Entry 36: The Strong Arm of Renton

Location:  Renton, WA

Brewery:  Strong Arm Brewing

Reason:  Wanted to stay in Renton

Knowing that we had a big weekend ahead of us, including an early morning hike on Mt Rainier and the Forth of July, Matt and I decided to hang out in town one Thursday night. Luckily this Thursday night was followed by a Friday off, so in WABL Journey fashion we decided to make the most of our “night in” by visiting a local brewery. For a town filled with beer drinkers, Renton is a little light on the craft breweries. There was one we had seen at beer festivals that we were ready to cross off our list, and that was Strong Arm.

Strong Arm is located in a residential area in Renton and is only open a few nights a week, but it does not lack in flavor or friendliness. Pulling up to Strong Arm, we were a little unsure if we were in the right place, but once we walked up to the brewery itself I was pleasantly surprised. Its definitely an outdoor space where you kind of stand up by the bar, but on the upside they serve full pints and the service is friendly and awesome.

Mack, one of  the owners, was pouring the night that we visited. While I haven’t had the chance to visit while any of the other brewers were pouring, I found him to be welcoming and easy to chat with while Matt and I enjoyed a couple beers. He offered to let us try samples if we wanted but I decided to dive in and try the Drop Hammer Pale Ale. The beer is good, so good, that I decided to follow it up with a Torque IPA and a Coconut Porter. Matt also tried the Drop Hammer Pale but really wanted to try out the Denunciation Triple IPA, which he liked enough to grab a bottle to take home. I would say all of the beers we tried were above average and I would gladly order Strong Arm if I found it on tap somewhere.

Entry 35: Scotland the Brave (Part 2)

….. continuing from Scotland the Brave (Part 1)

While we only went to 2 breweries the entire time, we ended up going to 3 different BrewDog in Scotland/England.  Hell, I even hit up the Glasgow one twice and the Edinburgh one thrice. (Also went to the one in Newcastle, England)  They had great beer and I enjoyed it.

For those who are unfamiliar with the show, BrewDog makes some unique beer.  They will add funky ingredients and make high gravity beers, which is fun.

Lets start off with the two crazy beers we had.  Nuclear Penguin and Sink the Bismark.  Each being 32% and 40% alcohol respectfully.  We drank them like shots, which is crazy, since obviously the don’t come in pint sizes.  Sam was not a fan at all, but I enjoyed them both, even though they were just little sips.  I wanted to bring on home, but nooooo, a bottle ran about $100.

Now their regular beers.

The only decent damn IPA I could find was at BrewDog.  If you have a chance to drink their Punk IPA I would.  I don’t believe they ship to the United States yet, but from talking to them, it seems like they’ll be out here soon enough.  Also other enjoyable beers were the Hardcore IPA (Double) and Hop Fiction.  Maybe this trip just proves that I love beers with damn hops in them.  Which is something you cannot find in Scotland.

While we only went to two breweries, I probably had 50 different types of beer while in Scotland.  Ranging from cask to lagers and all of them were ‘meh’ at most.  Which is disappointing.  But at the end of the day, we didn’t go to Scotland for the beer.  We went for the Scotch.  And we didn’t leave empty handed.   We ended up stopping off at 4 distilleries and brought home 9 bottles of Scotch.  (If you want to see all the beers I tried, friend me on untappd – Husky13836)

Enjoyable trip.  I highly suggest you go to Scotland.  For the Scotch.  Not the beer.

WP_20150826_056Haggis Pizza at BrewDog

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Entry 34: Scotland the Brave (Part 1)

Location:  Scotland, England

Brewery:  Drygate, Brewdog (Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle)

Reason:  Sometimes you need to travel for beer

Roaming the glens and lochs of Scotland, Sam and I continue our trek for beer.  Normally we don’t venture far from the safety of Washington State, but we needed to cross the pond for beer.  And alas, we did.  Our first stop was the city of Glasgow in Scotland.  The hustle and bustle of cabs, people with thick accents and sleepyness of jet lag stood in our way, but we were not scared.  In fact, we were thirsty.  Thirsty for Scottish beer.

Drygate brewing was the first stop.  Located next to the giant that is Tennants, Drygate is a decent enough Scottish craft brewery.  With the slogan, “Brewed Fearlessly” we had to remind ourselves not to be scared, it was just beer.

