My Insatiable Thirst for Travel and Beer

Quilmes beer Argentina

Enjoying Quilmes lager with friends in Buenos Aires (2006)

I am a travel junkie. I am also a craft beverage fanatic. My heart rate spikes when the airplane touches down in a new travel destination and I feel giddy anticipation upon ordering a newly tapped microbrew. As you might expect, these two loves pair well. Traveling, I gravitate to the most hidden, hole-in-the-wall bars and cafés, brimming with locals, where I’m the only tourist. I sip the day’s special or the tender’s pick and relish in the culture of the place.

There’s no lack of commentary about the benefits of travel and cultural immersion. Travel can boost creativity, shift perspective, and increase interconnectedness. For me, travel delineates distinct periods in my life. Recalling each trip, I remember how I felt, what I drank, and how the adventure shaped my life journey.

I define years past with remarks like “when I quit my job, put everything in storage, and went to Argentina for two months to eat steak, drink Malbec, and dance the tango.” Or, “that birthday I spent on the coral reef of St. John dodging spiky sea urchins and drinking dark rum cocktails.” When it comes to exploring the world and quenching my thirst, full immersion is key.

I got drunk for the first time in Germany when I was seventeen. I was on a school-organized, humanities-focused trip and, under a cloak of jet lag one evening, our small group headed to a massive beer hall. The waitress promptly delivered our larger-than-life steins of Hefeweizen, but dinner took FOR-EV-ER to arrive. As it turned out, the food was delicious, but it was less memorable than the foreign landscape and my belly full of beer.

In Buenos Aires, as a mid-twenty-something, my partner and I whiled away entire afternoons over big, cheap bottles of Quilmes lager. The neighborhood bartenders refilled our complimentary bowls of salty snacks, and they didn’t bring our check until we asked for it—a novel custom that felt much friendlier than the fast-paced rush of our California lives back home.

Each morning on Maui, in the midst of a midlife career crisis, I jammed the picnic cooler with as much Bikini Blonde as would fit. My travel companion and I would set out to find a temporary oasis on a white or red or black sand beach—armed with a boatload of sunscreen and escapist novels. We’d spend the day swimming, savoring fresh papaya and mango, journaling, and contemplating our life goals.

Now, in my current home city of Seattle, I’ve come to adore my neighborhood craft breweries. Outfitted in a cozy flannel, beanie, and scarf, I find that the local beer community offers a warm respite from the plunging wintertime temperatures. I know which taproom serves the best rye IPA, Belgian-style Witbier, and smoked porter, and I can tell you where to go for live music, trivia, and free popcorn. My travel adventures are far from over, but I’m currently happy to savor Seattle’s quirks, sub-cultures, and hideaways as I continue my beer education and get to know my local beer makers.

Any suggestions for my next field trip?

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Marley Rall: The Brewer’s Baker

MARLEY RALL OPENED THE BREWMASTER’S BAKERY AND TAPROOM TO SERVE BEER FROM SEATTLE-AREA BREWERIES ALONGSIDE BAKED GOODS SHE MAKES WITH THEIR SPENT GRAIN.

[This article was originally published in Beer Advocate Magazine. Read the full article at BeerAdvocate.com]

Marley Rall was saved by beer. When she first met her husband-to-be, a hobbyist homebrewer, she was stuck, overworked, and plagued by inauthentic professional relationships in the nonprofit fundraising world. Rall knew her future happiness hinged on being her own boss and making a difference. And as it turned out, beer rescued Rall—in an unexpected way.

While observing her husband’s homebrewing process, Rall noticed that each batch of beer generated a huge amount of waste product. She took a closer look, and after some detailed research into large-scale brewery operations, found much of the same at the other end of the spectrum. Rall also discovered that up to 85 percent of this waste is spent grain that is discarded after its early role in wort production in the beer-making cycle.

