Barleywine: The Great Misunderstood

Written by Steve Body
You’ve heard/read about Barleywine. I mean, unless you’ve been living on the International Space Station for the past decade and maybe even if you have. I’ve been drinking them and selling them and preaching the Gospel of Barleywine for well over 20 years, now. It is the style of beer that I enjoy most, except when I don’t and those periods in which I prefer an IPA or winter seasonal ales tend to come at wider intervals and be of shorter duration as I (badly) age.

It is also easily the most misunderstood major style of beer, exceeded only by Steinbiers and Kvieks and Grisettes and oddities like those, of largely foreign origins.

In my now thirty years in the beverage trade, here are a few of the explanations I’ve heard, first-hand of what “barleywine” means:

“It’s beer that fermented with wine yeast.”

“It’s beer that’s partially blended with wine.”

“It’s a beer but not a beer because the alcohol level makes it a liquor.”

“It’s another term for a weaker brandy.”

“It’s a form of barrel-aged Stout, mixed with grain alcohol.”

“It’s a beer made from a base of alcohol, instead of water.”

“It’s made from grapes and then distilled, like Grappa, and then is aged with barley and hops.”

These are just a few.

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The Pour Fool Landmark: Double Mountain and Solera and the Fresh Hops

Here’s what you Need To Know:

Written by Steve Body

This is a near-perfect fresh-hopped IPA, best one, in fact, since Deschutes immortal “Hop Trip”.
It is balanced, complex, fruity, prettily bitter, and damnably easy to drink. Look for it. Get it. Drink it. Love it.

Here’s my bottom line on the new “Iowa Bar Fight” Fresh Hop IPA from Double Mountain Brewery and Solera Brewery of Hood River, Oregon…

An Iowa Bar Fight is not only the best wet-hopped ale I’ve found since the heyday of Deschutes “Hop Trip”, it is also, with zero exaggeration, one of the most delicious, crazy drinkable, replete, well-crafted, and flat-out compelling IPAs I’ve sampled in the past ten years.

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Jones Creek Brewing: A Disturbance in The Force

Written by Steve Body
Just a few weeks ago, I wrote a thing in The Pour Fool about seeking out smaller, less celebrated (or even downright obscure) breweries, wineries, and distilleries in your own area. Around the Seattle/Tacoma area, names like Top Down Brewing Company in Sumner, Olalla Vineyard & Winery, off state route 16, Wind Rose Cellars, in Sequim, Old Soldier Distillery of Tacoma, and Yoked Farmhouse & Brewery, in Purdy, come to mind.

Many producers like these are punished because they have sinned: they have the audacity to start a business outside the Cluster and breweries and wineries BOTH cluster like mad. There is, for lack of a better term, a Force at work in this. This Force repels people away from the very real fact that, given all the remote breweries being built and started, every year, a few WILL, inevitably, be objectively better than the buzz-worthy ones that inhabit those urban Clusters. It doesn’t happen frequently but it does happen. Breweries in Washington that are not in Seattle suffer tangibly because they are Over There. Some overcome that. Bale Breaker Brewing Company, Iron Horse Brewery, Dwinell Country Ales, and Echoes Brewing of Poulsbo are just a few of my own local examples.

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The Pour Fool Double Mountain “Go Ask Talus”: Great Beer, Bad Pun

Written by Steve Body
got this sample from the folks at Double Mountain Brewery & Cidery, located in the absurdly, other-worldly gorgeous Columbia River Gorge, in quaint-but-JUMPIN’ Hood River, Oregon, and groaned audibly when I opened it and saw the label.

“What’s wrong?” asked my darlin’ new bride.

“I’ve just been PUN-ished by Double Mountain Brewing,” I replied, proud of myself, with what I felt was a justified twinkle in my eye.

“Why?” she scowled, “What did you do to them?“

Sigh…

I ADORE my wife, in a way that I never expected I was even capable of. But the woman is where Jokes Go To Die; the rocky shoal on which the little boat of humor runs aground. She is inadvertently funny. (Listening to her learn to pronounce “gewurztraminer” was ten days of riotous fun) And wickedly smart but not inclined to whimsy…

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Geaux? Gone: A Cautionary Rant and Tale

I did my once-weekly run through the posts on Instagram, which I seldom use and haven’t posted in for maybe 2 1/2 years, and ran across a note from my old friend, Jeremy Hubbell, owner of Geaux Brewing, late of Bellevue, Washington, now of Auburn, Washington. No, wait…”late” of Auburn, too.

