Ain’t Nuttin’ But a West Coast Paaarty….

It’s time to give it up for the West Coast folks!!! It’s Oregon and Washington beer love coming your way…..


Any sign with a hop on it, I am drawn like a magnet!
Dark O' the Moon. I want it on tap at Thanksgiving.

Elysian Brewing Dark O’ the Moon Pumpkin Stout, 6.5% ABV: My sunshine face clouded a bit when I saw they were out of Dragonstooth Stout and Perseus Porter (I had heard alot about these brews), but my demeanor brightened the moment I put my nose to a glass of this one. Wow. So incredibly interesting. It is an aromatic and flavor-filled warm blanket of pumpkin pie, glazed spice cake, cinnamon toast, chocolate, and allspice. I want to curl up with this beer under a blanket and not come out.

And guess what? It won Silver at GABF! Congratulations to Elysian for making this delicious and unique beer. I want more.

Began in 1995 by Dick Cantwell, Joe Bisacca, and David Buhlerby , Elysian Brewing has become well known and respected in the Seattle craft beer scene. It is my undoubtable pleasure to bring it to all of you. In their spirited collaboration with New Belgium, they are able to brew their larger-scale beers at Fort Collins, while New Belgium brewers experiment with smaller batches at Elysian. Brilliant! I look forward to trying more of their beers…


with Rose Ann Finkel. What an incredible lady.

Pike Brewing Pike IPA, 6.5% ABV: I first discovered Pike back in New Orleans in 2009. Having had their XXXXX Stout during my 100 Stouts vs. Porters in 30 Days challenge, which was a perfectly made American Stout, I knew I could expect good things from their IPA. CLICK HERE to see my review of their stout.

Mild, balanced nose of citrus, orange peel, grain, bread, and a touch of caramel. This is definitely not your hopmonster West Coast IPA. More East Coast or even across-the-pond English in style, this is what you might call a pretty IPA, as opposed to the burly in-your-face style of many California breweries.

And honestly, I like both styles. It’s a mood thing. On the palate, smooth and easy-drinking with a pleasant hop bitterness on the finish. This would be a perfect beer to ease lighter beer drinkers into the world of IPA’s. Consider it the first course, where the dessert might just be Pliny the Elder or Racer 5.

Started by Charles and Rose Ann Finkel, Pike Brewing has an incredibly interesting history. Throughout the decades with Merchant du Vin, location moves, and numerous awards and accolades, Pike Brewing is a classic in the craft beer world. CLICK HERE to read more about their fascinating journey. P.S. The Finkels MIGHT just be the sweetest, most down-to-Earth people I have ever met. I was absolutely thrilled to meet them.And last, but DEFINITELY not least…


May I just perch by this tap please?

Rogue Old Crustacean Barleywine, 11% ABV: On tap! Yay!!! This is my first time with this famous and adored beer, so I am delighted at its appearance at GABF.

I am blown away! As a barleywine at this ABV, I expected a lot of sweetness (i.e. caramel, caro syrup, candied and dried fruit). Instead this beer hits me with a hop punch. On the nose and palate. Now, there are definitely some of those sweet aromas and a residual sugar that lingers on the palate, but it plays second fiddle to the distinct hop bitterness.

You just want to sip on this, smell it, study it, linger over it for hours. After all, Rogue proclaims it “The cognac of beers” on their website. So I feel a little short-shrifted when I must move on to the next brewery. BELIEVE me, I was dragging my heels. I will definitely have another go at this beer again….

Rogue is perhaps one of the most famous breweries in the craft beer world, up there with Sierra Nevada, Anchor, and New Belgium. And I have always been a fan. From my very first sip, I have looked to their beers time and time again for the standard of a style. Started in 1988 by four friends, Jack Joyce, Bob Woodell, Rob Strasser, and Jeff Schultz, Rogue has grown to house locations in Portland, Newport, Independence, Astoria, Eugene, and Issaquah in Oregon, with a Public House in San Francisco. I have never been to a one. Shame on me. Do I sense an Oregon trip being booked?

My favorite statement from their website? On their Mission page, “To be dedicated to the Rogue in each of us.” Hear, Hear. Stay tuned for future features with EACH of these breweries. The Northwest is calling me.

Until the next delicious beer….



2 Comments Add yours

  1. Rob says:

    Hi Laurie. How are you? Had a quick question/observation. You don’t seem to ever have a bad beer or much criticism for any of the beers in your challenges. Is that just great planning on your part? Seems like a bad one should have made it your way by now?

    1. Hi Rob!
      Great question and glad you asked. Yes, I do ALOT of careful planning in my selection of beers. Particularly with the Belgian challenge, there were so many choices, I wanted to highlight the great and special ones, hence why I didn’t include Piraat, Stella, Blue Moon, etc. 🙂
      The purpose of this current challenge is to highlight some of the BEST 100 craft breweries in America. I wanted to choose either their seminal, best, or most representative beer. To that end, I want readers to feel positive, expand their palates, and try new breweries, rather than shy away from a brewery (possibly in their own town) based on a bad review.
      To be honest, there are actually a few breweries on the list that I am considering dropping after being unimpressed by their beers at GABF. I haven’t decided, but you will know if you read it.
      When I review, I try to be as constructive and always remember that this is someone’s baby. From my wine background, I had to learn that there are styles of wine or beer that I just don’t care for, but I have to try and understand and find the qualities that make it delicious for someone else. Thinking outside my own tastebuds, if you will. (if you are curious, in wine that style is California Chardonnay, in beer, Hefeweizen.)
      But to be fair, I have given some less than stellar reviews. If you are interested, here are a few of them: #22 (Grimbergen Blonde), #68 (St. Bernardus Wit), #75 (Petrus Speciale Ale) of the Belgian challenge, and #37 (Baltika Porter), #50 (Hitachino), #57 (Bar Harbor) (a rant), #85 (Butte Creek) (funny) of the Stouts vs. Porters challenge. My most controversial dislike? #73 (Alaskan Smoked Porter). The worst reviews I have ever given? #37 (Indian Wells Blackout Stout and #97 (Left Hand Imperial Stout). If nothing else, check those two out, they are funny.
      Thanks for the comment and question Rob? You really got me thinking!

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