Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

March 25, 2014 at 1:25pm

Beer Here: Tacoma Brew's recipe to change, RIP John O'Gara, plus this week's tastings

Tacoma Brew can be found at Engine House No. 9 at Sixth and Pine in Tacoma. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

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It all starts with Pacific Beer.

Puget Sound Brewing and Malting Co., founded by German immigrant Anton Huth, opens for business at 2501 Jefferson Ave. in Tacoma, in 1888. Pacific Beer is its home brew, which exports as Tacoma Beer to faraway lands. Pacific/Tacoma Beer is a pilsner. By 1906, it's renamed Pacific Brewing and controls neighboring brewery Columbia Brewing Co., which it helped fund a few years earlier (in 1949, Columbia will be renamed Heidelberg Brewing Co.). Before state prohibition stricks in 1916, Pacific Brewing is the second largest brewery in the state, behind Seattle Brewing with its Rainier Beer. Prohibition sucks, Pacific pushes "near" beer, Huth dies, Pacific makes soap and the smokestack falls during an earthquake.

Along comes Dusty Trail, the man. In 1995, he converts the landmark Engine House No. 9 into Tacoma's first brewpub. With the help of Douglas McDonnell, the grandnephew of the German immigrants who founded Columbia Brewing, E-9 produces Tacoma Brew, a salute to the original Puget Sound Brewing beer. Trail and McDonnell research, tinker and trademark the beer, producing apparently a more pale ale version of the original recipe. Dick Dickens buys E-9 in 2002 and resident head brewer Doug Tiede uses two hops in the Tacoma Brew formula: Czech Saaz hops, the variety used in the original pilsner, and Hallertau, found in Bavarian-style lagers. In 2011, X group (Asado, Masa) purchases E-9, with Shane Johns running the kettles. For several years Johns asks ownership to steer away from the current ale yeast and convert Tacoma Brew to the pilsner recipe of Tacoma's past. In three weeks, it will be so.

With the new tanks in place, and successful productions of its Oktoberfest pilsner, Johns receives the nod from owners John Xitco and Jeff Paradise to take a run at the 28-day pilsner fermentation. The exact release date of the seasonal isn't in stone. With E-9's new distribution grabbing a lot of the company's beers, a tasting is also up in the air.

So, in roughly three weeks, another date will be added to Puget Sound Brewing and Malting Co.'s timeline, marking Tacoma Brew's coversation to a pilsner recipe from Tacoma's past and a latest chapter in Tacoma's brewing history ... until the resurrection of Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. happens later this year.


Wednesday, March 26

Joe Walts, head brewer at Narrows Brewing Co., says he's bringing his Oatmeal Stout, Imperial Red, Neo Noir (city-wide collaborative Black Belgian ale) and IPA (pouring through a Randall) to The Swiss from 6-9 p.m. There will be a raffle for NBC swag, although it's not the focus. "We're trying to get away from that sort of brewers night and make them more about me being available to talk about the beers and our brewing processes to people who are interested," says Walts.

Pint Defiance hosts the Speakeasy Brewing ales and lagers from 5-7 p.m. The San Francisco brewery specializes in big IPAs, Rey Reds and barrel-aged blends.

Double Mountain Brewers will park it at the ParkWay Tavern from 5-9 p.m. The Hood River, Ore. brewery is hot off its seventh anniversary party.

Thursday, March 27

Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer (4.8 percent ABV) will hit the wooden bar at Doyle's Public House in Tacoma's Stadium District. From 6 to 8 p.m. Doyle's will offer Crabbie's Original and the new Spiced Orange, which recently became available throughout Washington, served chilled over ice with a slice of citrus, for $4 and in a special cocktail - The Ginger and Jamey, Crabbie's Ginger Beer and Jameson Irish whiskey - for $7. For guests who'd like a bite with their Crabbie's, the kitchen will prepare a special dish for the evening - Crabbie's Ginger Wings for $4, to complement the ginger beer. 

Friday, March 28

Saisons are traditionally delicate but flavorful, complex but not overt. Narrows Brewing Co. will release its Hibiscus Saison "Siren's Call" at 5 p.m. Friday, pairing it and several other beers with M Street popcorn popped at the brewery. "The base beer for the Hibiscus Saison is a rustic farmhouse ale in the same ballpark as Saison Dupont," says Narrows Brewing head brewer Joe Walt. "From there, I added hibiscus flowers to give the beer a dark pink color and a little extra fruit flavor." The Siren's Call screams a 6.2 percent ABV and will hang around for two to three months.

Salty's at Redondo Beach hosts a Mac & Jack's brewmaster's dinner at 6 p.m. The Two Tun IPA, Serengeti Wheat, African Amber and Blackcat Porter will be paired with Chef Gabriel Cabrera's steelhead, Hibachi chicken, braised short ribs and cobbler. The cost is $65.

Sad News

According to the Parkway's Facebook, manager John O'Gara has passed. Sad news, indeed. RIP John.

Good morning PW family and friends. We are sad to post that our friend and manager John O'Gara passed away this morning. You were as much a part of his life as he is yours. We will be open today to share hugs and tears, cheers and beers, and to give you terrible service that only John would approve of. John, you will be celebrated. Cheeeeerrrrrsssss!


Odd Otter Brewing Company to open in downtown Tacoma this summer

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