I have written a couple of times, in the going-on fifteen years The Pour Fool has existed, About Geaux. I used to live in Bellevue – or, as I always call it, “Bellevoid” – which was to the Northwest Craft Beer Boom what the Sahara is to ice-skating rinks. There was ONE brewery in Bellevoid, an outpost of the highly-questionable Rock Bottom Brewing which, in that yuppified location near the Microsoft Sprawl of downtown, became basically a happy hour meat market that happened to make a few listless, predictable beers as a sort of moist courtesy to its customers, many of whom use brewer visits as lifestyle cred. In the mid 00s, Rock Bottom was joined by a second brewery, run by an enormous, self-aggrandizing fathead who was convinced that hiring a certain brewer would put them firmly into the beer stratosphere. (It didn’t) That was that for a relatively short time. Then, a youngish New Orleanian named Jeremy Hubbell, a technical and design consultant whose LinkedIn profile reads like this: “Specialties: New business development, product marketing, product management, product design, international business.” He had a successful business doing all this, in a large space in a small urban light-industrial/retail development, tucked away in a secluded side-street just outside of downtown Bellevoid.

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The Most Underrated Breweries in the PNW: a 5 Year Update

By Stephen Body
This is an unabashed revision of a post that first appeared back in February of 2017, in response to a list written by a young writer for Paste Magazine and I thought it deserved an update, as the Pacific Northwest beer landscape, battered by Covid and its attendant economic upheaval, has changed radically.

Jim Vorel is a beer writer from Atlanta; a guy who – despite what he probably thinks – I actually like but have frequently gone after like a dog on a hamburger for some of his apparently uninformed lists, many of which read as though he had simply scanned RateBeer and BeerAdvocate and then compiled them. He has also done several lists which I thought were dead-on. I know he has the capability of doing them well and, in fact, five years later, he IS doing them fairly well, with only occasional lapses. But I go after him because I’m hoping he’ll devote the same care to all of them that he does to that occasional gem.

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Stone Brewing is the New Pearl Harbor

Written by Stephen Body
“It Is Happening Again…”

Yeah, I feel okay about culturally misappropriating a Twin Peaks line and meme. I earned it, bucko. I put in TIME with that series and have stayed hands off for decades.

But, TODAY, on the day in 2022(!) when I have to read that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe V Wade, I also get the word that…and I can hardly believe I’m typing this…STONE BREWING, of all the American breweries – hell, businesses! – that I could imagine reading this about, has been sold to a huge JAPANESE brewing conglomerate, Saporro Breweries, Ltd.

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A Dog Days Swan Song: The Bittersweet End of a Legend

Sometime this summer…when our world is warm and sunny and optimism is easy and maybe even a little cheap, many of us who have reveled and participated in the American and Pacific Northwest craft beer cultures will experience a brief (well, we can hope it’s brief) cold front of the type that occurs inside us; the kind that blankets and heaters and long underwear cannot touch: the chill of Loss. Of the expected but still jarring departure of something, someone, in which we have invested heavily, emotionally, for what seems like a very long time but has been, in retrospect, far too short.

Sometime this summer, Hair of The Dog Brewing will close down and an Era, an epoch, will be only memories.

But, ooooh, what memories…

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Deschutes Black Butte NA: No Alcohol, No Suckage

Written By Stephen Body

There has been a…uh…problem with Non-alcoholic beers…

Ever since the first fumbling attempts, back in the Buckler and Beck’s Blue and O-Doul’s and Kaliber days, the same problem afflicted every single beer made with no octane involved:

They all sucked.

Not that they were all undrinkable. I used to down a Buckler, once in a while, such as the two years in the mid-90s when I went dry, and I liked Buckler. But it was NOT, by any definition, beer. It didn’t taste much of anything like real beer unless you took a watery domestic Pilsner like Coors Light and cut it by half with club soda. But it was crisp and refreshing and you could taste some hops, if very little malt, and on a hot summer day, it would do. Unless you wanted a beer and then it would not.

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Echoes Brewing and The Big Ol’ Yuletide Miracle

By Stephen Body
Here’s a story about a man nam…No, no, no, nobody named Brady. Don’t panic. This is a beer tale. A rather twisted beer tale and I’m going to just skim it because it’s really none of my business but…I have a brewer pal named Mark Hood, up here in The Soggy Corner of America, specifically in the small but dynamic beer hotbed of Poulsbo, Washington, who founded and helped build the first Washington state brewery specializing in Belgian-style ales, Sound Brewery. In Sound’s too-short existence, Mark created several rather amazing ales, not all of them Belgian. After initially swearing that he would not just crank out IPA after IPA (in fact, he had originally planned to do NO IPAs), his customers’ repeated requests prompted him to make a few and they became classics of the style, here in the Nanny State. Humulo Nimbus, Humonkulous, Reluctant, and anniversary editions for Town & Country Markets and Seattle’s Chuck’s Hop Shop…all resonated strongly with our PNW HopHeads.

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