“Fermentation and civilization
are inseparable.” – John Ciardi, American poet (1916-1986)
Ancient history shows that almost any substance containing sugar can
naturally undergo alcoholic fermentation, so it’s probably no surprise that beer
was not invented but rather discovered thousands of years ago.
While beer is no longer used as a form of payment, and people no longer
greet each other with the expression “bread and beer”, toasting someone’s
health before drinking beer is a remnant of the ancient belief in beer’s
magical properties. Beer’s association
with friendly, unpretentious social interaction remains unchanged. Whether in stone-age
villages, ancient banquet halls, or modern bistro-pubs in Ballard, beer has
brought people together since the dawn of civilization.
Our little neighborhood establishment is a vessel for an abundance of
conversations, smiles, debates and laughs that fill the space between the
brimmer (top of glass) and heeltap (last drops at the bottom of the glass). Just
as the conversations morph with the ebb and flow of the evening, our tap list
aims to mirror that evolving, magical quality celebrating community.
In total, we have eight beers on draft, rotating with the seasons and brewer’s
yields. All are Northwest regional, ranging from as far east as No-Li Brewery
in Spokane, to Backwoods Brewing Company
Carson, to a few in our own backyard and everything in between. Ballard has a
cornucopia of breweries, ten in total, within a five mile radius of each other
and two of which, we are currently featuring.
Meredith recently enjoyed a field trip to delve deeper into their current
line-ups and practices.
First off, Stoup Brewing
. It was a sunny afternoon,
doors just opening, and the friendly faces of Brad Benson (co-owner/head brewer),
Robyn Schumacher (co-owner/assistant brewer with cicerone certification--basically
a sommelier of beer), Jason Bass (Sales Guru), and Danielle Zahaba (tap room crew), as the welcoming committee.
As Robyn threw her backpack over her shoulder, taking off to enjoy the evening,
it was clear that the days’ brewing was over. Danielle began pouring samples
of the seven beers they currently offer, from their India Session Ale (ISA), think
of a lighter IPA in both color and alcohol content, yet still ripe with full
flavor hops, to their Porter displaying delicious chocolaty, espresso notes.
Jason was kind enough to pull up a chair after a
day of surfing to share more about the brewery. Their namesake refers to a drinking vessel of
various sizes. Isn’t it ironic that
their name and ours are quite inter-connected? Certainly an ode to the many
laughs and conversations one has whilst enjoying a tasty beverage.
Sipping through their line-up, tables filled up quickly. Folks
just getting off work, in from run, with their dogs, or just strolling by to
enjoy a pint in the open air environment, and it felt good. Rumor has it that
the weekends are intensified by food trucks offering up tasty bites to
accompany their amazing beers.
Stoups neighborhood vision is very much akin to ours. It was
casual, communal, relaxing, and welcoming. Bottom line, not only does Stoup
have great beers, but they are also a team of passionate, great people, loving
what they do, and that love shines through in everything they do.
Next up was Populuxe Brewing
, just a few blocks down from
Stoup. With limited tap room hours, co-owner Peter was kind enough to
open the doors for an intimate tasting. Populuxe is the union of Peter
Charbonnier, Jiri Zatloukal and their partners who have been lifelong home
brewers and experimenters. All four of them still have full time jobs, a
testament to the passion and love they have for beer, that can only help in,
one day, realizing their dream of brewing being their only full time job. Populuxe
is a combination of both popular and deluxe.
Looking around, the walls are adorned by a local artist and the space is just
about as quirky as the vision itself. It
felt right. Pouring a sample of their outstandingly tasty wine cask aged beer, Peter
explained that they are a small operation. An operation so small in fact, that
they only brew six barrel kegs and are referred to as a nano-brewery. For
this reason, unless you pop by Brimmer (we are one of only a few restaurants
pouring them on tap), if you want to enjoy a pint of their beer, you’ll have to
stop by the tap room. In the summer, Populuxe will welcome food trucks into
their backyard for the Ballard/Fremont community to enjoy.
When asked what his thoughts were on all the local breweries, both new and
emerging, Peter warmly responded that with great beer, there can never be
enough. How true. That statement resonates with our own mission and why we feel
so fortunate to be pouring some of these awesome local brews in a community
that truly supports one another.
We hope you’ll stop in for a pint or schooner soon and toast to the passions in
your own life.
Jen and Meredith