Rall knew the life of these kernels of rye, wheat, millet, and barley was far from over. Tapping into her skills as an amateur home baker, she concocted an idea to recapture these brewery leftovers and bring the brewing process full circle. Now Rall is the face of The Brewmaster’s Bakery, an innovative purveyor of sweet and savory snacks, granola, baked goods, and dog treats made with the spent grain from six Seattle-area breweries and counting. This summer, less than two years after launching her home-based business, Rall opened The Brewmaster’s Taproom—a welcoming brick-and-mortar beer bar that showcases the craft breweries that supported Rall from the beginning.

[Read the full article at BeerAdvocate.com]

Beer Lover’s Gift Guide

HOPPY HOLIDAYS! (IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL STEIN OF THE YEAR.)

[This article was originally published in Seattle Weekly. Read the article at SeattleWeekly.com.]

My Beer Year by Lucy Burningham
Driven by curiosity and thirst, longtime journalist Lucy Burningham set out to chronicle her escapades to becoming the ultimate beer expert—a Certified Cicerone. The result is an engaging and witty memoir entitled My Beer Year: Adventures with Hop Farmers, Craft Brewers, Chefs, Beer Sommeliers, and Fanatical Drinkers as a Beer Master in Training. Lucy introduces the reader to a colorful cast of beer-loving characters and sheds light on the charmingly quirky world of beer culture. Paperback; $16.95. roostbooks.com.

Homebrew Starter Kit
The perfect gift for any beer lover who claims “I can brew better than that,” Sound Homebrew Supply’s small-batch homebrew kits offer step-by-step instructions, equipment, and ingredients to brew beer at home. With several package options, from the basic One-Gallon Beer Starter Kit to the Total Package Starter Kit, each is tailored to fit a range of brewing interests (and beer styles), space constrictions, and previous brewing knowledge. Prices vary. Sound Homebrew Supply, 6505 Fifth Pl. S., 743-8074, soundhomebrew.com.

Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery Membership
As Washington’s first community-owned brewery, Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery offers locals a way to gain behind-the-scenes access to commercial craft brewing. Flying Bike’s unique setup gives member/owners equal voting power to elect the Board of Directors and set long-term goals and policies. Members are also invited to exclusive events like homebrew competitions—to help select new beers for production at the brewery—and Brewer’s Table discussions with Flying Bike’s head brewer, Kevin Forhan. $200 includes membership, pint glass, T-shirt. Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery, 8570 Greenwood Ave. N., 428-7709, flyingbike.coop.

Pike Brewing Stout Beer Soap
It’s a little-known fact that hops contain skin-smoothing amino acids—a quality that makes beer an unexpected but practical ingredient for soap. The folks at Pike Brewing realized this and created the Pike XXXXX Extra Stout soap, blending the brewery’s popular stout beer—with aromatic hints of chocolate and espresso—with palm oil, coconut oil, and olive oil to create a nourishing soap that still provides all the cleansing qualities of ordinary bar soap. $5.95. Pike Brewing Company, 1415 First Ave., 622-6044, shoppikebrewing.com.

Tavour Beer Concierge Gift Certificate
Based in Seattle’s SoDo district, beer concierge startup Tavour has devised a convenient way to introduce beer lovers to new and different brews. Tavour’s team dispatches daily, curated beer offerings via e-mail—a mix of tasty local secrets and hard-to-find beers from around the world—and members simply reply back to order specific brews. In essence, members hand-select their own “variety packs” of fresh, unique beers, which are delivered to their door every few weeks. Prices vary. tavour.com.

[Read the article at SeattleWeekly.com.]

Flying Bike Brings a Community Together to Make Better Beer

THE GREENWOOD BREWERY’S FRESH HOP HARVEST ALE IS JUST ONE OF MANY INITIATIVES AIMED AT CREATING COMMUNITY AND ACTIVATING SEATTLE’S COLLABORATIVE BEER SCENE.

[This article was originally published in Seattle Weekly. Read the full article at SeattleWeekly.com.]

