Category Archives: Lush Report

Weeklong events celebrate Kitsap beer

It was a fortuitous coincidence that sent us to tasting rooms at some of Poulsbo’s newest breweries. Not only did I learn that Slippery Pig now has a tasting area open (and also apparently a fine Dandelion Bitter and Rhubarb Pale Ale), but also that last weekend kicked off the weeklong Kitsap Hopstock.

Sadly, I missed a chance to tell you about Der Blokken’s dinner (that I missed too) last Saturday, but there will be plenty of other events going on this week. Various bars will have specials and add local brews to their lineups.

Some highlights:

From 5 to 7 tonight, Tizley’s Europub in downtown Poulsbo hosts a meet-and-greet with local brewers, after which they all head down to Marina Market for a “Throwdown!” to pit local beers against international bestsellers.

On Wednesday, Poulsbo Pub crawl with 4-ounce tasters of local beers at a dozen spots around town.

On Saturday, Stone Crow in Bremerton (on Sylvan Way at Wheaton) will have a pig roast, classic cars and  specials on local beers.

On Sunday, Slippery Pig will host what seems to be a big backyard barbecue including a $5 badminton tournament with prizes. The tasting area will be open and a grill will be on for anyone who wants to bring and grill their own meat.

A list of all events are available at


Weekend food and drink events around Kitsap

This weekend, foodies can choose from wine tastings and tours to the expanding openings of farmers markets.

Beer: Tonight (OK, technically not the weekend), Poulsbo will welcome it’s newest brewery, Sound Brewery. There will be a ribbon cutting at 5 p.m. and the taps will pour until 9 p.m. I, unfortunately, will miss the grand opening, so I expect reports, people! After the grand opening, it will be open from 2 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday (when I hope to check it out, making it a weekend event for me). They’ll have six beers on tap at $4 a glass.

Farmers Markets: On Friday (again, not the weekend, but close enough) Olalla Valley Farmers Market makes its debut at 1 p.m. It joins Poulsbo and Bainbridge markets, both on Saturday, on the “open” list.

Wine and Cheese: From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Olympic Peninsula wineries will host their third annual Northwest wine and cheese tour. Area wines and ciders are paired with cheeses from Northwest creameries, which include Port Townsend’s Mt. Townsend Creamery. The tour is self-guided among the associations eight wineries. Tickets are $25 if purchased in advance online or you can pay a $5 tasting fee at each winery.

Bainbridge wine weekend: Bainbridge Island’s seven wineries will open their doors again from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for their monthly tasting event. Tasting fees run from free to several dollars. Information on the wineries is available at You can expect to see representatives from both The Food Life and Cheers to You blogs there.

Beer Alert: A Little Brew and a Few Strange Folks Coming

I can get away with calling some people from Port Townsend strange. I mean, the unofficial town slogan is “We’re here because we’re not all there.” And I love that little city all the more for it.

I can find myriad reasons for going: to visit some pretty good people, fantastic consignment shops, good restaurants, a place to get vintage cookbooks and coming Jan. 28-30, the seventh annual Strange Brewfest.

In years past, it had been hosted at Water Street Brewing, which closed its doors in June. But people involved with Water Street are again involved in the Strange Brewfest, though this year it will be at the American Legion, which just happens to about double the space.

Thirty breweries will be there, as will food (the site hints at some kind of fresh fish tacos), and entertainment ranges from music to a costume contest Saturday. Cost is $25 cash.

Beer and Cupcakes: Grand Openings Friday and Saturday

Kitsap has two new venues to celebrate today and Saturday.

Today, Valhöll Brewery, 20186 Front Street, celebrates the grand opening of its taproom to the general public. Some locals got a taste of Valhöl’s beers at the Kitsap Oktoberfest this summer, where they served up a Smoked Cherry Rye and a Licorice IPA, both of which quickly disappeared. I tried one, the smoked cherry, at the suggestion of Charles Keating, who suggested rightly that it went well with the Popcorn Chef’s dark chocolate and chipotle flavor.

Reporter Tristan Baurick will have had a story on the brewery in Monday’s paper. He says the beers all pack a punch, (though apparently it was too early in the day for him to taste-test it) and are brewed to be full of flavor.

The grand opening is from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. (sorry for the late notice). Their beer also is on tap at Tizley’s and Hare & Hounds.

