Weekly Volcano Blogs: Served blog

Posts made in: August, 2014 (32) Currently Viewing: 11 - 20 of 32

August 9, 2014 at 1:57pm

Beers On Broadway: Brew Five Three live in Tacoma

Full glass pints are waiting for you to fill with beer on Broadway in downtown Tacoma until 8:30 p.m. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Summary

A beer festival is held on Broadway in downtown Tacoma Saturday, Aug. 9. For full details, click here.

Characters

  • Emcee
  • Director Aaron Stevens
  • Brewers
  • Ciderists
  • Mobile Food Trucks Employees
  • Stephanie Anne Johnson
  • The West Coast Women's Blues Revue
  • The Mark Riley Trio
  • Junkyard Jane
  • Beer Drinkers

Setting

Washington state breweries in booths line Broadway between Ninth and 11th in downtown Tacoma. A blue music stage sits above in the park next to Theatre on the Square.

SCRIPT

SFX:

Clinking glass noises, band sound check

EMCEE:
(Who could, if desired, be a voice over the speaker system for the whole performance.) Step right up, step right up. This way to the fabulous Brew Five Three. Come one, come all, and drink the most amazing beers in the universe. So step this way. And let the show begin!

SFX:

Drum roll

EMCEE (Singing):

Welcome back my friends to the lines that never ends /
We're so glad you could attend /
Come outside! Come outside!
There in a glass is a real beer from grass /
Be careful as you pass /
Move along! Move along!

Come outside, the show is about to start /
Guaranteed to blow your head apart.
Rest assured you'll get your money's worth /
The greatest show in Two, Five and Three.
You've got to see the show; it's a dynamo.
You've got to see the show' it's rock and ... blueso (had to make it rhyme). ...

EMCEE:

Ladeeeeez and G-E-N-T-L-E-M-E-N, and all older than 21. Welcome to the fabulous Brew Five Three! Today, here on Broadway, right before your very eyes, a fabulous array of acts has been assembled for your delight and delectation. Jest with jaunty Washington state brewers ... cry with our cavorting ciderists ... marvel at the magnificent moveable fests ... give a bravo to our blues musicians ... and hold your breath because you're about to taste the best beers in all the land. All this and more before the clock strike 9.

But to start, let's give a big round of applause to the Broadway Center Executive Director David Fischer and his crew for hosting the second annual Brew Five Three. You'll find Fischer checking people in.

SFX:

Applause

SFX:
Drum roll

EMCEE:

1:30 p.m.: I tell you, I've had so many face-lifts, they finally lifted it right off my body! It's true; it's true! Oh, oh, oh! Let's take a look who's strolling the gray pavement and what they are wearing. ...

John and Alyssa are wearing Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. and Pint Defiance, respectively.

Gary is wearing a straw hat with many brewery pins.

Tim is wearing a bear deer beer T-shirt.

Rick is wearing a T-shirt he found on beer.woot.com.

In case you're wondering, today I'm wearing Target, H&M and some black socks my ex-girlfriend left at my house.

These two guys were laughing so much I don't know who they are or what they are wearing.

Apparently there's a team that makes Rick drink.

Northwest "swampabilly" blues band is performing original music and covers, such as Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On."

Rest easy, Brew Five Three crowd: This man is here to make sure no one runs.

Engine House No. 9 bartender Todd McLaughlin is singing about E9's Nameless #25 IPA with Citra, Centennial, Mosaic and Simcoe hops to the tune of U2's "Where the Street Have No Name." It's drawing a crowd, mostly because the IPA is freakin' hoppy delicious.

2:55 p.m.: The first pint glass breaks. The crowd erupts in cheers.

3 p.m.: It's announced over the Broadway Center's walkie talkie communication system that Tacoma Craft Beer Festival and Washington Brewers Festival tokens are being passed off as Brew Five Three tokens. TOKEN DEFCON is now 2.

EMCEE:

Thank you Broadway Center Instagram for all the delicious posts from the Brew Five Three beer festival. Gazing at Broadway Center Marketing Coordinator Mariesa Bus' Instagram posts, I can tell she bases much of her work on Renaissance imagery and brings classical aplomb to her posts.

Lady A of the West Coast Women & Blues Band has just popped into the crowd.

The chemistry between Nat Woodsmith and Elise Woodsmith at the Puyallup River Brewing Co. booth is engaging, although the sometimes breakneck pace at which their extended pours have been directed runs roughshod over punch lines and transitional moments. Nat, in particular, rolls equal parts boyish bounciness and comic mania into his pours, especially his tasty Bourbon Barrel-aged 3 IPA, which rings in at 11 percent ABV. It's all good; they're head brewer and wife.

4:30 p.m.: The comedy portion of Brew Five Three hit the pavement outside the Pantages Theater.

