Washington Beer in the News: Best of 2011

As the year comes to a close, I reflect back on 2011 with a bit of satisfaction, a bit of pride, and a lot of optimism for a bright 2012. We made some good headway this year. I am not only talking about the Washington Beer Blog, but the local craft beer scene as a whole. Local craft beer received some valuable attention this year. We made strides in the right direction. And not just locally, either.

Below I list the Washington Beer Blog’s Top Posts of 2011. These stories received the most attention in terms of page views. The list represents a wide range of topics. I have also included a few highlights from 2011. I think some things deserve mentioning even though they didn’t make our list of Top Posts.

2011 Highlights

These are our highlights. You might have, or other blogs might have, different 2011 highlights. You are welcome to share them in the Comments section, just recognize that the things we mention represent our highlights.

Local Beer Goes Mainstream – For its October 2011 issue, Seattle Magazine decided to do a feature about the local beer scene: “An epic 24-page beer extravaganza,” as one editor called it. Other local lifestyle magazines occasionally and quietly mention the beer scene. This was different because the Seattle Magazine beer issue took a deeper look into our world. Local beer was the cover story. I was honored to be involved in the project. Regardless of my contribution, I was really happy that a mainstream publication like Seattle Magazine dedicated so much attention to local beer. Read more about the Seattle Magazine beer issue.

The Decline of Yellow Beer – The yellow beer segment of the overall U.S. beer market continues to shrink as the good beer segment continues to gain momentum. The evidence is all around us. Whether you look at anecdotal evidence like the ever-growing number of local breweries, or hard facts from agencies like The Brewers Association and others, Big Beer is suffering at the hands of good beer. Our friends at Beervana did a good job of exploring the issue back in September. It’s what we all want. More. Good. Beer. Period.

Washington Beer on the National Stage – In October producers from NBC’s “Today” contacted me about appearing on the show. They wanted a local beer expert to appear on television with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb to taste some of our local flavor. On a cold morning in front of the Pike Street Market as daylight broke and the skies threatened to erupt with precipitation, I enjoyed a very brief moment in the spotlight with KLG and Hoda. (See the video here.) I found the experience wacky and fun if not frantic and crazy. Regardless of my involvement, think about this: when the “Today” show came to Seattle they decided to dedicate a segment (albeit brief) to the local beer scene. That is headway.

New Events – Along with my wife, Kim, I produced two new Seattle beer events. Our goal was to elevate the beer festival experience and present something that appealed to a larger audience. Nothing wrong with the regular beer fest crowd, but there are a lot of other people that need to be turned on to good beer. In September Craft: Beer + Food paired 11 local breweries with 11 upscale restaurants. In November our BitterSweet: Beer + Chocolate event introduced the world of the chocolatier to the world of the brewmaster, not only pairing beer with chocolate but creating never-before-brewed styles of chocolate beers. We are proud of how both events turned out and we owe big thanks to our participating breweries, restaurants and to Theo Chocolates.

The Washington Beer Commission hosted a new beer festival in Bremerton in July: The Bremerton Summer Brewfest. The event was wildly popular and is now part of the Commission’s regular festival lineup. Kudos to the Beer Commission’s Executive Director, Eric Radovich, and the rest of the festival committee for recognizing that the west sound needed and deserved a Washington beer festival of its own

Top Eight Stories of 2011

These are the top eight stories from 2011 as determined by the total number of page views (hits) each story received.

1. A Relief Pitcher of Beer. Published on June 13th. Our most-read post of the year. This is the story of Chris Ray, a Seattle Mariner relief pitcher, brewing a beer with Fremont Brewing. Homefront IPA can still be found around Seattle: Fremont Brewing continues to brew it a few time a year as a limited-release offering. Chris Ray, on the other hand, was released by the Mariners in August and is currently a free agent.

That's me with Chris Ray on brew day at Fremont Brewing.

2. I-1183, Opinions from the Beer Industry. Published on November 2nd, just a few days before the election. This story garnered a lot of comments–the most comments of any story we posted this year. The discussion might not have changed any minds or impacted how anyone voted, but it certainly gave people the opportunity to call each other names and clamor for whichever side of the issue they supported.

3. International IPA Day. This was weird. August 4th was designated (by who, I don’t know) as International IPA Day — a day when we were all supposed to enjoy delicious India Pale Ale. For most followers of this blog, that meant August 4th was no different than any other day, which probably explains why we get a lot of hits whenever we put IPA in the title of a story.

4. Growlers at Bottleshops – a New Market for Many WA Breweries. Earlier in the year our dutiful lawmakers in Olympia passed legislation allowing bottleshops to fill growlers of beer. The legislation became law last summer and the beer began to flow at bottleshops like 99 Bottles (blog sponsor). Many of you expressed confusion over who could and could not fill growlers because of this law. I tried to clarify things.

5. Beer+Food: Spicy Sausage Salmon Cioppino. This story was published in June following Seattle Beer Week 2011. During Seattle Beer Week we attended an amazing beer dinner featuring the food of Trellis Restaurant in Kirkland paired with the beers of Hopworks Urban Brewery. Among the evening’s many amazing culinary delights, I was particularly fond of the Spicy Sausage Salmon Cioppino. In fact I liked it so much that I managed to get Chef Brian Scheehser to give me his recipe, which I shared here on the blog.

Spicy Sausage and Salmon Cioppino


6. For Sale: Seattle Brewery, Turnkey and Ready to Brew. This story was posted in November, two months after we’d made the initial announcement that Baron Brewing was moving from Seattle to Chehalis. Our initial post received national attention because we mentioned that Baron would be selling the existing brewery in Seattle “as is.” (Everyone wants to find a quick and easy way into our vibrant and growing beer market.) In November we received more details about the pending sale of the brewery and posted this story as a follow-up to the original.

7. Protecting Your Precious Cargo: Growler on Board. This is a great product: the Growler on Board Beer Transportation Unit. Maybe this was such a popular post because many of you watched growlers meet the same fate as my Skookum Brewing growler. What an awful mess. Anyway, this is a great product and I shouldn’t be surprised that so many people took an interest in it.

8. Brave Horse Tavern: Not a Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing.  This one was about validation. It has taken years for America’s serious culinary minds to recognize the importance of the craft beer revolution. There is no better example of this recognition than the opening of Tom Douglas’ upscale beer joint, the Brave Horse Tavern. I pretty much love all of Tom Douglas’ restaurants so I kind of freaked out about the opening of the Brave Horse Tavern, which combines Douglas’ world-class cuisine with 24 delicious craft beer taps.

Happy New Year!


One comment

  1. The decline of yellow beer made with inferior ingredients/chemicals by big breweries IS what we all want. We hope that the numbers continue to grow for good beers in 2012…Cheers!

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