Hellbent Brewing Now Open

Hellbent Brewery opened to the public on Saturday (May 30). What makes this a special event is one of the co-owners and Head Brewer is Brian Young previously a brewmaster at Gordon Biersh, Redhook and Rock Bottom Bellevue – and famed creator of the Hop Bomb IPA, which arguably launched the passion around PNW super-hopped IPAs.

Located up the street from Elliot Bay Brewing and down the street from 192 Brewing, across form the Fred Meyer on Lake City Way NE, it features a generous parking lot by Seattle brewery standards and an absolutely huge (and gorgeous) taproom.


Four beers are on tap now;  a wheat, summer pale, red and IPA. I found both the wheat and red to be exceptional beers. IPA lovers will want the First Born IPA – 69 IBU – 6.5% ABV. The taproom is a two level sports mecca with lots of comfy seating and many big screen TVs to watch a variety of sporting events.

The company has 4 principals on record. The principals are Brian Glenn Young from Seattle WA, Chris Giles from Seattle WA, John A Guinn from Seattle WA, and Randy Susumu Embernate from Seattle WA.

Hellbent opted to get a Tavern License, which means it will be for grownups only (21+). That license type allows them to pour a larger selection of beers from other breweries, which was part of the plan. It is dog friendly – and there were a mess o’ well-behaved pooches there on this day.

9yardsSpeaking of new breweries near Lake City – there is a rumor of another new brewery that will hit the Lake City/Kenmore corridor soon. I do not know too much about it. It is just a block away from 192 Brewing. Nine Yards Brewing has three principals on record; Andrew Rogers from Woodinville WA, Ethan Savaglio from Seattle WA, and Paul Holzknecht from Bothell WA. No information on anticipated opening date.


Fae Wiedenhoeft – McMenamins – Urban Family

I went to Folklife on Saturday (May 23) and did the usual hiking through the crowds in search of joyful music before expanding my Seattle brewery knowledge. I found it in a Celtic group called Syren, a sister duet led by Fae Wiedenhoeft.


I bought the CD (of course) and was fortunate to grab a quick conversation with her after the gig. I learned that she had other music available online through bandcamp.com and CD baby. I also found a few YouTube posts. She also plays with a group called SeaStar and teaches voice and a variety of Celtic instruments.

  • Fae Wiedenhoeft

2015-05-23 20.54.09After her show I had a few hours before my next Folklife event – a didgeridoo playing workshop. So I headed off to McMenamin’s on Roy St. I learned a few great things there, too, like the Cream Ale, Dunkelwiesen and Porter were made right on the premises by Brian Lawrence. And all this time I thought they shipped the beers up from Portland. Silly me. It was great. I need to go there more often.


Well, when in Seattle explore I always say (well not ALWAYS) and I remembered I had not been to Urban Family Brewing in Magnolia yet. I sought to rectify that omission in my Seattle beer education.


So I did. They brew a lot of beers with wild yeasts aged in barrels. I tried the Citron Noir (pictured above). It was pretty darn good. Different. In a good way. And dang – I missed my didgeridoo lesson.

To Fest, or Not to Fest

That is the question. Or is it the answer? This blog has been a champion of beer festivals, being one of the rare sites to give both pre- and post-event publicity to numerous festivals. We treat the events as news stories; we post event pictures, we name the winners of the People’s Choice Awards. To what end?

entranceOrganizers of these events seem to be mostly interested in selling tickets. Once the event ends, it is if they vaporized, like any kind of beer related taste in a Budweiser. So much for covering the event as a news story. Several days later you might, after some persistence, see a Tweet from a brewer showing off the plaque/certificate/trophy they won by virtue of token/ticket counts or ballots counted. Rarely do you see a press release, or response to your email inquiry, about how many people attended, comments from people who were there, favorite beers sampled, information about first-time breweries, etc., from the event organizer.

Once upon a time there were just a few festivals. Of course at that time there were just a few breweries. Now, there is a festival (or two or three) nearly every weekend somewhere, tap tCapture4akeovers during the week, and somebody’s first, fifth, or twentieth anniversary. There is a brewery or two, or nine, in many small towns and neighborhoods. Need a fund-raiser for your organization? Have a beer festival. Or, what the hey, a Beer Week!

