Archive for the ‘Beer’ Category

In 2008, Pyramid Breweries renamed their Hefeweizen beer – a company staple since it was introduced in 1993  – to Haywire. After nearly three years with the new name, they have finally admitted they hefe’d up. “Moving away from the tradition that made us great was a mistake,” said Ryan Daley, brand manager for Pyramid. The change was made to differentiate Pyramid from other Hefeweizen brands on the shelves. While the beer in the bottle remained unchanged from the original 1993 recipe, the name change adversely affected sales.

Founded in 1984 in Kalama WA, Pyramid Breweries began as Hart Brewing Co. and brewed some of the country’s first microbrews. In 1996, the company was renamed Pyramid, after Hart’s flagship brand of Pyramid Ales. Pyramid Breweries was acquired by Independent Brewers United in 2008, which was acquired by North American Breweries, headquartered in Rochester, NY, in 2010. Pyramid operates alehouses in Portland, Berkeley, Walnut Creek, Sacramento, and Seattle.

Seattle’s Pyramid Alehouse, popular thanks to its location next to Safeco Field, will begin brewing beer again onsite later this year. They haven’t brewed at that location since 2008, when it was more or less mothballed due to its relatively small, 15-barrel capacity. Beer is now brewed at the company’s facilities in Portland and Berkeley. Lead brewer Ryan Pappe, sees the smaller capacity at the Seattle brewery as a positive. He’s enthusiastic about the possibility for more experimentation with ingredients like dry hops and chocolate, and barrel aging. He brews at the company’s Portland brewery, which has a capacity of 160 barrels. They brew half batches of some of Pyramid’s seasonal beers in Portland, but as Pappe said, “even a half batch is a lot of beer.”

In preparation for renewed brewing in Seattle, Pyramid has posted a job for an Alehouse Brewer. In addition to brewing, the Seattle brewer will be a brand “Alebassador,” or ambassador, for the community. Prospective applicants need the ability to work a flexible schedule, because “making beer is not a 9-5 sort of thing.”

Looking ahead to 2012, Pyramid is hoping to add more seasonal beers, like Snowcap Ale, which celebrates the 25th anniversary of its creation this year. The company also plans to add more variety to its variety packs, and continue to offer alehouse exclusives like its Ignition Series. Beers in the Ignition Series include Discord, a dark IPA available August through October, and Live Wire, an Imperial Hefeweizen, available at the Seattle alehouse now.

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Stairsteps to Heaven

The sign of beer perfection: Check out the foam steps down the side of the glass!? This is the amber ale from Two Beers Brewery in Seattle. It’s pretty much perfection in a glass on a 90-degree Sunday afternoon…

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Thirsty Thursdays

Welcome to a new feature on this blog, Thirsty Thursdays. Every so often, on a Thursday, I’ll share with you whatever tasty, refreshing beverage I am enjoying. It may be one of the many new cocktails I am experimenting with, a new smoothie or perhaps a new beer or wine discovery.

Today I was headed to the blood bank after work. Not the kind of blood bank that pays you for your plasma. This blood bank has volunteer donors contribute to the local blood supply for patients in need of transfusions, either due to illness or injury. I am proud to say that I’ve been donating for over 10 years now and just recently received my 5-gallon pin! You donate a pint at a time, so that is over 40 donations. Since I am O-NEG blood type (the universal donor type), they call me often. I try to donate regularly since it’s a free and easy was to give back. Plus – free cookie!

So, I was early to my donation appointment this afternoon and realized that next to the blood bank was a beer market. But, this wasn’t just any beer market. The sign boasted BIGGEST BEER SELECTION IN SEATTLE. Big Star Beer Market, let’s see what you got.

In a word, impressive. Big Star just may have the BIGGEST BEER SELECTION IN SEATTLE. They had tons of imports – Germany, Belgium, Eastern Europe, Great Britain and more plus lots of beer from OR, WA and CA. They also sell different shapes of beer glasses and dozens of varieties of hard ciders. They had lots of 22-ounce bottles from local microbreweries, but I had my eye on the chilled beers. The summer weather has returned to Seattle and a cold, crisp beer sounded perfect for this evening.

When I traveled to the Philippines last year, the only beer we drank was San Miguel (it might actually be the only beer they sell). It is a crisp, light lager that is perfect for the hot, humid weather of SE Asia. It isn’t nearly as hot nor as humid here right now, but San Miguel is a rare find and I just couldn’t pass it up.

My blood donation went well. Iron levels good, blood pressure low and veins pumping freely. At the end of every donation, they tell you to drink lots of fluids for the next two to three days. I know from experience that you definitely get dehydrated after donating, so today will definitely be a Thirsty Thursday. The tech reminded me to drink lots of water. I asked, “What about beer?” and she firmly reminded me to drink water. But beer is mostly water, isn’t it?

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Sizzling hot stone + raw steak + great beer = the perfect Feasting Friday.

I had a night out with the girls on Friday – as we made out way up to Whidbey Island for Maria’s 40th Birthday Extravaganza. Conveniently located at the Mukilteo ferry terminal is Diamond Knot Brewery, which I’ve been dying to try for forever.

Diamond Knot has something called ‘Stone Grills.’ They are basically a sizzling hot stone with a slab of raw meat or fish on top. You choose the meat and then cook it how you like it. The only other place I’ve tried this was at a restaurant in Copenhagen that I took my tour groups to for the last 10 years or so.

The deal with these stones is, they are granite (food grade) and heated to 750 degrees. The hot stone is set into a porcelain platter and your raw food is placed on top. They had various seafood options and cuts of steak, but once I saw a rib eye on the menu I knew what I would be ordering.

There is a little technique involved. First, you need to season the meat. They have not applied any salt nor pepper. Then, if you like your meat rare just keep the steak whole. The more well-done you like it, the smaller you cut the pieces. The stone stays hot for a good 20-30 minutes. The serving platter they use for the hot stone is rather ingenious. We moved the veggies to the side while the steak cooked. Then, once the steak was cooked we moved it to the side and put the veggies on the hot stone and enjoyed the perfectly cooked steak.

 As much as I love a rib eye, I think the steak cooked too quickly to fully inject the meat with all that flavorful fat. It was delicious, but I think next time – and there will be a next time – I will order one of the other cuts.

The pub has a great vibe. There are lots of people coming and going, since many are commuting on the ferry. They serve bowls of peanuts, you just throw the shells on the floor. There is a handy flavor chart for their beers on the chalkboard – dark to light on one side and malty to hoppy on the other.

Diamond Knot makes a great IPA – called their ‘Industrial’ IPA. It packs a punch though at 8.6% alcohol. I definitely had an industrial headache in the morning.

Diamond Knot Brewery on Urbanspoon

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I keep this 2-liter “growler” in my trunk for days like this. Sunny and nearly 70 are the perfect combination for a mid-Spring day in Seattle. And, the perfect reason for frosty, cold pints of beer.

On my drive home, I pass several micro-breweries. For about $10 you can get your growler filled to take home and enjoy. If you don’t open it, it is supposed to stay fresh for days. I only buy it when we plan on drinking it right away. It works out to about 4 pints, which is the perfect for two people at the end of the work week.

If you don’t have a growler, most breweries sell them (filled!) for you to take home. Then, all you need to do is keep it clean and remember to bring it with you when a brewery is nearby. I’ve had the growler pictured below for years. This most recent fill-up was at the Maritime Pacific Brewery. Their Flagship Red Ale is smooth and sweet with a mild hoppy finish.

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