Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Initiatives 1100 and 1105 - WTF?

Okay Washington, the time has come. Election day is creeping up on us, and it's time to make a decision. No doubt by now you have begun to see numerous ads supporting and decrying Initiatives 1100 and 1150, which are attempting to privatize Washington's liquor industry.

From the Washington Secretary of State website:

1100: This measure would direct the liquor control board to close all state liquor stores; terminate contracts with private stores selling liquor; and authorize the state to issue licenses that allow spirits (hard liquor) to be sold, distributed, and imported by private parties. It would repeal uniform pricing and certain other requirements governing business operations for distributors and producers of beer and wine. Stores that held contracts to sell spirits could convert to liquor retailer licenses.

1105: This measure would direct the liquor control board to close all state liquor stores and to license qualified private parties as spirits (hard liquor) retailers or distributors. It would require licensees to pay the state a percentage of their first five years of gross spirits sales; repeal certain taxes on retail spirits sales; direct the board to recommend to the legislature a tax to be paid by spirits distributors; and revise other laws concerning spirits.

Some of the wording is fairly straightforward - the initiatives are trying to throw out the state-run liquor stores and allow booze to be sold privately - easy enough. But they both mention repealing and/or revising certain "other laws" and "other regulations." What the hell is that?

The tricky thing about these initiatives is that they impact more than just the state-run liquor stores and the spirits business. The fine print includes changes to the current system that will impact the craft brewers and wineries of Washington as well.

The world of politics is overly-complex (and intentionally so), and at times like these, when important decisions are being made, it is vital to have a firm understand of exactly what you are being asked to decide. Which is why I have called in reinforcements.

If you are as confused as I am about these initiatives, you will probably want to check out some of the articles that have been written by local bloggers intent on getting to the heart of the matter. Check out the sites below for a breakdown of the issues:

  • Beer Blotter has been running a series of articles on the issue since summer.
  • Washington Wine Report has done a 4-part series on the initiatives (this link takes you to Part 4, which, in turn, links back to all of the other posts). Additionally, check out this piece on WA wineries and their positions on the measures.
  • Paul Gregutt argues the pros and cons of both sides. Additionally, this article gives the opinions of several individuals from various sides of the business and the impact that the initiatives would have.
  • Write for Wine has a large (and very helpful) list of resources and community posts that includes several of these, as well as many others.

I am still sifting through the information on both sides, but hopefully these resources will be as helpful to you as they have been to me. And thanks to everyone listed above for taking the time to help break this information down.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Starbucks to Serve Beer and Wine

You may have already heard (it's a popular topic on the interwebs, after all), but a local Starbucks recently underwent an overhaul. The Olive Way Starbucks on Capitol Hill reopened yesterday after 3 months and some $500,000 worth of renovation.

This store received more than just a face-lift; this location seems to be serving as a test run for a new business model that will include an expanded menu, late-night offerings (including beer and wine), as well as entertainment. In fact, as noted by Beyond the Bottle, this location will serve local Washington and Oregon wines (and beers, one would assume) that may be offered in other stores as this project grows.

We'll see how this vision develops as time goes on; it is definitely an interesting concept, and a new place to find your local favorites.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pumpkin Beer for Everyone!

Nothing says "Fall Time" (also, "awesome") like the opportunity to sample over 40 different pumpkin beers with a room full of beer lovers. That's right - this weekend is Elysian Brewing's Annual Great Pumpkin Beer Festival.

Elysian will be highlighting their own Night Owl Pumpkin Ale, The Great Pumpkin, Dark o' the Moon Pumpkin Stout, Hansel & Gretel Ginger Pumpkin Pilsner, Kaiser Kurbis Pumpkin Hefeweizen, Mr. Yuck Sour Pumpkin Ale and a variety of guest pumpkin beers from breweries from around the country. A full list is available on Elysian's website.

Festivities will run from 12-10 p.m. on Saturday, and from 12-6 p.m. on Sunday at Elysian's Capitol Hill Brewery. The tapping of the Great Pumpkin (that's a huge pumpkin filled with beer - please join me in cheering) will commence at 4 pm both days.

The entry fee is $18, which includes a souvenir glass and 6 drink tickets. Additional drink tickets can be purchased for $2 each.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What We're Drinking

Rogue Brewery's Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout

There is nothing better than a pint of stout to help ease you into the week. Enjoying a bottle of Rogue's Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout last night was the perfect answer to a long day.

This stout pours a dark brown color with a frothy tan head. Its rich, creamy taste balances flavors of roasted malt, oats, coffee and a hint of dark chocolate, and the hops bring a slightly citrusy taste at the end. This is a solid, complex stout that sports a variety of flavors that blend together quite harmoniously - no individual taste is ever overpowering and it goes down crazy-smooth.

This beer recently won Bronze in the American-Style Stout category at the Great American Beer Festival, and it's not hard to see why.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Northwest Winners in the Great American Beer Festival

The Great American Beer Festival came to a close over the weekend, with several Northwest faves taking home medals:

You can find a complete list of placements and categories here. Congratulations to all!

Friday, September 17, 2010

What We're Drinking

Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale

I love fall, and I am sucker for all things pumpkin. Breads, cakes, ice cream, pasta, and most importantly - beer. The arrival of pumpkin ales on the shelves and on the taps is the first sign of autumn for me, and I was psyched to sample my first pumpkin ale of the season earlier this week - The Elysian Brewing Company's Night Owl Pumpkin Ale.

Night Owl was the brew that got me hooked on pumpkin beers a few years ago. The pumpkin is very present in both the aroma and the taste (each batch of the ale is brewed with pumpkin, as well as with pumpkin seeds). It is also flavored with nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and ginger. The nutmeg and the cloves are the most prominent of these flavors, and are present throughout, giving the beer a spicy kick and butching up the flavor (like if your mom's Thanksgiving pumpkin pie got all hopped up on steroids before being served). Then it wraps it all up with a warm, slightly hoppy finish. Yum.

Great start to pumpkin beer season, and I am looking forward to many more over the coming weeks. Happy Fall!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Virtual Tasting Madness

Quick update on a couple of virtual tastings that are taking place this week:

  • TONIGHT - Washington Wine Report's monthly Virtual Tasting, starring the 2009 Chinook Cabernet Franc Rose. This event will run from 7:00-8:00 PST. You can download a list of retailers offering this bottle here. Join the conversation on Twitter under the hashtag #wawine.
  • THURSDAY September 2nd - Cabernet Day. Sample and discuss all things Cabernet. This event will run all day long, so grab your favorite bottle and join in when it suits you. Event details can be found on Eventbrite. The Twitter hashtag for this tasting will be #Cabernet.

These events are always a great deal of fun, and a great opportunity to commune with fellow wine-lovers. I will be participating under @ankerhauspub.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

N 2gether Now

Buy low, sell high. That's the game, right? The simple rule that underpins all business, the Canon Truth by which an enterprise will either thrive or starve.

You get your goods and services from the lowest bidder, and then you turn them around for the maximum markup the market will tolerate. Then you sit back in your highback armchair and polish your brandy snifter with your monogrammed ascot. Quite.

But wait - that's big business. Business where the target market is measured in eight or nine digits, and where the product line is cobbled together from dozens of globalized production sources. That's Business Gone Wild, living the fast life in the back of Joe Francis' tour bus. But what's going on at street level?

The inspiring answer is on display at any number of modern small outfits - businesses who insist on taking the time to find the best bidder, not the lowest one. Take a look at Seattle's own Melrose Market - a collaborative project that has the Capitol Hill foodie crowd at rapt attention. These are small businesses that care about their product, their customers, and their relationship with their neighbors. The Calf and Kid isn't going to sell you cheese it isn't proud of; nor is Rain Shadow Meats going to offer you a cut of meat they aren't absolutely confident in. And neither business is going to charge you more than their exceptional product is worth. They get it; they're part of the neighborhood, and part of the larger community of principled small business that's taking root all over the country.

