Jennells Flowers & Pie

As you may know from my prior posts, I am a big supporter of local flour and the local baking community. Just like with breweries, local bakeries will happily share their knowledge and teachings if you are willing to listen, learn, and share. I was looking for a shop to buy a few pieces of pie and found a shop that only sells whole pies. No harm in a little extra pie.

After talking with the owner Jennell for the better part of a half an hour about baking philosophy, crust, bread, cookies, etc, we got down to business and talked about her pie shop. She has 2 or 3 pies options per day, but until her arm finishes healing, cream pies are off the menu. She informed me that she was getting a new set of apples late Thursday and I just had to try her apple pie for Friday. Always best to try the bakers best as a first impression.

The economics to make a pie are tough. Typically, a bakery charges $20+ for a cake and many charge much more, but pie is not often on the menu. Pie has a stigma of be…

Narrows Brewing

My post summer tour funk ends today and I will be restarting my tour series.  I was waiting for a friend in Fircrest, Tacoma with an extra hour to kill due to the ever worsening Seattle to Tacoma traffic. Why not kill it at a local brewery, enter Narrows Brewing. First thing, you notice is the smell of the marina, I have a fondness for it, but it definitely is not for everyone. The second thing is the grain silo out front, which typically is only required for breweries in excess of 4,000 barrels of production, which is double the size I read they produced.

Once you scale the ramp or the stairs you end up with a choice, events area, taproom, or deck, I sat out on the deck at first before it looked like rain and moved inside to the taproom. I was surprised for a place with 14 advertised taps that they only have 8 beers of their own, the other being 3 guests taps, 2 ciders, and 1 lambic. Further still, they currently dedicate 4 taps to IPA's a shame for me, but the market and sales nu…

Black Fleet Brewing

I have been hearing about quite a bit of new brewery activity and brewery expansions happening in Tacoma, Washington and figured I ought to check it out. I drove to Sluggo Brewing near the Tacoma Dome and found no parking. Then continued toward Wingman Brewing a couple blocks away and found no parking outside of the busy transit center. I was pretty upset about my parking misfortune and decided to head toward a less crowded part of town toward Engine House #9 and Black Fleet Brewing. I found a parking spot about 2/3 of the way toward Black Fleet and decided to stop in.

Black Fleet Brewing has recently entered its current home with some small modifications and awkward spaces still being worked around. But don't let the newness deter you, they have some classic varietals and an experienced brewery staff. I pushed the limits of their tasting options by asking if I could change my single flight of 4 X 4oz glasses into an 8 X 2oz pours and try 8/10 house taps. No one had asked for one b…

Sidetrack Distillery

Occasionally, I miss a place in my backyard, whether due to hours, distribution, product skew, or location. Sidetrack fits 2/4 of those criterium, but I fixed that this last weekend. I was planning on checking out 4 Horseman Brewery, but it was either closed or gone, but I remembered that Sidetrack was near there and should be open. I pulled in to a small farm adjacent to the Green River and immediately remembered my experience at Cockrell Cider in Puyallup, both were farm to glass concepts.

In this case, Sidetrack Distilling is a farm to glass concept and make fruit & nut liqueurs and brandies. They use their apples to make a mild apple brandy base and then add the necessary fruits or nuts from their farm in the distillation process. The blackberry, black currant, blueberry, and raspberry liqueurs were sweet and tasted like fruit jam. The lemon verbena, walnut, shiso, and yuzu liqueurs each were unlike anything I had tasted on the market, which explains why they distribute to high…

Sea Bishop Spirits

I have heard from quite a few distillers about choosing a proper location for a distillery. I was expecting community support, access to distributors, desirable rents, or proximity to their homes. The most common answer was none of those, it was the quality of the water. Recently, I have heard from 3 distilleries that they have the best water in the country. I tried the water at each and they each had good water, but was it the best, probably not. I would assume that minute differences in water taste, quality, and hardness could make a tremendous difference in the taste, color, and mouth feel of any spirit, but especially Gin.

Sea Bishop Spirits is a small distillery in Black Diamond, WA that produces only Gin. They have 4 varietals of Gin available for tasting and sale at the distillery, a classic Gin, a tarragon infused Gin, a barrel aged Gin, and a Gin aged in a stout barrel. Only the Gin aged in the stout barrel is not available at regional liquor stores and the price for their Gin…

Big Block Brewing

I heard that a small brewery was taking over for a recently closed brewery in Redmond, WA.  I heard next that they were keeping their existing taproom in the Issaquah area, a good sign. Only a few breweries have opened new locations in the last couple years in Seattle and all have been somewhere between good and great. I was meeting a potential summer intern from the area and decided to host it at Big Block Brewing. Turns out, the intern was only 20 and thus we had to go somewhere nearby, but I returned after the interview.

It looks small from the street, but is much bigger inside, especially including the outside deck area. The owner said they were still brewing out of their 3 car garage with a 7 barrel system, which is a really big setup for a garage. They will be moving the brewing operation to the Redmond in the late summer or early fall to increase production and offer special releases.

The beer menu skews darker, but had something for everyone. I tried everything, but the IPA'…

Nightside Distilling

After Acorn Brewing and some dinner I could again try and seek out Nightside Distilling. I could not seem to find them anywhere at bars or restaurants, but did see them at total wine and saw they attended a festival I meant to go to a few weekends ago. I made it my express mission that the next time I went southeast I would stop in for a tasting. They are a tough place to find in a strip mall around the back and to the side off of a busier road, but the signs were crucial.

Nightside Distilling is the self proclaimed smallest distillery in America at 496 square feet, but with the garage doors open and a sunny summer evening, it felt much bigger. The spirits list was expansive, Vodka 80 proof, Vodka 90 proof, Vodka 80 proof aged in oak, Lemon Drop Liqueur, Fruit Punch Liqueur, Apple Pie Liqueur, Espresso Liqueur, Gin, Aquavit, and Bourbon. I was told a Rye was in the works and they had a few options that were available for tasting, but have not been approved for sale just yet. They had a…