Kitsap Breweries : Bainbridge Island

Well, my recaps of the peninsula breweries is definitely behind. On the bright side, my visits to these breweries is chugging forward. I’ve got a few in the queue, so let’s get one knocked out right now.

Industrial Park brewing.

A few weeks back, my wife and I ventured out on a drizzly day to Bainbridge Island and made a stop to the local brewery cleverly named: Bainbridge Island Brewing. Oh, those creative business types. It just so happened to coincide with Washington Beer Open House, so not only did we kick back a couple tasty brews, we got a guided tour of their cramped but effective brewing space.

Love that stained glass

Bainbridge is located in what feels like a hybrid industrial park and strip mall. It’s interior has a craftsman, nearly a log cabin feel to it with lots of natural wood. A relatively small downstairs is augmented with a loft offering quite a bit more seating. While they don’t offer up food of their own (other than simple snacks. We had cheese and crackers) they do bring in a rotation of food trucks (with the schedule on a big chalkboard) and you can always bring in whatever else you might want to chew on.

Res Judicata

But why do we really go to breweries? It’s not the food or the atmosphere even. We go for the beer. Bainbridge brews up many tasty beers and they seem to be slowly expanding into the barrel aged and sour realm lately, too. We shared a couple flights plus added a couple tasters and got through pretty much their entire lineup that day. I’m not generally a fan of fruited IPAs but their Grapefruit IPA was solid and might be the best of the style that I’ve had. Their new sour, Res Judicata, was tart, tasty and a solid first offering. It has me excited to see what else they might pump out in that capacity.

We enjoyed a tour of the brew house by the head brewery and co-founder. He took the time to explain the ins and outs of their system, the highs and lows of their current size, what is pushing them forward and holding them back. It was a very honest and refreshing conversation.

Bainbridge is doing some good stuff out of a fairly packed environment. Their bottled offerings are getting easier to find and their tap only brews are definitely worth trying if you see them on somewhere. I’d be more of a regular if Bainbridge Island weren’t so damn far out.

Bunch o’ Hops

Kitsap Breweries : Silver City

One of my beer goals for 2017 is to visit all breweries on the Kitsap Peninsula. Basically, anything north of the Tacoma Narrows bridge is fair game. And now, the race has begun.

A classic warehouse brewery tap

I decided to start the adventure at a place I know well. Silver City is the big dog over here on the west sound and ships its beers far and wide. Last I checked, they were the fourth largest craft brewery in Washington. I won’t go into specifics about their beers because you’ve most likely had a pint of the Ridgetop Red, Nice Day IPA or any of their regulars. They even brewed the Seattle Beer Week beer, Sieben Braü lager … so they are totally big time.

Tropic Haze when it was still a pilot brew

The brewery taproom itself is actually pretty small and reserved. A few seats at the bar next to a small window to the packaging floor of the brewery greets you as you walk in. A lineup of 20 tap handles is front a center in case you forgot why you were there. Beer. Beer is why you are there. Some tables scattered among stacks of silent barrels aging a whole host of different brews adds some ambiance and gives a good reminder that you’re drinking at a very busy working brewery. They have a large chalkboard calendar with all their goings on in the main room of the bar so you can see what food truck will be in on what day, when that special release imperial porter is available, and when cask night is gonna be. It’s helpful. The service is always friendly, and as a native midwesterner, I enjoy the easy and relaxed friendly atmosphere they seem to promote. I enjoy Silver City but it’s a basic brewery taproom that seems to exist more to fill growlers and sell bottles and cans of their liquid than as a gathering spot to tie a few on. They are not trying to wow you with ambiance. They are trying to sell their beer in a friendly environment. I dig it.

A fuzzy photo among the snoozing barrels.

I wouldn’t call myself a regular but I do stop in a few times a month and relax- generally  over a pint of one of their pilot beers. They seem to have at least a couple going each time I’m in, in addition to the regular lineup and standard seasonals.  They also brew a number of seasonal lagers, which needs to be a thing at more places. Lager. Yea. It’s the next new hotness that isn’t new at all but is awesome.

Scrooge rests patiently.

So yea, Silver City. It’s a damn’d fine brewery with a solid taproom offering up a good variety of their beers with some one-offs, too. It’s nice to have them nearby.

On the web: Silver City Brewery

*This is solely about the brewery taproom in Bremerton. The flagship restaurant in Silverdale is a different beast all together. I rarely venture up there as its focus is casual dining and the tap list isn’t as extensive. And I write a beer blog, not a causal dining blog.

Ise No Kuni

The time I recently spent in Ise was directed mainly at seeing and drinking Isekadoya beer.  I have always thought pretty highly of Isekadoya and I’ll get to them in a future post.  The most surprising find of the weekend was a brewery I’d never heard of, though.  

Hosokawa Shuzo Sake and Beer brewery makes Ise No Kuni Beer.  When my friends and I happened upon them in a shop we were a bit surprised to see beer none of us had any idea existed so we naturally picked up a few bottles each.  While the beer wasn’t that amazing it was nice to see another brewery in the area producing drinkable beer.

The dunkel was a little too vegetal for my liking.  Still, it had an overall nice caramel maltiness that made it a pretty nice drink.  The helles was quite nice and the better of the two.  Grassy hops and a nice malty flavor with a medium body made for a good brew.  I don’t know if I’d pick up the dunkel again but I’d go back for another round with the helles.  I do love those little breweries.

On the web: Hosokawa Shuzo

What is it about BrewDog?

I read a fair amount of beer blogs. It’s because I’m a beer nerd, you see. How else can I learn the art of beer blogging if I don’t do my research and find out what works and what doesn’t? Anyhow, over the course of the previous few months beer blogs everywhere have been nostril deep in posts about BrewDog, the Scottish Brewery that wants you to know how edgy they are.

Before I go any farther let me just say that I have only had four of their offerings and all have been pretty good. I was less than impressed with The Physics, but thoroughly enjoyed my bottle of Paradox Batch 002. Delicious.

My question, though, is why in the world is everyone in awe of them? Is it their name? Is it their drawn out battle with the Portman Group? Is it their marketing strategy? Is it their location? Or, is it truly because they are the best brewery going on right now?  Maybe it’s that I’m uneducated in the awesomeness of BrewDog.  I don’t mean to come off as anti-BrewDog, quite the contrary.  I just want to know what the big deal is.  

A quick glance at RateBeer shows that 17 (beers with 10 or more rates) of their 42 total listings are in the 90th percentile, thats right around 40% of their beers!    Pretty impressive for a brewery that started way back in April 2007.  

Whatever they’re doing they’re doing it right.  Keep up the good work BrewDog, I guess I’m the odd man out after-all.

Tanakaya carries around 10 of their brews (most are versions of the Paradox) so I’ll be picking up a bottle or two next time I’m up there, you know, for research purposes.

On the web: BrewDog