Munich Oktoberfest 2010

This year, we had the pleasure of visiting Munich, Germany to attend Oktoberfest.  With over six million attendees each year, it is officially the largest fair in the world.  This year was particularly special because it marked the 200th Anniversary of the festival.  I was too busy consuming pretzels, sausage, kasspatzn, and beer to do any decent reporting, but please enjoy these scenes from the event captured in the video below and through photos posted in the photo gallery. 


Celebrate the 4th by Barbequing with Beer

Lots of us will be Barbequing with a beer in hand on the fourth of July – but how many of you plan to use that brew to enhance the flavors of your meal?  From glazing to basting to marinating – a little beer goes a long way to liven up your BBQ.  The simplest approach to cooking with beer would probably have to include the hot dog.  I like to get a rich, flavorful Stout and marinate brats in it for an hour or so, and then throw them on the grill.  Brats don’t generally absorb a lot of the beer while marinating, so I also use a flavor injector to inject the Stout into the dogs as they cook.  This keeps them moist for the entire duration they are cooking and the result is a deliciously juicy beer brat with a hint of stout flavor.  Yum. 

Are  brats a little too elementary for you?  There are lots of other great recipes to choose from:

  • Beer BBQ Cowboy Steak: To some, steak is king of the BBQ.  Crown your king with a splash of beer.
  • Burgers with Hoison-Stout SauceHoison is a Chinese dipping sauce – add a little Stout to the mix, and you’ve got a winning recipe.
  • Beer-Can Chicken: Cooking a chicken over a partially filled beer can keeps the meat amazingly moist and tender.  We’ve actually done this with a Turkey (and a large can of Foster’s Beer) for Thanksgiving and the results were mouth watering.
  • Beer Marinated Portobello Mushrooms: If you have vegetarians in the household (as I do), this might be a great option for you (and it uses blonde ale, rather than the darker beers recommended in many of the other recipes referenced here).
  • Stoute Chili: What’s a BBQ without a little Chili?  This one’s meaty, but I’m sure the clever cook could sub the beef for veggie grounds or Seitan.
  • Beer-BQ Sauce: Have your own traditional 4th of July BBQ recipe?  Then maybe you just need to make a little Beer-BQ sauce to introduce into the mix.

Countdown to Seattle Beer Week

One of the nicest things about Spring in Seattle is the arrival of Seattle Beer Week.  On May 13th, the week kicks off with an opening SBW Proclamationparty at Hale’s Brewery (the producer of this year’s official SBW beer).  Following the kickoff – breweries and taphouses around Seattle explode with activity dedicated to enjoying quality beers.  The week (which is actually closer to 10 days) was established to recognize Seattle’s role in the micro and craft brewing industry and to encourage locals to get out and appreciate the great beers that this region is known for producing.    A complete list of events is available here and a map of participating locations is also available.  

Fremont Oktoberfest 2009

This weekend I paid a visit to Oktoberfest in Fremont. There were a lot of great beers to choose from and they did a good job keeping order in the beer pouring booths. It was clear which line lead to which beer, and the pouring staff were courteous and many were knowledgeable about the beers they were serving.  The weather was perfect for brewfesting and, when the sun went down, mood lighting illuminated the streets of Fremont and enabled the festival to keep rolling along.

My main complaint (which is the same from prior years) is the tiny size of the beer tasting mugs. The small cup size forces you to spend most of your time in lines. This is frustrating since there are other forms of entertainment (contests and bands), but you must sip your 4 ounce beverage slowly if you choose to take in a band and enjoy a beer simultaneously. Brewfests that serve in 14 ounce cups (with a 4 ounce fill line) are much more conducive to entertainment acts because you can enjoy tastes (1 token each) until you wish to enjoy other festivities, then fill your mug and hang out for a while (usually 4 tokens for a full fill).