Colin Harvin of 7 Seas Brewing has been performing comedy at beer festivals all summer. He's quick. Clearly, his routines from the 7 Seas' booths showcase that. Although he had moments of focusing on the negative things in his life (which is still always funny), he hits topics such as politics and potholes in Tacoma. He pulls from the world, and he knows what he is talking about. He is amazing and sharp and can work with anything you throw at him, even while pouring the 7 Seas' Depth Finder IRA - a inspired NW style ale that combines the hop profile of an IPA (Columbus, Palisade and Simcoe) with the malt character of a lusciously, smooth Amber ale. Harvin is not joking when he says the IRA has a resinous, bitter finish.

Over at the Amnesia Brewing booth, Brew Five Three Director Aaron Stevens, who believes he broke his foot navigating stairs last night, joined in on a live script reading of the 2006 film Beerfest, about two brothers who travel to Germany for Oktoberfest, only to stumble upon a secret, centuries-old competition described as a Fight Club with beer games. The folks gathered around the Amnesia Brewing booth compared the reading to Amy Schumer's comedy, although the crowd was drinking plenty of delicious Amnesia Trail Hazer Ale, a medium body, floral dry hopped version of its popular Dusty Trail Pale Ale.

5:45 p.m.: The first jumper of the day climbed over the fence at the south end of the festival at 11th Street right into the arms of several volunteers. Without a wrist band and tokens, the jumper felt stupid and left unescorted.

The Mark Riley Trio is pulling people off the beer trail and up onto the concert arena. A guitar craftsman and veteran of such bands as Snake Oil, Little Bill & The Bluenotes and The Mark Whitman Band, Riley and crew are playing blistering blues.

Odd Otter Brewing Co. in downtown Tacoma, a brewery schedule to open within a month, is pouring its Coconut Chai Ale, one of five Otter beers at the Brew Five Three. It's like drinking a porter on a tropical beach not engulfed in a tropical storm, even though the staff clearly would be fun at a beach bar. Bravo!

SFX:

Drum roll (sustained quietly during the following) - The talk of Brew Five Three is Brickyard Brewing's Southwestern Hatch Green Chili Blonde Ale. The Hatch Green Chili peppers are from New Mexico, providing a subtle heat, making this beer perfect for a pizza. It's amazing, and at 5.2 percent ABV, so drinkable.

EMCEE:

It's intermission, ladeeez and gennelmen. Ice Cream Social and beer will be on sale during the interval, and then hurry back to your seats as we bring you further marvels in the Brew Five Three (read: blogger needs a drink).

7 p.m.: Intermission was shattered with the news the sixth pint glass was dropped on Broadway. Once again, cheers erupted.

Intermission is back on. Here's a shot of the Brew Five Three crowd to hold you over until Stephanie Anne Johnson takes the stage. Can you spot the Top Rung Brewing Company founders? Hint: They're in the middle of the shot.

In the late-1980s, Anthrax was part of an MTV contest wherein they would wreak havoc on the winner's home. A few years later, the legendary metal band reprised their role as house destroyers on Married with Children, when Bud Bundy wins dinner and a concert with the band. At best, it was pointless. Guest appearances can go wrong, unless you're Randi Rodgers of The Swiss Restaurant and Pub. Rodgers had the crowd in her palm today guest pulling the taps at the Seattle Cider Co. booth at Brew Five Three.

Stephanie Anne Johnson and her band are rocking the Brew Five Three. In fact people are (gasp) putting down the pint glasses and dancing.

The dude with the Wingman Brewers T-Shirt dancing in the middle of the dance floor before Stephanie Anne Johnson inspired us to end the night with a full pint of Wingman's IPA.

EMCEE:

That's the end of the show! That's the end of the show! Wow, it's been a quick but also very long seven hours. Thanks for spending them with us. End of the shooooooooow!

August 11, 2014 at 9:30am

Served Blog Banner Girl: Q&A with Kelly Driscoll of Dirty Oscar's Annex

Kelly Driscoll tends bar at Dirty Oscar's Annex on Tacoma's Sixth Avenue. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Every week we swap out the Served banner art above, introducing you to the people who serve food and drinks in the South Sound. This week, meet Kelly Driscoll.

Server Banner Girl, Aug. 11-17, 2014

Kelly Driscoll

Kelly Driscoll has had the same vocation since she turned 21: bartending. Night after night of pouring drinks, listening, nodding, keeping the party going with banter and wisecracks. Driscoll began slingin' drinks at Jazzbones. She spent three and a half years at the Sixth Avenue bar and music joint before moving down the street to O'Malley's Irish Pub. After four years there, she decided it was time for another change of venue, and moved a block east to Dirty Oscar's Annex. Basically, Kelly is just working her way down The Ave.

Why do you serve?

"You never know who will walk through the door. This is a fast-paced job that keeps me on my toes. One day I'll write down all of the things I've seen on Sixth Avenue and turn it into the next great American novel."

Who is your favorite server in the South Sound?

"This is a tough one. I love all the guys at Eleven Eleven, but I'm going to have to say Rose Peterson at 1022. She makes the best Old Fashioned I've ever had. And I've tried more than a few!"

