Let’s face it, street fair beer gardens are most often crowded with sweaty frat boys swilling tepid, flat horsepiss for absolutely no good reason at all. The beer garden at the 27th annual West Seattle Summer Festival (street fair) is going to be different. This weekend (Fri-Sun) the beer garden will be pouring Elliott Bay Brewing Company’s Park Pale Ale. Proceeds from the brew will support a new park project at the West Seattle Junction. The Junction is a neighborhood/business district in West Seattle and home to Elliott Bay’s original brew pub. It is also where the Summer Festival is happening.
The beer garden will be set up on the grounds of the future park, near the corner of Alaska Street and 42nd Ave. SW. For those of you who know your way around the Junction, that’s half a block east of Easy Street Records, across the street from the Rocksport. There are plenty of other reasons to attend the West Seattle Summer Festival, including an amazing musical lineup, but make sure you stop by the beer garden while you’re there and sample a Park Pale Ale. Also consider stopping by the Elliott Bay Brewery Pub, which is just a half block down the street from the beer garden.
About the Beer
When Doug Hindman, Elliott Bay’s Brewmaster, asked me to take part in (or at least witness) the creation of Park Pale Ale he didn’t have to ask twice. “It will be one part collaboration brew and one part coming out party,” Doug told me.
Joining us in Elliott Bay’s Burien brewhouse that day were Darren Gamache and David Richter. Gamache Family Farms has been producing hops for 5 generations. Darren, a certifiable hop geek, brought some special treats from his family’s farm and from other farms as well. David Richter is the Western Regional Representative for Briess Malting Company. David convinced the folks at Briess to allow Elliott Bay to be the first brewery in the region (west of the Rockies) to brew with a yet-to-be-released Briess malt variety, caramel wheat.
With direction from Doug, significant input from Darren and David, and the occasional nod or shrug of the shoulders from me, Lead Brewer John Gerretsen did most of the work. Based largely on Elliott Bay’s Sunnydale Pale Ale, a summertime seasonal pale, Doug modified the recipe to take advantage of the special ingredients provided by Darren and David.
In addition to the Briess Caracrystal Wheat Malt, the recipe also included a spattering of a mysterious hop known only as HBC 369, a yet-to-be-named experimental variety from a Yakima Valley breeding program. (I could tell you more, but I’d have to kill you.) The majority of the hops were Amarillo, a variety grown exclusively by the Gamache family.
I am really looking forward to drinking a beer that I had such an important role in brewing. Well, okay, all I did was stand around and say intelligent things like, “Sure, sounds good to me” and “Hey Doug, what are conditioning in that bourbon barrel over there?” All kidding aside, I did actually get to dump the hops into the boil, so I got that going for me.
NOTE – Away from the West Seattle Summer Festival beer garden, Elliott Bay will be referring to this beer as Sunnydale Pale.