"Buy Local" has become the battlecry of the New Responsible, but like most simple battlecries, the mantra loses some nuance in the chanting. Why buy local? Why collaborate, as neighborhood small businesses? Why seek out quality suppliers in your area at potentially greater expense than a national distributor? For us, it's the same reason we're happy to be conducting a private investment campaign instead of seeking capital through the banks: it really matters who ends up benefitting from our hard work and success. By selecting our suppliers locally, we can know that every dollar passing through our register contributes to building a healthier, stronger small business climate in Washington. Every customer that has a good experience strengthens not only our tavern, but also the local businesses that we buy from. Whenever we attract foot traffic, the Capitol Hill businesses around us get stronger as well.

There was a popular concept bouncing around the Internet a few years back which posited that corporations, when examined using criteria designed to evaluate personality types, tend to operate as classic sociopaths. We'd like to put forward that when we look around our neighborhood, we're proud to see small businesses that exemplify sanity, consideration, and a real drive to support this community, not just benefit from it. It's a good place to be; the modern commercial equivalent of wiping an honest day's sweat off one's brow... and we can't wait to take our place in the ecosystem.

So sign on. Ask us for a copy of the business plan. Find out how you can be a part of this venture, and how you can be part of making our modern business world a better place one storefront at a time. It's an exciting time to be stepping into the marketplace; this is a moment when principled, dedicated entrepreneurship has the very real ability to make a big difference in our neighborhood, our city, our country. Let's do this thing.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Guest Post - Great Taste of the Midwest 2010

This just in from Dop, our roving heartland correspondent:

Great Taste of the Midwest 2010

Flashback to May 2nd, it's 3:30am on a Sunday morning in Madison, WI. It's cold, dark, and rainy, but our love of beer has brought us out to a grass lawn beside Steve's Liquor. However, we're not here to drink. In eight and a half hours, a limited number of tickets will go on sale for The Great Taste of the Midwest, an event that doesn't takeplace until August 14th.

Put on by the Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild, the Great Taste of the Midwest is a massive beer tasting event held every year at Olin Park. The list of participating brewers is so long that even if they only brought one style there'd be way too many to try in one afternoon. Take a look at this year's program (available online)... I dare you.

I'll admit I'm not the best beer reporter when it comes to an event this size. I always start out with good intentions, keeping track of the brews I've tried and my thoughts on them. In the end though, it's about the love of beer of all kinds and keeping track just seems like too much work.
There are a few that stand out in my mind though:

New Glarus: Unplugged, ABT
New Holland: Imperial Hatter IPA
Three Floyds: Longhaul

I also had an amazingly smooth and easy to drink lager, but let's face the facts, it's hard to remember when you're getting drunker by the minute and you've thrown away your program because it was too big to fit in your pocket.

Friday, August 13, 2010

What We're Drinking

Left-Hand Milk Stout

I've talked about it a bit before, but I wanted to write a post dedicated to the Left-Hand Brewing Company's Milk Stout. We picked up a 6-pack last weekend, and I really can't sing its praises enough. This is a great stout.

This stout is made with a sugar called lactose, which comes from milk and is not affected by beer yeast. Because it is not broken down during the brewing process, the finished product is characterized by a creamy sweetness. This flavoring helps to neutralize the bitterness that tends to characterize stouts. The beer is still very rich in flavor and has the roasted quality typical of stouts, but minus the bitter finish.

In a moment of pure genius, we paired Left-Hand Milk Stout with Triple Threat cupcakes from Cupcake Royale. WOW. That's really all I can say. That, and F#%&@$* AMAZING. The two complemented each other ridiculously well. The chocolate brought out the barley and the coffee flavor in the stout, and the stout, in turn, highlighted the dark chocolate in the cupcake and balanced out the sweetness.

Like bears and chainsaws, both elements are fantastic on their own, but are a force to be reckoned with when brought together.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Kiwi Zombie Madness

This is a choose-your-own-adventure ad campaign was put together by a New Zealand pizza company called Hell Pizza, and it is FANTASTIC. Guaranteed to make your Monday a little easier to take.

"What does this have to do with beer?" you may ask. Absolutely nothing. I just love it and wanted to share.


...Actually, I guess this is representative of the level of service that we plan to provide at the Ankerhaus Pub. We would gladly face hordes of the walking undead to get you a drink.

See how I tied it all together? Enjoy!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What We're Drinking

Alaskan White Ale

My parents were in town from Illinois last week. One of our favorite activities for visitors is to head down to the Pike Place Market; after we have perused the various food, craft and jewelry stalls, we swing by Pure Food Fish on the way out and buy something to cook later that evening. It's a fun activity for everyone, and allows us to treat our guests to something they might not ordinarily have access to. Our favorite purchase has always been crab. Most of our visitors hail from the Midwest, and are always wow-ed by the size and freshness of the crab legs that can be acquired in a coastal city.

This was exactly what we did on Saturday, and to great success. We steamed the crab legs and picked up the perfect beer to complement them - Alaskan White Ale. Alaskan brews this ale in the Belgian witbier style (translates to "white beer"). This light, wheat ale is great for warm weather, and absolutely perfect with seafood. It is a light-bodied beer that has a distinctive flavor without being overpowering. It has a crisp, slightly sweet taste with a hint of citrus in the finish.

In addition to being fantastic with seafood, we also recommend this beer to people who aren't traditionally drinkers of wheat beers, or who are new to the craft beer scene. It is a good introduction to both, allowing them to try something new that is simultaneously flavorful and not overly complex or aggressive.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards and Seattle Wine Gal are Giving Away a 7-night Stay at Lake Chelan

Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards and Seattle Wine Gal are teaming up to offer you a chance to win a 7 night stay at The Lake House (a $2,000 value) in Lake Chelan. You can register here until 3:00 pm PT tomorrow (Friday, July 30th). A winner will be chose at random in August. Sign up now!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wine Dinner at Duck Pond Cellars

Looking for a lovely way to spend a Saturday evening? Duck Pond Cellars is hosting a five-course alfresco wine dinner this Saturday, July 31st on their terrace. Enjoy a delicious meal and sample a variety of Duck Pond's offerings.

Tickets are $85; seating is limited, so reserve your spot soon!

What We're Drinking

Deschutes Twilight Summer Ale

Nothing beats a summer beer in July (now that summer has finally decided to join us). Over the weekend, I grabbed a six-pack of Deschutes Twilight Summer Ale and kicked back to enjoy - and enjoy I did!

This is a golden-colored brew that balances a citrusy, hoppy taste with a rich, malty finish. I love it for summer because it packs a lot of flavor while still remaining a fairly light-bodied beer. Not too heavy, and great for warm weather. It's available though September, so grab a six-pack for your next cook-out.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tour de Fat Coming to Seattle

The New Belgium Brewing Company's Tour de Fat will roll into Gasworks Park this weekend. We posted a heads up a couple of months ago, but now the event is almost upon us. The Tour de Fat is a day-long event consisting of the annual bike parade, live entertainment, a car-for-bike swap, and of course, beer.

The event will run from 10:00 am - 5:00 pm on Saturday, July 31st. Registration information and a schedule of events can be found on the Tour de Fat's website.

Friday, July 23, 2010

World's Oldest Champagne Discovered

It's been a week of extremes. In addition to the World's Most Crazy-Alcoholic Beer That Also Comes Out of a Squirrel, there is also a story about the World's Oldest Champagne being discovered.

30 bottles of Champagne were recovered from a shipwreck in the Baltic Sea. It is believed that the wine was made by Clicquot in the 1780s. The bottles have been shipped back to France for testing, but if confirmed, this will be the oldest drinkable Champagne in existence, and each bottle could fetch about $69,000 at auction.

The wine was well-preserved thanks to the dark, cold conditions of the seabed. The divers who discovered the treasure popped a bottle and sampled it (and wouldn't you?), calling it "fantastic."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Like Chocolate and Peanut Butter

Like me, you've probably wrestled with one of life's great eternal questions: how does one find an acceptable balance between making out with small woodland creatures and getting drunker than the law would like?

