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, 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. 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!