Fremont Brewing to debut geeky beer

It’s fun to watch our local breweries spin up new beers for any occasion. For instance, Fremont Brewing just announced they’re bringing back the “Official Beer of Emerald City Comic Con,” designed for the geekiest drinkers out there.

Called Dark Heron, it’s described as a “loud, expressive IPA” that “stands as a beacon of light and justice.” The beer features artwork created by Seattle artist Jeffrey Veregge.

And yes, it is the official beer of the Emerald City Comic Con (March 1-4), complete with a joint press release with ReedPOP, the organizer of the event. This the third year of the partnership.

Fremont will unveil the beer at its beer garden on February 1.

Last month Reuben’s Brews brought back its Crush the Dark Side beer — complete with Yoda in the artwork — timed to the release of the latest Star Wars movie.

Briefs: Fremont Bowl, town hall, Goodwill tips, Floodland Brewery, Stoup chili

A few brief stories from Ballard and Fremont…

FREMONT BOWL: Seattle’s most talked-about new restaurant isn’t here in Ballard, but it’s right next door in Fremont. The Seattle Times gives a glowing review to the always-packed Fremont Bowl restaurant on Fremont Ave. and 43rd.

TOWN HALL: Sen. Carlyle, Rep. Tarleton and Rep. Frame from the 36th district will be holding a town hall on Saturday, January 6th at 2 p.m. at Coe Elementary School, 2424 7th Ave. W.

GOODWILL TIPS: It’s that time of year, and Goodwill has put together some helpful tips to maximize your end-of-year donations.

FLOODLAND BEER: Our area’s newest brewery, Floodland in Fremont, will start offering “hard-to-get” small production runs early next year.

FREE CHILI: Stoup Brewing here in Ballard is throwing its 3rd annual free chili feed with football on New Years Day “while supplies last.”

New brewery coming to Ballard

Ballard will soon be home to another brewery called Populuxe Brewing, going in at 826 NW 49th St. As the Seattle Met reports, Ballardites Peter Charbonnier and Jiri Zatloukal are opening the brewery with their respective wives Amy Besunder and Judith Scarcia and, “have been geeking out about homebrewing together for the past four years.”

Populuxe’s Charbonnier told the Met that he and and Zatloukal will do “modern, west coast, Northwest” beers, using mostly local ingredients. The floor plans indicate there will be a large outdoor picnic area, complete with a cornhole court, says the Met. Cornhole, also known as bean bag toss, is a simple game involving a bean bag and a wooden board with a hole. The objective is even simpler: throw the bean bag in the hole for points.

The brewery should be open sometime in the next few months, and we’ll update with a specific opening date soon.

Ballard’s booming beer business

By Mwiza Kalisa

With seven breweries in five square miles, Ballard is fast becoming the Bordeaux of beer. The support for local businesses and a pioneering spirit has made the community a leader in the beer industry.

“The consumer keeps demanding variety and I think that’s fueling the growth in different breweries,” said Kevin Klein, head brewer of NW Peaks Brewery. “People aren’t going to be satisfied with the same craft beer; they’re forcing the market to change so they can try new things.”

Klein has been a home-brewer since 1998. His nano-brewery opened two years ago and is one of several breweries that have opened in the area. Klein’s brewery, which is operated in a garage on Leary Way, has helped him touch base with consumers. While he plans to expand production in the future, a smaller and intimate approach has brought him closer to customers.

“Ballard has been very welcoming and supportive,” Klein said. “People here want to support local businesses and they’re also going to want variety.”

The nano-brewery has more foot traffic now that Ballard is becoming a destination for beer drinkers. Located one block away from NW Peaks Brewery is Hilliard’s Beer, which opened in October. The owners, Ryan Hilliard and Adam Merkl, expected 500 people at their grand opening but about 1000 people arrived that day. Their beers are already available in local pubs and Whole Foods will start carrying their canned Amber Ale and Saison.

Ryan Hilliard of Hilliard’s Beer in front of a wall of beer cans

“I think that we’re lucky in the Northwest and Ballard especially, because we have educated beer drinkers,” Hilliard said. “They know about beer, they know what they like and they know good beer when they taste it.”

Hilliard’s also features a taproom and in the summer they plan to construct a beer garden. “The spirit of the breweries here are such that everybody wants to help each other out,” Hilliard said. “Ballard has the industrial feel to it but it also has the industrial spaces to rent.”