What are you most proud to serve?

"Moonshine. There is something about this spirit that sparks people's interest. I love the look on their face when I give them a piece of fruit from the mason jar it was aged in. It's waaaay better than bitter beer face and it never gets old! Come in and try it sometime, I dare ya!"

What's your current drink of choice?

"The Old Fashioned. It's a classic and it looks cool too."

Favorite movie?

Top Gun. The soundtrack was the first cassette I ever bought and the first sex scene I ever saw. It pretty much changed my life.

What don't you serve?

"Trashcans. I haven't made a Trashcan since I made the switch to DOA and that's just fine by me!"

What's on your radar at Dirty Oscar's?

We recently launched our new lunch menu at Dirty Oscar's. We now open at noon Monday through Thursday. I'm stoked to offer a new option for people who work around Sixth Avenue. Plus, if you wake up with a hangover during the week, I can help you with that too!

LINK: Meet other South Sound servers

Filed under: Served Banner Models, Tacoma,

August 11, 2014 at 2:39pm

The resurgence of Tacoma's beer legacy

Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. founders Steve Navarro, left, and Brent Hall began brewing beer July 30 at their downtown Tacoma brewery. Photo courtesy of pacificbrewingandmalting.com/photographer Jeremy Leffel

As far back as when Job Carr stirred wort alongside the banks of Commencement Bay, our city has had a love affair with beer. It is only natural that with a mix of working class Scandinavians, Austria/Hungarians and Germans that someone (if not everyone) would be mixing their own home brew.

In pre-prohibition Tacoma, the brewery district housed Heidelberg, Milwaukee and Pacific Brewing and Malting companies. Today, we have new local favorites such as Tacoma Brewing Company, Narrows Brewing and Wingman Brewers creating flavorful brews and bringing beer pride to the City of Destiny - and more are on the horizon.

Tacoma's Brewery District

The area between South 17th Street to South Tacoma Way on the east side of downtown was once home to some of the most productive and influential beer making facilities of the pre-prohibition Northwest. Today, the area contains warehouses and storage facilities with its former breweries in derelict condition or demolished in the name of progress (I'm looking at you, Holiday Inn.)

According to BreweryGems.com, one of the first breweries in the area was the New Tacoma Brewery, which was established in 1884. The company changed hands in 1886, taking on the name United States Brewing & Ice Co. In 1891, the brewery changed hands again and became the first major brewery in the area, The Milwaukee Brewery. Though solely a Tacoma company, owner Samuel Loeb named his company "Milwaukee" to reflect the 19th century's award-winning breweries of the Midwest.

In 1897, Milwaukee Brewery merged with Puget Sound Brewing Company to form the Pacific Brewing and Malting Company. The building that housed PBMC still stands today at 2515 S. Holgate St.

Just as PBMC was coming together, Columbia Brewing opened its doors a few blocks away. However, both Columbia and PBMC hit hard times during the dark days of prohibition, and PBMC  closed shop in 1914 when Washington state jumped the gun and ratified prohibition six years before it was mandated by federal law. Columbia Brewing kept its doors open by producing non-alcoholic beverages. When the company came out the other side of forced temperance, it changed its name to Heidelberg Brewing.

As one of the top three breweries in the West (along with Olympia and Rainier), Heidelberg Brewing made Tacoma synonymous with beer until the 1970s, when it finally closed its doors.

>>> Wingman Brewers co-founder Ken Thoburnserved beer during Wingman's third anniversary party in April 2014. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner 

The Modern Era

"We hope to reawaken the greatness of Tacoma as a beer town like it was with big breweries like Pacific and Heidelberg, but it may not look the same as it once did," said Ken Thoburn, brewer at Wingman Brewers, brewing beer in the shadow of the Tacoma Dome. "Instead of one huge brewery serving a large area, craft beer is moving toward a hyper local kind of product."

Tap handles in every bar and restaurant around the Northwest symbolize the progress Tacoma is making toward reinvigorating its brewing traditions. Today, it isn't uncommon to find locally brewed beers next to nationally established standbys. This shows growing momentum in the acknowledgment of what local beer artisans are producing.

The resurgence started in the mid-'90s with Engine House No. 9 and the RAM Restaurant and Brewery followed by the Harmon Brewing Co. During the last 20 years, Tacoma's seen great strides in its craft beer movement with Narrows Brewing Co., Wingman Brewers and Tacoma Brewing Company. Five founders - three with local military ties - will open Odd Otter Brewing Co. on Pacific Avenue before October.

Additionally, surrounding Pierce County cities have spawned their own local flavors. Gig Harbor's 7 Seas Brewing has been making big waves since it opened in 2008. Powerhouse Brewing Company and Puyallup River Brewing offer tasty options in Puyallup.

With the assistance of Tacoma's Mash or Puyallup's Station U-Brew, the number of locally brewed concoctions coming from home brewers is growing exponentially. Who knows what mad genius is out there creating your next favorite beer?

