The responsibility weighed heavy as I browsed the online list of beers expected at the Oktoberfest in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle this weekend. Bean, our beer palate guru, is in Spokane covering the Oktoberfest on the east side of Washington leaving me, beer palate noviciate, to taste and discuss beers alone. Having discussions with myself is usually not a problem. However, if it happens while I am sipping beers the raised eyebrows of those around me rise even higher creating exclamation marks to the looks of concern.
The responsibility was also a weighty one because I am wearing two hats this weekend – two responsibilities – taste beer and report to the online world and co-direct the Brew HA HA Street Scramble on Sunday. Beer reporting first. Street Scramble event directing second.
The beer style classification system for this event includes the category “other”. Sometimes it is a bit more explicit, such as “other ale”. As I stared at the list of beers looking for a strategy for tasting I realized that focusing on the “other” categories is the perfect approach for Fremont. After all, Fremont itself belongs in an “other” category. Claiming itself as the Center of the Universe, sporting odd statuary, including a statue of Lenin rescued from the USSR after its decline, and home of the Solstice Parade, a parade that allows human-powered entries only and for some participants the clothing is painted on. Fremont intentionally targets membership in the ‘other’ category for neighborhoods. Why not “other” beers? The event sported a number of “other” beers. I tasted four.
The first was an “other ale” – Mystere de la Saison, from Fremont Brewing Co. This light copper-colored brew was easy to drink with plenty of character, balanced, and immediately made me desire food. Bean had given me a heads up about this beer and she was right! I can easily imagine a big hefty sandwich with crusty bread and slabs of meat and cheese.
Next “other ale” was Lazy Boy Oktoberfest by Lazy Boy Brewing Co. located in Everett, WA. This brew was so new it was offered without a description or even an ABV percentage. This brew had more heft than the first including more bitter to the profile. Luckily, it balanced out on my palate. Unlike a majority of northwesterners I don’t enjoy the bitterness of hops when it is the main attraction seriously overpowering everything else in the glass. I hope Lazy Boy creates this brew again.
Serious Madness Black Ale (Mad River Brewing Co. from California), also
classified as an “other ale”, was midnight in a glass – simply beautiful. Darker beers are usually a sign of malt. This brew defies that expectation. This ale, which is malty, is then bittered with four different hops. For those who enjoy the bitters and identifying which layer of bitter is due to which hops, this is a brew not to miss. For those of us who believe that dark means a safe harbor from hoppy brews beware as this may be a trend – bittering up the usual malty brews.
The last “other” was Feurbier Smoked Ale from Trade Route Brewing in Seattle, WA. This brew was a medium-dark copper with a balance of malt and hops sporting a smoky flavor. According to the description the smoke comes from a malt smoked with American cherry wood. Some smoked brews are too smoky for my palate. This one was not but I still would not consider it a session beer. Instead, after the first sip I instantly had visions of a beer cheese soup I make. This would be a nice pairing. Perhaps add just a bit to the soup or pour just a bit over the top of a steamy bowl full of cheesy goodness.
As I headed out the exit, I indulged in one more “other”. Something other than beer. At the exit is Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream. Perusing the menu of flavors I decided to stick to my strategy and ordered the most “other” flavor – lavender and honey. Honey provides a very interesting harmonizing almost echoing note to lavender. My single dip cone was different and delicious, definitely an “other”.
So many more beers and food choices at Brew HA HA. Head that way and enjoy all that is offered. Not only brews but music, pumpkin carving and other family activities. Come down Sunday morning and take part in the Street Scramble event! Afterwards, you can discuss how many checkpoints you found over a 5 ouncer.
(Note: I received a media pass from Bold Hat Productions for this event. Plus, among the many things I do I work for Meridian Geographics, the producer of the the Brew HA HA Street Scramble. You are correct in your conclusion that the last picture is an unabashed plug for the event I am co-directing.)