All in all, it was a great event and I didn’t even catch the Texas Chainsaw Pumpkin Carving this year. It has come a very long way since my scathing review of 2007 (even though the price for entry has actually increased since then).  Did you miss Fremont Oktoberfest this year? Check out the video below for a taste.

Thanks to Adhesion for the dance track (Helgas Death Disco) used in this video. Sadly, I’m not sure who performs “Beer”, the other music track in this video.

Seattle Spring BrewMuster

On Saturday, the CrapMonkey Podcast hosted Seattle BrewMuster at Gallagher’s in Edmonds and the turn-out was great. There were four batches brewed by a total of sixteen brewers who encompassed all skill levels.  Some had tried their hand at brewing before, and others didn’t even drink beer but wanted to try out the brewing experience.  In addition to brewing, the attendees also engaged in fun conversation and enjoyed the tasty beers that Gallagher’s keeps on tap.  There were also occasional raffle drawings for prizes ranging from beers to glassware. 

Brewers will meet in a few weeks to enjoy and bottle their beers and the brews will be judged and awarded later this summer via a BrewMuster webcast (check back at CrapMonkey or BrewMuster for details).   Photos from the event are available on Flickr.  Thanks to all who attended and to the folks at Gallagher’s for helping us out.  I hope to see you at the next Seattle BrewMuster.

Greenwood: A Destination for Beer Lovers?

It’s nice to see Greenwood, a northern suburb of Seattle, starting to come alive with interesting places to imbibe.  The most recent addition is Pillager’s Pub, located at 8551 Greenwood Avenue.  The pub is actually a showcase for Seattle’s Three Skulls Ales brewery (which is an offshoot of Baron Brewing), though there is no onsite brewing at Pillagers.  As the name implies, the pub is pirate themed.  This theme is consistent with the beers brewed by Three Skulls Ales which include Black Bonney Porter, Pillager’s Pale, and Cutthroat Red.   It certainly makes sense to keep the brand in sync, but I am not a big fan of pirate themes and we already have the Maritime Jolly Roger just a stones throw away in Ballard.  Still, owner Jeff Smiley is a huge fan of pirates – so at least it’s derived out of personal passion and not a random marketing ploy.

Upon entering the pub, it feels a bit like entering the Tully’s that previously occupied the space.  One obvious difference is the large pirate ship battle mural that takes up the entire West wall.  It’s beautifully done and I found myself looking it over for much of my visit.  Additionally, large wood tables and matching benches line the windows and seem to encourage decent sized groups (many of the tables could seat at least six).  Still, some additional work needs to be done to really make the place feel like its own.  They were only on their second day in operation when I visited, and I sense that work is still being done.   I had a Black Bonney Porter and was quite pleased.  I also tried the Pirate Wings (traditional buffalo wings with blue cheese ) and they were a fine accompaniment.

Just south and across the Street from Pillagers Pub is Naked City Taphouse.  After my porter and wings, I shuffled over to see how Naked City was doing now that they’ve been open for a couple months.  I was  impressed with the atmosphere, the people and the beer selection.  I had originally gone to Naked City on their opening night, and it was clear they still had a few kinks to work out.  I’m happy to say they seem to have worked them out.  The menu is a bit more interesting and the atmosphere is comfortable and inviting (dimming the lights a bit made a big difference).   I had their olive tray and a beer and both were tasty.  I’m also interested to try their Pickled Hops Shoots when those are in season later in the year.  One final note: they will fill growlers with most of the beers they have on tap (though they don’t sell growlers, so you’ll have to bring your own from home).

In summary, promising establishments are opening up in Greenwood that make it a great destination for getting quality beers with neighbors and friends.   This is nice to see and I look forward to spending more time at both Pillager’s Pub and the Naked City Taphouse.  I’d also like to make it into Gainsbourg soon.  Gainsbourg is a recently opened French style lounge on the same block providing, in their own words: “unique cocktails, wonderful wines, a broad beer list and obscenely affordable French-inspired small plates.” Old standby’s like Baranof, Crosswalk, and Pig ‘n Whistle are also close by for those who want to “crawl” the neighborhood.