At the 2014 Washington Beer Awards, Tacoma brought home six medals. E9 collected three. The Harmon brought home two. Wingman rounded out the showing with two medals. Notably, Puyallup (Tacoma's agrarian neighbor) had a big winner with Puyallup River Brewing grabbing three medals.

But in Tacoma, a few medals doesn't translate as a beer superpower.

>>> Harmon Brewing Co. co-owner Pat Nagle revamped his Harmon Tap Room's beer garden this spring, reopening it as the Harmon Garden last month. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

"Imagine if EVERY pub and restaurant in the greater Tacoma area always served at least three Tacoma breweries on tap all of the time. This would be a phenomenon in and of itself," said Pat Nagel, co-owner of the Harmon Brewing Co. "It would provide enough business for all of the local breweries to meet their goals for production and build loyal customers supporting local business. It's a win/win. The breweries grow, the beer scene grows, the restaurants are supporting local and benefiting from this because their customers are local and they appreciate it."      

Pacific Brewing and Malting Company Redux

In September, the Pacific Brewing and Malting Company will be reborn. Not directly affiliated with the original PBMC, the new Pacific Brewing and Malting pays homage to Tacoma's illustrious brewing past. Previously, rights to the PBMC name, logo and recipes were held by Engine House No. 9. E9 even used the PBMC motto "Best East or West" to describe its own beer during the late '90s, which it continues today. This year, Steve Navarro, with help from investors, bought the "expired" rights to the PBMC name and will be using the Pacific Brewing and Malting name to usher in its own creations.

"When we started brainstorming names for the new brewery, a friend, who also happens to be one of the original investors, thought it would be great to bring back one of the cornerstones of the original Tacoma brewing industry. Being that we live in Tacoma and appreciate its history, we naturally gravitated to Pacific Brewing and Malting Co.," explained Navarro, co-owner and head brewer.

With a number of established local brews around T-town (such as E9, Harmon, Wingman and the RAM), PBMC has a lot of recent history to live up to.

"For such a small city, Tacoma has a very sophisticated beer community that spans all ages. They know what they like, and they like quality craft beer," Navarro continued. "The brewing community here is very supportive of one another and have been a huge help for me as I have been trying to open our brewery.

"One of our flagship beers is going to be a pale lager ... (like the) company's flagship beer from 1897 to 1915, (which was) known as Pacific Beer. I entertained the idea of staying within the style of a pre-prohibition style lager, but decided to create my own interpretation of the beer," Navarro said of the similarities between the original and new PBMC. "I think that our pale lager can act as a gateway beer for those beer drinkers who are just starting to explore what craft beer is."

The New PBMC will be located at 615 Commerce St., with its brewery doors opening out to Pacific Avenue.

We All Win When There Is More Beer      

"(Tacoma is) on the verge of being a true player on the craft beer scene - like Seattle, Portland and Bend," said Nagle. "We have key people not only brewing great local craft beer, but we also have smart, hip pubs serving great local craft beer like Parkway, The Red Hot, The Swiss, The Hub, Meconi's, The Office, the Social and many others. We also have awesome people running specialty bottle shops like 99 Bottles, Pint Defiance, World Beer Tacoma and the new Copper Door near us in the Stadium District. All of this is so important in building loyal beer drinkers that really want to get to know the beers."

Whether you drink Harmon's Browns Point ESB or the Narrow's Galloping Gertie Golden Ale, it is a good time to be a beer drinker in T-town.

August 12, 2014 at 10:10am

Eat This Now: fried pickle spear

Do not skip the fried pickle spears at Two Town Pub and Grill in Tacoma. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

This week we journey to a new establishment along the Ruston Waterfront, Two Town Pub and Cafe. Located in the lovely Point Ruston condominium building, Two Town has the potential to be a hot spot along the expanding waterfront destination.

Having only opened in the final week of July, newbie Two Town is serving up Dilano's Coffee and Corina Bakery pastries during the day and a menu heavy in appetizers, burgers and sandwiches paired with fun cocktails and brews for lunch and dinner. The interior is a little bare and cold but clever with exposed brick and distressed metal shingles on some walls. Patio seating available is a nice addition though there's no waterside view; instead you peer into the parking lot and the building side.

As a new place there are some kinks to work out. Service left something to be desired with the one server obviously stressed for time. She was uber friendly but we waited a fair amount of time before ordering and no refills or napkins were offered until the end of our meal.

The Loaded Martini ($8) with smashed potatoes, house made gravy, green onions, shredded cheese and sour cream arrives in a large martini glass. While it's a clever concept, it's near impossible to actually eat. The flavor was intact - once I could dig in and find equal parts of each component while trying not to look like a toddler who was just learning to use utensils as my table became increasingly peppered with tumbling toppings.

The big Eat This Now column winner proves it's all about the little things sometimes. I suggest the fried pickle spear served atop each burger and sandwich. This little delight was a surprise boasting a crisp light breading with a juicy big pickle inside. Trust me, if you dig fried pickle chips at other joints you're going to love these.