Many brag about how many brewers will be there. “Hundreds of different beers to sample.” It takes about two of these festivals to realize that you are going to only be able to have about 10 of these and leave the facility upright. Although, from my observations at some of these recent events, that definitely was not a concern for several basically horizontal folks who gleefully asked their designated driver to wheel them out as they gulped down yet another Triple IPA.

prositAnd the price tag for these events just keeps going up, and up. The recent Beer and Bacon Classic charged More than $60 for basically two and a half hours of standing in one long line after another at Safeco Field. I can buy a heck of a lot of beer at the local BevMo/Total Wine/Specialty Bottle Shop for what it costs to stand in line for more Manny’s, and Lucille. That is something else that has changed. More brewers are canning and bottling their creations, and pubs, heck, even convenience stores, have fresh craft beer on tap. If you want to try something “new” you’ll head to the newest nano.

Still, HTBN will continue to go to festivals, take pictures and enjoy the experience by posting them on this blog. It’s what we do. And it’s fun.

Iron Horse St Paddy’s Day Half K Pictures

Here are some pictures from the run today. Happy people, kids and dogs. What a great idea. I hope they do this again next year. Their push was to do something fun to raise money for the F.I.S.H. food bank that was destroyed by fire. The goal was to raise $1,000. At race time they had raised more than $2,500.

The beer was great too. Some Irish Death, Mocha Death, High Five Hefe and 509. Yes, I made it through the whole distance. No short-cutting. Did not want to miss out of the two pizza slice stations. Great pizza by the way. Almost wanted to do the course twice. Also stopped at the KIND bar station. Those things are REALLY good.

Copyright 2015 – Hoppy Trails Beer News LLC – All Rights Reserved

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Want an American Beer? Good Luck

Finding a great American beer is not that hard to do if you are a craft beer lover. However for main-streamers, it is getting much, much harder. I am going to kick-start a firestorm of debate on this but when a foreign company buys the brewery, it is not American anymore. It is a foreign beer, brewed in America (at least for the time being). We all answer to the bean counters. Your local guy sold out and is sitting under a beach umbrella somewhere.

Full Sail Brewing (Hood River, OR) Acquired by Encore Consumer Capital – 3/9/15 – Ends Unique ESOP

With the acquisition of the Bend, OR, craft brew rising star 10 Barrel Brewing  and Seattle, WA stalwart Elysian Brewing by ABInBev there is a lot of joy in the marketplace and a deep sadness from craft beer purists. Winners here are ABInBev and 10 Barrel Brewing, and countless thousands of beer drinkers across the nation who now will be treated to some of the wonders of the 10 Barrel line-up. Losers are Bend locals and current 10 Barrel consumers who shared a convivial sense of ownership in the brewery, the brewers and the brand. ABInBev? Aren’t they an American company? Sadly, not in a legal sense. Read on.

Continue reading Want an American Beer? Good Luck

Small Brewers Rule

With all the angst over some bigger microbreweries selling off all or parts of their breweries to megacorpbreweries, it is refreshing to revisit some of the small breweries around the area. This reminds me that the craft beer revolution is less about whether Sam Adams has its beer on tap in lots of places in Boston, or whether Widmer, Ommegang, Goose Island and Boulevard are still considered “craft breweries”, and more how it is about small nano-sized breweries making their mark and generating a local, almost neighborhood following.

Some are weekend only garage brewers, and some actually pay for retail space. Most do not have food – and that is fine by me – because that makes them able to be dog-friendly.

Here are a few that have had a couple anniversaries and are well worth going back to if you are out and about.

Odin Brewing (Tukwila)  nodogsallowed32pix

Odin is in the midst of a transition. They now have a taproom/pub in Tukwila near the Southcenter Mall. Over the next year they will be moving their brewing equipment from the current 5,000 sq ft brewhouse to this new location. This will give them some 12,000 feet of expansion room for their brewing operations. Norse themed goodness in a dozen different offerings.

Odin Collage

My favorites are the Freya’s Gold (Kolsch), Northern Darkness (Baltic Porter) and the spiced Abbey Ale. The recently put on a porter and a stout that are very good.

