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August 11, 2012 at 5:17am

Cork and Keg Fest benefits YWCA

Wine, beer, food and fun. These are the four ingredients that make any fundraising event a hit. The YWCA of Pierce County knows this, and that's why it's hosting a Cork and Keg Festival today.

"Having attended multiple beer and wine festivals, I saw a great opportunity," said Kelly McDonald, event coordinator, "People love going ... it's really fun."

From 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday in Opera Alley, expect to see 21 Cellars, E9, The Harmon Brewing Company, The Ram, Seven Seas, Wingman Brewers, Mt. Head Brewery, Silver City, Stina Cellars, Palouse Winery, Stottle Winery, and Vashon Winery. Food will be available as well. Stink Cheese and Meat will provide sandwiches; Hilltop Pop Shop will have gourmet popsicles and Over the Moon will have salads.

"They have been so generous," said McDonald of the sponsors. "They are not making any money, so it's pretty much a labor of love."

"I try very hard to support local events where I can and this was easy because it's in my neighborhood," said Deanna Bender, owner of Over the Moon Café. "Also, this type event makes things fun and easy for people to get involved and help bring awareness to the YWCA and also the necessary funding to keep its awesome programs going forward which benefit the people in need, which helps the ENTIRE community."

For more than 30 years, the YWCA of Pierce County has been a beacon of hope for families suffering from domestic violence. Safety, healing and empowerment are the organizations goals, and the YWCA touches the lives of more than 12,000 women and children annually.

"Several years ago government funding tightened," said McDonald. "We've had to strategically supplant the lack of funds. The Cork and Keg event is a way to reach a different demographic to raise awareness about our services."

All proceeds will directly benefit the organization, which provides housing, resources and daily living needs to the women and children involved in the program.

"The goal is to raise $10,000 for our first year doing this event," McDonald said.

The YWCA has also had two 5K runs this year and they are planning a silent jewelry auction in the fall.

Tickets are $25 advance, $30 day of event.

Can't make it to the event? Donations of non-perishable food items, full-sized toiletries, used cell phones, new undergarments and socks, and gift cards can be dropped off directly at the YWCA, located at 405 Broadway in Tacoma.

Ticket purchases or monetary donations can be made through www.ywcapiercecounty.org.

Filed under: New Beer Column, Tacoma,

July 25, 2012 at 6:09am

Sour Beer Fest at Engine House

Engine House No. 9 will host a sour beer fest tomorrow.

They will have 10 draft sours, 3 of which will be their own crafted selections, and several bottle choices. The fest will run from 5 to close, but they suggest you come down early, as there is no guarantee they won't run out.

Here is the beer lineup posted on their Facebook:

E9 Love Child Kriek
E9 Petite Sour
E9 Wild Child
Russian River Supplication
Rodenbach Gra Cru
Schooner Exact Raspberry Brown
New Belgium La Folie
New Belgium Imp Berliner
Bear Republic Tartar
Double Mountain Devil Kriek
There will also be Russian River Sanctification, Lost Abby Red Poppy, LambicX and 3 or 4 other Belgian Lambics to try in bottles.

Happy Thirsty Thursday Everyone!

Filed under: New Beer Column, Tacoma,

March 8, 2012 at 1:47pm

Gig Harbor Beer Festival announces brewers

AMERICAN BREWING CO.: She'll be there.


Simple South Sound beer math: Spring is typically cool around here and alcohol makes you warm, so by way of booze logic, the Gig Harbor Beer festival this spring is equivalent to the warmest snuggle-buddy in all the land!