The cocktail menu is pretty solid though this brown liquor lover was left in the cold with not one bourbon concoction in sight. SACRILIGE! Oh, and the potty situation is weird with shared bathrooms for the building, meaning you have to exit the restaurant and travel down the foray a bit.

In all I'd say give Two Town a try and if you leave disappointed give them another in a few months once they've had a chance to work out the kinks.

TWO TOWN PUB AND CAFE, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 5005 Main St., Tacoma, 253.212.9477

Filed under: Eat This Now, Tacoma,

August 13, 2014 at 10:21am

Maxwell's Restaurant tweaks dishes, headed for the BIG Melt

Northwest cod wrapped in prosciutto and partnered with tomato and burrata raviolis is now available at Maxwell's Restaurant in Tacoma. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

Seasonal menu transitions keep dishes extraordinarily fresh and flavorful, especially with the plethora of amazing seasonal options here in the Northwest. Downtown Tacoma restaurant Maxwell's Restaurant + Lounge has a reputation for serving up some of the freshest quality ingredients while striving for sustainability yet delivering exquisite flavor with a touch of class.

Chef Hudson Slater revamped the menu recently with season-ready ingredients such as zucchini and figs paired with fowl and fish alike. Take, for instance, the grilled scallop starter ($12) with bacon-wrapped scallops dressed in a jalapeno pesto served atop a bed of pickled zucchini. It was love at first sight for me while admiring Chef Slater's Instagram account and the perfect way to start a meal.

>>> Bacon-wrapped scallops at Maxwell's! Photo credit: Jackie Fender

Recently, I raved about the seared duck breast ($28) paired with a creamy fennel risotto teasing with pops of summer sweetness in braised and fresh figs. The duck is seared to perfection with a nicely seasoned exterior and tender meat throughout.

When I inquired which dish I should dine upon, Slater recommended the Northwest cod ($22). Here's a tip: always take the chef's suggestions. The meaty, generous cod steak is wrapped in prosciutto and partnered with tomato and burrata (a creamy mozzarella cheese) raviolis, zucchini and crispy capers. It is creamy, smoky, well-balanced and filling.

There are lots of "minor tweaks to better showcase the awesome season we have here in Washington," Slater said. "Maxwell's will have specials daily depending on what is fresh, with some fun heirloom tomato dishes in the very near future."

The bar doesn't disappoint, either, with staff concocting some fun craft cocktails to compliment the new dishes. Maxwell's also boasts a diverse wine selection for pairing.

With a proven track record of outside event and competition participation and award-winning culinary skills, having scored top spots in Museum of Glass' Slider Competition (twice), Netshed 9's Fight Night chef throwdown, second place in our Tournament of Burgers, and even bringing home a collaborative T-town win with Wingman Brewers at the Seattle Bacon and Beer Classic, it only seems natural that you can look forward to more from Chef Slater, such as The BIG Melt on Sept. 7 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Held in Seattle's Magnuson Park, The inaugural BIG Melt festivities will include grilled cheese masters getting creative with ooey-gooey, cheesy goodness.

Bottom line, these minor menu tweaks are all the excuse you need for date night or downtime at Maxwell's.

MAXWELL'S RESTAURANT + LOUNGE, 4-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight Friday, 5 p.m. to midnight Saturday, 454 Saint Helens Ave., Tacoma, 253.683.4115

SEE ALSO

Chef Hudson Slater shows his competitive spirit

August 14, 2014 at 11:51am

Outsider's Guide: Music and Art in Wright Park

Sometimes after having your face melted by blistering guitar solos, you need a burger. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

Saturday, Aug. 16 marks another year for the iconic Music and Art in Wright Park festival. This free fabulous festival celebrates local, duh, music and art.

It only seems natural then that as a dedicated urban spelunker I commit some time to the area around Wright Park to enable you, as a festival attendee, to unearth all the glorious, shiny gems you can Saturday while enjoying live entertainment from the likes of Fist of Fire, Girl Trouble and 12 other bands, plus art by Carrie Foster, also known as the creative force behind the Shroom Brothers and artist Gilbert Lord.  

Wright Park has been the backdrop to many a Tacoman memories,

The area surrounding Wright Park is rich with food, drink and sights to see. Here are just a few in the immediate vicinity.