Like Tesla and Bell and Oppenheimer before them, the boys at BrewDog have swung the spongy gray sledgehammer of human brainpower at the problem and smashed out an innovation: The End Of History, the official World's Strongest Beer. Poured from the mouth of a squirrel. No foolies.

When your eyeballs have stopped screaming, click below to hear two attractive men with Scottish brogues explain it to you.

The End of History from BrewDog on Vimeo.

Your eyeballs may now resume screaming, if they'd like.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


There comes a time in a man's life when he has to make a split-second decision. Fight or flight. Go hard or go home. Skate or die.

Can I get both for a dollar extra?

Travel back in time with me once again to those halcyon days of yore, bartending at Les's Lounge in Urbana. The amber light from recessed ceiling cans glinting off spotless glassware on burgundy foam mats. Ice crystals shimmering on a chiller full of 10-ounce beer mugs. David Allan Coe warming cockles from the jukebox.

Pull up a stool, weary traveler. Rest your elbows on the fine pleather. Can I pour you a drink? Can it contain some Galliano? We've been trying to get rid of that stuff ever since people stopped drinking it in 1982. Maybe later we'll shoot a few rounds of pool on the custom red felt tables. First game's on the house.

Back in 2002, the Chicago Bears were without a home base while aliens and bureaucrats began renovations on their mighty fortress, Soldier Field. They needed a new place to wage football war, and through some series of events that likely involved mafia hits and dark arcane rituals, the University of Illinois' Memorial Stadium won the honor. For an entire season, the Bears would climb aboard their jewel-encrusted buses and head down to Champaign, an armada of pierogi-scented Bears fans in their wake. Local business rejoiced, local hotels stocked up on polish sausage, and local bars played host to a whole new crowd of Chicagoland hooligans.

Ditka said knock you out.

It was on one of these game nights (dark and stormy, for our purposes) that I found myself once again dutifully slinging brew at the Lounge. The place was packed with refugees from the overcrowded Lincoln Motel down the road, and the kegs of Heileman's Old Style were draining faster than I could tap them.

For the most part, it was a manageable crowd. Large, loud and mustachioed, as these mighty Northmen often were, but of a generally agreeable disposition.

Except for one guy. Oh man, this guy. He sat at the head of the bar, angrily sucking down Jack and Cokes as though they were incrementally adding up to some heinous violent crime he wasn't quite tanked enough to commit. He looked as though someone had taken a dump in his very best shoes. Different liquors have different effects on the brain of your average bar patron; wine drinkers don't leave the bar alone, tequila drinkers are very loud singers, and Jack Daniels drinkers usually end up participating in a complex economy of supply and demand for black eyes and loose teeth. So as each Jack and Coke disappeared into his angry gullet, I added an extra layer of gird to my loins.

Seriously, Jack Daniel. Dentists owe you everything.

Eventually the inevitable happened. Someone brushed up against him, or maybe accidentally caught his eye. Maybe a butterfly flapped its wings in Tokyo and the resulting air currents called his mom unclean names. Either way, he tossed back the remaining half of whatever glass of evil he'd been working on, and began making mistakes. Names were called. Threats were issued. Tensions began to climb.

Enter the bartender. "Hey, buddy. Take it easy." In the language of my people, this is a traditional greeting which roughly translates to "Hello, friend. This is your first warning." Normally, these words are enough to interrupt whatever unpleaant momentum has been building, and inject enough embarassment into the situation to awkwardly defuse any further disturbance.

But not this guy. Oh man, this guy. He responds with an up-and-down sizing glance, the universal sign language for "can I totally take this guy?" At this point, time freezes. The bartender must make a split second decision - am I backing down and taking this guy's crap all night long, including the eventual call to the police, or am I going to put all my chips on the table and rise to the challenge? It's a bluff - the law has very clear things to say about bar staff laying hands on the the clientele despite what movies might tell you - but it's a strong bluff, and I'm an excellent poker player.

I interrupt his assessment of me by quickly leaning into the whisper zone. "Hey pal," I quietly intone, "you see any bouncers in here?"

He swings his whiskey-soaked head from side to side. I'm the only staff in the building.

"No," he wheezes, a brown skull-shaped cloud of whiskey fumes issuing forth from his mouth.

"What does that tell you about me?" Silence. Sustained eye contact.

He slumps back in his stool. I keep up the eye contact for a few seconds more, as a victory lap, and then return to washing the glasses. By the time I've turned around again, he's gone, a $20 bill tucked under his empty rocks glass.

Patrick Swayze, may you rest in peace. We continue your work down here on Terra Firma. This ain't one body's Tell, it's the Tell of us all. Listen it and member.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Case Sale at Desert Wind Winery

If you're heading to Eastern Washington this weekend (or are just looking for an excuse to do so), be sure to swing by the Desert Wind Winery. From 10:00 am - 5:00 pm on Saturday, they will be having a case sale in their tasting room. The sale will include: 2007 Sauvignon Blanc ($75 per case), 2006 'Bare Naked' Semillon ($75 per case), 2009 Riesling ($75 per case), 2006 Merlot ($130 per case), 2007 Barbera ($130 per case) and 2006 Syrah ($144 per case). Crazy savings and you get to cart home a ton of wine - what could be better?

Good Wine Under $10

Let's face it - sometimes you want a decent bottle of wine, yet don't really have the cash to pony up for the good stuff. So you head to the store, peruse the shelves, and purchase an affordable bottle that you hope will provide a positive tasting experience. But all too often, after you get home and uncork, you wish you had made a different decision.

We've all been there. But thanks to Josh Wade of DrinkNectar.com, the next time your wallet is light, you won't have to suffer through an inferior bottle. Yesterday, he published a list of quality wines with a price tag of under $10 each. There is a little bit of everything on this list, so you are bound to find something to suite your tastes. Thanks Josh, for making value wines a little easier to navigate.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tacoma Craft Beer Fest Now Two Days

The Seattle PI ran an article today announcing that the upcoming Tacoma Craft Beer Festival will be extended from one day to two. Last year was the first year for the event, and it did so well that the organizers would like to give craft beer fans an entire extra day's worth of celebration and tasting. Cheers!

The festival will be held on October 1st and 2nd. Check out the festival website for additional information. Tickets will be on sale soon.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pinot Noir Virtual Smackdown

Thursday evening, Wine Tonite will be hosting a virtual tasting of everything Pinot Noir. Grab a bottle, tweet your remarks with the hashtag #PinotNoir and have at it. Vote for your favorite Pinot-producing region and see who comes out victorious.

The event will run from 5-7 pm PT/8-10 pm ET on Thursday, July 15th. Details can be found here.

As I have said before, nothing beats tasting and chatting about wine from the comfort of your own couch and PJs. Grab your favorite bottle and join the conversation!

Friday, July 9, 2010

What We're Drinking

In celebration of Dogfish Head's impending television infamy, we picked up some of their Midas Touch. They have made their mark by brewing a variety of very unique, no-holes-barred beers, and this is no exception. It is brewed from an ancient Turkish recipe that was reconstructed from ingredients found in 2700 year old drinking vessels that were found in what is believed to be the tomb of King Midas.

It is brewed with barley, honey and white muscat grapes - each of these ingredients makes a very distinct contribution. This beer has a very wine-like quality, with the grapes being very present on the nose (very Chardonnay-like). The barley comes into play in the initial taste, (reminding you that you are, in fact, drinking beer), offsetting some of the sweetness provided by the grapes. The honey helps it to finish off with a very rich, warm quality.

Midas Touch is light and sweet enough to be appealing to someone new to beer, or to someone who doesn't enjoy darker, heavier beers, but still offers enough complexity to be appealing to a seasoned beer-drinker. If you haven't sampled it yet, it's definitely worth checking out. For most people, it's probably not for everyday drinking, but absolutely offers an interesting, worthy option when you want to shake things up a bit.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Set Your TiVos...

Early next year, The Discovery Channel will bring craft brewing directly to your living room as they premiere their new series, Brewed. Their cameras will be focused on Delaware's Dogfish Head Brewery and its founder, Sam Calagione.