On Saturday, the trio of ladies from Bella Bella, who we met last spring, have opened a retail location for their cupcakes at 10726 Silverdale Way, Suite 107, in Silverdale. Their celebration goes from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and they’ll serve cupcakes (of course), kolaches, Blue Bird Coffee and Espresso, Viking Feast Ice Cream, and Smith Brothers Farms Milk.

For much of the past year, they had been making cupcakes at a commercial kitchen in Bremerton for parties and for special order. They started baking in their new kitchen today, according to a post on their Facebook page.

Beer and Wine Taste-Tests at Farmers Markets? Maybe

The big talk during this legislative session will be, of course, about cutting the budget. However, many bills will be introduced (and will likely never make it out of committee) to address any number of issues.

Among those many pieces of suggested legislation is a bill that could pave the way for beer and wine tastings at farmers markets, according to a story from the Seattle Times. Tastings would have to be two ounces or less, and only four ounces per customer.

Last year, the Legislature allowed grocery stores to allow wine and beer tastings, though if there have been any locally, I missed them.

So far, this seems to be the only food-related bill, but it’s only the first day of this year’s session.

Poulsbo’s Valholl Brewing Release Coming Soon

This spring, we learned of a new new microbrewery planned for Poulsbo called Valholl Brewing. I learned this week that local beer lovers will soon be getting a taste.

One of the partners opening the brewery, Jeff Holcomb, said in a recent e-mail that they have gotten their state license and are able to sell kegs. They are planning a release party at Tizely’s Europub and then at Hare and Hounds sometime in the next few weeks.

I’ll post the dates as soon as I hear about them.

A Quick Tour of the new Bainbridge Island distillery

Keith Barnes, left, helps his son Patrick change out the container that catches the distilled product at the business they've started, Bainbridge Organic Distillery.

Now we’ve had craft brews, craft wines, and apparently the new movement in the lush world of spirits are craft distilleries. And a new one is set to open in August on Bainbridge Island.

Bainbridge Organic Distillery is one of a half dozen new craft distilleries to be approved to start up in Washington state since a law last summer allowed craft distilleries, according to a May Seattle Times article. More than a dozen others also were awaiting approval at the time. Also according to the Times story, another hopeful Bainbridge operation, Hidden Cove Distillery, also was awaiting approval from the state, but I wasn’t able to track down more information in a brief search.


The Bainbridge Organic Distillery will likely open later this month, but owners Keith Barnes and his son Patrick, gave a few of us from the Sun a sneak peak (maybe not so sneak, but it makes me feel special) at the operation off Sportsman Club Road. They make whiskey, and as that ages, they also make a gin and vodka to sell while their whiskey ages.

The first batch of whiskey hasn’t had a lot of time to age (they just started the operation less than a year ago), but the couple, quick tastes I had revealed it as an already complex drink. It’s caramel in color and in the first sweet notes that waft up from a snifter. It hits the tongue smooth and warm with a smoky exhale that the alcohol picked up from the charred inside of oak barrels. The gin, a drink that I’m in general not as familiar with, had definite notes of juniper berry as well as the characteristic pine-like bite.

When they open later in August, I’ll take one for the team and do more in-depth tastings.

In addition to the great lesson in distilling, I learned at least one whiskey-drinking hint. Patrick showed me how to bring out the flavor notes in a whiskey by adding a touch of water, in this case RO water, essentially a filtered water. It wasn’t enough to water it down, but it cut it just enough to smooth it out a little more and all the smoky, sweet notes just popped.

Bainbridge reporter Tristan Baurick will have many more details about the distillery in Monday’s paper, but I thought I’d share the video I shot now. The first one is the one that will go with the story. The second is just some raw footage of Keith Barnes describing the distilling process, which I cut out of the final video, but that I found just so darn interesting that I shared it here.

Beer Review: Three Philosophers Quadrupel Ale

You know you’re a lush when you roll through the grocery store checkout line with a basketful of beer and little else. I try to explain it away by saying I’m sharing, I don’t drink it all at once and I have to taste test things. I’m a food blogger.

So I’m legitimizing the basketful of beer I brought home last weekend with a review, though it be a well-warranted one.

I’m always looking to try something new, and I hit up several grocery stores that often have good beer selections. One being the beer aisles of Central Market in Poulsbo, the occasional gem found at the Red Apple in Silverdale and on occasion Fred Meyer in Bremerton. I’m also told the Albertson’s in Port Orchard also has a top-notch selection, though I’ve not seen it for myself.

