Today a lot of you are probably visiting the Washington Beer Blog for the first time. On the heels of my appearance Friday morning on the Today Show (brief, though it might have been) I would like to introduce myself. I would also like to introduce you to the Washington beer scene and the beers we tasted on the show.
My name is Kendall Jones, or as Kathie Lee dubbed me, “Beer Boy.” I am a freelance beer writer working out of Seattle. You can read more about me and my writing on the About Us page. You can follow me on twitter @beerblog and on Facebook at Facebook.com/washingtonbeerblog.
I was honored when a Today Show producer contacted me and asked if I would be willing to appear with Kathie Lee and Hoda to discuss (briefly) the virtues of Washington beer. I was insanely flattered to say the least. At this moment I have not yet seen the segment.
I do not know how the beer and wine tasting segment will look on television. I do not know how well I performed. What I do know is this: if I did anything short of make an utter fool of myself, it is because Kathie Lee and Hoda were great. I met them both before the show and they immediately made me feel at ease. They made it fun.
Washington certainly is a great place to live if you like beer. Thirty years ago you could count America’s microbreweries on your fingers. Two of them were in Washington. We led the charge when the craft beer revolution started. Today Washington has over 150 microbreweries crafting some of the world’s greatest beers. Our brewing community continues to innovate and continues to grow at a breakneck pace.
Yes, you heard me. Washington boasts more than 150 microbreweries.
It’s What We Drink Around Here
In the USA, six percent of the beer consumed is craft beer (a.k.a. microbrew). In the Seattle metropolitan area, 25 percent of the beer we consume is craft beer. Portland, OR is the only place that drinks more: they consume 29 percent craft beer. Let’s face it, Portland is just barely Oregon. (Just kidding, Portland.) Most American cities are not even in double digits.
Craft beer is everywhere in Seattle. That’s one of the reasons why people outside Washington hear so little about our beer: we drink most of it before it gets across the border. Our microbreweries don’t need to go looking for a market to sell their beer and only a handful of our 150-plus breweries export beer to other states. To name three beers (breweries) you might find in other states, Redhook, Elysian, and Pike. They are not the only ones, but there are surprisingly few. For you locals, that might help explain how I made my choice to feature those breweries on national television.
Our Washington breweries make great beer of every style imaginable but I would be remiss if I did not mention India Pale Ale (IPA). This extremely hoppy style is all the rage around here. Our brewers enjoy a huge advantage when it comes to IPA: Washington grows 75 percent of the nation’s hops. This also provides a great advantage for brewing fresh hop ales, which by definition must make use of the hops less than 24 hours after harvest. If you’re here in September or October, be sure to seek out this extremely seasonal beer style.
Washington’s breweries produce all the common styles of craft beer: Porter, Stout, IPA, Pale Ale, Amber, lagers, and so on. These days, our local brewers are also broadening their horizons and delving into the world of Belgian-style beers, sour beers, infused beers, and pretty much anything else. They are inventing new styles of beer and pushing the boundaries of brewing. It is a very exciting time to be a beer geek in Washington.
So when you visit Washington, you’d be silly not to try some beer. It won’t be hard to find, especially if you use the complete list and map of Washington Breweries on this website. Also, don’t be afraid to look for Washington beers wherever you happen to live.
What I Poured
Here is the list of beers that I poured for the Today Show. I did not select these beers because they are my favorite beers. They are not necessarily brewed by my favorite breweries. I picked them because they all fit a theme: interesting and unexpected flavors.
The first three beers are brewed by breweries that actually distribute out of state. You might not find these particular beers but you may find other beers brewed by these breweries.
The fourth is a beer that I actually thought Kathie Lee and Hoda might like. At least I tried.
Auld Acquaintance Hoppy Holiday Ale, by Pike Brewing: A popular seasonal beer brewed for the winter months by one of Seattle’s best known and most loved breweries. It is festive and flavorful with hints of orange peel, coriander, cinnamon and nutmeg. For me, the main flavor is orange peel with a little Cinnamon, and a mild hoppy bitterness on the finish. Other beers you might find by Pike Brewing: Naughty Nellie, Kilt Lifter, and IPA.
Redhook Extra Special Birthday Beer, by Redhook Brewery: Brewed by Seattle’s very first microbrewery (one of the first microbreweries in the USA) to commemorate the brewery’s 30th anniversary. It is a highly modified extra special bitter brewed with a Belgian yeast strain that lends notes of spicy banana and clove. Intended to be reminiscent of the original Redhook beer brewed 30 years ago. Other beers by Redhook: Long Hammer IPA, Winterhook, and Redhook ESB.
Coche de Medianoche, by Elysian Brewing: Mexican-themed pumpkin ale with cumin, cinnamon, black pepper, chilies, roasted pumpkin seeds, and Ursa Orange. This beer defies description. I get a big hit of black pepper on the front end, and then it slowly turns into roasted chili peppers. The flavors are complex and change on your palate from beginning to end and then a peppery burn lingers. Other beers by Elysian Brewing: Immortal IPA, The Wise ESB, and Dragonstooth Stout.
Ginger Pale Ale, by Trade Route Brewing: A popular beer around Seattle. It is a light and refreshing pale ale brewed with ginger, galangal, and orange peel. This is a very good beer to pair with food, especially Asian cuisine. I find it refreshing, with a very mild citrus notes on the nose, probably from the hops and the orange peel. Other beers by Trade Route Brewing: Hoppy Bitch IPA and Mango Weizen.