What pairs well with summer?
Lucky us, new brew destinations have opened in recent weeks. Featured here are Tacoma’s Narrows Brewing and the Bonney Lake taproom and bottle shop NW Caps N Taps. I’ve also got an update on the reopening of University Place’s Ale House, which closed after a fire July 12. And coming up this Saturday – a festival of sour and wild beers, called Sourfest, at Engine House No. 9.
9007 S. 19th St., Tacoma, 253-327-1400, narrowsbrewing.com
Located in the Narrows Marina near Day Island, Narrows Brewing operates in the nicest digs I’ve ever seen at a South Sound taproom. Card tables and folding chairs paired with beer? A sketchy single bathroom for patrons of both persuasions? Not a chance here. Enormous black-and-white photos of historical Tacoma hang throughout the building (including the bathrooms, which were nicely appointed) and glossy wooden tables span two taproom areas – one room yields a fetching view of the Narrows bridges, the other gives a view of the brewery operations beyond glass windows.
Head brewer Joe Walts, who moved here from Wisconsin, has created a taplist of six beers. A pale ale, golden ale and IPA are standards. Other Narrows beers will rotate through. Walts just introduced an Imperial Red. Initially an engineer by trade, Walts turned to home brewing as a hobby. By 2005, he was a professional brewer. He developed his brewing style working at five breweries around Wisconsin, most recently at Ale Asylum in Madison.
There’s no food at the taproom other than overpriced $3 bowls of snack mix, but visitors can order eats from neighboring Boathouse 19’s to-go menu. Beer pours are $4.50 and range from 12-16 ounces. There’s a $7.50 beer sampler for those who want five smaller tastes.
NW Caps n Taps
20840 State Route 410, Bonney Lake, 253-845-2525, nwcapsntaps.com (21 and older only)
Bonney Lake now has its first combination bottle shop and taproom. NW Caps N Taps opened July 11. The store currently stocks around 400 Northwest beers, craft beers from other parts of the country, and imports.
I visited anonymously and found a busy taproom with 16 rotating handles. Staffers eagerly answered questions and offered advice without any dreaded sales pressure.
I found the cooler selection somewhat limited to larger Northwest breweries. Gig Harbor’s 7 Seas and a few other locals were in the cooler alongside the bigger Seattle and Oregon brewers, but the tiny microbreweries that have become so popular in the Northwest and South Sound mostly were missing. That will change soon.
Owners Spencer Neff and David Monahan plan on increasing their South Sound and Northwest stock. Said Neff by phone, “The largest part of our cooler is dedicated to Washington brews, we’re getting everything we could possibly get from Washington breweries. Right now, we’re working through distributors – we haven’t had a chance to get to that next point,” said Neff, who is now setting up appointments with those smaller self-distributed Northwest breweries that should be on every beer geek’s to-drink list (Duo, M.T. Head, Puyallup River Brewing, Wingman, Tacoma Brewing Co., among them).
Don’t miss this – the store’s grand opening celebration will be this Saturday.
Tip: If you’re in that part of the county, nearby Puyallup River Alehouse in downtown Puyallup has a robust selection of craft beers on tap (120 S. Meridian, Puyallup, 253-268-0955). In Tacoma, you’ll find an extensive selection of small Northwest and South Sound brewers on tap and by bottle at Pint Defiance (2049 Mildred St. W., Tacoma, 253-302-4240) and World Beers (5602 S. Lawrence, Tacoma, 253-475-7432).
Ale House Pub & Eatery
2122 Mildred W., 253-565-9367, alehousepub.com
In case you missed my blog post last week, here’s an update on the Ale House. Right around the time when the Seahawks begin to play their season, Craig Dickens hopes to be pouring beer again at his family’s Ale House Pub & Eatery. The University Place restaurant was damaged in a two-alarm fire July 12. The Ale House has since been closed.
The Dickens, who have owned the Ale House since 2000, are facing a major remodel after the fire, which is believed to have started somewhere on or near the cooking line in the kitchen, said Craig Dickens by phone. Craig and his wife run the daily operations at The Ale House, while parents Dick and Marina Dickens own the pub.
With 64 beers on tap and one of the surviving businesses in that stretch of neighborhood near University Place – The Keg and nearby Galaxy movie theater closed this year – the Ale House caters to sports fans, burger lovers and Northwest craft beers. When they reopen, the focus will remain just that, said Dickens.
Sourfest at Engine House No. 9, Saturday Aug. 3
Fans of the sour side of brew on Saturday need to head to Tacoma’s Engine House No. 9. The brewery will have two dozen sour and wild beers on tap for Sourfest. Said head brewer Shane Johns by email, “It’s a great lineup centered around breweries on the West Coast who we think are making some of the best wilds/sours in the country and some of the best beers from Europe we could get our hands on.”
From E9, there will be the final kegs of Barrel A Batch 3, Funky Farmer Ralph and Hard Days Work Batch 4.
Johns said he’s most looking forward to Jupiter’s Blood from Seattle’s Big Al Brewing, a Brett Golden from Puyallup’s Duo Brewing and the Coco Brett and Far West Flanders from Oregon’s Logsdon. Check E9′s Facebook page for the full selection, but here are some of the beers listed so far: Russian River Supplication, Bear Republic Tartar, Schooner Exact 2010 Kriek, Baladin brewing Wayan sour, Abbaye Bon Chien, Bruery Sour on the Rye, Rodenbach Grand Cru.
Engine House No. 9 is at 611 N. Pine St., Tacoma, 253-272-3435.
IPA Festival at Wingman
BREAKING BEER UPDATE: This just in – Wingman will have an IPA takeover Aug. 9 with Ace IPA, Prop Wash IPA, Hop Of The Walk Imperial IPA, Pocket Aces Double IPA and Historic Burton IPA. Slices from Gina’s All Natural Pizzas will be served. Check details here.
Tacoma Brewing Co. adds outdoor seating
Patrons of Tacoma Brewing Co. soon will be able to quaff Morgan Alexander’s brews al fresco style in the new patio opening at Amocat, the St. Helens cafe that is home to the brewery. The brewery and cafe is expecting liquor board approval anytime. Check the tap list and updates on liquor board approval here.