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,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 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.