Entry 59: Taming the Iron Horse

Location:  Ellensburg, WA

Brewery: Iron Horse

Reason: WE DONT NEED A REASON

 

Ellensburg, the last gasp of humanity in this godforsaken world.  A place where culture meets classical antiquity.  In a world that has all but given up, there is one beacon of hope.  And it lies in Ellensburg, WA.  And that hope is called ‘Iron Horse Brewing’.

Now that I got your attention.  Lets talk Ellensburg.  No one loves Ellensburg more than me.  As someone who got the privilege of attending the best university on the West Coast, Central Washington University, Ellensburg and Iron Horse Brewing holds a special place in my heart.

But this isn’t all happiness, Iron Horse Brewing didn’t open up until after I graduated from CWU; therefore, I’ve got to miss the glory of their early days in their tiny ta00-00-00-96-58-03-965803_577403proom.  That still doesn’t mean I don’t love Iron Horse with all my heart.  If anyone has tasted Irish Death, you know how great Iron Horse truly is.  And if you haven’t had Irish Death, you haven’t lived.  It was one of the best beers you’ll ever have.  In fact, if you live on the west side, go to the Golf Club at Newcastle and order a pint of Irish Death and enjoy a beautiful sunset over Seattle.

Iron Horse is what craft beer aspires to be.  While they may be too big to be called “craft beer” by definition.  They will always be craft beer in my mind.  Their beers have become staples all over the state.  Although I highly suggest stopping by their taproom (after grabbing a burger from The Tav next door) and walk over to Iron Horse.  I’ve had almost everything they’ve had, and I suggest all of them.

Beers you can find anywhere are the Iron Horse IPA, Irish Death, Finger Gun Session IPA, Light Rail and Cozy Sweater.  Beers I’ve had only at the taproom are the 509 style, Koytus, Disruptor IPA, Gary and Double Rainbow Ale.  The Iron Horse IPA is a classic IPA with a great hop flavor and aroma.  Not too bitter and with a very lovely finish.  The Finger Gun is another highly rated beer with a rich hop flavor and floral aroma, but at the same time lower ABV, so you can have a bunch without getting (too) toasted.

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In respect to keeping this short.  Just stop there on your way thru Ellensburg. Its delicious. 6tag_021015-184231

 

Breaking Bale in Yakima

Brewery:  Bale Breaker

Location: Yakima, WA

Reason:  Heading out to Kennewick

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A few times each summer Matt and I like to venture to the east side of the mountains for a little dry heat and beer. Since a huge majority of the hops used in brewing are grown in the Yakima Valley, it seems almost mandatory to we stop for a beer at the source. Bale Breaker feels as though it is the heart of the source. Driving towards the brewery you pass gorgeous hop farms with vines of hops strung up in the sun. Bale Breaker is surrounded by these beautiful crops and you can even walk though some of the vines just a few yards from the brewery.

It would be awfully disappointing if the beer at Bale Breaker didn’t live up to the expectations that the surroundings set up, luckily Bale Breaker does not disappoint. They have some of the most solid beers that I have ever had. The Top Cutter IPA is a glorious hoppy masterpiece. If you are looking for something a little less intense, you cant go wrong with the Field 41 Pale. I wouldn’t say that their beers are particularly experimental, but they are particularly good.

This particular visit to Bale Breaker was a quick one, we were on our way to meet up with friends in Kennewick so we only had time to stop in for one beer. We decided to stay in the tap room and chat with our friend Rebecca instead of heading out to the patio where you can sit in the shade and enjoy your beer or play a round of corn hole.

Yakima Valley is also home to a lot of fantastic Washington wineries that happen to close VERY early in the day. Bale Breaker is a great stop at the end of a day of wine tasting, or a great stop on its own. Basically, if you enjoy either beer or wine, you will want to make a trip out this way, and when you do, you should stop at Bale Breaker.

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Floating the Skagit River

Brewery:  Skagit River Brewery

Location: Mount Vernon, WA

Reason:  On our way home from Bellingham.


The week before we decided to head up to Bellingham for the weekend I was talking with one of my friends at work and naturally we started talking about local breweries. Neither of us could remember the name of a particular one in Mount Vernon but we knew we were talking about the same place when I suggested that it feels a little like being inside of a pirate ship, which is probably the first thing that I liked about this place.


The second thing that I liked about Skagit River Brewery is probably the beer. If you have had a Skagit River beer it was most likely the Sculler IPA. The Sculler IPA is probably the most recognizable beer that Skagit River produces, to the point where I have referred to Skagit River Brewery as Scullers, a mistake that Matt thought was hilarious. The Scullers IPA is a good solid IPA which I gave four solid stars on untapped. I also included a picture of an empty glass and the comment “drink it.” I also tried the Farm To Market Ale an ESB that I rated a 4.25 stars. Matt tried the Delrio Lager, Black Jack Lager and Jenny’s Scottish all of which he liked.

The third thing that I want to like about Skagit River is the food. I have been to this brewery twice now, but never been able to stay for lunch. The food looks ahhhmazing. When you first walk in the door you are greeted with the wonderful kitchen smells and I nearly fell out of my chair watching a pizza make its way to a table near us. I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for anything that starts with the words “wood fired” (which combined with my appreciation for craft beer, is the #1 reason diets fail in my home). Seriously though, check out their menu here.

Entry 57: I Wander for Beer

Brewery:  Wander Brewing

Location: Bellingham, WA

Reason:  Beer

When one is in search of quality beer, sometimes you need to divert off the traditional path.  Yes, IPAs are wonderful.  And everyone loves a pale ale.  But sometimes we dare to be risky and try something different.

Enter Wander.

First and foremost, Wander has a kick ass logo.  

Secondly, they have a different approach to beers.

We all know the traditional northwest brewery is going to offer a few different IPAs, a handful of pale ales, dry hopped ales, fresh hop batches and etc.  That is the Northwest way.  But a different approach to beer is starting to take foot, and that is the sour style.  While I will admit right now, I do not like sour beers.  They are….too sour for me.  I like hops.  But my good buddy and home-brewing stud Mikey loves the sour.  So I write this with him in mind. (Don’t judge, I think about my friends often, it isn’t weird!)

A few years ago, finding a sour was pretty rare.  You’d see it here and there, but finding multiple sour beers was always difficult.  That is not always the case anymore.  Finding a Brett, or beer ages in an infected barrel seems like the rage in some circles.  Even this last weekend I went wine tasting with friends and Mikey asked around, looking for infected barrels, so he could make a sour.


But enough about sours.  Well, expect that Wander seems to be an expert at them.  Lets talk about the beer.  Non-sour beer (Cause well, if you love sour beers, go to Wander) that I’ve had the most (Including yesterday) is their Rye-IPA.  While not super traditional, you can find these around here and there.  And it was tasty.  While high in IBUs (100), it wasn’t overly hoppy, which is a nice blend.  I also had their Pilsner and Dubbel, both of which were very tasty.


It is difficult for me to review a brewery that I know I won’t like.  Not because they don’t make quality beers, which they do, its because that beer just isn’t my style.  But from what I’ve talked to from people who do love the sour seen is that Wander is legit and a must in the north end of the state.

Also, its in an old warehouse and they had a food truck inside.  Pretty cool.