Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

Craft Beer Crosscut 6.12.18: A Flight of East King County

Ron Swarner


Remember when Eats King County was nowheresville where yuppies pitched mansions in cul-de-sacs and bland, homogenous strip malls popped faster than mommy’s little helper was popped. The cul-de-sacs and strip malls are still there, along with much more opulent malls and enough outsize SUVs to make a Subaru-driving Seattleite feel like a Tonka truck at a big-wheel rally, but cities such as Redmond and Woodinville have come into their own with We Are The World neighbors and businesses of all shapes and sizes — including more than 100 wineries. Yes, there is still rural charm, especially in Woodinville, but there is continued growth, especially in the craft beer scene. East King County houses more than 20 craft breweries, including the five in our beer flight today, Craft Beer Crosscut 6.12.18: A Flight of East King County.

Chainline Polaris Pilsner

4.9% ABV, 30 IBU

Released in 2012 by the Hop Research Institute in Hull Germany, Polaris hops were bred as a dual purpose hop with an incredibly high alpha acidity and essential oil content that leads to very bold tastes and distinctive flavors — including contributing to bold floral and fruit notes with a slight hint of mint, which describes Kirkland, Washington’s Chainline Brewing’s Polaris Pilsner. The 2016 Great American Beer Festival silver medalist pilsner has a mint-like flavor while still maintaining its Noble hops lineage. Bohemian malts and yeast provide the body you would expect from this style pilsner.

Triplehorn Folkvang Irish Red

5.8% ABV, 32 IBU

Two brothers and one vision propelled Nordic themed Triplehorn Brewing Co. toward its summer of 2012 opening in Redmond. Rich and Ray Nesheim donned Viking helmets and made a pack to produce small batch specialty beers in a lively environment. The quest continues. Triplehorn’s Folkvang Irish red pours a cloudy copper red with all the malt aroma. Flavor is a dusty malt, but smoothes out nicely with a grainy, caramel finish.

Mac & Jack’s Sum’Shine Pale Ale

5.3% ABV, 35 IBU

In 1991, Mac Rankin started homebrewing and fell in love with the process. He probably started home brewing to relieve stress as it was Dave Krieg’s final season in Seattle, when he was one of four quarterbacks to start during Seattle’s 7-9 season. In 1993, Mac approached Jack Schropp with the possibility about starting a microbrewery. Over the next nine months the first batches of the African Amber and Pale Ale were rolled out while Nivana’s In Utero cranked in Jack’s garage. In 1994, after much success with the Amber and the Pale Ale, Mac & Jack’s Brewing Co. finalized their African Amber, Blackcat Porter and Serengeti Wheat (their hefeweizen beer). These signature beers were introduced at the The Park Pub, next to the Woodland Park Zoo. In 1996, Mac and Jack realized that it was time to move out of Jack’s garage. After eight months they finally started construction in August at North Sammamish Center in Redmond, Washington. From 1997-2000, production was quickly maxed out, and Mac & Jack’s remodeled the brewery four times to increase overall production. In 2013, Mac & Jack’s is the third largest craft brewery in Washington state, producing 43,000 barrels, behind Georgetown Brewing and number one Redhook Ale Brewery. In Spring 2018, Mac & Jack’s rolls out their first can, Sum’Shine Pale Ale, a light, moderately hoppy pale ale brewed with Citra and Cascade hops. It offers grapefruit, lime, and melon from the hops with a refreshing finish.

Black Raven Wisdom Seeker

8.9% ABV, 85 IBU

Folklore and mythology present the raven as an omniscient creature with special powers and abilities. From Redmond, comes Black Raven’s Wisdom Seeker, a Double IPA that gets its special powers from an enormous amount of hops — Summit, Nugget, Chinook, Centennial, Simcoe, Amarillo and Citra — and malted barley for moderate to heavily bitter with a nice malt backbone. Brewed in the West Coast Double IPA style, this bold brew has tons of orange citrus with some grapefruit and resin on the nose. We get more pine and resin with some citrus fruit, a little onion and light herbal notes.

Sumerian Hopruption IPA

8% ABV, 95 IBU

In 1800 B.C. Mesopotamia (ancient Iraq), a Sumerian poem honoring Ninkasi, the patron goddess of brewing, contained the oldest surviving beer recipe, describing the production of beer from barley via bread. In 1995, Mark Ihrig created The Micro Beer Club. Four years later, he launched the Cellars Wine Club in 1999. In 2001, Mark launched Boxing Cat Brewery. Holly Ihrig, one of the first Microsoft employees, retired in 2012 so the couple could combine their talents to open Sumerian Brewing Co. If you load up a double IPA with Cascade and Centennial hops, dry hop it twice with Citra and Mosaic, it’s much more than an eruption of hops. What was known as Sumerian’s Eruption IPA is now Hopruption IPA. Sumerian Brewing changed the name to match the hop explosion, but honestly they could have called it Smoothruption. This crazy hopped double is well balance with a creamy body, lightly sweet and fruit forward.