Craft Beer sales have been on the rise, and an informative show led by a host with the personality and charisma of Calagione (featured in Beerwars ,which I cannot recommend enough), will only strengthen this movement. It sounds like it could definitely be an interesting series.

Check out the press release below for more details. Delawareonline.com also has an interesting piece about the show's development.


(Silver Spring, Md.) Beer is the drink of the masses. If you look into a glass of beer you can see the past, present and future of mankind. Cicero lauded it, Genghis Khan fought for it and now Discovery Channel celebrates it with a world premiere series, BREWED, exploring the culture, history and variety of beer.

Meet Sam Calagione: maverick entrepreneur, family man and owner of Dogfish Head Brewery in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. As an ambassador to the world of craft beer, Sam travels the world to experience what every culture brings to its own special brew.

In BREWED, Sam shows viewers the other side of the bottle, sharing the stories of beer sub-cultures as well as exploring life inside The Dogfish Head Brewery. BREWED goes behind the scenes at Dogfish Head as Sam's merry band of creative brewmasters concoct new taste varieties.

"BREWED taps more than just kegs and barrels, it unlocks a fascinating history of beer making, showcasing the ingenuity and passion behind our love affair with those alluring suds and how it played a role in building civilizations," said Clark Bunting, President and General Manager of Discovery Channel.

Running a successful business also requires inspiration, so BREWED hits the road for the ultimate beer tasting road trip. Along with archaeologist and beer expert Pat McGovern, Sam sets out to recreate "ancient ales" that have been discovered at sites around the world from Egypt to Peru. He travels to Rome to research old world Italian beers as inspiration for a new site in New York with Mario Batali. A visit to New Zealand introduces the idea of making the "first tomato based beer." And back home, Sam is tasked to come up with a commemorative beer called "Bitches Brew" to celebrate the 40th anniversary release of Miles Davis' famous recording.

"Beer has always been my passion. It is so much more than what you see in the glass. I'm excited to share the diligence, daring and creativity that we pour into our work," said Calagione.

BREWED is produced for Discovery Channel by Zero Point Zero Productions. Chris Collins and Lydia Tenaglia are executive producers. Tim Pastore is executive producer for Discovery Channel.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Seattle International Beer Festival

If you're looking for more fun activities to cram into your holiday weekend, be sure to swing by the Seattle International Beer Festival. This event will feature 150 different brews from all over the world, including some of your local favorites.

The festival runs Friday, July 2nd through Sunday, July 4th at The Seattle Center. Stop by and start tasting!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Midsummer Fundraising Update

These are interesting times for small business. Conventional wisdom states that business begins at the bank, with a loan application and subsequent handshake. We attempted applications and prepared to shake hands, but we were met time and again with the same responses that entrepreneurs across the nation are receiving from commercial lenders:

"We're not lending to startups at this time".

"We're only considering applications from a select few types of business".

"We're not doing any business lending to nonestablished clients at this point".

Or of course,

"Essentially, you'll need to put up your first born to get a loan right now."

No, that's not a joke. Those are the actual words we were told, straight from the mouth of a representative from Fortune Bank.

This introduction could easily turn into a rail against the current state of commercial small business lending, but it wont - instead, I'm going to let it serve as a firm foundation upon which we've laid out our method for raising this beer-soaked barn. It's the reason we're doing things the way we're doing them - to prove that banks sealing their vaults shut does not mean that entrepreneurship and innovation need to stop. To prove that hard work mixed with a strong idea can still be a recipe for success, even if the conventional starting blocks have to be re-engineered a bit.

Which brings us to the fundraising. The current incarnation of the Ankerhaus Pub business plan calls for an initial capital fund of $160,000. This amount will get things off the ground and keep the lights on while the cash flow stabilizes over the first few months of operation. The banks aren't lending, and so we choose a different method to put our seed money together - through many smaller private investors. Investors who might not have ever considered that they might become investors. A crowd notably devoid of monocles or top hats, who drive their own (non-limousine) cars and go to work at real jobs every morning.

People like us.

As of the writing of this post, the Ankerhaus Pub has secured its first anchor investments, from real people like you and like us, totalling $20,000. We're going to make it to opening day, and we're going to do it by inches. Let the banks keep their miles. If you're reading this post, then know that I'm writing it directly to you - as you click to it from your job, from your laptop in front of the TV, from your iPhone that's vastly cooler than my overrated LG Dare.

You can be an investor. You can be a part of this venture, and give us the green light to work our fingers, toes, and tap-handles to the bone earning you a solid return on your investment. No monocles or monograms needed.

Let's make this thing work, just you, us, and a mess of people just like us. Get in touch. Let us send you a copy of the plan. Take a look and figure out if you can make room to be a part of this thing. I'll be honest with you - you can. It doesn't take a millionaire, just a lot of real people working together and pooling their resources not only in the name of making a handsome return, but also in the name of proving that hard work and a smart plan can still add up to be What it Takes.

June 30, 2010 - $20,000 of $160,000 raised.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Book Report

I purchased a Kindle about 6 months ago, and ever since, I have been chewing through books at an alarming rate (alarming for me, anyway). I've always been a reader, but for some reason, this amazing device has amplified my power.

My latest completion was House of Mondavi: The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty. This was a great read for wine freaks, history buffs, and business nerds (or any combination of the above). Robert Mondavi was a pioneer of the American wine industry and the establishment of California as a producer of fine wines. The book details the history of the Robert Mondavi empire, from its roots at the Charles Krug Winery through multiple generations of being a family-run business, until it finally went public in the mid-'90's and the family eventually lost all control in the company to outside influences. The author interviewed members of the Mondavi family, as well as employees of the winery and assembles a detailed, yet interesting narrative of the events that unfolded over the years.

This book is an interesting piece of wine history, as well as a fascinating look at a multi-generational family business. Robert Mondavi created an empire that eventually sank into ruin as a result of a variety of factors: family turmoil and fighting, greed, poor decisions, and bad luck. Little by little, the family lost control of the business it had built to outside influences. This book was a fascinating read for me, not only as a wine enthusiast, but also as an aspiring business-owner. It was very interesting to learn about the various changes that the Mondavi Corporation underwent over the years (both as a result of the changing economic climate and as a result of the people running the show).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Organic Brewing on the Rise

Sustainable Business Oregon posted an interesting article today relating to this weekend's North American Organic Brewers Festival (which we mentioned here back in April). Organic brewing is definitely on the rise. The USDA officially adopted its organic standards back in 2002. Organic beer sales more than doubled between 2004 and 2009. Check out the article for more interesting info on organic standards and the brewing industry.

The festival this weekend will feature over 50 certified organic brews. If you can make it down to Portland, it sounds like it should be an exciting event.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Washington Brewers Festival

I'd just like to start off by saying that summer colds are the worst. Nothing sucks more than being stuck inside in June with sinus pressure and gallons of snot pouring out of your head. I even took the day off work on Friday to rest and heal, in the hopes of salvaging my weekend. Despite spending most of the day either napping or on the couch watching True Life and playing Castlevania, I actually managed to get worse.

Since I spent the next two days pretty much out of commission, I was unable to partake in the massive offerings of local brews featured in the Washington Brewers Festival. Fortunately for me, other beer lovers were able to attend and document the experience. There are some great write-ups at:

Washington Beer Blog

Beer Blotter
Wine and Beer of Washington State

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What We're Drinking

On Sunday, we decided to take advantage of the gorgeous Seattle summer and take a drive out to the Snoqualmie Brewery and Taproom. It's a great, laid-back place for lunch. Their menu consists of a variety of fresh, tasty sandwiches, as well as some pizzas, and of course, the beer, which is clearly the star of the show. On this lovely afternoon, we sampled two beers from their list:

Black Frog Oatmeal Stout - This is a robust stout. It has a hint of bitterness that is offset by the rich, slightly coffee-y taste that comes from the chocolate malt that they add during brewing. The rolled oats help to smooth out the acidity, making for a rich, rather mellow finish.

