Thursday, June 9, 2016

Back from Edmonds, WA

I just got home on Tuesday evening, after a few days visiting my daughter, son-in-law, and grand-kids in Edmonds, WA, a suburb of Seattle. Elaine and I were there to help celebrate our granddaughter's 1st birthday. So the trip was focused primarily on spending time with family, but I did find time to check out a couple of breweries and try some local brews, as well as hit a bottle shop in order to grab a few beers to bring home with me. I'll be reviewing those beers in future blogs, as I get around to enjoying them; this one will focus on the two breweries I visited on the trip.

The first brewery I visited was the American Brewing Company, at 180 W. Dayton Street. It, had a strong industrial vibe. In fact, the main train tracks through town ran just a few feet from its entrance door. There was free popcorn and other food for sale, like pizzas. I didn't get an exact count, but there looked to be at least a dozen different beers on offer. Here are a couple of shots of the tap room that I took.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

A couple of the differences between what Washington allows its breweries to do and what Alaska allows are immediately apparent. First, note the seats at the bar; that would be illegal in Alaska, as breweries are only allowed "serving counters" (meaning no seats) with "bars"  being allowed only in brewpubs or places with a Beverage Dispensary License (i.e. a full liquor license). Note the big screen TVs, tuned to sports; these would also be illegal in Alaska, as they would be considered "entertainment," which is also forbidden in brewery tap rooms. There brewery was also open until 10 PM; in Alaska, they must close NLT 8 PM. These things may seem minor, but I'm trying to make a point, which is this: Washington state has a much more friendly regulatory environment for brewing than Alaska does. Washington has about 9.5 times the population of Alaska ( 7 million to Alaska's 740,000). However, Washington has over 320 breweries, while Alaska still has less than 30, despite recent openings. If we had the same number of breweries per capita as Washington, we'd have something like 34 operating breweries right now.

I know it's a bit of an apples to oranges comparison, but it still illustrates the cumulative impact of things like clumsy liquor licensing laws and excessive state excise taxes. Speaking of excise taxes, brewers is Washington pay $0.26 per gallon of beer in state taxes, while in Alaska it's $1.07 (and Governor Walker is still pushing to double it!). In short, it seems to me that Washington understands what a valuable resource it has in its craft brewing industry; Alaska, not so much...

Anyway, back to my visit to the brewery. We got there fairly late, at about 9 PM, so I only had one beer, a pint of Revolutionary IPA. It's 6% ABV, 80 IBUS. I didn't do a full review, but my overall impression was that it was an average IPA, nothing wrong with it, but nothing spectacular either.

Revolutionary IPA

The second brewery in Edmonds is Salish Sea Brewing Company. It's also on W. Dayton Street, about four blocks north of American Brewing, at 518. Those four blocks make a big difference, as Salish Sea is in the downtown area of Edmonds, which is shops and restaurants, rather than the more industrial location of American Brewing. Here are some photos taken by my wife Elaine:

Exterior of Salish Sea Brewing

The brewhouse is in the tap room!

The left-hand side of the tap room.

The low wall on the right is movable, to allow space for brewing

Salish Sea Brewing has a very unusual layout, in that the brewhouse is literally in the tap room! In order to brew, the tables must come out of the right-hand portion of the tap room, along with a movable half wall that separates the tables from the brewhouse when the latter isn't in use. I'm not sure how efficient it is, but it's a clever way to maximize the tap room seating when actual brewing isn't taking place.

There were twelve taps with nine beers currently on offer when we stopped in. There was also a food menu, with staples like sandwiches, soups, and pretzels on offer. I decided to have a Drop Anchor IPA. At 6.7% ABV, 65 IBUs, this is a medium-bodied IPA. It's hopped with Citra, Mosaic, Amarillo, and Simcoe hops, including dry-hopping with the first three varieties. Late hop additions, gave it lots of hop flavor and aroma without excessive bitterness. A very enjoyable IPA.

Drop Anchor IPA

So that's my report on the two breweries I visited in Edmonds. It's always fun to visit new breweries and try out what they have to offer, so I encourage you to do so as well, whenever you travel.

I plan to get a blog out next week, to get back up to speed on what's happening here in Alaska. However, if you will be in Soldotna this weekend, I will be at the Kenai River Festival in Soldotna Creek Part on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, signing and selling copies of my beer books. Please drop by and say hello; I'll be in Booth #1.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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