The process behind this year’s Fresh Hop Harvest Ale from Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery was a little more complex than that of most brews. And a little more fun. Home-brewers and backyard gardeners from throughout the city had only 24 hours to harvest their homegrown hop plants, deliver them to Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery, pluck the hop flowers from the vines and throw them into the brewmaster’s boil. In the end, the brewery collected nearly 100 pounds of fresh hops for its hyper-local harvest ale, a testament to the appeal of its core mission: to create “member-driven beer.”

Just over a year old, Flying Bike is the first 100 percent cooperatively owned and operated brewery in Washington. With its popular homebrew competitions, brewer’s roundtable gatherings, and community giving program, the Greenwood-based collective offers a structured space for people who want to get involved in the local beer scene. The brewery’s thriving taproom adds to its reputation as an exceptional neighborhood establishment—a place to enjoy unique craft beers, learn about the brewing process, and build community.

[Read the full article at SeattleWeekly.com.]

Seattle Growler Fills

Flying Bike Brewery Growlers

Photo by Will Foster @wfstr

Draft beer almost always tastes better than bottled or canned beer.* It’s fresher and hasn’t been exposed to heat, light, or oxygen—elements that can have a major negative impact on the beer’s taste and aroma. Despite the superiority of draft, we don’t always feel like going out for a pint. As a self-proclaimed introvert, I’m a prime example of a beer enthusiast who sometimes just wants to chill at home and watch a movie. Or read. Or drink a few beers while I cook dinner. This is when growlers come in handy. Typically 64 fluid ounces (the equivalent to 4 pints) or 32 fluid ounces (2 pints) breweries and taprooms will happily fill growler jugs with fresh, tasty, draft beer and allow patrons to grab quality beer to go.

*Although draft is almost always best, there are a couple of cases when bottles or cans are better. Some high alcohol beers are better after aging in bottles. And if tap lines are dirty, the same brew will likely taste better from a bottle or can.

In Seattle, getting your growler filled is easy if you know where to look. Here are six excellent beer choices from local craft breweries.

The White Lodge Belgian Style White Ale | Holy Mountain Brewing Co.

ABV: 4.8%
Holy Mountain has quickly made a name for itself in the Seattle brewery scene for its top-notch saisons, sours, and barrel-aged beers, and for its departure from the region’s IPA-dominated tap lists. The White Lodge is a refreshing Belgium-style witbier brewed with coriander and orange peel, resulting in a light and flavorful beer with bold aromatics. This beer is easily drinkable, slightly tart, with a hint of spice, making it a uniquely delicious growler choice. Growler fills available at Holy Mountain Brewing Company, 1421 Elliott Ave. W, Seattle.

Gateway Dry Hopped Pale | Rooftop Brewing Co.

ABV: 5.2% | IBU: 20
The brewers at Rooftop created the Gateway Pale as an introductory (or “gateway”) beer for people who don’t like hoppy beers. The pale ale ignites the senses with an upfront burst of delicate, floral, hop aroma, leading to a light hoppy flavor—and it ranks low on the bitterness scale. Notes of citrus and tropical fruit flavor lend a juiciness to this sessionable beer. Newbies will be surprised by how gentle and inviting hops can be. Growler fills available at Rooftop Brewing Company, 1220 W Nickerson St., Seattle.

Cocoa Vanilla Porter | Bad Jimmy’s Brewing Co.

ABV: 6.5% | IBU: 17
With an eclectic tap list that often includes beers like Blood Orange Honey Wheat, Raspberry Blonde, and Habanero Amber, Bad Jimmy’s consistently embraces the unexpected. The Cocoa Vanilla Porter, on its own, warrants a trip to this Ballard brewery. The smooth sipper delivers aromas and flavors of soft roasted malt, warm vanilla and plenty of chocolaty decadence. A growler of this brew on a crisp Seattle night will warm you to the core. Growler fills available at Bad Jimmy’s Brewing Company, 4358 B Leary Way NW, Seattle.