The Gig Harbor Beer Festival today announced their final brewer list for the upcoming event. This inaugural spring beer-tasting event will be held May 12 at the Gig Harbor Uptown Pavilion and will feature 10 craft brewers:

  • American Brewing Co., Edmonds
  • Der Blokken Brewery, Bremerton
  • Dicks Brewing Co., Centralia
  • Everybody's Brewing, White Salmon
  • Harmon Brewing Co., Tacoma
  • Hood Canal Brewery, Kingston
  • Pt. Townsend Brewing Co., Pt. Townsend
  • Silver City Brewery, Bremerton
  • Sound Brewing Co., Poulsbo
  • Valholl Brewing Co., Poulsbo

Let's read a press release:

"I could not be more pleased with the list of participating brewers. They all bring unique beers to the table and an enormous passion for brewing ," said festival organizer, John Fosberg. "The festival will offer event goers a memorable and diverse group of craft beers to choose from."?Mr. Fosberg continued by saying, "The brewer list filled up fast - many of the brewers mentioned having a loyal customer base in Gig Harbor. Once brewer names starting showing up on the event's website and Facebook page, advance tickets started selling at a brisk pace. I would encourage everyone to purchase their tickets before hand. I can't imagine this event not selling out, and I would hate to turn anyone away at the gate."

Advance tickets are $20 (you save $5), and are available online by visiting the Festival's website at http://www.gigharborbeerfestival.com, or at http://www.brownpapertickets.com. Your ticket admission includes a 2012 commemorative taster cup and eight taster tokens. You may also purchase tickets the day of the event for $25. Additional taster tokens will be on sale during the day of the Festival.??Festival organizers will also be giving away a limited number of free VIP tickets to the festival in a series of online raffles through the Festival's Facebook page. Simply visit the Gig Harbor Beer Festival's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/gigharborbeerfestival, "Like" the page, and you qualify.??The Gig Harbor Beer Festival benefits the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation. To learn more about this non-profit organization, please visit http://www.gigharborfoundation.org.

Blazing Onion Burger Company is the Major Sponsor for the event. Other sponsors include Uptown Gig Harbor, The Peninsula Gateway, DPI Print, The INN at Gig Harbor, Tides Tavern, and Cascade Print Media, Disidual Clothing LLC, with additional support from the City of Gig Harbor.??For more information, contact John Fosberg at (253) 853-2728, or contact@gigharborbeerfestival.com.

February 22, 2012 at 7:35am

Begins Today: Tacoma Drinks Washington Beer Week

THE RED HOT: It's all about Washington beers this week.

During college, I studied in Denmark for a semester and then traveled through Europe with a ragtag group of ramblers from the university I'd attended. The trip included a lot of walking, train riding, museum/church exploring and experiencing the different cultures of Europe (e.g., drinking beer in bars). We kept a list of beers we pounded as if we'd earn a prize. Unfortunately, Europe wasn't united in the mid-'80s so no prize for us.

However, you can earn a prize for drinking a bunch of Washington beers in Tacoma. Today kicks off Tacoma Drinks Washington Beer Week, sponsored by The Red Hot and Parkway Tavern. Tacoma's two beloved taverns will be pushing Washington brews through Feb. 29, hosting specials events and offering a 20-beer punch card WITH A PRIZE - a commemorative growler.

The Washington Beer Blog has all the sweet details on Tacoma Drinks Washington Beer Week.

Have a nice trip.

February 7, 2012 at 10:23am

Beer summit at the Ale House Thursday


Simple beer math: courtesy of the Weekly Volcano's Nosh league: winter is cold and alcohol makes you warm, so by way of booze logic, the Nosh League beer tasting Thursday at the Ale House is equivalent to the warmest snuggle-buddy in all the land!

A representative from Deschutes, New Belgium, Alaskan, American, Mac & Jack's and Widmer Brothers brewing companies will join the Nosh League Thursday to pour two beers each:

  • Deschutes Hop Henge and Abyss
  • New Belgium Dig and Cocoa Mole
  • Alaskan Black IPA and Barley Wine
  • American Breakaway and Brown
  • M&J's Serengeti and Cascadian Dark Ale
  • Widmer Rotator Spiced IPA and Brrrbon


For a mere $15, you will 12 receive healthy samples while noshing on appetizers and raking in the raffle prizes.

RSVP to Thursday's tasting here.