The Steamtrain Porter sported a lot of similar characteristics to the Stout (chocolate and coffee flavors from the malts), but with a very different outcome. The Porter didn't finish quite as smooth, and definitely packed a bit more of a punch with its rich bite.

Both are definitely recommended, if you're a dark beer-lover. If you are looking for a pleasant way to spend a lazy Sunday, take a drive out to their Taproom. If you're too busy, fear not - their beers are available at local retailers, so pick up a bottle.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Interview with Jolly Pumpkin Brewery Founder

Last month, we linked to a New York Times article about their recent blind tasting of 20 different Belgian-style beers. The first-place winner was the Jolly Pumpkin Brewery's Oro de Calabaza. Today, annarbor.com posted an interview with Ron Jeffries, the founder and owner of Jolly Pumpkin. Check it out for interesting info on his background and his business philosophy.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Washington Beer Biz Thrives!

It's official - Washingtonians love beer. NWCN.com posted an article yesterday that states that the Washington beer business is kicking ass, despite the struggling economy. The Washington State Liquor Control Board stated that the bar industry is on the rise, with 355 more alcohol licenses than there were 4 years ago.

In an economy that has seen home foreclosures, lay-offs, downsizing and many other businesses struggling, the bar industry is thriving. New bars are opening, brewpubs are expanding, and craft beer is bigger than it ever has been. As we continue to put together our initial investment funds, we are reassured when news like this hits. We know that we can make this venture successful, but seeing that the industry is doing so well in spite of a difficult economy is extremely encouraging.

As entrepreneurs, we are excited not only to build a business in an industry that is doing so well, but to do so in a community that values the product as much as this one does. The Northwest produces some incredible wine and craft beer, and its residents know the good stuff when they find it.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Light Beer Sales Fall

The Wall Street Journal recently posted an interesting article stating that sales of light beer are significantly down. According to Advertising Age, Bud Light is down 5.3% and Miller Light is down 7.5% this year. The marketing teams, in their infinite wisdom, can't seem to figure out why. The article kicks around several possibilities, but I like to think that maybe people are just getting tired of flat, flavorless beer.

I've personally never understood the idea behind light beer. It has no taste. Beers, as a general rule, have a distinct flavor - be it malt, hops, barley, whatever. Except for light beer, which doesn't seem to even try. The writer of this article even went through a blind tasting of several light beers:

Taking notes in my blind tasting I quickly found myself running out of ways to describe vapid nothingness. Natural Light was "flavorless"; Michelob Ultra was simply "bland"; Coors Light was "blah"—though it did have the slightest hint of sweetness, as if an ounce of (bad) ginger ale had been diluted with pint of club soda. Miller Lite had a slightly foamier consistency (the Vortex bottle at work?) but no particular taste that could be discerned through the suds; Bud Light earned the honorific "least awful, but just barely."

If you are not into darker, heavier beers, there are still plenty of ales and lagers out there that have the ability to tingle your taste buds. There is no reason to waste your time and money buying swill when you could just as easily drop your cash on a beer with a little personality (or play it super-cheap and just drink water).

While we have no plans to serve light beer of any kind at the Ankerhaus, rest assured that, no matter what your beer preference is, we will have something available to suite your palate.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

7 Breweries to Visit Before You Die

Some easy reading for a lazy Sunday...

The Seattle PI picked up an article from Blogcritics.org yesterday about the 7 breweries that any beer lover should visit in their lifetime. The list was compiled based on the writer's personal beer preference and the historical significance of the breweries.

Are any of your faves on the list?

Friday, June 4, 2010

What We're Drinking

Last week I had the opportunity to try the 2006 Kiona Lemberger as part of WA Wine Report's monthly virtual tasting. Kiona was the first winery in the country to produce Lemberger and has been doing so since 1980. I had never tried a Lemberger prior to this, and I was pleasantly surprised. It's a medium-bodied, easy to drink red wine, that packs a spicy punch at the finish. I was really really into the peppery sensation at the end. It helped to round out the mellow fruitiness of the wind and gave it a bit more complexity. Participants in the tasting were pairing it with anything you can imagine - pasta, pizza, chocolate strawberries - the winemaker even chimed in and said that it even goes well with BBQ. This is a very versatile wine that will complement a variety of dishes, and will offer an interesting alternative to the more standard table wines.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Judgment of Paris

I just finished a fascinating book, and wanted to pass along the recommendation. It was entitled, Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine

Some backstory: The event was conceived by a British man named Steven Spurrier. He was living in Paris, where he owned a wine shop and had also opened the Academie du Vin, which taught wine-tasting classes. In 1976, after hearing that interesting work was being done in California and that they were making good wines in the French style, he decided to stage a blind tasting in Paris between Napa Valley wines and classic French wines. To everyone's surprise, the California wines won: the 1973 Stag's Leap Cabernet Sauvignon placed first among the reds, and the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay placed first among the whites.

Though it was a small, unassuming event (only one journalist even bothered to cover it), the impact that this had on the wine world at the time was huge - not because the French had been "brought down" (I don't know if you realize this or not, but they do still make wine in France), but because people began realizing that quality wine could be produced in other areas of the world. Prior to this, while wine was made all over the globe, if you wanted to drink or serve a quality, serious wine, you typically went with the French stuff. This event opened the doors to the global wine industry that we know today.

The Judgment of Paris was written by George Taber, who was the Time magazine writer who covered the Paris tasting. This book is fascinating because not only does it describe the event itself, but it gives a detailed (yet never boring) account of the history of wine production in both countries, as well as the wine-making process and the effect that the tasting had on the wine industry. Taber also tells the histories of the winning wineries, and the stories of the principal players in the production of both wines.

I highly recommend this book. It's an interesting read, and gives some fascinating information into the history of wine in France and in the States, as well as the state of the global wine industry. Pick it up, pour a glass of your favorite wine and enjoy.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Worldwide Washington Wine Tasting

This Thursday, you will have the opportunity to take part in a worldwide virtual wine tasting celebrating Washington wine. The event is WAWine; it is being organized by Sean Sullivan of the WA Wine Report and Josh Wade of drinknectar.com,and is being sponsored by Washington Tasting Room Magazine.

This will be the world's largest tasting of Washington wine. Participation is easier than you can possibly imagine. Pick up any bottle of Washington wine and you can join the conversation on Twitter, using the hashtag #WAWine, or at Facebook; and if you live nearby, you can taste at one of the participating wineries.

Washington makes some great wines, and what better way to celebrate that fact than by chatting about them with fellow wine lovers from the comfort of your couch and your PJs? Wine and PJs is pretty much my ideal evening. The event will run from 5:00-8:00 pm PT on Thursday, June 3rd. I will be participating under @ankerhauspub. Look forward to meeting you there!

Monday, May 24, 2010

America's Next Top Beer

Asylum.com is asking for your help to determine the winner in their America's Next Top Beer contest. Over the past month, they have sampled and selected 12 craft brews to be included in the final judging, and are asking readers to vote for the winner.

The finalists are:
AleSmith Anvil ESB Ale
Alpha King
B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher Oatmeal-Imperial Stout
Bell's Two-Hearted Ale
Brooklyn Lager
Cigar City Brewing Jai Alai IPA
Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
Lagunitas Brewing's IPA
New Belgium Brewing's Fat Tire Amber
Ommegang Abbey Ale
Stone Pale Ale
Surly Brewing Co.'s Furious

You can vote for your favorite here.

Additionally, you can register to win a 12-month membership to the Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club. To enter, you just have to leave a comment on any of Asylum's America's Next Top Beer Posts through May 27th. These posts include a series of articles highlighting each finalist and how Asylum's panel of judges rated it. The winner will be selected at random on June 1st.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Three Floyds Dark Lord - A Guest Post

Here's a guest post from one of our trusted brethren in Illinois - read and salivate. READ AND SALIVATE!

Ankerhaus Roving Reporter – Dark Lord

This past weekend a friend from out of town requested a night’s quarter in our guest bedroom. We love having friends stay over to share a few beers and a few laughs, but this visit turned out to be extra special. As a “thank you”, our guest brought with him a bottle of Three Floyds Dark Lord.