Bike Rye’d Saison | Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery

ABV: 6.3% | IBU: 25
Originally brewed by one of Flying Bike’s member-owners, the Bike Rye’d Saison is among the brewery’s most popular beers. This traditional French-style, farmhouse ale is bright and refreshing. The brewers use plenty of rye to infuse the medium-bodied beer with a slightly peppery aroma, rounded out with flavors of lemon and rye-ginger spice to finish. Pair the saison with a few savory picnic snacks and enjoy it outdoors in your favorite neighborhood green space. Growler fills available at Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery, 8570 Greenwood Ave. N, Seattle.

Citra IPA | Stoup Brewing

ABV: 5.9% | IBU: 50
This complex IPA showcases the citrus power of Citra hops, and is, hands down, one of my personal favorites. This beer has a tangy sweetness, gentle undercurrents of toasted caramel and musky tropical fruits, and a full hop kick. Stoup’s Citra IPA is light and bright in both color and body and strikes a great balance of earthy hops and luscious grapefruit. Grab a growler of this brew for love at first sip. Growler fills available at Stoup Brewing, 1108 NW 52nd St., Seattle.

Cream Ale | Reuben’s Brews

ABV: 5.0% | IBU: 17
Reuben’s taproom offers an impressive selection of over 20 beers on draft, including a bunch of rotating brews and several mainstay award-winners. On frequent repeat is the Cream Ale—a pale, light-bodied beer with hints of creamy vanilla, smooth malt, and a sweet, clean finish. More unique than a classic lager, this cream ale is so smooth and easy to drink that you may need an extra growler fill by the end of the evening. Growler fills available at Reuben’s Brews, 5010 14th Ave. NW, Seattle.

[This article also appeared on PorchDrinking.com.]

How to Pick the Best Beer Festival (and Make the Most of It)

Talia Shapiro WA Beer Collaboration Festival

Photo by Will Foster @wfstr

It’s summertime. Festival season. Time to break out the tie-dyed tank tops and daisy-brimmed flower crowns. Or maybe that’s taking it a little too far. In all seriousness though, there are zillions of summer festivals each year that focus on music, food, film, sports, and, my personal favorite: beer. Living in Seattle, it’s nearly impossible to attend every beer festival, and I’m on a never-ending quest (through trial and error) to learn exactly which events I enjoy the most, and why. To keep from feeling overwhelmed by the steady lineup of beery happenings in the coming weeks, I’ve put together a list of key factors to consider when determining which festivals to attend.

Location and venue

Will we sip beers while lounging on an open, grassy lawn under the Space Needle, or spend the day in a cavernous, indoor convention center? Do I have to traverse bridges or hop a ferry to get there? Is the festival out of town, somewhere I may want to stay for a few days? These are all helpful questions to ask before event day. Planning ahead makes it easier to reserve lodging, find a designated driver, study the bus routes, and dress accordingly. If it’s an outdoor festival, in Seattle especially, an extra layer of clothing usually comes in handy.

All-inclusive vs. pay-as-you-go

Does admission include a certain number of drink tickets? What about food? Do only VIP tickets promise all the goodies? I hate when I encounter surprise fees for extra festival features, so I always make sure to read the fine print before I purchase my tickets. It’s too easy to get caught up in the festivities and spend more money than intended. However, I’ve found it’s a good idea to bring a little extra cash to tip the tenders (it’s just good manners).

Entertainment (besides drinking beer)

Beer and music, to me, make the perfect festival. In fact, I love craft beer and indie music so much that it almost doesn’t matter what I’m listening to, or sipping (I said, almost). For some people, food and beer make the magic combo. Or festivals that feature classes and presentations by master brewers. It’s helpful to know, in advance, what’s on the roster, so I can grab business cards, a pen and notebook, or earplugs.

In the past year, I’ve discovered a few Seattle beer festivals that became instant favorites—and my list is always evolving. The Washington Beer Collaboration Festival took place under a huge tent on the South Lake Union Discovery Center lawn and showcased a camaraderie between breweries that was truly inspiring. The festival featured 25 unique collaboration beers from 50 different Washington breweries, and offered a platform for brewers to team up and deliver unexpected flavor profiles and unique styles. I was particularly impressed by a White IPA from Whitewall Brewing and Skookum Brewery. Brewed with Galaxy, Citra, and Mosaic hops, the beer was conditioned on whole Mango and pink peppercorn. Very unconventional, and very… complex.