A Weekend for Big Wood and Winter Ale.

The Bigwood Festival is happening now at Brouwers Cafe in Fremont.  Over 40 beers that have been conditionedBrouwers in wood make this festival a must attend event.  The beers were rolled out Thursday night and will continue until supplies run out – so get there sooner than later.

Also, don’t forget, the Washington Winter Beer Festival starts tonight at Hales Brewery.  Given that Hale’s is only a stone’s throw from Brouwers, this could be the night to stumble through Fremont and check them both out.  By the way, if you are a member of WABL (Washington Beer Lovers), you get a special head start on Winterfest – exclusive WABL hour starts at 4pm.  Tis the season to enjoy quality beer.

The Ultimate Beer Lovers Gift Guide

After a long day of Black Friday shopping, it’s easy to get discouraged over those who remain on your shopping list.  Fortunately, Crapmonkey is here to help you get the perfect gift for beer lovers on your list.  These gift selections span price points ranging from stocking stuffers to deal closers.  Cheers!

Books, Magazines, Newspapers (Under $20): Beer publications are always fun for beer lovers and Crapmonkey has a few favorites to suggest:

Magazines and Newspapers:

American Beer – The Movie (Under $20): In June of 2002, five friends left New York City by minivan and set out across the United States to visit 38 breweries in 40 days.  This low budget film is a fun, light hearted look at the American brewing industry.

Bottle Openers:

The Beer Pager ($30): Do you have problems with loosing your beer at parties?  This drink cozy keeps your beer cool and can also be paged via a remote control after you’ve forgotten where you set it down.

USB Beverage Cooler ($27): This handy USB powered coaster keeps your beer cool while you blog.

The SwirlyGig Gift Set ($22): The SwirlyGig is a must-have product for any beer loving musician, performer, or podcaster.  The swirlygig attaches to mic stands, drum kits, and many other things to provide an instant place to set your drink.  This gift set comes with a SwirlyGig, a pint glass, a temporary tattoo and a guitar pick.  Very cool and original.

A Black & Tan Turtle ($10): A Black and Tan is a tasty layered drink that is fun to serve at parties.  Make sure your black and Tans come out right by enlisting the help of the Turtle.  Pour the stout over the turtles back to ensure a perfect top layer of stout.

Beer Tap Handle Display Stand ($16): If your beer lover has a kegarator, chances are they also have a drawer full of tap handles.  This stand allows your beer lover to proudly display their favorites (or, include a tap handle from their local brewery to get the collection started).

The Beer Belt ($17): Don’t be caught without a beer nearby.  This belt holds a six pack of bottles at your waist.  If you want to feel more like a beer sporting rambo, you might try the beerdolier – which straps beer cans across your chest.

Beer Games (Under $25): Brew-opoly, a beer lovers spin on Monopoly, and BrewMaster, the Craft Beer Game, are good choices in the board game department.

Beer Tasting and Hops Appreciation Kit ($40): Learn to be a beer snob!

Memberships to Beer Organizations: Many states have local organizations that are dedicated to the pursuit of good beer.  WABL is one that you can find in Washington State that boasts some great membership events and sign-up swag.  Especially useful is their monthly Newsletter.  Don’t have a local organization that you know about?  Henry, a real beer lover, has done a great job compiling a list on his blog.