December 14, 2011 at 12:58pm

Engine House No. 9 to release Love Child tomorrow

The Engine House No. 9 is adding barrels. Photo credit: Facebook


It may be winter, but the cherry kriek will be flowing at Engine House No. 9 where it will be celebrated tomorrow night. That's right, it's going to get fruity inside Tacoma's beloved E-9.

But not too fruity.

Fruit beer doesn't get much respect because most of it is awful: sweet, syrupy, artificially flavored, and tasting more like cherry soda than beer. E-9 brewmaster Shane Johns assures us his new kriek lambic, Love Child, doesn't taste like cherry soda, but rather it finishes clean.

"The Love Child is ruby in color with a pink head. Aromas of cherry and oak. And it has a cherry and slight sour flavor," says Johns.

The Love Child was brewed two years ago, then aged in a French Oak Cabernet barrel and an American Oak Shiraz barrel. After several months John and crew added 80 pounds of Bing and sour cherries from Diamondback Organics in Lake Chelan. It aged another 12 months on the cherries, and then blended the barrels together for further aging.

The Love Child is the first beer in a series of barrel-aged wild beers E-9 will be releasing under its new ownership.

"John and Jeff have allowed us to grow our barrel series by acquiring six French Oak barrels," says Johns.

John and Jeff being John Xitco and Jeff Paradise of X Group Restaurants, who with partner Luke Xitco bought Engine House No. 9 this summer. The group also owns neighboring Masa and Asado at Pine and Sixth Avenue in Tacoma.

"The new ownership pays incredible attention to detail, and has a great desire to be the best at what they do," says Johns.

When Love Child began receiving Johns' love, E-9 only owned one barrel. Currently, the restaurant and brewery houses four barrels with another six arriving by the end of the year.

"We are working with our good friend Trevor on a wild strain for one of those barrels that comes from the ambient air here in Tacoma," adds Johns.

Besides celebrating Love Child tomorrow night at E-9, John will also pour two Belgian lambics - Leifmans Cuvee Brut and Mort Subite kriek lambic - and an American-style sour ale - Boneyard Femme Fatal. Johns says a 5-liter firkin from Germany will also be in the house.

[Engine House No. 9, Thursday, Dec. 15, 7-10 p.m. or until the beer runs out, 611 N. Pine S., Tacoma, 253.272.3435]

December 12, 2011 at 10:16am

TONIGHT: Not so silent night due to beer


It's the second Monday of the month, which means it's Tap Night Tacoma. Five locally owned and operated joints - The Red Hot, The Parkway Tavern, Doyle's Public House, The Swiss, and Engine House No. 9 - will simultaneously tap a fresh cask of ale at 6 p.m. tonight.


The Red Hot will tap Port Townsend Hop Diggidy IPA.

The Parkway will unleash some American Brewing Company Red on cask.

Doyle's will have Thornbridge Hall Halycyon Green Hop out of the cask.

The Swiss will feature Georgetown Brewing Lucille IPA.

Engine House No. 9 will come clean with their Winter Warmer.

LINK: Happy hours

November 3, 2011 at 10:28am

Let's pray for snow tonight


As in many things, our dear state is divided on the subject of snow sports. Those who don't ski or board resent those who do for getting excited about the cold and showing up for work after a "sick day" with goggle tan lines. Those who do ski or board look down upon the nons for their constant complaining about the ridiculous cost of winter sports, the damn cold, the stupid snow and driving conditions. By the way, it snowed overnight on Snoqualmie, Stevens and White passes.

This gap must be bridged. Let's all think about snow sports and drink beer together tonight. Harmon Brewery & eatery's annual "Pray For Snow Party" begins at 5 p.m. featuring gear and lift ticket giveaways and raffle prizes, snow sports movies and, of course, the human jukebox Steve Stefanowicz who has performed at this party for as long as I can remember.

Proceeds from the raffle benefit the Mary Bridge Child Abuse Intervention Program.

Convert or be de-converted.