Elysian’s 20th Anniversary Party at Seattle Center satisfied my love of music and beer with a full day of tasting both flagship and limited release brews, while rocking out to an eclectic lineup of live music by Chaotic Noise Marching Corp, Ming City Rockers, Black Lips, The Raveonettes, and The Gits. (Check out my KEXP blog festival review HERE.)

The Bellingham Bay BREWers Cruise was a mini beer festival on the water—it offered a low-key space to chat with local breweries while enjoying views of the beautiful Puget Sound, plus, it gave me an excuse to visit my family en route. (Check out my Seattle Weekly write-up HERE.) All of these festivals had their own unique characteristics, and they all drew diverse crowds. They also offered perfect opportunities to connect with the beer community. Always a pleasure!

No matter where your beer festival adventures take you, my fellow beer enthusiasts, enjoy! I’ll wrap things up now with some poignant, highly entertaining festival advice from the newest book on my shelf: Patrick Dawson’s The Beer Geek Handbook. Cheers!

STEPS FOR OPTIMIZING THE FESTIVAL EXPERIENCE

  1. When considering attending a festival, Beer Geeks begin by researching the festival’s list of participating breweries (serious festivals also include a list of beers to be poured). They will then assemble a list of beers of interest and make a quick mental calculation to determine the value of each beer (based on what it would cost to purchase or trade for them). If the value of the beer exceeds that of the ticket price, a Beer Geek will attend. If there are out-of-distribution DONGs [a.k.a. draft only, no growlers] on the list, festival attendance is a no-brainer.
  1. Once it’s been decided that the festival is worth attending, a Beer Geek will assemble a group of fellow Beer Geeks, numbering no greater than eight, to go together. Any larger and the group is too cumbersome to accommodate serious tasting.
  1. For large festivals, a strategizing session is held among the fellowship of Beer Geeks to create a prioritized list of breweries to hit once inside. Popular breweries will be hit hard at the onset, since it is not unusual for rare selections to run out in even the first hour. Breweries such as these make up the priority list.
  1. Beer Geeks always arrive at the festival with a full stomach, preferably of cheese or other fatty foods, slowing alcohol absorption to maximize allowable intake.
  1. Once inside, the priority list is executed. The tasting format is often limited to 1- or 2-oz. samples. When sampling breweries have a line, a Beer Geek never camps out at the front in an attempt to sample multiple beers. This is a classic noob move and goes against all Beer Geek etiquette. Once you get your sample, head immediately to the end of the line to get another sample. Time is of the essence.
  1. Fraternizing can fully commence once the priority list has been addressed. At this point, the tasting should move to “free-form format” based upon suggestions from fellow Beer Geeks. It is now okay to talk with brewers and brewery reps, since by this point all festival attendees have had ample opportunity to sample their top beers.
  1. As the festival winds down, the Beer Geeks quickly become distinguishable from the posers. While Beer Geeks might certainly get drunk at a festival (there can be a lot of beers to sample, after all), they don’t go there with the primary intention of getting drunk. At this stage, non–Beer Geeks begin flinging coasters, knocking their buddy’s glass out of his hand, and stealing every bit of brewery schwag not nailed down. Beer Geeks, having properly trained for the event, maintain (some) composure.
  1. Once last call goes out, a Beer Geek, knowing full well that the remaining samples being poured aren’t any Gold Medal winners, heads out to grab a cab or a bite, leaving the frat pack to do shots of every beer left standing.

Excerpted from The Beer Geek Handbook (c) Patrick Dawson. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

Outlander Brewery | Holy Basil Pale Ale

Hole Basil Pale Ale Outlander BreweryI love a little quirkiness with my beer, because with so many craft breweries in Seattle, a unique character is really what sets each establishment, and brew, apart. The Holy Basil Pale Ale by Outlander Brewery fits this measure well—it strikes just the right balance of eccentric and uniquely delicious.

