The 6th annual Bremerton Summer Brewfest will expand to two
days this year! Located on the on the scenic Bremerton waterfront ,
just a hop, skip and a jump from the ferries, this Washington Beer
Commission event features around 30 Washington breweries pouring
more than 100
To celebrate summer, Washington brewers will be focusing on
fruit-infused beers as they did last year. Remember the randall?
Join the revelry at the Bremerton Summer Brewfest to learn from
expert brewers while you enjoy live music and local food.
Dates & Times Friday, July 15,
Saturday, July 16, Noon-6:30pm
$20 advance tickets/$25 at the door while supplies last ($15 for
Military with valid ID)
Admission includes a commemorative tasting glass & six 5 oz.
tastes; additional tokens – $2 each or three for $5. Washington
Beer Lover members receive two bonus tokens with their
While browsing the Washington State Visitors’ Guide recently, an
amusing thought occurred to me. We all know where wine country is
but where is beer country?
In this visitor’s guide, fun trips for visiting family and
friends included boom towns, bike trails, fairways, volcanoes,
heli-skiing, islands, rain forests and wine country but nothing
about beer country.
So I did an online search for beer country. Nada. No where.
Another search for hop country was darned fascinating. There is no
such thing as hop country but there is Hick Hop Country which is a
concept pertinent to beer in unique ways.
When you think about Wine Country, you envision vineyards,
barrel rooms and tasting bars. You know this is where they grow
great grapes, ferment and age fabulous wines. Federal Law actually
requires the wine labels to inform you where the grapes are from be
it Barossa Valley, Burgundy or Bainbridge Island. And this helps
you understand the importance of wine regions where the wine grapes
are grown to the wine’s quality.
But most beer labels are woefully sparse on the origins of the
grains and hops and how they’re treated in the fermentation process
that will affect the final product. It doesn’t make sense that
where grain and hops are grown doesn’t contribute to the quality of
the brew, especially when you consider how much hops and grain are
grown in Washington State.
Washington State produces 77% of the United States’ hop harvest.
Washington hop growers raise both aroma and alpha variety hops. The
majority of the hops produced in Washington are alpha and super
alpha varieties. Alpha hops are designer hops, used as a bittering
agent in your IPAs and other brews.
Traditional aroma varieties, Willamette, Cascade, and Mt. Hood
have been grown in eastern Washington – aka Wine Country – for
generations. The economic impact of the Washington beer industry
contributes greatly to our state’s economic vitality. Revenue
generated was in excess of $6 billion in 2014.
While many of us are proud of the wonderful award winning beers
produced here in the Kitsap Peninsula, we are clearly behind in per
capita consumption. In 2012, the United States drank 77.1 liters
per person, with some doing more and others clearly not doing their
We rank 14th in per capita beer consumption behind
the likes of Finland, Panama, Slovenia, Venezuela and other more
obvious stein sloshing nations like the Czech Republic, Poland,
Ireland and Germany. Astonishingly, IPA’s namesake, India, drinks 2
liters per capita which is the equivalent of 5.6 six packs.
Wine on the other hand, is an equally intriguing story. Not
surprisingly, the majority of the highest ranking wine consumption
countries are in Europe. Surprisingly, it’s the country of Vatican
City that utterly dominates every other country, with 73.38 liters
per capita in 2012. That is amazing considering there are only
about 800 Roman Catholic adults in this country. France clocks in
at 44.12 liters per capita. And Italy? 37.54 liters per capita.
Even Canada (11.70L) quaffed more wine than the United States,
at a mere 10.33 liters per capita. The take away from this news is
we, as a country need to give more beer and/or wine gifts.
We can start with our Christmas lists. Cross off sweaters and
such and give a thoughtful gift of Eleven late harvest Viognier,
Rolling Bay Syrah or Amelia Wynn Merlot.
On the beer side, I would highly recommend a barrel aged beer.
Barrel aged beer is more complex, richer and concentrated. For
thousands of years, beer was not only aged but brewed and
transported in wood. Today, they’re boiled in copper kettles,
fermented in stainless steel and for the most part, then bottled.
But several years ago, the bourbon barrel made its grand entrance
into the brewing world.
The law dictates that bourbon makers can only use a barrel once.
After that first use, the expensive barrels are re-purposed.
Bourbon barrels are sent around the world to age Scotch, Irish
Whiskey, Sherry, and most recently, big beers.
Bourbon barrels aren’t the only containers brewers are using,
either. Those creative folks also use sherry, wine, tequila, and
rum barrels. At a recent barrel aged beer tasting, I tasted beer
aged in bourbon, brandy, sherry, tequila, Viognier, Muscat, Pinot
Noir and Chardonnay barrels. One beer was even made with grains,
Grenache Blanc and Chardonnay grapes and fermented with both lager
and champagne yeast.
Here are a few barrel
aged beers that would make great stocking stuffers:
Deschutes The Abyss is imperial stout, partly aged in Bourbon,
Pinot Noir, and new oak barrels. Almanac’s Barrel Noir is a
stout aged in tequila barrels. And Port Brewing Santa’s Little
Helper is a quintessential bourbon barrel aged imperial stout, full
of chocolate covered caramel flavors
Firestone Walker’s Anniversary Ales are always a blend of
bourbon and brandy barrel aged beers. Most years the blend can be
from as many as eight separate barrels of their Parabola, Stickee
Monkee, Bravo and/or Velvet Merkin. The result is a masterful
blended beer that is highly sought after and prized. The
Scaldis Prestige de Nuits
is a Belgian strong ale that’s aged in Burgundy barrels from
Hospices de Nuits Saint Georges. This prestigious French Burgundy
barrel caught my attention. The beer takes almost a year to produce
and is fermented a total of three times. Once in tank, then in the
wine cask, and finally in the bottle. And it’s a third of the price
of a bottle of Hospices de Nuits Saint Georges.
