Saturday, February 25, 2012

Family Time in Arizona

We are in our 6th day in Arizona as a family for spring training, and so far it has been really cool. The stress of having Kim or Charlie back up in Washington during this time of year would have been too much, and it is awesome to come home after a long day of work down here and be with them. We have already had some fun dinners, a trip to a Phoenix Brewery, a couple of runs and lots of laughs. Here is my favorite photo so far of our family.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Charlie's First Arizona Run

Well, we made it down to Arizona in one piece, and Charlie probably did better on the flight than his Dad. I feel like we moved our whole house down here for spring training, but so far we have not found anything that we forgot.

One of my spring training rituals is to try to run every day. I am 2-for-2 so far, and Kim and Charlie joined me on the Canal Loop (my normal after work run on the Skunk Creek Trail).

Happy Valentine's Day Kim!

A little late on this post, but had it in que, but look at what Charlie made for mommy for Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Every Growler Has a Story

It’s been a while since I have checked in as Growler Guy, but when I saw the posting by Kendall on the Washington Beer Blog that Feb. 3 was going to be a Blog Session about Growlers, I knew I had to come up with a fun topic.

I’ve previously blogged about tailgating with growlers, in addition to my experience at a local beer festival. Those that know me, understand my passion for well-crafted beer, and more importantly, local well-crafted beer. It has become a hobby of mine to explore the local breweries, meet all the great people in the business and of course taste the fruits of their labor. That is how my love of growlers began.

There is just something about the freshness of the beer when you drink from a growler. Maybe there is a bit of a placebo effect, knowing that the product skipped any bottling line, and went straight from the brewery to my fridge. Maybe it is the journey that takes you a little off the beaten path to get your growler fill. And sometimes it is just the cool design of the growlers. Some people bring wine or a 6-pack of beer to a party. I am the guy that brings a growler!

Part of my growler collection.
While I can’t brag that I have the biggest collection of 64-ounce glass jugs, I am pretty proud of my collection. And I can tell you that every growler does in fact have a story.

I have 16 growlers in my collection, all nicely lined up on a shelf in my basement. When going for a growler fill, I randomly select one of my favorites, and try to bring the growler of the brewery I am going to visit if I plan far enough ahead. While all growlers are the same, I do have my favorites, which leads me to a breakdown of my collection.

  1. Great Northern Brewing Company – Whitefish, MT
I’ll lead off with Great Northern, because this was officially my first growler. You always remember your first, right? My wife and I (well, she was not my wife yet) were in Whitefish for one of my best friend’s wedding. We had some time to kill and wanted to do some beer tasting at Great Northern. We had a few taste of their delicious brew, bought a few 22-ounce bottles, and the decided to get a little adventurous and buy a growler of their Going to the Sun IPA. At first I think we thought it would be cool to use the growler as a piggy bank, and I think we even did for a while, but with that growler purchase, a passion was born.

My first growler!

  1. Roslyn Brewing Company – Roslyn
Easily one of the favorites in my collection, and not just because of the beer we had from RBC. We got a fill of their Brookside Pale Lager, and also tried their delicious Roslyn Dark Lager. The growler is a nicely-designed amber jug with “Roslyn Brewing Company” etched in white lettering. This growler also has some sentimental value, as a large number of my father’s family grew up in Roslyn. It also brings back memories of our wonderful trip to Suncadia, where we were able to relax at the wonderful lodge and enjoy the Cle Elum Bakery. Yummy!

  1. Georgetown Brewing – Seattle
The home of Manny’s Pale Ale andRoger's Pilsner actually consumes roughly 1/4th of my total growler collection. I have no idea how it grew to this many, some purchased, some via gift, but I have 4 Georgetown growlers that I use on a rotating basis. I consider Manny’s to be my favorite beer, and for $6 a growler fill, it is by far the best deal in town. And the brewery is located near my work. Georgetown is also the place where I purchased my first keg (or half a keg) for the 2008 Apple Cup. I still have no idea how 25 people killed that so fast!

  1. Two Beers Brewing – Seattle
Two Beers has quickly become one of my go-to spots when planning any type of growler fill. If I am hosting any type of party, Two Beers, Schooner Exact and Georgetown are my Sodo trifecta for wonderful beer. Two Beers also never disappoints with their brew. Whether it is the Evo IPA, 20:20 Blonde Ale, Heart of Darkness CDA or Pumpkin Spice seasonal, I have never had a bad beer from them. The growler that I have of theirs is actually my second from Two Beers. The first one I purchased was the generic glass with a bumper sticker, and when they came out with their etched design, they were nice enough to trade my old one in.

The 7 Seas, Two Beers, Georgetown Trio.

  1. Deschutes Brewing Company – Bend, OR
Deschutes is by far my go-to 6-pack when looking for beer in the grocery store. I am a huge supporter of Washington Beer, but is there anything better than an ice cold Mirror Pond on a warm summer day? My Deschutes growler is perhaps my favorite in design (it is the English growler style) and was a gift from my brother-in-law. I have never visited the brewery in Bend, but have got a fill from their downtown Portland pub. Every time I bring the growler with big handle into a brewery, or to any party, it is an immediate hit.

