Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

March 14, 2014 at 10:21am

Beer Weekend: Big beers, small beers, Irish beers ...

A scene from the Battle of the IPAs held Wednesday, March 12 at The Swiss in downtown Tacoma.

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For Americans, bigger is better. Whether it's buildings, boobs, buffets or beer, we want it big enough to block out the sun or at least put us down for the count. When it comes to beer, we celebrate the brewers who go big and bold with their beer-making experiments using creative and crazy combinations of spices, barrels, exotic fruits and big alcohol.

Beer brewers are constantly pushing the boundaries of their craft, often times brewing beers that defy mainstream beer styles and/or looking at other alcoholic beverages for inspiration. Strong, or big, beers are just one of the many byproducts of this artisanal approach to brewing. The processes involved to create such beers aren't simple. Brewers spend a lot of research time, money and trial and error to cultivate their super yeast strains that can survive the high-alcohol brewing environment and produce well-attenuated beers that have a minimum of six percent alcohol by volume.

Last winter, the South Sound packed Tacoma's Foss Waterway Seaport for the inaugural Big Beer Festival, an event born in Tacoma Brewing Company's founder Morgan Alexander's head, but produced by Tacoma Craft Beer Festival co-founders Roxy Wolfe and Bennett Thurmon. A sold-out crowd enjoyed 20 regional vendors and around 60 beers.

Alexander has grabbed the reins of the second annual version, and will be serving triple and quadruple IPAs, imperial porters, big stouts, a triple bock and barleywines with an alcohol by volume (ABV) rating of 9 percent or higher, Saturday, March 15 at his much smaller Tacoma Brewing Co. on Saint Helens Avenue. Returning from last year's big beer shindig will be Alexander's Cascade Quad - a cross between a Triple IPA and a barleywine. No growlers will be filled during the festival.

Here's the Big beer Festival tap list: Matt's Barleywine, Citra Kick Barleywine/Triple IPA, Simcoe Kick Triple IPA, Noble Barleywine/Triple IPA, Cascade Quad (quadruple IPA), Licorice Stout, "Wacked" Stout (orange/chocolate), Nitro Vanilla Stout and Ashen Stout (aged on ash wood).

There is no admission to the event, which runs from 2-10 p.m. The Tacoma Brewing Co. taproom is located in the Triangle District in the heart of downtown Tacoma at 625 St. Helens Ave.



Chambers Bay (6320 Grandview Dr., University Place) hosts an Irish beer and food tasting Friday, March 14. Beginning at 6:30 p.m., Chef Corcoran presents a seven-course meal paired with Guinness, Harp and Smithwick's. As you nibble on Irish pretzel sausage and classic corned beef cabbage, Guinness experts will take you through an Irish beer journey. Tickets are $55; call 253.552.4867.


Sound Brewery out of Poulsbo will drop in on Gig Harbor's Morso wine bar Saturday, March 15 for tastings. Brewmaster Mark Hood will be pouring from 2-4 p.m., with a $5 cover. If you can't wait, here's Morso's current line-up: The GoodLife Mountain Rescue Dry Hopped Pale Ale, Bellevue425 Pale Ale, Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA, Elysian Dragonstooth Oatmeal Stout, pFriem Saison, Ommegang Abbey, Morso Pilsner by Alpine Brewery and Everybody's Brewing Country Boy IPA.

The Parkway Tavern asks you to drop your pants Saturday. The Tacoma tavern hosts a pants drive for those in need. Donate a pair of pants and you'll be entered in a raffle for prizes. The pants party is at 313 N. I St.


Pint Defiance has announced its "Sunday Sampler." From 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., you may sample 4-ounce pours of Goodlife Mountain Rescue, 10 Barrel Project Failed red, Crux Outcast IPA and Worthy Lights Out Vanilla Cream Stout for $4.25. Go small at 2049 Mildred St. W. on the edge of Fircrest.


Everyone and their mother will be pushing the Irish beers on St. Patrick's Day. Of note, Harmon Brewery will be offering its Jameson Oak Soaked Black Tartan. This beer has become a yearly tradition for the Tacoma brewery. Head Brewer Jeff Carlson incorporates medium toast oak spirals and soaks them in Jameson. Next, he ages his Black Tartan Black IPA on the spirals producing a wonderful combination of oak, boozy Jameson goodness and, of course, the roasted hoppy flavors of his Black Tartan IPA. Harmon will also be this year's Rajah's Royal IPA and a new Imperial Stout over the weekend. Drink them up at The Harmon Brewery and Eatery, The Hub in Tacoma and Gig Harbor and, of course, the Harmon Tap Room. Harmon Central is here.

For a listing of South Sound St. Patrick's Day parties, click here.

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