When the staple Hale’s Ales moved from Kirkland to Ballard in 1995, their production capacity increased from 6,000 barrels a year to 20,000 barrels. Twenty-five years ago Hale’s was just one of three breweries in the state. Phil O’Brien, sales and marketing manager, said that today craft breweries have become the norm, particularly when younger people join the industry.

In 2009, Tim Czarnetzki left Washington D.C. to start a pub in Seattle with two friends. Urban Family Brewing opened at 5329 Ballard Avenue last month and has already attracted many beer lovers.

“We decided to come here because of the visibility of this location,” Czarnetzki said. “Seattle is a 20 percent market so you have a lot more opportunities.” Czarnetzki recalled the first time he entered a grocery store in Seattle, compared to New York and DC “the biggest section was the microbrew section.”

Urban Family Brewing currently has 25 beers on tap, by late spring they plan to install their own brewing system. “When you have a city that supports local beers that way, it makes everything else easier to do,” Czarnetzki said. “People here would rather purchase local, even if it meant spending more money, because they want to support the local community.”

Reuben’s Brews is the latest addition to 53rd street. Owners Adam and Grace Robbings are currently working to achieve their June launch date. Adam already has 30 to 40 recipes prepared, some of their beers include; Old Ales, German Rye Ales and a Pumpkin Rye Ale with bourbon. Their taproom, featured in the middle of the brewery, will allow the team to engage with visitors.

After gaining recognition for his beers, Robbings wanted to share his work with people on a wider scale. He won the people’s choice award in 2010 and was one of the top home brewers in the Washington Homebrewer of the Year competition.

“Even from my first brew, our friends and family loved the beer,” he said. “I became a sponge for brewing information; absorbing whatever I could read or learn.”

Robbings moved to Ballard eight years ago, he said that the choice and styles of beer, which were different to the UK, opened his eyes. He believes that the underlying trend of craft breweries in the country is driving Ballard’s growth.

“Ballard is a great location for breweries to open,” he said. “The water is amazing in Western Washington for brewing, we’re close to the cast hop fields of Eastern Washington and there’s a vibrant demand for craft ales.”

Robbings is looking forward to bringing different beers to the area. “There’s a lot of camaraderie in the brewing community,” he added. “I’m excited to be part of that.” (Disclosure: Hilliard’s Beer is a sponsor of MyBallard.)

Plus: Follow @BallardBeer on Twitter for more brewery news, and check out our new Ballard breweries map to plan a tour.

Ballard’s newest nano-brewery now open

NW Peaks Brewery is small. Very small. It’s called a nano-brewery, which is smaller than a micro-brewery. “I’ve been a homebrewer for a long time and people kept telling me my beer was as good as most stuff out there,” owner Kevin Klein tells us,”So I decided to take the plunge and move to the next step up, a nanobrewery.”

Kevin Klein pouring his beer at the PNA Summer Beer Taste.

For the last year and a half, Klein has been working to find a good location and get through the permit process. Once the nano-brewery was ready to go, he turned to his friends for a little help. “I started the endeavor, but friends have been helping out with their expertise. It’s amazing who will work to help out a friend and of course, for beer,” Klein says. For the last few months, Klein has brewed about eight batches of beer.

Copyright photo used with permission

The philosophy of NW Peaks Brewery is a little different than some. There won’t be a “flagship” beer. Instead, Klein has decided to start with the standard styles as “sessionable” beers and will begin with a little more experimentation once he gets the process down. For now, the first two beers are Sahale (a pale ale) and Vesper (a bitter). Coming in January he’ll brew a winter beer called Snowfield and a full-bodied brown called Magic. “And yes, those names stem from names of mountains I’ve climbed in the NW,” he says.

Klein is starting a growler program called the “MountainBeers” which is like a beer-of-the-month club. “It’s a subscription program where you get one or more growlers a month and just exchange your empty growler every month for a filled one,” Klein explains. “Hey, and tis the season, it’s a great gift idea for a beer enthusiast in the area!”

The nondescript entrance to the brewery

NW Peaks Brewery is at 4912 17th Ave NW Suite B. The entrance is through the wooden fence of the Fuller-Anderson roofing/Swedish Contractors building. “We’re working on getting much better signage, but don’t have that yet,” Klein tells us. Check their website for hours, which change weekly.