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Outlander Brewery operates out of a 100+ year-old converted house, with a brewing system in the basement, shelves of ceramic beer mugs for the regulars, funky furniture and a stack of random board games for everyone to enjoy. Outlander’s low-key atmosphere lends itself to an unpretentious, non-fussy vibe, and the friendly tenders are always poised and ready to recommend the best new beer on tap.

Operating on a very small, 3.5 barrel system, Outlander is known for its specialty ales and experimental brews—and for using wacky ingredients like lavender, ginseng, dragon fruit, peanut butter and chili peppers. Because Outlander’s brewing operation is so small, the microbrewery has a quickly rotating tap list—a beer could be available one week and replaced the next. Lucky for us, the Holy Basil Pale is on frequent repeat, and for good reason.

The Holy Basil Pale is an easy-drinking beer, with an inviting golden-amber color and an earthy, herbal aroma. Upon first sip, the basil flavor is more subtle than expected—its delicate sweetness and twinge of spice enhances the ale rather than dominating it. With a medium-body, the Holy Basil Pale coaxes the palate with a balance of soft wheat, honey and light malt. Sure, it’s unconventional, but it’s also delicious.

For a quirky brew with a flavor character all its own, try the Holy Basil Pale. You’ll have to stop by the brewery though—this, along with most Outlander beer, is a taproom-only release. Challenge your Seattle neighbor to a game of dominoes (on a set that’s missing just a few essential tiles) while you sip this refreshing beer in Outlander Brewery’s new beer garden. See you this summer!

[This article also appeared on PorchDrinking.com.]

Washington’s Best Beers Taste Better on a Boat

UP IN BELLINGHAM, A BREW-FUELED CRUISE SERIES IS TAKING HAPPY HOUR TO SEA.

[This article was originally published in Seattle Weekly. Read the full article at SeattleWeekly.com.]

It’s time for happy hour. A midweek interlude from everyday responsibilities. An evening to catch up with friends, sightsee with family, or relax with a partner. On this particular evening in late spring, happy hour involves a gangplank.

As the crowd walks single-file onto the Victoria Star 2, it sways, buoyed to the dock of Bellingham’s Alaska Ferry Terminal. Onboard, a few families settle at the tables and chairs that line the perimeter of the boat, while groups of friends and seasoned locals head straight to the main attraction: local craft brews.

With the San Juan Islands as a backdrop, couples hold hands on the boat’s outdoor decks and the vessel pulls away from the harbor. Inside, beers from Boundary Bay Brewery in Bellingham, Seattle’s Fremont Brewing, and Diamond Knot Brewery in Mukilteo fill the three tasting tables.

This social event is the second Bellingham Bay BREWers Cruise of 2016. Every Wednesday evening from late May through September, Washington breweries and beer enthusiasts come together for education and conversation. With three featured breweries each week pouring at least three beers apiece, brewers teach passengers about their craft: how they develop new beers, which strains of grain and yeast they use, and new collaboration projects they’re launching with other breweries.

[Read the full article at SeattleWeekly.com.]

Girls’ Pint Out: When a Lady Loves a Lager

[This article originally appeared in Stackedd Magazine.]Seattle Girls Pint Out

If the idea of a cocktail bar jam-packed with buttoned-up ladies gossiping over fruity cosmopolitans doesn’t exactly conjure excitement, read on. How about a group of trailblazing women networking over hoppy craft beers? Sound better? A far cry from the male dominated industry it once was, more and more women are getting involved with craft beer—as beer enthusiasts, brewers, beertenders, and through the varied behind-the-scenes roles that contribute to producing tasty brews. Through educational classes, social events, and festivals, organizations like Girls’ Pint Out are introducing more women to craft beer, and in turn, changing the way brewery culture is perceived and breaking down gender barriers.