The first thing you notice when you step into a Scottish brewery is that half the beers are on cask.  Which in my mind is great!  But, unless you love malty 3.8% ABV beers, it may not be your jam.  In the United States, I love cask beers, normally cause they are IPAs, that is not the case in Scotland.  They love their beers malty and flavorless.  Which is very disappointing.

The beers I had there were the Gladeye IPA, Reflex Red Ale and Emery Bell.  The IPA was fine. It is nothing like our IPAs, since the IBUs were only at 42.  Which is a pale in my mind.  But it was a good beer.  Nice caramel flavor to it, I think they add a  bit more hops, and I’d love it.  The Red ale and Emery Bell were average.  The Emery Bell was like 3% abv, where is the fun in that?  Sam thought there beer was average too.  But the brewery had an awesome feel to it, and we actually went to it twice, we enjoyed that whole feel of it.

From Drygate, we eventually make our way to Brewdog Brewing.  TO BE CONTINUED….


Entry 33: The Eastside Flycaster

Location:  Kirkland, WA

Brewery:  Flycaster Brewing

Reason:  We had to run up to Bothell and well, this was on the way back

Every great journey requires some kind of hunt. No matter how prepared you are for the road ahead there comes a time where you need to become resourceful, where you need to take matters into your own hands, where you need to just catch a damn fish. In order to catch said fish, one must visit the expert, one must seek the experienced flycaster.

It had been a long weekend. A couple of our fellow brewery aficionados decided to finally tie the knot. After an absolutely AWESOME night of celebrating a couple of our favorite people, it was time for us to get back to reality. Luckily, reality for us means visiting breweries.

One of the benefits of Flycaster is the location. Located near the Totem Lake area of Kirkland, its one of the easiest stops off the freeway on the eastside. Neither of us had been there before so we weren’t really sure what to expect. Flycaster doesn’t look like much from the outside, but once you get inside its kind of a gem. The inside is warm and inviting. The brewer was there pouring that day and let us peek in the back room and check out the brew system. This is a place that I would like to visit on a cold fall day and sip beer by their fireplace.

Since it was our first time there we decided to go ahead and split a sampler. The standouts were the IPA and the Hopper Pale. I still think that a brewery earns its stripes with their IPA and their pale, so Flycaster has my respect. I would also like to giver honorable mention to the Rosehip Pale, which I really enjoyed, Matt preferred the Hopper, but to each their own. We both enjoyed Flycaster enough to come back a few weeks later to grab a growler to bring to a 4th of July BBQ (Editors note:  Not only did we get a growler, but we brought it to other brewers.  Huge compliment!). I liked Flycaster and personally, am looking forward to coming back for that fireplace beer as soon as the weather in Seattle decides to cool down.

Entry 32: From Sound to Summit

Location:  Snohomish, WA

Brewery:  Sound to Summit Brewing

Reason:  Snohomish is a neat city

Looking up at the Cascades can seem intimidating.  The range forms in the far off land of Canada and runs all the way down to that Oregon place.  Very few mountain ranges in the United States are as important and big as the Cascades.  Sam-wise and I sat there, looking up at the mountains, having started our journey at the Puget Sound and thought to ourselves, “Damn, we need a drink!” And so we did.

Sound to Summit Brewing is a neat little brewery out in Snohomish, WA.  I know it seems a long ways away from Renton, but this was a brewery I’d wanted to try before and thankfully Sam only lives a few minutes away in Everett.  Once you walk into the brewery you see a well thought out brewery.  They have a nice brewing system, nice clean taproom and some wonderful beers on tap.  As always, I start myself with an IPA (Like a true Washingtonian) and Sam got the sampler.  The Six Gill IPA is a great beer.  With a hint of citrus and a little floral hint to the nose, it is a great beer on a sunny day (Which there has been a crap load this year).  The six gill is a beer I would drink over and over since it was super refreshing and I love the citrus side of IPAs.  I also had the Piping the side Pilsner.  Checking my untapped I gave it a 4 out of 5 stars, stating “Refreshing” which it was.  The thing with Pilsners though is once you had a good one, that is pretty much the top of the game.  But I liked it a lot.  Sam didn’t have the same feelings that I did towards the brewery.  Rating most of their other beers in the 3 to 3.5 range.  But, to each their own!   Go there and try the IPA!