Rosebud Revelers

As a beautiful botanical garden, W. W. Seymour Conservatory is an iconic destination for those thirsty for a taste of Tacoma history and those wishing to gaze upon an enchanting display of Mother Nature. The conservatory hosts a variety of events allowing visitors to enjoy the lovely surroundings during concerts, story times and lectures alike. It is a must visit when visiting Wright Park. 316 S. G St., 253.591.5330


Diner, Dives and Drinkers

Though the Hob Nob has recently undergone some renovations, it will always remain a diner destination. A go-to for breakfast grub on one side and stiff cocktails on the other, the Hob Nob is tops if you're looking for some sustenance or a little pick me up while venturing on foot around the park. After all one can become parched whilst indulging in live music shenanigans and need not travel far to refuel before going back for more. 716 Sixth Ave., 253.272.3200


Modern Day Foraging and Hunting

No one expects you to pick berries and hunt wild life to bring sustenance to the familial units because one simply can dine out or visit a grocer for such needs and Stadium Thriftway is just a hop from Wright Park. This means you can take a stroll to find picnic grub to fuel the festival going ons, plus just about anything else that finds your fancy like a bottle of vino, fresh flowers and deli grub. This makes loading up the minivan a cinch equating to less of a load to bring from home. 618 N. 1st St., 253.627.8275

Coffeemongers

Cosmonaut Café(once known as Satellite) is directly across from Wright Park and promises to deliver a quick one-two caffeination uppercut to keep a little pep in your step and swag in your shimmy. And let's face it; a daylong excuse to rock out requires some of that. Besides they brew up Stumptown beans, which are utterly divine. 617 Division Ave., 863.692.6766

 

Drive Thru Diners

Another iconic Tacomacentric locale lies nearby at Frisko Freeze. Their double cheeseburger, hot fudge shake and onion rings are pretty much mandatory when I visit Wright Park. There's always a line, which is a drag, but also a testament to the deliciousness that is delivered condiment slathered and dripping with grease between two tasty buns. 1201 Division Ave., 253.272.6843

Have a Cold One

For the Kiddies: Gibson's Frozen Yogurt, Shake Shake Shake

For the Grown Ups: The Copper Door, ParkWay Tavern, Doyle's Public House, Harmon Tap Room

Filed under: Tacoma, Community, Music, Summer Tip,

August 15, 2014 at 10:30am

Mac and Cheese Madness: Red Robin

Red Robin adds mac and cheese to its pork riblets. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Someone got their ribs in my mac and cheese! And that someone has a beak.

In the South, mac and cheese often accompanies barbecue ribs. It's as common and someone sticking their chocolate in peanut butter, or something. Red Robin, the local franchise that built its reputation on gourmet burgers, offers the Southern combination ($13.99) - meaning, like many Southerners, it treats its mac and cheese as a vegetable.

The ribs are the star of this dish, although a diminutive star. They're riblets - tiny tender triple S pork riblets. The meat fell off the bone and into my smile.

The mac and cheese, with its three Italian cheese sauce of Romano, Parmesan and assaigo, was topped with half-melted shredded mild cheddar. It felt and tasted like a sidedish.

RED ROBIN, various locations including close to Tacoma Mall, Lakewood Towne Center and two Puyallup locations, redrobin.com

August 18, 2014 at 11:16am

Tumwater Artesian Brewfest pays tribute to city's gaming history

Beer Pong is Tumwater. Courtesy photo

Entertainment has always been a keystone of Tumwater's identity. Even in the mid-1800s, when it was little more than a dusty pioneer town, Tumwater was a lively place, with no shortage of games.

Michael T. Simmons, who along with other pioneers who founded what would become Tumwater, invented beer pong. After working all day at the grist and saw mills, Simmons and the gents would ride their horses to downtown New Market, their settlement centered on the Deschutes River and Tumwater Falls, and set up a beer pong game in the middle of the street. They'd toss pebbles into tin cans full of beer, shouting "It's the water!" when the pebble found the bottom of the can, although research doesn't reveal why such a phrase was shouted.

In the 1850s, right around the time New Market became Tumwater, a nod to the glorious Tumwater Falls, the lumberjacks would gather on Sunday afternoons, pour beer into their dented tin cans and create challenges out of wood scraps. Stuffing the most wood into trousers soon gave way to deconstructing towers of wood pieces piece by piece until it collapsed, sending the culprit to the outhouse they all lovingly called the "Time Out." Reigning champion Jed Jenga dubbed the game "Stack 'Em Up, Knock 'Em Down."

Nov. 25, 1869, Tumwater was officially incorporated as a town. In celebration, the town folk tossed their "New Market" embroidered fanny packs in the trash tins. In keeping with the rich community tradition of games, those who could hit the tiny hole from faraway distances would win pretzel necklaces. At the end of the year, the champion would receive a big floppy hat and oversized sunglasses.

In the summer of 1895, Montana brewer Leopold F. Schmidt discovered Tumwater's artisan springs, shelled out $4,550 for property and within a year built five buildings by the Deschutes River comprising the Capital Brewery - a four-story wooden brewhouse, five-story cellar building, one-story ice factory, bottling/keg plant and, of course, a game hut. History hasn't been kind to the game hut; only verbal history has kept its existence alive. 

The Capital Brewing Company became the Olympia Brewing Co. in 1902, marketing its artisan water excellence with the slogan "It's the Water" for their flagship brand, Olympia Beer.

Prohibition messed with Oly Brewing's good life, the game hut fell victim to the emerging social gaming leader Milton Bradley and the property exchanged hands several times, as well as other historical tidbits of note.