Seattle Beer Week kicks off on Thursday

If you like to imbibe a cold one, Seattle is your town. In fact we’ve got an entire week (actually 10 days) dedicated to beer. Seattle Beer Week officially kicks off on Thursday at Hale’s Brewery (4301 Leary Way.) The inaugural tapping of a cask will be at 5 p.m.

A dozen or more beer-related events are each day through May 23rd. Although the official kick off is Thursday afternoon, the first event is the Old Town 15th Anniversary with $3.oo Big Time Brewing drafts starting at 11:30 a.m. Old Town Alehouse will host several events at the 5233 Ballard Ave NW location.

Other local spots celebrating Seattle Beer Week are The Leary Traveler (4354 Leary Way NW) with New Belgium Trivia Night on May 15th. Mike’s Chili Parlor (1447 NW Ballard Way) with the Iron Horse Brewing Night on May 15th, The Barking Dog (705 NW 70th St) with The Double Dog Dare Night on May 17th, Maritime Pacific Brewing (1111 NW Ballard Way) with the Jolly Roger Vertical featuring ’04, ’07, ’09 Jolly Roger and a special cask rumored to be from the ’90s. , Delancey (1415 NW 70th) with the Chuckanut Brewers Dinner on May 18th, The Dray (708 NW 65th St) with several events.

The festivities take place all over the city, but they end up back where they began, at Hale’s. On May 23, from noon to 5 p.m., beer connoisseurs can taste brews from 22 different Washington breweries.

Redhook releases new beer with Ballard brew ha-ha

“Ya Sure Ya Betcha” reads the label of Redhook’s newest beer. The popular microbrew giant is honoring its past with its new “Big Ballard Imperial IPA.” It’s no coincidence that Redhook decided to name the beer after our neighborhood, the popular microbrew giant got their start in an transmission shop in Ballard nearly 30 years ago.

To celebrate the new brew, Redhook is throwing a release party on Thursday evening at The Old Pequliar (1722 NW Market St) from 4 to 7 p.m. There will be happy hour prices, music and give-aways, including the chance to win $1,000 Redhook Ale Brewery gift certificate. If you can’t make it to the party, Big Ballard Imperial IPA will be available in 22 ounce bottles and on draught in the Western U.S. beginning late April.

Redhook remembers Ballard with new brew

Redhook Brewery, who now has a large brewhouse over in Woodinville, comes from humble beginnings right here in Ballard.

The popular microbrew giant got their start in an transmission shop back in 1981 and to honor their Ballard past, Redhook will release the Big Ballard Imperial IPA next month. “Ya Sure Ya Betcha!” the label reads. The new beer is inspired by one of their originals, the Ballard Bitter IPA which was first brewed in 1984.

According to the Washington Beer Blog, The official Big Ballard Imperial IPA release party is scheduled for Wednesday, April 14th at the Elephant and Castle in downtown Seattle. Once released, the beer will be available on tap and in 22 oz. bottles. (Thanks Timothy for the tip!)

Ballard is home to ‘Best Brew Pub’

Sorry Capitol Hill, looks like Ballard has the best Brew Pub in town.

Earlier this week, Capitol Hill Seattle pointed us to the Washington Beer Blog poll that had their Elysian pub in a tight race with our Maritime Pacific and the Jolly Roger Taproom. We posted the story and it seems Ballard is proud of our little watering hole. As you can tell from the graph above, the Ballard joint jumped way out in front of the competition.

Maritime Pacific Brewery tied for best brew pub

We know that Maritime is a popular brew. It’s so good, in fact, that they’re moving to a larger space in Ballard. Now the Washington Beer Blog has pitted brewery against brewery and Ballard’s own Maritime Pacific Brewery is tied with Capitol Hill’s Elysian for “Best Brew Pub.”

We’ve been running a poll for a couple of weeks now. The question, “What is your favorite Seattle brew pub?” The plan was to pull it down today and announce the results. Change of plans. We’ll run it for the rest of this week to see if the tie can be broken between Maritime Pacific and Elysian Capitol Hill. Big Time is close on their heels.

You can vote for your favorite brew pub right here. As we’ve written before, Maritime is in a transitional stage and moving into a larger location down the road. We’ll keep you posted on when they plan to open in their new digs. (Thanks CHS Blog.)