For the uninitiated, let me explain. Once a year, at the Three Floyds brewery in Munster, IN they host Dark Lord Day. It’s a public event with many great beers on tap, but the real draw is Dark Lord itself. “A demonic Russian Style Imperial Stout, brewed with Intelligensia coffee, Mexican vanilla, and Indian sugar this beer defies description.” At 13% ABV (15% this year), it’s what I like to call a sip’n beer and let me tell you, it’s amazing.

Of course, showing up to Dark Lord Day isn’t nearly enough. In order to buy just four (4!) bottles, you have to be one of the lucky few that managed to get a golden ticket. This year, with the popularity of Dark Lord increasing, golden ticket sales were a real nightmare. Hopefully Three Floyds will figure out a way to resolve that issue with the obviously preferred solution being: brew more!

Great beer and good friends come from all over the world. Hopefully you’ll be at the Ankerhaus when I bring a bottle or two of Dark Lord for a tasting.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Peaks Brewpub in Port Angeles

I want to bring your attention today to a place worth visiting: the Peaks Brewpub in Port Angeles. We stopped in the other day while making an Olympic Peninsula pilgrimage, and were so struck that we feel the need to spread the good word.

And that good word is Porter.

Ed and Wanda Smith have been operating the Peaks since 1999 (brewing original drafts since 2005), serving up bottles and chilled glasses alongside a food menu featuring Ed's "killer chili". The quotation marks are meant to assure you that's what Ed likes it to be called, not to question the authenticity of its murderous intent. It's a true killer, really the Patrick Bateman of chilis: it's cold-blooded and without mercy, but has impeccable taste. Now that I've given you that liquid gold metaphor, I challenge you to make the journey and eat a bowl without hearing Sussudio in your head, or attempting to feed kittens to the ATM found near the door.

No, seriously. I dare you.

But we were talking about porter, right?

I'm a fan of dark beers, especially stouts and porters. If there's one drawback to these black brews, it's what I very Rowlingly call Portermouth: the sour, bitter aftertaste that sticks around long after you've set the pint glass down. Beer enthusiasts might imply that portermouth is some bittersweet facet of the charm of a good dark beer - a feature and not a flaw. They've never had Ed's Mt. Pleasant Porter.


Using a secret recipe (some elements of which he shared with me, and which I won't repeat here out of respect for a master craftsman and accomplished chili murderer), Ed has managed to produce a rich, roasty, malty porter with none - read that again, none of the winceworthy portermouth aftertaste that would normally follow a brew this hearty. It starts delicious, and ends just as tasty. It's decadence without consequence, and that affront to conventional wisdom alone makes it worth the drive out along the 101.

If you're reading this blog from the Pacific Northwest, get in your car and go. The scenery is beautiful this time of year, and you can bring home some growlers to prolong the magic. If you're reading from parts further away, your options seem to be hopping on a plane or cradling your head in your hands and lamenting. I know which one I'd select for you.

Beer Camp!

Remember Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? Remember watching it when you were a kid and wishing that you could find a Golden Ticket and be magically whisked a way for a day to that crazy man's candy kingdom? Well, Sierra Nevada is offering you the opportunity to experience your childhood dreams - only with way less chocolate and way more beer (because now that you're an adult, you realize that drinking a river of chocolate like Augustus Gloop only makes you puke).

Sierra Nevada is holding a contest to determine who will be visiting their Beer Camp in September. The lucky winners will get to spend 2 days at the Sierra Nevada Brewery touring the facility, meeting the staff, playing with the brewery's 12-seater bicycle, AND (the best part) serving as honorary Brewmasters. Not only will the winners get a first-hand look at the brewing process, they will also get to plan and brew their own beer in the style of their choosing - anything goes.

To enter, they are asking for creative submissions demonstrating why you want to come to Beer Camp. It can be an essay, a short film, an interpretive dance - whatever. The entries will be judged on creativity and dedication, so the more out there you make it, the better your chances will probably be. Check out the Beer Camp website for additional details and entry information.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What We're Drinking

Before we get started: This is the first in a series of periodic posts in which we will review and discuss the various wines and beers that we have been drinking. We hope that it will be a way for you to get to know a little more about our tastes and styles, and possibly discover some new bottles that you never knew were out there, or just hadn't bothered to try. If you have thoughts about a particular selection, please share them; we would welcome a discussion. If you are trying to become more knowledgeable about beer or wine, we will hopefully be able to give you some recommendations and give you a good jumping off point for your explorations.

So let's get down to business - The Charles Smith 2009 Kung Fu Girl Riesling.

Sean Sullivan of the WA Wine Report recently held a Virtual Tasting that focused on this bottle. I was feeding my inner Browncoat with a screening of Serenity at the Metro that evening, so I was unfortunately unable to participate (though I am looking forward to the upcoming tasting). Here's my 2 cents now though, for what it's worth.

Charles Smith is a rock star Washington winemaker, who has become known for his K Vinters and Magnificent Wine Company labels as well as his laid-back, straight-forward approach to winemaking (quoth his website: "It's just booze - drink it!"). He has garnered a great deal of attention in the past year by winning multiple awards from various publications, including Food & Wine Magazine's Winemaker of the Year.

Kung Fu Girl is part of the Charles Smith Wines "Modernist Project." This label was founded on the current consumer trend of buying wines for immediate consumption. Therefore, Smith's goal is to produce affordable yet elegant wines that are full of flavor and immediately drinkable.

Kung Fu Girl sports a pale straw color and aromas of citrus and apples. The citrus continues upon tasting, giving the wine a very crisp, sharp flavor that incorporates hints of lime. It has a bit of a bite-y, acidic finish, but this is tempered by pairing it with food (I was gorging on our exquisite steamed chicken dumplings with spicy Thai peanut sauce; it was an excellent combination). I like Rieslings that lean toward the lighter side, favoring crispness over an overly-sweet approach, and this wine did that fairly well. It's not my fave, but it is decent, and a great value for the price (retailing at about $12).

Monday, May 17, 2010

American Craft Beer Week

May 17th-23rd is American Craft Beer Week. This celebration of everything craft-beer-related has been growing over the years, with various cities (including Seattle) opting to schedule their own regional beer celebrations to coincide with it. A list of city-by-city events can be found on the American Craft Beer Week Events page.

Seattle-ites should check out the schedule for Seattle Beer Week, which is already in progress.

We would also like to congratulate our friends in Chicago for being able to take part in the first annual Chicago Craft Beer Week. It's great to see this celebration growing, with more and more people giving the love up to craft brews and the hard-working people behind them. Enjoy it!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Seattle Beer Week Starts Today!

American Craft Beer week starts next week (more on that later). In conjunction with this annual event, many cities across the country have begun hosting corresponding regional beer celebrations, including Seattle. From May 13th-23rd (note that our beer week lasts 10 days - that's how we roll), you can participate in a host of events highlighting a variety of local brews, some opened especially for this occasion.

Be a part of this exciting celebration and take a moment to appreciate the fine work of our local brewmasters. Check out the Seattle Beer Week website for a complete list of participating bars, as well as a list of each day's events.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ghost Chess

Once upon a time in the early 2000's, I was bartending at Les's Lounge in Urbana, Illinois. Those of you who know Les's can pause now to wipe a nostalgic tear from your eye. Those who don't will have to accept my condolences for the gaping absence in your lives thus far, a sizeable hole shaped conspicuously like the world's strangest hybrid between a country music train-tracks roadhouse and a miles-past-its-prime 70's swinger nest.

The bar was lined with the finest padded red pleather, to protect the precious elbows of the discerning clientele. The jukebox was loaded with David Allan Coe and Faith Hill, but also (confoundingly) Depeche Mode's Violator.

As you read that last sentence and took a break to muse on the nature of Violator as one of the best albums of all times, know that I was right here, doing it too. Spooky.


The Lounge opened at 9am, an important attribute that distinguished it from most of the other boozemongers in town. Business was the opposite of brisk during the mornings, but I always assumed it was mostly a public service meant to keep those people off the roads during the traffic-heavy workday morning commute.