Beer: This is a bit of an obvious choice, but beer is a great gift for beer lovers.  That said, despite what you’ve seen on television, you’ll want to do better than picking up a six pack of Bud.   Here are some suggestions:

  • Not very sentimental, but this site makes it easy to send someone a beer.
  • Growlers: Go to a local brewery and pick up a growler or two of your recipient’s favorite styles.  Not sure where to find a brewery? has an excellent brewery locator tool.
  • Party Pig (Under $80): This is two gifts in one – purchase a “Party Pig” and have it filled up by a local brewery.  The Party Pig is like a large growler designed to sit in the fridge and be used again and again.
  • Beer Gift Basket: Go to a local beer store and create a gift basket out of whatever beers strike your fancy.  If you aren’t confident in your choices, beer store clerks usually love to jump in and help.  If you’re in the Seattle area – here are some great stores to check out from Federal Way to Northgate: 99 Bottles, Full Throttle Bottles, Bottleworks, Big Star Beer Market, Malt & Vine. If you’re not feeling that inspired, you can turn-key the beer gift giving with a pre-made beer gift basket from
  • Beer of the Month Club ($21 to $65 per month): These clubs ship unique beers to your door on a monthly bases and can usually be purchased for terms of 3, 6, 9 and 12 months.

The Keg-A-Que ($80 to $400): Perfect for the tailgating beer enthusiast on your list – these unique BBQ’s look like they were crafted from real kegs.

Home Brewing Kit: Nothing gives you an appreciation for beer like brewing your own.  Home brewing is fun and can be done in the kitchen.  Most brew stores create starter kits that are quite affordable.  Note: you usually need a stainless steel pot (at least 5 gallons) in addition to what comes in the kit.

Beer Experiences ($20 to $200): There are lots of ways to have fun in the beer culture.  Certainly, picking up tickets to an upcoming local brewfest is both entertaining and unique.   Check out the festival calendar at BeerAdvocate to see if there are any coming up in your area.  Additionally, some cities are lucky enough to have breweries that put you in the brewers seat.  In the Seattle area, Gallaghers Where-U-Brew provides an awesome experience of brewing your own beer with skilled brewmasters and professional equipment.  This type of experience makes for a very fun outing and works well as a gift certificate.

Breathalyzer ($80 to $200): Given all of these gift options, it’s likely your gift recipient may find they’ve had one too many.  Make sure they know when to call a cab with these portable breathalyzers.  (Warning: Know your recipient well – some may take offense to this gift depending on how your intentions are interpreted).

CrapMonkey Logo Merchandise: Let your beer lover know where you got these excellent gift ideas with some CrapMonkey swag.

Hopefully this list serves you well.  Is there something I forgot?  Feel free to add your additions or opinions into the comments!

The CrapMonkey Podcast Episode #131

It’s amazing how fast the time goes.  In this episode, we listen to a brief audio clip from the last sunny day of the season when Wendy and I attended the Oyster Run in Anacortes (photos available here).  Winter’s not all bad though, the 4th Annual Winter Brewfest is at Hales Ales on December 5th and 6th.  Starting to compile your Christmas list?  Perhaps the beer lovers on your list might like this remote control beer cooler.  Or, perhaps you’d rather get creative and make your own portable kegerator.

I’m extremely pleased to note that Redhook has released their Double Black Stout for a limited time (production of the beer was halted in 2000).  This was my favorite beer back in the late 90s when it was brewed with Starbucks coffee, and it’s still quite delicious today – though I don’t know what coffee they use now.

Lately I’ve been using a new service call ChaCha.  This service is a great way to get information on the fly – just text 242242 with any question, and they will text you back an answer.

The website of the day is Truemers and the Song of the day is Evelee, by Darren Lucas.  Today’s episode closes on Something New by John Francis.  Click the Arrow below to listen to the episode.

Oregon Brewers Festival 2008

Oregon Brewers Festival 

Day one of the Oregon Brewers Festival has come and gone.  We didn’t get into Oregon until late on Thursday afternoon so I was unable to attend the Brewers Dinner on Wednesday night or the Widmer Brunch on Thursday morning (that is followed by a “parade” of beer brewers and lovers that kicks off the festival).  We did make it into the brewfest as the sun was beginning to set and I started in the IPA section.  Ninkasi Brewing Company, Laurelwood Brewing, Terminal Gravity, Amnesia Brewing, and Hazel Dell all had IPAs pouring (listed in the order of my preference from favorite to least favorite).  Surly Brewing Company is presenting Coffee Bender – a coffee flavor American Brown.  It’s very good and appeals to my love of coffee – but it is a very special release and they steep only 20 gallons at a time, so don’t expect to find this on the super market shelves.  