Since its inception in 2010, the non-profit organization Girls’ Pint Out has built a supportive community of women who love craft beer and who make up an active, contributing part of the greater craft beer community. Girls’ Pint Out currently has over 70 chapters in over 35 states, including a bustling Seattle group that began just last year. Lindsey Scully, Chapter President and Events Coordinator of Seattle Girls’ Pint Out, is a mover and shaker who has been immersed in the craft beer scene for many years—she is a Certified Beer Server, a beertender at Stoup Brewing, and the Washington Editor of The New School. As women’s roles in the beer industry continue to evolve, Lindsey is excited to introduce Girls’ Pint Out to Seattle beer nerds and curious novices alike. I recently caught up with Lindsey to get the inside scoop on women and beer.

Photo (c) Danielle Zahaba

Photo (c) Danielle Zahaba

First of all, why beer?

I believe beer knows no gender. Women can like a resinous, hop-forward IPA just as much as a guy can like a sweet, raspberry-laden, wheat beer. However, since beer and brewing has been viewed as a male beverage and hobby for such a long time, Girls’ Pint Out started as a way to get more ladies into craft beer. By offering classes like Introduction to Homebrewing or Whiskey and Beer Pairing, we offer an intimate setting to help demystify beer, beer styles, and the brewing process for women. We make each event as inviting as possible so ladies feel comfortable asking questions and getting involved.

How and why did you get involved with Girls’ Pint Out? What do you find rewarding about it?

Honestly, I was looking for a way to meet more ladies who liked beer. Seattle has a fantastic craft beer scene, including numerous beer festivals (almost once a month), breweries (about 80 in Seattle), and beer bars, and I was always attending these events with my boyfriend or guy friends. When I randomly heard about the Inland NW Girls’ Pint Out chapter, I contacted them, and they told me there wasn’t a Seattle chapter. I loved the idea and wanted to start a chapter on this side of the state—thus, in August 2014, Seattle Girls’ Pint Out was born.

I find it extremely rewarding to meet new ladies who heard of Seattle Girls’ Pint Out and thought it would be a fun way to get into beer. I love having someone who claims they hate hoppy, bitter beers try my triple IPA and say they like it. I think there’s a beer out there for everyone, so it’s just a process of trying a lot of different styles to find out what you personally like. I’ve also really enjoyed making so many new friends through Seattle Girls’ Pint Out—there are a lot of awesome women in the greater Seattle area!

How big is the Seattle chapter of Girls’ Pint Out? What in particular about the events keep women coming back?

I think the fact that we try to create unique quarterly events is what makes new ladies come and hang out. We’ve done a Whiskey and Beer Pairing that was very popular and […] we are planning a December bottle share and beer-themed gift exchange. We hold a monthly Ladies Pint Night where women are welcome to come join us for a pint and conversation, and it’s a great way to crush the dreaded “Seattle Freeze.” We also host a monthly co-ed book club called Pints & Pages every first Monday of the month at Ballard Beer Company (open to everyone 21+). We started it since Seattle is such a great literary city that also produces fantastic beer.

Every event, whether it’s our monthly Pint Night or a special event, varies in attendance. I’ve had some events with only 2 people and some events with over 20. Since Girls’ Pint Out does not require a membership or dues, we have a constant flow of new people who come to events to see what we’re about, and a good majority of them come back—which speaks volumes about our group. We post all of our events on our Facebook page so people can see what is coming up, or they can subscribe to our monthly newsletter by sending an email to Seattle@GirlspintOut.org and asking to be added.

What are your three favorite beers right now? Do you have a favorite Seattle brewery? With so many great local breweries, how do you choose where to meet for Girls’ Pint Out events?

I absolutely love the Overhang Imperial Porter by Two Beers Brewing—the blend of roasted coffee and chocolate notes is incredible. They should package the aroma and sell it as perfume or candles. Holy Mountain’s Clarette raspberry sour is phenomenal—it’s tart, puckery quality is so quaffable. Stoup Brewing’s Citra IPA is my go-to beer. I’m biased since I do work there, but the citrus aroma is incredible and it is often the beer I recommend if people ask for something refreshing.