Deschutes English Style Growler

  1. Fremont Brewing – Seattle
I picked up this growler as part of a groupon, and got the chance to meet the brewer when I was there. I helped former Mariners pitcher Chris Ray publicize his Homefront IPA project, so it was neat to see where the work was being done. This also happened to be the first brewery my son visited when he was just under a month old. I have since visited their UBG (Urban Beer Garden) and love their Interurban IPA and Abominable Winter Ale.

  1. Schooner Exact Brewing – Seattle
Schooner Exact is probably the closest brewery to my work, and they have specials where you can fill your growler for $6 on Tuesday’s and Sunday’s. That’s a great deal! I can remember the first time I had their 3 Grid IPA at West 5 in West Seattle, and it has since grown into one of the best breweries in Seattle. Their Gallant Maiden Hefeweizen is always a popular choice when I am taking a growler to a summer party.

Nothing like a growler party and BBQ on a summer day.

  1. 7 Seas Brewing – Gig Harbor
This is my hometown brewery as I grew up in Gig Harbor. I first heard that The Gig was opening a brewery, and was finally able to make it down before they had even opened their doors to the public and got a growler fill of Cutt’s NW Amber Ale. It was fun to drink the beer, as my parents' house overlooks Cutt’s Island (or better known as Dead Man’s Island. 7 Seas became the first Washington Craft Brewery to can their beer, and is about to expand into a bigger space in downtown Gig Harbor. I look forward to visiting again soon, and one of these year’s I’ll be around to get one of their limited edition growlers.

  1. Mac & Jacks – Redmond
If you are a craft beer fan and live in the Seattle area, then no doubt you’ve taken the same journey I have trying to find their small operation near Marymoor Park in Redmond. We drove around the industrial park a few times before we found the lion-head logo. The adventure finding the brewery was almost as fun as enjoying their tasty African Amber Ale.

  1. Four Peaks Brewing Company – Tempe, AZ
A lot of people outside of Arizona don’t know about Four Peaks. When I lived in Arizona, Four Peaks was a great place for a burger and a beer, but I wasn’t yet into the craft beer scene. I just thought the place was cool for the atmosphere, the food and to watch a football game. I’ve adopted Four Peaks as my Spring Training beer for when I am down in Arizona. Their growler is probably the most colorful in my collection, and the fact it has made the journey to-and-from Arizona a couple of times shows that it is up for a challenge.

Four Peaks in Tempe, AZ

  1. Big Time Brewing – Seattle
I’ve been to Big Time a few times prior to going to sporting events at the University of Washington, and I find it to be a great college bar. What better than beer and pizza before a college football game. I picked up one of their 22nd Anniversary Growlers on my way to a tailgate with my friends. I never thought about how I was going to get the empty growler into Husky Stadium, and the look on the security guards face when I explained what an empty growler was for, was priceless.

  1. Elliott Bay Brewing – Seattle & Burien
I have only been to Elliott Bay Brewing a few times to fill their growler, and am a little thrown-off by the $12 growler fill price, but still enjoy their product. When Seattle had a heavy snowstorm in 2008, we walked up California Avenue to have lunch at EBBC, a day my wife and I will never forget. Drinking a cold beer, enjoying a good meal, while watching people cross country ski down California Avenue.

  1. Diamond Knot Brewing Company – Mukilteo
If we lived a little closer, I think I would be at one of their three establishments in Snohomish County a lot. Their beer is unbelievable, and the setting is pretty cool right near the ferry dock. We were on our way to a Christmas party, and we were pretty early, so we decided to stop in for a beer. After a few samples, we left with a growler of their ESB. It’s forever been on my list to visit their Camano Island Lodge to get a burger and a growler fill.

So there you have it. Every one of my growlers have a story, and it is fun to look at them lined up on my shelf and think of the memories they come with. And I am looking forward to adding to my collection, and enjoying the travels that come with them.

Here are some breweries I hope to add to my growler collection in the near future…
  • Airways Brewing – Kent (my hometown brewery, and probably the best stuff I have had in a long time, recently made some etched growlers with their beautiful logo. This will be my next purchase for the collection, maybe even tonight in honor of Growler Blogging Day)
  • Big Al Brewing – Seattle (I’ve probably driven by 100 times, but never stopped. Shame on me)
  • Sound Brewing – Poulsbo (Take a ferry ride, go to the Poulsbo Bakery, get a growler fill. Sign me up…and their logo and bottling are impressive)
  • Black Raven Brewing – Redmond (Trickster IPA after a long run on the Sammamish River Trail. Enough said)
  • San Tan Brewing – Chandler, AZ (Can’t wait to visit this place again during spring training)
  • Harmon Brewing - Tacoma (Love visiting T-town and need to check out their growler happy hour at their tasting room near historic Stadium High School)
  • Paradise Creek Brewery - Pullman (Had a great time visiting before a Cougar Football game, but the growler would not have made it through the night. Looking forward to a visit back for some of their brew and Cougar Gold Mac and Cheese.