[Harmon Brewery & Eatery, Thursday, Nov. 3, 5 p.m., all ages, no cover, 1938 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.383.2739]

LINK: Let's do it again Saturday

October 28, 2011 at 8:11pm

I drank five pumpkins tonight

Note to self: Don't show up late to a Varsity Grill beer tasting. My 15 minute tardiness tonight forced me out of the packed bar area, past THREE reserved sections for parties, past another long table full of partiers and into a back corner next to the kitchen. Where the staff lines up for food orders. And waits with its butts pointed at my head.

The Varsity Grill must have hired an engineering firm to configure the layout of tonight's Fall Brew Fest. They crammed nine beer vendors and the buffet table into the same square footage of a World Series' player's bathroom.

I didn't see a Halloween costume during the Fest. Why would there be? This was a brew fest, not a boo fest. The crowd was a mixture of young and old, including many familiar faces such as Aja, Paul and Mike from the Weekly Volcano's foodie group Nosh League.

I learned early to keep a hold of my faculties. A poor chap and his beer-and-plastic-cup-covered shoes received jeers from the crowd.

Deschutes Brewery's Hop Trip hit my taste buds first.  Wow. Its Northwest hops burst with such a funky fresh resin-ish taste I'm surprised I didn't plant a flower in my hair and dance barefoot on KJR Sports Radio's remote table.

Speaking of KJR, I can't make out a single word by Mike Gastineau and Hot Shot Scott from my command post in the corner. The World Series telecast and beer cheers consumed the airwaves.

My second beer was Blue Moon's mellow Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale. An afghan and roaring fire would be a better setting for this nutmeg forward with a dash of cinnamon beer. The Blue Moon dude handed out slices of pumpkin bread with each pour. Good call Blue Moon dude.

The buffet screamed Bavarian, with schnitzel, brat chunks of a stick, potato salad, sauerkraut and assorted mustards. During my second trip for potato salad, the guy pouring the Hop Trip clipped his entire table display on his way to the bathroom, dragging it to the floor. He had no clue and kept his pace. Funky fresh resin-ish taste, indeed.

My third beer of the night went to Widmer Brothers Okto - a German altbier with an ale yeast strain. Das ist spicy.

Cardinals outfielder Allen Craig robbed a home run as I sipped on my fourth beer - Trade Route Brewing Company's Midnight Ale. It was a dark ale with a strong nut taste and a sweet, slight chocolate finish. Needless to say, I sipped on this one for a while. The only thing that could've made it better is if I had a cigar in hand.

I went back to the pumpkin patch for my fifth tasting - Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale. It tasted the same as Blue Moon's version - good pumpkin flavor, nutmeg, cinnamon and sweetness.

Uinta Brewing Company's Punk'n Ale was the, er, pumpkiniest of the all. The beer rep called out the flavors - cinnamon, nutmeg and clove - which were the three keywords of the night. She added "and a ginger taste" to the end of her list. That must be the key to pumpkin greatness.

That's where I ended my journey. I felt as if I consumed an entire pumpkin pie. I skipped the last couple of beers. The pours were twice the size of this summer's Tacoma Craft Beer Festival, too.

If you're a beer lover, mark your calendar for next Halloween weekend. This is worthy event.

[Varsity Grill, 1114 Broadway, Tacoma, 253.627.1229]

October 2, 2011 at 1:26pm

Photos: Oktoberfest in an alley


For a full month leading up to Oktoberfest Tacoma, organizer Morgan Alexander kept telling us, over and over, it's more about the beer than German tradition.

Yesterday, just as the weather turned for the better, Oktoberfest Tacoma consumed Opera Alley. And, surprise, it was all about the beer. In fact, the scene was more "harvest" than anything remotely Bavarian with corn stalks and pumpkins scattered. The breweries brought their pumpkin beers, as well as stouts, IPAs and seasonals. There wasn't any sign of cleavage, clogging or crowns.

What did fill the downtown Tacoma alley was smiles, conversation, pretzels and lots of beer.

LINK: More Oktoberfest photos in the Photo Hot Spot

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