Counterbalance Brewing (S. Park)  nodogsallowed32pix

counterbalance-logoA couple of coffee shop employees from Queen Anne Hill decided to start a new brewery in town. Head brewer and owner Frank Lawrence had been brewing beers at home for seven years. His Caffe Ladro colleague co-owner Jeff Howell, also is a homebrewer and craft beer lover. It turns out Frank had quite the knack for crafting consistently tastey and creative beers. After several years of a lot of “we should start our own brewery” chit-chat at local taprooms, they bit the proverbial bullet and DID IT.

Counterbalance 2

The “counterbalance theme” has many iterations as explained on their web site. Basically it comes down to balance – and a balanced beer is what you get there. The tap room opened in late January, 2015. They are already “packing them in” thanks to some beer tour buses and a thirsty local workforce.

I had the Abigale Blonde Ale, Counterbalance IPA, Bad Wolf Dark Ale and the Kushetka Russian Imperial Stout. I particularly liked the stout.

Brickyard Brewing (Woodinville)

Dog Friendly

Santa was good to me this year and gave me a coupon for a flight of eight Brickyard tastes and a growler fill. I had not been up that a way for quite some time, so it was good to visit again and see what was new. I run into brewer/owner/beer server extraordinaire Joe Montero at various festivals and other breweries from time to time.


Their Masonry Oatmeal is top notch, especially with the stout flavored ice cream. Stout floats! Yummm.

Flycaster Brewing (Totem Lake)

Dog Friendly

Now that Jeremy Eubanks has his Flycaster Brewing operation open and generating decent traffic, he is expanding hours and turning much of the brewing operations over to other brewers while he concentrates on – well if you go solely off his Facebook posts – fly fishing trips, vacations with the family and a love of TJack (Seahawk backup QB). He still  sandwiches a MSFT BI job in there somehow.


Usually, his beers are on the lighter side (blonde, ipa, pale, red) but on this visit they had a winter ale that was good, and a coffee porter that was really good.

Twelve Bar Brews (Woodinville) 

Dog Friendly

12BarslogoThe last time I was in owner/brewer Kirk Hilse’s music themed fine establishment, it was just him and me, separated by a counter. His side had a few taps. My side had a cement floor right next to the front door. Not even a chair. His hours were like blink and you missed it, but I enjoyed his beers at several local festivals. He celebrated his third year in operation this past October.

What a difference today. He took over a couple offices next door and has a beautiful cozy, dare I say intimate, taproom with guitars, and other musical instruments serving as an integral part of the decor. I had the Turnaround Red Northwest Ale. At 40 IBUs I was expecting a bit of a bite, but somehow he has tamed his hops. They were very flavorful and aromatic.


He bottles his bigger sellers and uses a distributor to expand his reach throughout Washington and Idaho.

Big Block Brewing (Sammammish) nodogsallowed32pix

Located in a residential cul-de-sac on the Sammammish plateau, tucked inside a large, two-car garage, is yet another Eastside nanobrewery named Big Block Brewing, in honor of the big block car engines.

Owner John Julum has been producing beer at home for about 20 years. Julum and his wife, Michele, operate Big Block Brewery, the only licensed brewery in the city of Sammamish. It’s considered a nanobrewery because of its 15-keg-per-week capacity. But bigger tanks are on the way.


The brewery and taproom take up most of the Julums’ two-car garage, although the business’s namesake, a 1967 Ford Galaxie with a big-block engine, sits out in the driveway. The Julums often have 11 beers on tap, and sell beer in growlers, kegs and pints out of their taproom. You may see them on local taps around town soon.

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thCADRNE1QYup. A store right here on this web site. Pretty cool huh? Click on the banner at the top of the page, or right here, and start shopping. Shirts, books, movies, homebrewing supplies, festival gear, with more to come all the time.

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Pike, Reuben’s, Icicle and Ghostfish Medal at US Open

Oxford, OH (July 4, 2015) – Breweries from China to the Czech Republic sent in almost 4,000 beers and ciders representing 90 different styles for the 2015 U.S. Open Beer Championship. This competition includes professional breweries and award-winning home-brewers. Today, judges from England, Canada and the U.S. announced the winners.

11216843_1019326844746048_3003804778462469772_nMore than 20 international breweries from Australia, China, Czech Republic, Venezuela, Canada, Belgium, Germany, Mexico,  Sweden, Finland, Scotland and England competed.