On this particular day, I was in Fred Meyer. Not actually for beer, but while I was there … Their overall beer selection is OK, but what makes this place stand out are the Belgians. I picked out a few based on some vague memories of hearing the name from friends, beer sites or maybe just walking through a beer aisle one too many times.

But the first bottle we cracked, a Three Philosophers Belgian Style Blend (Quadrupel) from Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, New York, was a delight. It was my first quadrupel, a Belgian ale that isn’t as common as its sibling the Tripel ale. It’s more akin to wine, and has the same ability to improve with age.

But to heck with the aging (for now), on to the opening:

The bottle has instructions for pouring. That’s how serious it is. They mostly caution you to pour carefully so as not to disrupt too much sediment from the bottom.

It pours out dark amber with ruby notes in the color. There’s a fair amount of sediment at the bottom of the bottle

Taking a good whiff before drinking, you get a malty fruity note. This beer is blended (as the name implies) with cherry Lambic (98-percent ale, 2-percent cherry) , but it’s not overt and it’s not cloyingly sweet.

Overall, it’s a complex beer mixing creamy notes with a fresh note from the cherry. It’s a fairly malty beer but doesn’t feel too heavy. It’s warming and, without too much bitter tone, very drinkable.

The slightly sweet and fruit tones paired well with the smoky, spicy kebabs I made. Heck, we may have thought it paired well with anything after half a glass. The beer has 9.8 percent alcohol by volume.

But don’t just take my word for it. Try it yourself (assuming you’re of drinking age, etc., etc.) or read reviews from more experienced beer reviewers than I: the beer geeks over at, have a fair set of reviews. Of the more than 1,000 reviewers, Three Philosphers got an overall A- rating.

A Twist on New Year’s Bubbly – Cocktails

champagne With only about a day left, I thought I’d put my little two cents in on that oft-written about bubbly beverage of choice for New Year’s Eve bacchanalias.

With so much out there about what champagne to get, I’m not going to go there, but if you need help picking a bottle, the Seattle P-I ran a decent primer on sparkling wines . And your local wine proprietor can definitely help.

What I’m blogging about today are champagne cocktails.

You can stick with one recipe for the night, or try what I did for a party a few years back: let your guests mix a variety.

I searched out a bunch of champagne cocktail recipes and picked out ones that matched the contents of my liquor cabinet. With each recipe, I created little drink stations around the house. I created standard-sized paper recipe cards for each, pasted it on nifty-looking stock paper, colored little pictures on it (I was in some kind of weird crafty mood) and stuck it up on the wall above a collection of ingredients, cups and napkins.

It worked out perhaps a little too well. One thing to note: definitely have your guests get a cab or a designated driver or they’ll be sleeping on your sticky floor or in odd, uncomfortable positions on your living room chairs.

Here are a few of the favorite cocktail recipes from that party:

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Good Drinks to Get Stuck In the Snow With

In the past week, I’ve found plenty of folks are using all that time at home, stuck in the snow, as a good excuse to take in a nip here, and a nip there. The couple times I passed by a liquor store, one in Seattle and one in Bremerton, people have definitely decided a bottle is among their necessary snow provisions. I’m not judging, I’ve had my own share of hot-buttered rum and cocoa spiked with peppermint schnapps.

I tried calling the state liquor control board to see if there was any spike in sales, but I haven’t heard back yet. So, I decided instead to share a few warm drink recipes I found online.

Plus, I felt this was a good excuse to share a really cute snow/drink photo I saw in our reader-submitted photo gallery.
Misty Winter Warmer


It makes four quarts, and brews up in a 30-cup coffee maker

1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
2 quarts cranberry juice
46 ounces pineapple juice
2 cups Canadian Mist whisky
4 1/2 cups water

Place the brown sugar and spices in the pot basket of a 30-cup coffee maker. Add juices, water and whisky to the pot. Brew like coffee and serve hot, right from the pot. How easy is that?

Bourbon Furnace


After you’ve been out romping in the woods, and while the kids are slurping up hot cider, here’s a little concoction that the grown-ups can enjoy.


6 oz. hot apple cider
three whole cloves
one stick of cinnamon
1 1/2 oz. bourbon

Pour cider and bourbon into a stemmed mug. Garnish with cloves and cinnamon. Serve immediately.

Hot Baked Apple Toddy


2 oz apple whiskey
1/4 baked apple
1 tsp honey
hot water
cinnamon stick for garnish

1. Place the baked apple into a warm Irish coffee glass.
2. Add whiskey and dissolve sugar in the mix.
3. Top with hot water and stir.
4. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.