Santa’s not real — but the beer is. So ho, ho hoist one.
The Washington Beer Commission’s third annual Winter Beer Fest happens Friday and Saturday at Hales Ales in Seattle.
More than 30 breweries will pour their bold cold-weather beers. Some will pour Christmas beers past — so beer-tasters can see how the same beers brewed in different years evolve.
Meanwhile, Doyle’s Public House in Tacoma celebrates the 74th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition on Wednesday.
Honoring Dec. 5, 1933 – Repeal Day, "presents a wonderful occasion to get together with friends and pay tribute to our constitutional rights," said Doyle’s publican Russ Heaton. "Unlike St. Patrick’s Day or Cinco de Mayo, Repeal Day is a day that all Americans have a part in observing, because it’s written in our Constitution. No other holiday celebrates the laws that guarantee our rights, and Repeal Day has everything to do with our personal pleasures."
Doyle’s pleasures will include Jack Daniels whiskey and Miller High Life beer – "two brands that are true examples of American drink," according to Heaton.
"There are no outfits to buy, costumes to rent, rivers to dye green," Heaton said. "Simply celebrate the day … Split a bottle of wine with a loved one. Buy a shot for a stranger. Just do it because you can."
Here’s the official government language that once told us we couldn’t:
The 18th Amendment
Ratified January 16, 1919
Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
Here are the government’s glorious words that say we can:
The 21st Amendment
Ratified December 5, 1933
Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
Washington state residents still can’t buy liquor at supermarkets like consumers in civilized states are able to do, but that’s another battle for another blog.
On the subject of Prohibition and Tacoma, here’s a story I wrote a couple of years ago about Tacoma’s glory days of brewing. Things were never the same after Prohibition.
A piece of Tacoma’s pre-Prohibition past.
By Ed Murrieta
Wednesday,July 27, 2005
Edition: SOUTH SOUND, Section: Soundlife, Page E01
Of all the dreams and schemes to put Tacoma on the map and keep it on people’s tongues, one has been brewing under our noses since the 19th century.
It’s not what Frank Zappa called “a garlic aroma that could level Tacoma.” It’s better. It’s beer.
Ten years ago this month, Engine House No. 9 became Tacoma’s first brewpub. That was big news then and is worth toasting today. But the real cause for celebration is the birth of one beer in particular – E9’s Tacoma Brew, which taps the city’s rich and hoppy history.
“Tacoma was a serious brewing town before Prohibition,” said Dusty Trail, who opened Tacoma’s first microbrewery in 1995. “Tacoma Brew kind of nurtures and keeps that old history alive.”
BIRTH OF A BREW
If a city-state could be created in a stainless-steel kettle, it would be Tacoma Brew, a tribute to a Tacoma brewery that operated from 1888 until 1916, when state Prohibition sobered Washington’s burgeoning brewing industry.
Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. didn’t survive the anti-alcohol movement. But Tacoma Brew was born two generations later, after a high school English teacher researching his own family’s history in Tacoma’s brewery business said he discovered a vintage newspaper advertisement that described Pacific’s brewing and ingredients: Eastern Washington hops and barley malt, and water from local artesian wells.
“Though there were some missing pieces of the puzzle, it was very apparent to me that an experienced brewmaster could read that and know what Pacific Brewing & Malting was brewing and what Tacoma lager beer was like,” said Douglas McDonnell, a grandnephew of German immigrants who founded Columbia (later renamed Heidelberg) Brewing Co., Tacoma’s longest-operating brewery (1900-1979).
Back in 1995, Dusty Trail had transformed Engine House No. 9, the landmark fire station turned restaurant and tavern, into Tacoma’s first brewpub. After tapping the first kegs of emerging ales such as Redhook and Anchor Steam, Trail built his own state-of-the-art microbrewery.
TAPPING THE PAST
In the heady days of Northwest craft brewing, McDonnell, who studied brewing in Germany, had an old-school beer vision: Honor a beer that once made Tacoma famous and honor its German brewmasters.
McDonnell showed Trail the ingredient list he’d dug up. Trail and his crew got to brewing. They hit on a recipe they liked. They secured a trademark.
While Trail said they weren’t able to find anybody who could remember what pre-Prohibition lager tasted like, “Doug seemed to think we were pretty true to form.”
If by true to form they mean a dry, medium-bodied, blond beer that’s peppered with hops, a mouthful of malt and bright, tangy wafts of citrus blossom, then Trail and McDonnell are both right, even if Tacoma Brew isn’t fully faithful to Pacific Brewing’s original. Pacific’s was lager. Tacoma Brew is pale ale more along the lines of other beers brewed in Tacoma after Prohibition.