I relay the Tumwater history lesson to prove Saturday's Tumwater Artesian Brewfest isn't a celebration of the city's rich beer history, but rather a re-boot of the city's gaming roots. Yes, 30 Pacific Northwest breweries will line the Tumwater Valley Golf Course's driving range, but the spotlights will shine on the events consuming most of the green grass - games. The beer festival folks present Beer Stein Holding Contest (men and women divisions), First Tee's Hole in One Contest, supersized beer pong, cornhole, volleyball, giant Jenga as well as a ride on a Mechanical Shark. I'm not prepared to make waves with Tumwater's notorious mechanical shark history. I have mouths to feed.

"Supersized Beer Pong is not an organized activity, it is just open to whoever is wanting to play," explains Jennifer Leach, special projects and event manager with the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau, as well as the producer of the Tumwater Artesian Brewfest. "The game is played with twelve red garbage cans and two volleyballs, following regular beer pong rules - however, it is difficult to remove the cups so they pretty much stay put."

No doubt Michael T. Simmons smiles from above.

"Beer Stein Holding Contest contestants line up and must hold a one-liter stein, filled with Olympia Beer, straight out in front of them," explains Leach. "There is no supporting of the arm allowed, and no bending or leaning of the body. The last one holding their stein wins."

Obviously, this game is borrowed from Germany. I have submitted a FOIA request.

"The hole-in-one contest is 168 yards long; prize still to be determined," says Leach. "There will be footballs, Frisbees and other balls available for play; however, there is no organized game. There will also be volleyball nets and cornhole games set up - everything is very casual, much like a backyard barbecue."

The Mechanical Shark wasn't discussed. Not shocking.

The Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau's hope was to create an environment where there is plenty to do besides tasting beer, wine and cider, especially for those people who are the designated drivers for the group or simply don't (gasp) enjoy beer.

"The reason we have so many activities is that we wanted to be unique from other beer festivals or brew fests, providing things to do besides standing or sitting and tasting beer," explains Leach. We wanted to create a fun environment to appeal to the 21 to 35 crowd. However, people of all (drinking) ages will certainly have a great time at the event, especially with such a wide range of activities.

Leach disputes gaming lead to the creation of the Tumwater Artesian Brewfest, which was renamed from the last year's Tumwater Oktoberfest.

"The idea of Tumwater Artesian Brewfest originated with the desire to celebrate Tumwater's brewing history, as the former home of Olympia Beer," says Leach. "That is why in addition to all the microbrews available, we will have Olympia Beer on tap, to honor the former Olympia Brewing Company's impact on the Tumwater community."

The Visitor Bureau's goal was to host Pacific Northwest breweries, so Leach and the committee hand-selected breweries from Washington and Oregon. South Sound breweries pitching booths on the driving range include 7 Seas Brewing, Dick's Brewing Co., Fish Brewing Company, Harmon Brewing Co., Kastellan Brauerei, Narrows Brewing Co., Three Magnets Brewing Co., Top Rung Brewing Co. and Wingman Brewers. Olympia Beer will make its way north from Los Angeles, thanks to the Pabst Brewing Co. Oregon breweries including 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Base Camp Brewing Co., Full Sail Brewing Co., GoodLife Brewing and Pelican Brewing Co.

Tickets are $20, $15 military and $10 designated driver before Aug. 22, increasing by $5 each at the gate. Five taste tokens and a 6-ounce plastic glass will be your award, with an additional buck for each additional tasting. There will also be 12-ounce souvenir glasses for sale. Tickets are available at tumwaterartesianbrewfest.com, or at the Bureau, 103 Sid Snyder Ave. SW in Olympia.

So Saturday, as you hurl an enormous ball into enormous cups, you and Tumwater founder Michael T. Simmons will be united on this earth, caught in the dance of pioneer vision and jovial drinking games. "It's the water!"

TUMWATER ARTESIAN BREWFEST, 1-8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23, Tumwater Valley Golf Course, 4611 Tumwater Valley Dr. SE, Tumwater, $10-$25, tumwaterartesianbrewfest.com

Tumwater Artesian Brewfest breweries (as of Aug. 18)

  • 7 Seas Brewing Co. • Gig Harbor, WA
  • 10 Barrel Brewing Company •  Bend, OR
  • Bainbridge Island Brewing • Bainbridge Island, WA
  • Base Camp Brewing Company • Portland, OR
  • Brickyard Brewing • Woodinville, WA
  • Dick's Brewing Company • Centralia, WA
  • Fish Brewing Company • Olympia, WA
  • Fremont Brewing Company • Seattle, WA
  • Full Sail Brewing Company • Hood River, OR
  • GoodLife Brewing • Bend, OR
  • Hales Brewery • Ballard, WA
  • Harmon Brewery • Tacoma, WA
  • Iron Horse Brewery • Ellensburg, WA
  • Kastellan Brauerei • Lacey, WA
  • Madsen Family Cellars • Lacey, WA
  • Narrows Brewing • Tacoma, WA
  • NoLi Brewhouse • Spokane, WA
  • Northwest Mountain Winery • Lacey, WA
  • Olympia Beer • Los Angeles, CA
  • Orlison Brewing Co. • Airway Heights, WA
  • Pelican Brewing Co. • Pacific Beach, OR
  • Port Townsend Brewing Company • Port Townsend, WA
  • Scatter Creek Winery • Tenino, WA
  • Seapine Brewing Company • Seattle, WA
  • Stottle Winery • Lacey, WA
  • Three Magnets Brewing Company • Olympia, WA
  • Top Rung Brewing Company • Lacey, WA
  • Westport Brewing Co. • Westport, WA
  • Whitewood Cider Co. • Olympia, WA
  • Wingman Brewers • Tacoma, WA
Filed under: New Beer Column, Olympia,