Ballast Point Brewing in San Diego, California  was named Grand National Champion by winning  three gold medals and one silver medal.  Their three beers that were awarded gold medals were Ballast Point Pale Ale, Calico Amber Ale and Sculpin IPA.

“It’s amazing what brewers will do to enter the U.S. Open. In the past, brewers have personally delivered their craft beers from Columbia and Brazil. This year, Joshua Deitner from Shanghai Brewery in China traveled 7,263 miles to deliver his beers personally,” said Dow Scoggins, Director of the U.S. Open. He added that the effort paid off: Shanghai Brewery’s Imperial American Brown Ale was awarded a silver medal.

PIKE_OLD_BAWDY          Dark Peresuasion

Washington brewers who took home medals

Read more and see the complete list here

 Reuben’s Brews Classic Dry Irish Stout BRONZE
 Reuben’s Brews Black Imperial IPA SILVER
 The Pike Brewing Pike 2010 Old Bawdy GOLD
 The Pike Brewing Co Pike Local Alba BRONZE
 Ghostfish Brewing Vanishing Point Pale Ale BRONZE
 Icicle Brewing Dark Persuasion GOLD

Washington Wild Brewshed Alliance Parties at Hale’s Ales

Brewshed-Logo_bronze2 (1)I attended a beer festival on Thursday at Hales’ Ales as part of a Meetup event under the umbrella of the Puget Sound Beer Meetup Group. The festival was a fund raiser/awareness raiser by Washington Wild, a water conservation group active throughout the state.

 A Brewshed® is the link between clean healthy
watersheds and superior local beers, because clean water makes better beer.  A watershed is a Brewshed®


Twenty-one brewers brought more than 40 beers to taste, many unique creations just for this festival. It was great to see Bounday Bay, Asland and Wander trek on down from Bellingham, and Odd Ottter and Pacific Brewing & Malt trek up from Tacoma on a weeknight to support this cause. Bainbridge Brewing Company was there showing off the new logo. Fremont and Black Raven had very nice beers. Airways brought two medal winners.


Washington Wild works to permanently protect Washington’s wild river systems and the lands they flow through, many of which supply drinking water to Washington communities and provide the water to create our delicious local beers.

The Brewshed® movement is a great reason for conservation-minded craft beer-lovers to gather in honor of healthy watersheds and local microbrews, all while supporting local breweries! Here are the events planned for the rest of 2015.

2015 Event Calendar: 

Can You Say FWIBF?

As much as I love the craft beers from Washington and Oregon, I have to admit there are some pretty darn good breweries in other parts of the country (even California). One trip to the Great American Beer Festival will make that perfectly clear.

So, if you could throw a beer festival – and invite just the breweries and beers that you wanted to be there – would you not invite any breweries in WA or OR? Firestone-Walker seems to think that is definitely doable, and so they did it.

beerlineuplogoI was struck with righteous indignation at the mere whisper of such a deed, but, I must admit, in looking over the list for the 2015 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival, happening Saturday, May 30, 2015 from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM (PDT) in Paso Robles, CA., the have managed to put together a pretty impressive group.

It is a bit of an elitist beer festival though. Admission is $80 for those five (make that four) hours, and $200 if you want the VIP treatment. What do you get for that ticket? FW says:

  • An afternoon of tasting amazing domestic and international craft beers with the brewers themselves, as well as delectable bites from the best restaurants on the Central Coast. 
  • The event will run from 12:00pm to 5:00pm, however, food and beer service will end at 4:00pm everywhere in the event except the breweries in the Frontier Concert area.   (Main Gate closes at 3:30pm, no entry after this time.  NO INS & OUTS)
  • There will be live bands playing throughout the day on the Frontier Town stage, with the headliner band taking the stage around 3:30pm.  
  • “Behind the Beer Sessions”  featuring beer tastings and Q & A sessions with the brewmasters themselves.   
  • A commemorative tasting glass
  • Complimentary Parking at the PR Event Center or Paso Robles Hotel Shuttle provided by Paso Robles Pioneer Day Committee (see transportation link)

Well – you might think – there is NO WAY that is going to be successful. I might agree – $20/hr to stand in lines for beer  is a bit excessive. We’d be wrong. Both the regular admission and VIP admissions are SOLD OUT. Continue reading Can You Say FWIBF?