It’s all about the right balance of hops and malt, said Engine House 9 brewmaster Doug Tiedey. For Tacoma Brew, Tiedey uses two kinds of hops: Hallertau, which give Bavarian-style lagers their classic aromas; and Czech Saaz, the variety used in original pilsner such as Pilsner Urquell. Tiedey said these hops, known as noble hops, are similar to the kind of hops Pacific might have used.
“This gives you a real nice, full and delicate aroma and flavor,” Tiedey said. “Noble hops are not so much known for their bittering potential like a lot of the hops grown in the Northwest that give Northwest ales resiny, over-the-top notes.”
Tacoma Brew’s malt also differs. E9’s recipe uses a malt base from German pilsner malt and adds Munich malt for character.
Tacoma Brew contains 4.6 percent alcohol by volume, about the same as Budweiser. No historic Tacoma beer remains for comparison.
Today, Tacoma Brew is the third most popular of the 10 house-brewed beers at Engine House No. 9, said Dick Dickens, who bought E9 from Trail three years ago.
In addition to Engine House No. 9, Tacoma Brew is on tap at Ale House Pub & Eatery in University Place, also owned by Dickens. Trail said he duplicated Tacoma Brew at Powerhouse, the Puyallup brewpub he opened around the same time as E9, calling it Powerhouse Pale Ale.
“When I started here in 2000, I was new to the Tacoma area,” Tiedey recalled. “I thought it was interesting to have a recipe based on a real Tacoma institution. You don’t have to be a beer geek to pick up on the nuance. This is sort of a working-class town.
“Tacoma Brew is what we used to refer to as a ‘session’ beer: You can sit down and have a couple of pints after work and still be able to be clearheaded and make it home.”
AMBASSADOR IN A BOTTLE
Pacific Brewing & Malting Co., founded by German immigrant Anton Huth, did more than brew and market popular lager. It sold Tacoma itself. The company brewed one beer labeled two ways: Pacific Beer for locals and Tacoma Beer for markets across the western United States and the Pacific Rim with the slogan “Best, East or West.”
Tacoma Beer was a tourism commission in a brown bottle, its white label and golden contents depicting Tacoma’s natural abundance to lager-lovers from San Francisco to Shanghai. Tacoma Brew’s label, like its predecessors’, evokes Tacoma, with its dominating image of Mount Rainier.
Dickens said he doesn’t plan to bottle or distribute Tacoma Brew, but that doesn’t mean Tacoma Brew isn’t the City of Destiny’s beer ambassador.
Tacoma never recovered from the hangover suffered when Heidelberg brewery closed in 1979 amid a wave of corporate consolidation that drowned regional breweries across America.
Duane Swierczynski, author of historical and humorous “Big Book O’ Beer,” commiserates with Tacoma and points out how a city that suffers perennial second-city blues can be cheered by beer.
“Here in Philadelphia, the last brewery, Schmidt’s, closed its doors in the 1980s,” Swierczynski said. “It was a psychic blow to the entire city. Case in point: We haven’t had a championship sports team since then; only frustrating near misses. Some think it’s about Philly’s inferiority complex. I think it’s about the beer.”
Said McDonnell, the self-styled beer historian who used to lead tours of the district where his family brewed beer in Tacoma:
“Having lived in Germany, having lived in Norway . . . to come back to Tacoma and enjoy Tacoma Brew, that is wonderful. Tacoma Brew is German-style beer, but it’s Northwest. That’s what makes it even better. It’s Tacoma.”
BREWED IN TACOMA
A full-page advertisement from the Jan. 9, 1912, edition of the Tacoma Daily Ledger touts Pacific Brewing & Malting Co.’s “three famous products.”
* Pacific Beer was the company’s “home brew.” Bottled in quarts and pints, Pacific was served in bars and restaurants and available for home-delivery by the case.
* Tacomalt was, in the language and alcohol outlook typical of the era, “a delightful beverage and a healthful one, highly endorsed by physicians as a tonic. It differs from beer in being particularly designed as a nerve tonic and tissue builder.”
* Tacoma Beer was the company’s “export” brand. Pacific Beer with another label, it was bottled in San Francisco and Oakland. As the ad said: “Tacoma Beer has carried the name and fame of Tacoma afar to California to Hawaii to the Philippines, and it has afforded its home city advertising of the most intimate character