August 18, 2014 at 1:47pm

The Swiss to pair Mac & Jack's beers with braised short ribs, nachos and more ...

August is going out like a lion at The Swiss Restaurant & Pub in Tacoma.

Keith Carpenter, the Mac & Jack's Brewing Company's representative for south and west of King County, will drop by The Swiss Restaurant & Pub to chat up the Redmond brewery's history and pair beers with big bites. Here is Carpenter's history speech in a nutshell:

1991: Mac Rankin started home brewing and fell in love with the process. He probably started home brewing to relieve stress as it was Dave Krieg's final season in Seattle, when he was one of four quarterbacks to start during Seattle's 7-9 season.

1993: Mac approached Jack Schropp with the possibility about starting a microbrewery. Over the next nine months the first batches of the African Amber and Pale Ale were rolled out while Nivana's In Utero cranked in Jack's garage.

1994: After much success with the Amber and the Pale Ale, Mac & Jack's finalized their African Amber, Blackcat Porter and Serengeti Wheat (their Hefeweizen beer). These signature beers were introduced at the The Park Pub, next to the Woodland Park Zoo. The Mac & Jack's brews were held high as Sukari, a female giraffe, and Rafiki, the male giraffe at Woodland Park Zoo gave birth to a 5-foot, 6-inch female named Karani. She weighed 140 pounds at birth.

1995: After two great years of making craft beer by themselves, Mac and Jack began to hire more staff. It was a miracle beer was brewed as the entire staff had their eyes glued to the Mariners' magic season. It's believed Jack wanted to change the name of African Amber to Randy Amber.

1996: Mac and Jack realized that it was time to move out of Jack's garage. After eight months they finally started construction in August at North Sammamish Center in Redmond, Washington. After the move, Microsoft's stock splits 2-for-1, its sixth split since the company went public 10 years before.

1997-2000: Production was quickly maxed out, and Mac & Jack's remodeled the brewery four times to increase overall production. The Kingdome explodes.

2013: Mac & Jack's is the third largest craft brewery in Washington state, producing 43,000 barrels, behind Georgetown Brewing and number one Redhook Ale Brewery.

Wednesday, Aug. 27, 6:30 p.m.: The Swiss hosts a pairing dinner with Mac & Jack's Brewing, incorporating the beers into the recipes. There will be four courses and six beers plus a raffle of Mac & Jack's items. Carpenter will recap the above history, plus add facts about Mac and Jack's love of animal labels. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased at The Swiss, 1904 Jefferson Ave., in downtown Tacoma. Give them a buzz at 253.572.2821

Let's look at the Mac and Jack's Brewing Paring Dinner menu

August 19, 2014 at 12:12pm

Eat This Now: The Brain

The best tasting Brain in Tacoma. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

If Tacoma's culinary culture proves anything it's that one need not be fancy-schmancy to woo the hungry masses. Often, it's quite the contrary. Tacomans enjoy character and comfort to accompany their grub and Shakabrah Java on Sixth Avenue serves up both. Hodgepodge tables and chairs set the scene with self-serve coffee and water. It's the type of joint you order at the register, find a seat and await your meal. Sandwiches are available, but Shakabrah's breakfast is what lines them up outside the door.

I hold Shakabrah's Chrissy dish on a pedestal. The sun dried tomato and marinated tofu scramble hits the spot. I've ordered it more times than years on this planet. It's time for a change.

Enter The Brain. Not mine, but rather crisp bacon, a fried egg and melted cheese sandwiched between two slices of French toast. Oh so sweet, savory and cheesy good.

Paired with a strong cup of joe and gratuitous amounts of maple syrup, The Brain dish is also a hangover cure of the ages.

Trust me.

Be warned, Shakabrah is a madhouse during weekend breakfasts. Its teeny kitchen can only bust out so much volume.

SHAKABRAH JAVA, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, 2618 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.572.2787

Filed under: Eat This Now, Tacoma,

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Served, a blog by the Weekly Volcano, is the region’s feedbag of fresh chow daily, local restaurant news, New Beer Column, bar and restaurant openings and closings, breaking culinary news and breaking culinary ground - all brought to the table with a dollop of Internet frivolity on top.

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