The name Barleywine was given to this style of beer because its
alcohol was more in the range of wine than that of a beer.
Barleywine had been around in one incarnation or another for a
couple of centuries. The term barleywine was first used in the late
1800s. A couple of centuries later, barleywine production is a
blend of modern brewing techniques and old traditions.
This style goes back to the days of parti-gyle brewing where, the
first run of this brewing method were, of course, the bigger and
more flavorful. Parti-Gyle
brewing is the technique of making more than one batch of
beer from a single mash. These big, complex ales were highly prized
and reserved for special occasions and people, similar to an aged
Barleywine essentially a very strong beer, top fermented with lots
of malt. Hop character is generally mild and bitterness from the
hops is often low compared to the high gravity. The beer is
complex, with a sweet malt character, often with hints of dried
fruits, treacle, toffee and a pleasant sherry-like flavor after
Yes, cellaring a beer. There’s a modern day concept. Beer does age
and like wine the ones with higher sugar and tannin content tend to
age more gracefully. One of the first verticals I experienced was a
mid 80s barleywine that had been in the cellar for 10 years. It
opened a whole new world.
And I’ll bet you’re wondering, like I did back then, how can that
be? It’s because there is a ton of malt sugars, tannins from the
hops and higher alcohol, all excellent preservatives on their
Brewers measure the different components of their brews in IBUs,
O.G. and F.G. IBUs are international bittering units. This
component comes from the hops and in a barleywine could be anywhere
from 30 to 120 IBUs.
There are two ways hops are introduced into a brew. One is to put
it in with the boil and the other is to dry hop which is to put it
in later when it would impart more aroma than bitter flavor. Hops
are used to balance the sweet malt sugars.
How sweet are the malt sugars? That would be a measurement known as
Original Gravity or O.G. This tells a brewer how heavy the malt
sugars in his mash are. For a barley wine, the O.G. will be
anywhere between 1.080 and 1.120 or more.
The rich flavor and deep color of a barleywine comes from the
amount of grain that’s jam-packed into the brew and the length of
time for the boil which caramelizes the sugars, concentrating the
color and the flavor. There are many kinds of malt light, dark,
black, blonde, toasted. If a lot of malts are used, and many
different types, you will have a fairly complex beer.
barley wine typically reaches an alcohol strength of 9 to 13% by
volume and is brewed from specific gravities as high as 1.130. The
Final Gravity (FG) is the specific gravity measured at the
completion of fermentation and is usually between 1.018 and 1.030
for a barleywine.
So much is packed into barley wine that
it usually takes a few years to mellow out to its best. Many
barleywines are vintage dated, much like a vintage wine. Like port,
barley wine has huge amounts of alcohol, sugars, and a fair amount
of balancing bitterness. It takes time for these components to
mellow into the full, complex drink that this style is known
Barleywine is also an excellent example
of the style difference between the American and British versions.
British barleywines are very malty and a light touch of hops for
balance. Until the introduction of an amber-colored barley wine
under the name Gold Label by the Sheffield brewery Tennant’s in
1951, British barley wines were always dark in color.
American versions are just as big in
malt flavor with colors usually ranging from amber to light brown,
but there is also a tendency to higher IBUs, giving the beer a very
bitter hoppiness, especially when young. This will change with time
in the cellar.
Barleywine was first made in the United States in 1976 by Anchor
Brewing Company. Its Old
Foghorn Barleywine was one word as opposed to the British two word
barley wine. It was a marketing decision; the word wine on a beer
label was a way around the regulators. Old Foghorn was bottled in
nips, a 4 oz bottle.
Barleywine names are as rich as the beers. Here are some examples
with their ABV that is definitely as high as wine:
Anchor Brewing Company Old Foghorn
Arcadia Brewing Company Cereal Killer Barleywine 12
Deschutes Brewery Mirror Mirror 11
Dry Dock Brewing Bligh’s Barleywine
Firestone Walker Brewing Sucaba 12.5
Flying Dog Brewery Horn Dog Barley Wine Style Ale 10.2
Goose Island Beer Bourbon County
Heavy Seas Beer Below Decks Barley Wine 10
J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale 11.5,
Harvest Ale (Lagavulin Whisky Cask) 11.5, Harvest Ale (Port Cask)
11.5, Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask) 11.5
Left Hand Brewing Oak Aged Widdershins 10.7
Midnight Sun Brewing Arctic Devil Barley
Old Dominion Brewing Dominion Millennium
Pelican Pub & Brewery Mother of All
Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project Our Finest Regards
Ridgeway Brewing Criminally Bad
Shipyard Brewing Shipyard Double Old
The Bruery Smooth Criminal 15
Weyerbacher Brewing Insanity 11.1 and Blithering Idiot 11.1
These beers are made in small batches and best after a few years of
aging. Tuck a few into the cellar for a few years and you’ll have a
real treat. Beer unlike wine should be cellared upright as they
usually don’t have a cork to keep damp.