Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

October 28, 2011 at 8:11pm

I drank five pumpkins tonight

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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]

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