Entry 31: Fighting the Machine (House)

Location:  Seattle, WA

Brewery:  Machine House

Reason:  Pre-M’s game Cask Beer

There is a time in everyone’s life where they have to make the difficult decision.  For many it is, “Do I want a cask beer”?  Well, in our journey that question was answered for us, by Machine House.  Machine house is in an awesome location (Georgetown) in an awesome building (ITS MADE OF BRICK!) and more importantly, it is all cask beer.

Sam and I enter with hesitation.  Well, not me, I ran across the street and into the brewery.  But Sam was hesitant, since she isn’t the biggest cask beer person in the world.  Sam was also hungry.  And you don’t mess with Sam when she is hungry.  So we ordered a few cask beers and then I ran down the street to a neat little sandwich shop and got Sam some food.

For those who do not know, cask beer is a unique experience.  Since you usually drink cask beer closer to room temperature.  I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “So its just English beer!” Well, yes – but also no.  True, many English style ales are cask beers, since it just works that way.  But cask beer is about the way it is created.  Beer is carbonated and pressurized with COs (Or nitrogen for those Guinness type), but cask beer isn’t done that way, it is more natural.  When beer is done fermenting, it is transferred into a keg and carbonated (Not always, but lets keep it simple).  Cask is when the beer is poured into a cask, in its natural form and from there (Again, keeping it simple) eventually gets poured into our stomachs.  Because it isn’t chilled and carbonated, it will tend to be a bit more warm and wayyyyyy smooth.  Many breweries will do a “Cask tuesday/wednesday/etc”.  Or you can just go to Machine house.

They had 6 or so cask beers on tap.  All of which were good.  I had the gold, best bitter and brambling IPA.  I was a big fan of the IPA and bitter, those just work perfectly with cask beer.  Sam was not as impressed, but was a trooper and still had a few beers.

Regardless, just go and try a cask beer.  You won’t regret it!

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Entry 30: The Wise and Wonderful Odin

Location:  Tukwila, WA

Brewery:  Odin Brewing

Reason: Lunch and Beer

Odin is one of the most popular of the Norse gods, often considered to be a father figure among the other gods. Odin is the god of wisdom, knowledge and education, in his quest for everlasting knowledge Odin sacrificed one of his eyes for everlasting wisdom. The well known Norse underworld, Valhalla is ruled by Odin, who selects warriors killed in combat to reside in his great halls. Odin is able to travel through the different realms where he continues his quest to gain and spread knowledge (much like Matt and myself on our WABL journey…. just on a much greater scale).

Odin is also a pretty great place to grab some lunch and a beer. We stopped by on a Sunday afternoon for lunch and I have to say, I was pretty pleased with  the whole experience. Coming from a Scandinavian background, I tend to automatically like anything with a Norse theme, so I was predisposed to like Odin.

We sat down and ordered a couple beers while we checked out the menu. Odin specializes in barbecue, and they specialize well. All the meat is smoked on site, its fresh, the portions are generous and it tastes amazing. Since our primary goal for the outing was lunch, I would have been pleased with this place even if the beer was bad, luckily it was not.

I started with the Grapefruit Wrath, a refreshing and light pale ale. Matt started with the Sheild Maden, another pale ale that he gave a very high rating to on untapped. Since we were there for lunch on a Sunday, and we were trying to be somewhat responsible, we kept the drinking a little light and followed up our lunch beers with a couple of schooners. On the recommendation of the bartender, and my very wise boyfriend, I tried the S.M.A.S.H Drop, a seasonal ale. It was delicious, if you see this on tap anywhere, you should order it. Matt finished up the outing with a schooner of Odin’s Gift Amber, which he rated above average.

Odin is a newer establishment having recently moved into this taproom. The taproom is pretty open, but sitting at the bar we found ourselves chatting with both the bartender and another patron. There is a large TV on the wall, and I think this would be a great place to watch a game, or in the case of our visit, an episode of Dr Who (not complaining). After lunch we went out to the patio where Matt continued to try to coach me through a game of corn hole. It was a really nice stop for lunch and I have no doubt that we will be  back in the very near future.