PogsBeerfest: As I’ve mentioned before, Oregon does brewfests right.  There is no cover charge, just purchase a mug and some pogs and you’re good to go.  Mugs are $5 and pogs are $1.  A pog is worth a taste, 4 pogs will fill your mug.  The show special includes 2 mugs, a program, a festival pen (for taking notes) and 37 pogs for $50.  In the early days of the festival, it’s easy to taste and taste again, in the later part of the festival, I anticipate the lines will grow long and brew-festers will choose to fill their mugs to avoid waiting in line more often than necessary.  You might also want to load up on pogs before the festival gets crowded as last year the lines got extremely long for purchasing pogs (in fact, I had a friend who bought $100 worth of pogs and sold them at the back of the line for $150.  

Beer Buzz: Each year at the festival, a “Buzz Beer” is born.  This is the beer that everyone is talking about, and inevitably, runs out before the festival comes to an end.  I wasn’t able to determine just which beer had the buzz this year,  but one prediction pointed to Quilter’s Irish Death by Iron Horse Brewery.

Beer Gear: I wasn’t overly impressed with the brewfest merchandise this year, but you’re bound to find something that fits your style if you look hard enough.  That said, Beer Northwest Magazine has a booth at the festival and is offering a year’s subscription for only $10 (4 issues).  This is a great deal for a good Northwest brew magazine. 

The brewfest runs through the weekend (July 24 through July 27) and the weather is as perfect as Rogue beer is balanced.  If you are in the Portland area or are able to get here; the Oregon Brewfest is the place to be this weekend.  Otherwise, the CrapMonkey video from last year’s festival is located here and I will continue to update my Flickr Brewfest Set through the weekend.

The CrapMonkey Podcast Episode #128

Iron Maiden

Lots of things going on lately.  I spent the weekend bobbing in the water off Alki getting my PADI scuba open water certification.  In this episode, we talk a bit about the Iron Maiden Concert on June 2nd and listen to a couple of clips from that show – Including some thoughts Bruce Dickinson had regarding Grunge and the media coverage of it.  In this episode we cover some beer news some upcoming events including the next week’s Seattle Podcast Meetup, The Father’s Day Washington Brewers Festival, and the Phinney Neighborhood Association Beer Taste in July.

The song of the day is Movie, by Katie Davis and the website of the day is  We close the show on clips from the Iron Maiden concert.

Magic Hat Brewing to Buy Pyramid Breweries

Magic HatFor the last several months I’ve been saying that Pyramid was ripe to be bought.  However, I anticipated a very large player (like Miller) to swoop in and make the purchase.  On that point, I was quite mistaken.  Magic Hat Brewing Company and Pyramid Breweries announced that they will merge, pursuant to a letter of intent.  The plan is for Magic Hat to aquire Pyramid for $2.75 per share – the stock closed at $1.76 a day before the announcement.  Once the assumption of Pyramid’s ten million dollars in dept is taken into account, the deal will be valued at nearly 35 million dollars. 

According to Pyramid CEO Scott Barnum, “the combination of these two well established, high profile craft breweries will be very complementary given our respective brand portfolios and the geographies in which we predominantly operate. Additionally, there will be a number of important benefits for Pyramid to be part of a private company versus continuing to operate as a stand alone public entity.”

