Beer Here: Walk Tacoma's Brewery District (and drink), Dick's Midnight Ride, beer events ...

By Ron Swarner on May 13, 2014

Columbia Brewing Co. first occupied the building along the 2100 block of South C Street in 1900. Beer made at the facility gained national attention for its flavor and smooth aftertaste in the early 1920s, prompting the brewery to double in size and increase capacity by the mid-1930s.

Success at the plant received the attention of another brewery, Heidelberg Brewing Co., which purchased the Columbia plant in 1949 and set out for another round of remodeling. The facility was bought yet again a decade later by Carling Brewery, making it the only West Coast holding of the otherwise East Coast beer company.

Fickle beer drinkers began to snub Tacoma's home brew, and the plant closed in 1979. There have been efforts to revive the brewery in the passing years, but the natural spring that bubbles water to the surface on that end of town isn't as mountain pure as it once was.

That's just a snippet of what you'll most likely hear when University of Washington-Tacoma Art and Architecture Professor Julie Nicoletta leads a tour through Tacoma's Brewery District from 5:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 21. Sponsored by Downtown On the Go, the 1.5-mile Walk Tacoma UWT/Brewery Walk will start at the base of the UWT stairs at South 19th and Pacific Avenue and end at the Harmon Brewery and Eatery for light appetizers and a beer tasting. Then at 8, stop by the corner of South 19th and Jefferson Street as I will lead my own tour talk called, "Bushes I Fell In Between the Heidelberg and The Swiss During the 1990s." OK, I'm kidding about my tour (kind of), but the part about the Brewery Walk is absolutely true.

Nicoletta's tour will highlight the historic Brewery and Warehouse Districts, including locations of old breweries, the Swiss Building, the Streets and Grounds Maintenance Division's Barn, and the development of the Prairie Line Trail along the old Prairie Rail Line. There is no need to pre-register for the event, simply join Downtown On the Go at the meeting spot. 

The Harmon has its T-town Blonde, Chambers Bay Scottish Ale and the new drINK THIS IPA lined up for the tasting.


To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Dick's Brewing Company will release a special 20th anniversary beer, Dick's Midnight Ride, July 18. Dick's Midnight Ride is a trip to the dark side. The robust, Northwest-style CDA will burst with Cascade and Centennial hops, perfectly balanced with a rich dark malt profile. Think rich, dark and malty like a porter but with a hop IPA profile. Dick's will throw a 20th anniversary bash at its Centralia home Saturday, Oct. 25.


Tuesday, May 13-18

American Craft Beer Week - May 12-18 - is more of a Midwest thing. All the Northwest craft breweries are hip wader deep into Seattle Beer Week. Ninkasi Brewing Company, for instance, has 13 events lined up for the 11-day Seattle Beer Week, which ends May 18. A few South Sound beer-centric entities are celebrating the Emerald City beer bath, such as Pint Defiance taproom and beer store with its 26-beer Northwest beer punch card. The RAM Big Horn Brewery is waving the American Craft Beer Week flag, highlighting one of its gold medal winning beers a day, offering an 18-ounce pour for $3.25. The Big Red IPA is on the pedestal today. Tomorrow, its Washington Blonde receives the spotlight, followed by the Disorder Porter and a Hefeweizen salute Friday.

Wednesday, May 14

The ladies of Pike Brewing have developed a beer with some of the proceeds going to Planned Parenthood. Kris Blondin, owner of STINK Cheese and Meat and neighboring STINK Tank wine bar, holds the Pike Brewing crew in high regard. STINK will pour samples of Pike's seasonal Morning After Pale Ale from 5-8 p.m. For every pint sold, Blondin will donate a dollar to Planned Parenthood.

The 10 Barrel Brewing Co. is on the move. The Bend, Ore., brewery is opening a third brewpub in Portland's Pearl District this summer - the other two are in Bend and Boise. The Portland site will include a pub and a brewhouse, which will brew small batch and one-off beers. Speaking of 10 Barrel small batch beers, several will be available May 14 when 10 Barrel visits the Puyallup River Alehouse. The downtown Puyallup house of beers will serve hot dogs, tacos, giveaway prizes and pour a bunch of 10 Barrel beers.

Saturday, May 17

The Bacon and Beer Classic will consume Safeco Field in Seattle May 17. The traveling greasy, hoppy fiesta visits baseball fields around the country, drawing thousands of attendees to sample craft beer and bacon-based dishes from regional restaurants. Adding to that already winning combination will be performances from local bands and cooking demonstrations. Chef Hudson Slater of Maxwell's Restaurant teamed up with the mad scientists at Wingman Brewers to create a Tacoma bacon beer for the Seattle festival - Gratzilla Bacon Smoked Wheat Beer. It's a light, sessionable and smoky wheat beer - and on tap at Wingman, too. By the way, Wingman is now open 2-9 p.m. every Sunday.

Top Rung Brewing Company in Lacey gives nod to the American Craft Beer Week with a tour of its brewery beginning at 3 p.m.

St. Patrick's Day celebrations aren't easy. You must practice to prepare yourself for the zaniness that goes down every March 17. Doyle's Public House knows this. That's why they host monthly St. Practice Day parties, of which happens Saturday. The party begins with Doyle's Guinness Club toast at 5:17 p.m. All the members gather before Grand Poobah Russ Heaton, who recognizes members who have hit milestones, such as 500 pints of Guinness, while the other members tear up. After the announcement, Heaton raises a glass of the Irish Mother's Milk and toasts the members. At 5:25 p.m., some will board a bus for the Sounders game. Those who stay behind will work on their membership goals, until funky Afrobeat band Rippin Chicken bumps them silly at 9:30 p.m.

>>> Doyle's Public House lines them up Saturday at 5:17 p.m.