I wasn't typically a daytime bartender; I worked a couple night shifts a week, but when the day-shift slinger took a week's vacation one summer, I jumped at the chance to pick up the extra (easy) hours. Push a mop around, wipe down the bar, pop something interesting on the big-screen and kick back. If I was lucky, I'd pour maybe ten drinks in the entire 8-hour shift. It was the very definition of a ghost bar.

How appropriate it was, then, the day that a strange figure I'd never seen before came in the front door around 9:30am. He was tall and wiry, with glasses and a long, graying beard. I'd place him in his late 50s, but in that sun-dried leathery way that makes it impossible to accurately guess a man's age. He was dressed in an old-timey railroad worker's outfit. I'm not kidding around here; he had a neckerchief. I don't remember if he was accompanied by an eerie white mist, but in all probability it was there.

Like this, except not a kid's costume. Note that they really only MAKE these clothes as cute kid's costumes these days.

He sat down at the bar and ordered a Budweiser in a bottle. After quietly drinking about half of the beer, he spied a chessboard sitting on a shelf beside the TV. A few of our evening regular patrons enjoyed playing a few rounds over drinks, and had decided to just leave a dedicated board at the bar for convenience.

"Do you play?" he asked, pointing at the board with a moderately grimy, oil-stained finger.

"I'm no pro, but I can play", I responded.

We set up the pieces, laid out our opening gambits, and I was promptly annihilated by the fourth or fifth move. He laughed and pointed out what I'd done wrong, and what I could have done to avoid defeat. Any twinge of defiant resentment I might have normally felt when receiving hindsight advice from a triumphant conqueror was wholly overridden by a lingering uneasiness that this man was in all probability here to collect me for passage to the netherworld on his spectral locomotive, likely parked semi-transparently just outside the door. I needed to listen carefully to his advice, because movies had taught me that the unspoken stakes of the games of chess I was playing almost certainly involved my soul.

Over the course of the next five or six games, I learned some things. I learned that the man's name was Lazarus, but that friends called him Lazar - pronounced like the ray gun. I learned from Lazar's advice that the only defense is a good offense, and that playing chess reactively was only prolonging the inevitable. I learned that Lazar hadn't played chess and enjoyed beers in "a very long time". I of course inferred that to mean at least a century. By game seven I actually beat Lazar - and for the first time that day, felt as though my immortal soul was secure. At least, as secure as it had been when I'd woken up that morning.

Seven games and three beers after walking into the lounge, Lazar gathered his things, shook my hand, and walked out the door. I assume he climbed aboard his phantom train and chugged away into the mist - I wasn't brave enough to confirm it, for fear that I might be spontaneously converted into fuel, human coal for Lazar's wailing engine rocketing along the railroad of the damned.


The next day I attempted to ask the morning regulars about Lazar - these people had been sitting in the same bar stools for ten years, surely they'd seen this guy before. Surely they'd at least remember the neckerchief. They looked at me blankly before shuffling off to the video slot machines in the other room. Nobody had seen a skinny beardy railroad man or heard the name Lazar ever before.

So when the Ankerhaus opens, know this: we will have chess sets available. We will pour you fine brews while you challenge your friends to a test of strategic mettle. You can even challenge me, but stand warned: I have been trained in the game by the restless dead. In the movies, this type of schooling leaves a man marked, and consequently the Ankerhaus Pub makes no guarantees as to the safety of your soul should you lose to me.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Yakima Corkage-Free Zone

Attention wine lovers! If you are planning a getaway to explore the Yakima Valley wine region this summer, be sure to stop by some of the restaurants participating in the "Corkage-Free Zone." If you buy a bottle at the participating wineries, the downtown Yakima restaurants will waive the corkage fee (typically $10-$15 per bottle) if you opt to enjoy it with dinner that same evening. This article from the Washington Tasting Room has a list of participating wineries and restaurants, but be sure to check with any other wineries that you visit, in case they have been added to the program as well.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Belgian Tasting

A couple months ago, the New York Times held a blind tasting of 20 different Belgian-style ales. Of this group, 10 were from Belgium, 9 were from the US and 1 was from Canada. The beer that took the Number 1 spot was the Jolly Pumpkin Brewery's Oro de Calabaza, from Dexter, Michigan. In fact, four out of the top 10 picks were American Belgian-style brews. Check out the article for all of the details and a complete list of the beers sampled. The tasters also noted the range in diversity among the selected brews. While Belgian certainly is a style all its own, it remains a style that allows for a great deal of subtle variance.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Brewery Trivia

In 2007, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company began a new recycling initiative. They purchased a biodeisel processor and now convert 100% of the spent vegetable oil from their Taproom and Restaurant into biodiesel fuel that is used to power their transportation fleet. The processor is able to produce 50 gallons of fuel over a 48 hour period,and the fuel is used in both the local and the long haul Sierra Nevada truck routes.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Irony of Ironies

Have you noticed that PBR has become the hipster beverage of choice? I certainly have. The ultimate irony here is that this product, often considered to be kitschy or on the fringe, is actually brewed by Miller.

Wino Magazine has posted a really informative article that lays it all out. It details the brewing history of Pabst (which, by the way, no longer even brews its own product), and how over the years, it went on to acquire scads of other breweries, only to end up the third largest beer company in the country.

And hey - if you like PBR, drink it. That is the best reason to drink any beer (the worst reason is drinking it out of a misguided sense of tragic irony). The whole point is to enjoy it. If your goal is to support someone other than The Man, there are hundreds of independent breweries out there that make fantastic products and are probably more deserving of your dollars.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Brewery Trivia

The Alaskan Brewing Company donates 1% of all proceeds from the sale of their Alaskan IPA to charities supporting the cleanup and continued preservation of oceans and coastlines.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Label Trivia

Franziskaner's name comes from the fact that its original brewery was located across the street from a Franciscan monastery in Munich. The current label pays tribute to these beginnings with its depiction of a Franciscan Friar.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Beer Facts

The Seattlest recently posted an article about the Upright Brewing Company and their new Oyster Stout. They aren't alone, either. East Coast-based Flying Fish Brewing Co and Harpoon Brewery have been brewing their own oyster stouts as well, according to an article from The Washington Post.

The oysters seem to typically be brewed with the beer for a short period of time (15 minutes or so) and then removed. The shells open slightly, allowing some of the liquid into the beer, and the brew retains calcium from the shells.

The articles review the stouts positively, noting that they don't taste at all like seafood. Sounds like an interesting brew, for the bold enthusiast.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Top 50 Breweries of 2009

The Brewers Association recently released the Top 50 Craft Brewing Companies and the Top 50 Overall Brewing Companies of 2009. These lists are tabulated based on beer sales volume. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that 76% of breweries that made the Overall Brewing Companies list were, in fact, craft brewers.

Both lists are available here. Pacific Northwest breweries who made it into the Top 50 Craft Brewing Companies were Pyramid Breweries, Deschutes Brewery, Alaskan Brewing Co., Full Sail Brewing Co., Rogue Ales/Oregon Brewing Co., BridgePort Brewing Co., and Mac and Jack’s Brewery.

Congratulations to the Calf & Kid!!!

Today, Seattle will see the opening of its latest (and our favorite) small business - The Calf & Kid Artisan Cheese Shop. The proprietor, Sheri LaVigne, is a good friend and has been a great inspiration to us as entrepreneurs. She has put an insane amount of work into getting this shop off the ground, and has kicked ass every step of the way. We are so happy and excited that today, she gets to see her dream become a reality.

Fromage lovers, be sure to stop by the shop in the near future for some cheesy goodness. If you're curious, but don't know a whole lot about fancy cheeses, fear not - Sheri knows her stuff and will take the time to find exactly the right cheese to make you fall in love and come back for more.

Anyone who has ever made a go at a small business will tell you that the planning and the building is arduous. It takes phenomenal patience and perseverance, because anything that can slow you down or trip you up will probably happen, and the only way to survive is to deal with it. Sheri took each new challenge in stride, and today, gets to enjoy having it all pay off.

