager at Boston Beer Company (shown on right).
In order of tasting, here’s what we sampled:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., California
‘Celebration’ Fresh Hop Ale [ ABV 6.8% ]
Notes: caramel-colored; earthy from floral and pine notes; hoppy, but not too bitter; decent head
Deschutes Brewery, Oregon
‘Chasin’ Freshies’ Fresh Hop IPA [ ABV 7.2% ]
“We’re in the North West. What do we do often when we make new beer? We add more hops to it! Washington is a mecca for hops.”
Boston Beer Co. Samuel Adams, MA
2012 Utopias [ ABV 29% ]
Notes: $200 bottle; tawny port or cigar liquorice flavour; matured in scotch, cognac and port barrels for a minimum of six months.
Lagunitas Brewing Co.
‘Brown Sugga’ Special Ale [ ABV 9% ]
Notes: sweet caramel malt; citrus notes (orange zest/grapefruit); robust; packs a punch, but doesn’t taste as high ABV as it is
Two Beers Brewing Co.
High Divide Double Blonde [ ABV 8.9% ]
Notes: oaky tannin; 100% cask strength; subtle peach and cherry notes; french oak, chardonnay barrels
Did you know that 50% of craft beer sold last year was from ten breweries? And that the coveted title of cicerone (the beer version of a sommelier) originates from something entirely different than it’s modern, American-trademarked definition? A cicerone is “an old term for a guide, one who conducts visitors and sightseers to museums, galleries, etc., and explains matters of archaeological, antiquarian, historic or artistic interest.”
Craft beer is a culture. It allows creativity. It’s delicious. And it is an industry that will continue to grow as the demand for it strengthens.
Beer quotes that resonate with me:
“Always remember that I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.” – Winston Churchill
“Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today.” – Edgar Allan Poe
“Give me a woman who loves beer and I will conquer the world.” – Kaiser Wilhelm