The CEO of Magic Hat, Martin Kelly stated that “we have a great deal of respect for Pyramid’s brand heritage, award-winning beers and its dedicated employees…”  Martin Kelly should know a little something about Pyramid given that he is an ex-employee.  He joined Pyramid in 1999 as President and Chief Operating Officer, and then became the CEO in December of that year.  In the years that followed, Pyramid expanded its operations significantly, bringing on two new Alehouses (Walnut Creek and Sacramento) and acquiring the Portland Brewing Company.  At the time of acquiring the Portland brewing company in January of 2004, Kelly delivered a message that seems consistent with this current move, “The craft brewing business is very competitive and changes daily. To stay ahead, breweries must keep moving forward. Some breweries have chosen to go the route of aligning themselves with large, multinational, industrial brewers. We believe that approach can stifle creativity and lead to less choice for consumers. Our approach aligns two independent Northwest breweries and retains the creativity and integrity craft brewers are known for.” 

It seems that as CEO of Vermont’s Magic Hat Brewing, Kelly’s style has not changed.  Prior to making this move to grow through the acquisition of Pyramid, Magic Hat was in the midst of an expansion project that will double the capacity of its South Burlington Brewery. 

In my opinion, aggressive growth can be a good thing.  However, it can also be a risk in the beer industry because slight changes in the landscape (ingredient availability, cost of sales, cost of metal for kegs, consumer preferences, etc) can have a severe impact on the bottom line.  Could Pyramid have weathered the current industry climate had it not been so aggressive in the Martin Kelly years?  That’s hard to say.  Even Redhook brewery, (who has strong distribution ties with Anheuser-Busch and were once stock market investor favorites) have had to resort to merging with Widmer in order to stay in the game.

This move could also give Pyramid a chance to start over.  With the Magic Hat buy out, Pyramid can escape the scrutiny of being a public company and return their focus to the core: brewing great beer.  That said, it will be interesting to see how or if the two breweries merge their cultures and brands.  Magic Hat is known for being fun and somewhat unpredictable.  To the contrary, Pyramid is a well thought out and dependable brand.  Magic Hat’s Website looks like the worst elements of pop culture slammed into into it at full speed, while the Pyramid website feels conservative and stuffy.  Most likely, the two will consolidate some of their business operations and perhaps some of their beer line (aka, some folks will be laid off), but both will continue to maintain their current brands and marketing philosophies.  On the upside, both breweries may also get a foot in the door to distributors on the opposite coast.  As a result, Seattle folks may start to see more Magic Hat beer in the stores and the East Coast might start to see more Pyramid on the store shelves. 

Whatever happens next, I hope it only strengthens Pyramid’s footing in the market and makes it an even more valuable asset to the Pacific Northwest.  Still, I’m always skeptical about out of town ownership and I’m curious to see if Pyramid continues to feel like a resident of the Pacific Northwest given the new arrangement.  At any rate, I guess there’s little more to do now than sit back, drink down a Thunderhead IPA, and watch as the acquisition proceeds.

The CrapMonkey Podcast Episode #127

Teach StreetThanks for tuning in to another Crapmonkey Podcast.  There has been a lot going on lately… but enough about me.  Let’s look at what’s coming up in the near future.  In the beer department, there are a few different festivals to look forward to attending.  Right around the corner on May 2nd and 3rd is the Hop Scotch Spring Beer and Scotch Festival.  July 4 through July 6th is the Seattle International Beerfest and from July 18th through July 20th is the Portland International Beerfest.  If you can do only one brewfest in Oregon this year, you’ll want to check out the Oregon Brewfest July 24th through July 27th (warning: hotels book up fast!).  Check out last year’s Oregon Brewfest Video!  Looking for something to do on Memorial Day Weekend?  How about attending the Crypticon Horror Convention in Seattle or the Vancouver International Digital Festival in Canada?  In the Tech arena, Microsoft has launched Live Mesh as a tech preview.  If you need help getting your digital life in sync, Live Mesh might be just the right thing for you.

The song of the day is Souls Come Rising by Lords of the North and the website of the day is  The show closed on What’s Eatin’ You by Airbourne, recorded live (from the crowd) at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard.  Special thanks to the AndyCast Podcast for the intro, go subscribe to Andycast – you’ll laugh till you stop!