Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

Craft Beer Crosscut 8.9.17: A Flight of Thurston County

Ron Swarner


Peaks-and-Pints-Tacoma-Beer-FlightThe popularity of craft beer is rising more swiftly than ever, with more than 5,000 breweries across the United States. Thurston County, the original home of the Olympia Brewery, has embraced the trend wholeheartedly. Thurston County’s beer roots run as deep as its famous artesian wells. In 1896 successful Montana brewer Leopold Schmidt opened the Capital Brewery after discovering the famous artesian water was ideal for brewing beer. Originally housed in a stackhouse in Tumwater, and eventually renamed Olympia Brewery, it was a significant player in the region’s sudsy brew movement. The brewery slogged through Prohibition during the early 20th century and ownership changes 50 years later. The brewery closed in 2003 when its parent company shuttered the Tumwater plant and moved the production operation to Irwindale, California. In 1993, Crayne and Mary Horton led a dozen Thurston County investors in opening Fish Brewing Company, South Sound’s first craft brewery. It wasn’t until 15 years or so later that several Thurston County craft breweries followed Fish’s lead. Peaks and Pints presents Craft Beer Crosscut 8.9.17: A Flight of Thurston County.

Matchless-Brewing-Matchless-Bar-TacomaMatchless Brewing Matchless Bar

10.5% ABV, 25 IBU

In the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Mr. Wonka, wearing a long velvet jacket and a top hat, leads Charlie on a tour of the colorful factory, which features a chocolate river, hot chocolate trees and a chocolate waterfall that flows down jagged rocks. Nowhere in Wonka’s big, bright factory is there a mash tun. In Mr. Pat Jensen’s Tumwater factory, there are several. Jensen and his Matchless Brewing Co. business partner, Grant Bolt, have brewed the imperial stout version of a Wonka Bar— Matchless Bar. Unwrap this imperial stout and you’ll discover three different varieties of vanilla beans and coco nibs. Flavor is rich up front, but settles down with a huge chocolate constant, cool vanilla and milk chocolate. It’s creamy. It’s rich. It’s wonderful.

Three-Magnets-Guava-Sparkle-TacomaThree Magnets Guava Sparkle

5.3% ABV, 30 IBU

Summoning sunshine and sunsets, Three Magnets Brewing’s Guava Sparkle is a hazy, pink guava infused pale ale — a smooth, aromatic style of beer with a cloudy appearance that has become a newfound obsession for beer-lovers. The nose has pleasant whiffs of pale malt, citrus hops, lemon citrus and, of course, guava. As you let your sniffer linger in the glass, notes pineapple round the aroma. The taste starts off with juicy citrus hops, lemon, guava and grapefruit peel. Orange comes next, with a bit of malt. The end reveals light estery tropical and citrus notes. This made-in-Olympia silky brew is insanely delicious, dangerously chuggable and the pink guava flavor is distinct, but light and fits with the hops and mildly flavored malt.

O-Town-2nd-Anniversary-Ale-TacomaO-Town 2nd Anniversary Ale

11% ABV

O-Town Brewing is a mashup of Olympia brewers Bryan Trunnell, of German-focused brewery Kastellan Brauerei, and Matt Smith and Neil Meyer, the namesakes behind S&M Brewing. Their beers are a fusion of German traditional ingredients and Western Washington attitude resulting in traditional styles of German and Belgian ales with Western Washington attitude for unique twists on traditional flavors. Their 2nd Anniversary Ale, a Belgian strong dark ale, was aged for nine months in Syrah oak barrels. It is dark, smooth, dry, mildly sweet and finishes with a deep-rich wine barrel profile.

Fish-Tale-Organic-India-Pale-Ale-TacomaFish Tale Organic India Pale Ale

6.75 ABV, 42 IBU

Fish Tale Ales expanded their portfolio of organic beers with new cans that reflects Fish Brewing‘s commitment to sustainability and adding two new styles. Organic Porter and Organic Red Ale join the Olympia brewery’s already established organic offering, India Pale Ale. “Cans are recyclable, lighter, chill faster and are often welcome where glass bottles are not, Fish Tale Ales is thrilled to provide its customers the best possible vessel to house our organic series of beers,” says Sal Leone, Fish Brewing’s president. Fish Tale Organic India Pale Ale is brewed with organic pale and crystal malts for a firm malt body to balance an assertive hop profile featuring organic Cascade and Centennial hops grown in the Yakima Valley. The old school IPA drinks bready with toasty malt flavor, some caramel and lots of pine.

Top-Rung-Shift-Trade-IPA-TacomaTop Rung Shift Trade IPA

6.2% ABV, 50 IBU

We remember it as if it was yesterday. We dropped by Top Rung Brewing’s 2015 Hoptoberfest ready for some malty flavors and noble hops when we spotted its shiny, golden orange bad self. The Lacey brewery co-founders Casey Sobol and Jason Stoltz had recently debuted their Shift Trade IPA, a 6.2 percent ABV shot of tropical fruits thanks to a hefty dose of Mosaic and Cascade hops. It was crisp. It was bitter. And it was all we drank. Shift Trade is easy drinking with mango, apricot, and pineapple notes and a solid, slightly toasty malt core.