We look forward to experiencing that joy and satisfaction ourselves, one day. Today though, please join us in raising a glass to Sheri and the Calf & Kid, and make time to stop by and visit her in the coming weeks. The shop is located on Minor, between Pike and Pine (next to Sonic Boom).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Business Plan is revamped!

Writing a business plan seems like a straightforward enough exercise - do the math, show your work, share a taste of the inspiration behind the business that has you excited, and keep things clear and readable.

Sitting down to actually put those brushstrokes to the proverbial canvas turns out to be more of a challenge. Some of the best advice we received from the Small Business Association was to keep in mind that a spreadsheet is not a business, just a backbone - and they couldn't be more right. Finding the words to properly convey the heart and soul of the business we've been dreaming about, planning for, and researching for the past four years is no mean feat; my backspace key is about four strokes away from being worn out after the past few weeks of writes and rewrites.

But the good news is, once you finally hammer the last pieces into shape, once the tabs all start to fit into the slots and the document you're holding actually does what you want it to do - to encapsulate the dream that's been keeping you awake for more nights than you can remember and hopefully make it infectious - it's easy to see why it's such a key piece of any venture.

It's a symphony, really - and I don't say that to highlight the work we've done so much as to salute all those who have come before us. Done right, it's complex math and stirring poetry and effective organizational design all woven into a single tapestry that hopefully manages to paint the right picture for would-be supporters. If you've written one in the past, you know how tired we are. If you haven't, I hope you can get to be this kind of tired someday; it's a really good feeling.

If you're interesting in exploring becoming an investor in the Ankerhaus Pub, please email us a request for the business plan at info@ankerhauspub.com. We'd love to welcome you to the team.

Carbon-friendly Bottles

This post seemed appropriate for Earth Day.

Dr. Vino recently posted an article on Tony Soter, of the Soter Vineyards in Oregon. In an effort to reduce his wine's carbon footprint, Soter is decreasing the packaging mass of the bottles by going from bottles weighing 900g to bottles weighing 600g. These new bottles will be locally-produced (rather than imported from France) from recycled glass, and made using hydro-electric power.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Jurassic Beer

That's right, you heard me. Take a look at that title again if you need to.
This story originally broke a couple of years ago, but it's worth revisiting.
The Fossil Fuels Brewing Company brews beers from yeast dating back 45 million years. Dr. Raul Cano, scientist and brewery co-founder, cultivated yeast that he extracted from the body of a bee encased in amber. He then used it to brew beer. You see where I'm going with this? It's awesome. It's like Jurassic Park, but with beer, and way fewer Velociraptors.
Apparently, this ancient yeast makes an interesting brew, giving the beer a slightly spicy, clovey flavor.
The beer had originally only been available at the Stumptown Brewery in Guerneville, California and at Kelley Bros. Brewing in Manteca, California, with plans to expand to additional markets. These businesses don't seem to be serving it anymore, but the Stumptown website indicates that Fossil Fuels plans to start brewing in a new facility in the near future, so maybe we will get the opportunity to sample it some day.

From the Vine

The Snoqualmie Winery was one of the first Washington wineries to make wine from USDA-certified organic grapes. They employ sustainable practices in all of their winemaking, and established the Snoqualmie Naked label to distinguish their wines grown from grapes in their organic fields. You can find more information about their wines and view a copy of their Sustainability Report at their website.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Brewery Trivia

The Alaskan Brewing Company opened in 1986, making it the first brewery to open in Juneau since the Prohibition era. Their Alaskan Amber (a favorite of ours) is based on a recipe from a local turn-of-the-century brewery. They have since expanded and now brew a variety of year-round and seasonal beers.

Monday, April 19, 2010

2010 Tour de Fat Dates Announced

Attention bike lovers! The New Belgium Beer Company's annual Tour de Fat will be headed to 13 different cities (including Seattle) throughout the summer. This event raises money each year for bicycle and environmental charities. Check out their website and Facebook page for details and a schedule of events.

Here is a full list of participating cities:

June 26 - Chicago, Palmer Square Park
July 3 - Milwaukee, Humboldt Park
July 10 - Minneapolis, Loring Park
July 31 - Seattle, Gasworks Park
August 14 - Portland, Waterfront Park
August 21 - Boise, Anne Morrison Park
September 4 - Fort Collins, Mothership
September 11 - Denver, City Park
September 25 - San Francisco, Lindley Meadows in Golden Gate Park
October 2 - San Diego, Balboa Park
October 9 - Tempe, Tempe Town Park
October 23 - Los Angeles, L.A. Historic Park
October 30 - Austin, Fiesta Gardens

Sustainable Wine

A couple of weeks ago, the Seattle Times ran an article detailing the various sustainable practices that are being utilized by eco-friendly vineyards. The article only focuses on a couple of specific wineries, but it does give some interesting information regarding the process and the different methods that can be put into place to try to produce a minimal environmental impact.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Beer Facts

Irish red ale is traditionally a pale ale that gains it reddish color from a small amount of roasted barley that is added during the brewing process.

Friday, April 16, 2010

World Beer Cup Winners

The Brewers Association has just announced the winners of the 2010 World Beer Cup. 642 breweries from 44 countries competed with 3,330 beers across 90 different beer style categories.

A full list of winners is available here, but below, I have highlighted local favorites from Washington. Congratulations!

  • Black Raven's Coco Jones Porter won Gold in Herb & Spice or Chocolate Beer
  • Snipes Mountain Brewing Co's Harvest won Silver in Experimental Beer
  • Boundary Bay Brewery's Dunkles Bock took silver in German-Style Doppelbock or Eisbock
  • Golden Hills Brewing Co. took Bronze for American-style Dark Lager
  • Redhook's Mudslinger Ale took Bronze in English-Style Brown Ale
  • Black Raven's Tamerlane Brown Porter took Gold in Brown Porter
  • Walking Man Brewing's Jay Walker won Bronze in British-Style Imperial Stout
  • Boundary Bay Brewery's Cabin Fever won Bronze in Strong Ale
  • Rock Bottom Brewery's Hop Bomb IPA won Silver in American-Style Strong Pale Ale
  • Boundary Bay Brewery's Imperial IPA won Bronze in Imperial India Pale Ale

From the Vine

In 1965, David Lett established the Eyrie Vineyards, becoming the first person to produce Pinot noir in Oregon, and the first person to produce Pinot gris in the country. He had spent time studying Pinot grapes in Europe, and theorized that the Willammette Valley would perfectly offer the marginal climate that the grapes require to properly achieve their desired expression. Lett took his Pinots to the Wine Olympics in France in 1979 and 1980, where they finished third and second, respectively, and put Oregon on the map as a serious Pinot-producing region. Eyrie continues bottling quality Pinots to this day, and has been producing Pinot noir from a single vineyard longer than any other winery in the country.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Brewery Trivia

In 2005, the Full Sail Brewing Company introduced its Session Premium Lager. A tribute to pre-Prohibition-era beers, Session is packaged in a short, stubby brown bottle.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

North American Organic Brewers Festival

The North American Organic Brewers Festival will take place June 25th-27th in Portland, OR. This annual event features beers from around the globe that are either certified organic, or brewed with organic ingredients. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Oregon Food Bank.

In a continuing effort to promote sustainability, the festival is now using tasting cups made from cornstarch, rather than plastic. The corn cups are 100% compostable, and are made using solar energy and domestically-grown corn. Additionally, all vendors will be using compostable plates and flatware, and the festival's energy needs will be provided by a biodiesel-fueled generator.

If you're near Portland, or can make the trip, this looks to be an exciting event.

Beer Facts

Milk stout is not made with actual milk - instead, it contains lactose. This sugar is unaffected by beer yeast, so it is not broken down during the fermentation process. This leaves the stout with the sweet, creamy quality that it is known for.

My Milk Stout Haiku was inspired by a fantastic brew that Chris and I sampled over the weekend. It's made by the Left Hand Brewing Company, and I highly suggest you check it out, if you have the opportunity.