Choosing a favorite brewery is really hard since there are still so many I haven’t been able to visit. I will tell you what breweries I recommend people check out: Holy Mountain for their sours and saisons; Yakima’s Bale Breaker for their hop-forward beers like Bottomcutter DIPA; and Fremont Brewing for their Session IPA and their Barrel-Aged Dark Star (a necessity). The nice thing about Washington breweries is that there are so many options. If you don’t like hoppy beers, go visit Machine House in Georgetown for some cask ales or Engine House No. 9 for their sours.

Sometimes I ask for women’s input on Facebook about what neighborhood we should check out for the monthly Ladies Pint Night. I try to make sure we don’t repeat the same neighborhood as the previous month. With so many brewery and beer bar options, I like to spread the love and get people to try out a new venue or neighborhood. I look for a place that can accommodate between 5-20 people and I usually ask for a pint discount if possible—I find that attendees are more likely to try new beers if there’s a discount involved.

What advice can you give women who are interested in learning more about beer or getting involved in the industry?

I invite everyone to come to our events to learn more about craft beer and the beer industry! Our monthly Pint Nights are ladies only, but we occasionally have co-ed events too. There are also beer-focused websites to keep up-to-date on local beer industry news and events, such The New School, Washington Beer Blog, Craft Beer Monger, and Seattle Beer News to name a few. If you are a woman who is already in the craft beer industry, make sure you become a member of Pink Boots Society—it is a great organization for women in brewing.

For those looking to get into the local craft beer industry, I recommend getting to know the people who hold the specific roles you are looking to get into. For example, if you want to get into brewing, go introduce yourself to local brewers and chat with them, or inquire about positions at a homebrew shop. If you are looking to become a beertender, visit local breweries and bring in a resume. Networking is huge when it comes to breaking into any industry, but it’s especially valuable in this industry with the rise of craft breweries.

Knowledge is priceless! There are various ways to educate yourself about beer, and I recommend the Cicerone program or BJCP [Beer Judge Certification Program]. You can download the BJCP Style Guidelines to your smartphone, which makes it easily accessible. Every time you try a new beer style, use the app to look at the beer style guideline and learn what to expect from a Munich Helles or a Robust Porter, or learn the history of some styles. […] There are local BJCP Prep courses to learn about specific beer styles and how to judge a beer by analyzing its aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel, and overall impression. The Cicerone program has different levels—the first is Certified Beer Server and is the only online certificate level. I recommend reading up on Certified Beer Server and its syllabus, as there’s a lot of good information out there and it is great for both resume-building and personal enrichment.

I am currently studying for the Advanced Cicerone program and I find that hosting small blind beer tastings of a particular style (e.g. American Amber) is very beneficial. You get to taste a bunch of versions of a specific style and see how each brewery creates a unique product by using a slightly different malt or hop bill, and possibly a different yeast strain. You can also do this with similar styles such as Hefeweizens, American Wheat Ales, and Witbiers, and try to determine which beer is which style. It’s a fun experience with friends.

Is there anything new on the horizon as Seattle Girls’ Pint Out continues to grow?

We are always thinking of new ideas and events for the future. Currently, we are planning a December bottle share and beer-themed gift exchange, a Whiskey and Beer Pairing in early 2016, a Craft with a Craft series (think arts and crafts at a brewery), industry panels, beer education classes, and more. We’re constantly growing, just like the Washington beer scene, and always looking for new partnerships and organizations to team up with.

While Seattle Girls’ Pint Out is primarily focused on the Greater Seattle area, we have had a handful of events on the Eastside, in the Woodinville area. We have had a few requests to start up Bellingham and Kitsap chapters and we are looking for ladies who are interested in taking the initiative to start these chapters (or chapters in other Washington areas). If anyone is interested, please contact me at Seattle@GirlsPintOut.org.

Connect with Seattle Girls’ Pint Out online:
facebook.com/SeattleGPO/
twitter.com/seattlegpo
instagram.com/seattlegpo/