14th Annual Strange Brewfest

Strange Brewfest Brews

A small sample of brews at the 14th Annual Strange Brewfest

Strange Brewfest has been on my “Seattle bucket list” since I relocated to Seattle from Ohio. I finally made it out to the 14th year of the event in Port Townsend and it did not disappoint. Rain, wind or shine – everyone there was in good spirits and fully embraced the oddities of both beerfest goers and the unique craft beers.

Many beers have complimentary garnishes that bring out the flavors in whatever base brew is used, whether it be pickled brine, gooey gel noodles, Sour Patch Kids, Cool Ranch Doritos, or just about anything else you can dream up that you might want to experiment with when brewing a uniquely-flavored beer.

A few of my favorites actually came from Bushel & Barrel Ciderhouse – they had a Coconut Curry Saffron Cider that had a complex and rich taste – almost like traveling to another country. They also had a PB&J Farmhouse Apple Cider (garnished with a small peanut butter cookie) and Hot Horchata Cider (with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top) which was a very welcome treat because it was rather cold and windy near the water that day.

Some other standouts included:

  • Bainbridge Brewing – I’m Pickle Rick (a Kölsch with pickle brine and garnished with a dill pickle)
  • 7 Seas Brewing – 7 Bloody Seas (essentially tasted like a very well-flavored Bloody Mary)
  • Dungeness Brewing – Raspberry Basil IPA (had a very refreshing flavor)

As beer festivals go, this one is a winner and in my top 5 favorite beer festivals within driving distance of Seattle. The quaint, neighborhood feel of Port Townsend mixed with the vibe of the brewfest goers and creativity that the brewers bring to the event with such unique brews definitely makes for an enjoyable experience. I’d also like to add that the American Legion (which hosts the event) makes you feel welcome (and they know how to grill a solid hamburger to soak up all that booze as well).


The Pacific Northwest Beer Walkabout

Big Block Brewing

Big Block Brewing

You may have noticed there haven’t been any new articles posted on Tasty Mug for quite some time. About 2 years to be exact. Blog-writing truly is a full-time job (or in my case it was a second full-time job). After relocating to Seattle 3 years ago, I realized I didn’t know a darn thing about the beer scene on the “right” side of the country, and I definitely didn’t know enough to write about the beers. In the past few years I’ve been busy getting very well-acquainted with amazing plethora of breweries, events, places and people involved in the PNW beer industry. It’s been an amazing journey – one that I’ve only just begun.

It may be a while before Tasty Mug posts new articles, but I plan to keep my Events section up-to-date with all of the awesome festivals and events that come my way, including anything that involves beer, cider and good old-fashioned liquor. In the meantime, you can always follow Tasty Mug’s drinking shenanigans on Untappd, Instagram or Twitter. Cheers and stay frothy out there my drinking friends!


Brew Review 2014

Brew Review Logo 2014

Great Brews for a Great Cause
Enjoy a night of great beer featuring local and national breweries as well as select imports. If you live in Columbus, Ohio, enjoy craft beer, and want to support a great cause check out the Brew Review event happening THIS Friday – October 17th starting at 7pm!

Brew Review is a casual evening tasting craft beers. Come for the beer and stay for the hors d’oeuvres, music, and mingling. 100% of net proceeds will support Creative Living’s Resident Assistance Program. Creative Living is a non-profit organization encouraging independent living for adults with severe physical disabilities by providing wheelchair accessible housing and assistance and by creating a supportive environment for people to learn, work, live and contribute to the community.

What’s On Tap
Want to know the brews on the menu? Check out this year’s list:

  • Actual Photon
  • Actual Oktoberfest
  • Anchor Steam Beer
  • Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout
  • Atwater Vanilla Java Porter
  • Barley’s Blood Thirst Wheat
  • Barley’s Centennial IPA
  • Barley’s Russian Imperial Stout
  • Barley’s Scottish Ale
  • Brooklyn Lager
  • Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale
  • Estrella Damm Daura (Gluten Free Beer)
  • Ithaca Flower Power IPA
  • Lager Heads Bed Head Red Ale
  • Lost Coast Tangerine
  • Mt. Carmel Harvest Ale
  • Rockmill Petite Saison
  • Rockmill Tripel
  • Rogue Dead Guy Ale
  • Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale
  • Uinta Hop Nosh IPA
  • Victory Prima Pils Wheat
  • Wolf’s Ridge Beta Belgian Dubbel
  • Wolf’s Ridge Clear Sky Cream Ale
  • Wolf’s Ridge Driftwood Session IPA
  • Wolf’s Ridge Trail American Amber

Event Information:

Brew Review – A night of great craft beers with Creative Living

Date and Time:
Friday, October 17, 2014
7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Grange Insurance Audubon Center
505 W. Whittier
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Grange Insurance Audubon Center is located on the Scioto River just south of downtown Columbus.

$35 for tickets purchased before October 10th, $40 after and at the door.
You’ll receive 15 tasting tickets and a custom tasting glass that’s yours to keep.
Purchase your tickets

Want to invite a friend or follow the event on Facebook? Check out the Brew Review Facebook event page.


Beer of the Week: Laurelwood Pumpkin Ale

Beer of the Week - Laurelwood Pumpkin AleThis Pumpkin Ale was formerly named “Laurelwood Stingy Jack Pumpkin Ale.” To keep things straight, it’s still the same recipe, but according to the brewery’s website someone else has the rights to the name “Stingy Jack” so the beer now sports a slightly modified label and has been renamed to “Laurelwood Pumpkin Ale.”

Founded in 2001 and located in Portland, Oregon, Laurelwood Brewing Co. is a family-owned business run by a husband and wife team. To create their pumpkin ale, they start with a strong ale recipe for a nutty amber beer, then add pumpkin, squash and a pumpkin pie spice blend to the mix during the brewing process. This is what produces the warm and spicy nose that makes this particular pumpkin ale so great!

Appearance: Hazy, deep, reddish amber with minimal head.

Smell: Very aromatic pumpkin ale; spicy with hints of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg; subtle pumpkin.

Taste: Good balance between spicy and pumpkin flavors, and leans a bit more towards the spicy side. It’s malty but not too sweet. Balanced in a very drinkable way.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and creamy mouthfeel. The body also contributes to its drinkability.

Overall: I love a good pumpkin ale, and I’m also very picky about my favorites. I’d say this one can claim a spot in my top ten. Southern Tier’s Pumking still dominates as my ultimate favorite pumpkin ale, but I would definitely drink the Laurelwood one again. It’s one of the better ones from the West coast I tried this season.

Tasty Mug Rating: 3.69 / 5

Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 7.2%
IBUs: 12
Original Gravity: 17° Plato
Malts: Unknown
Hops: Unknown
Special Ingredients: Pumpkin, squash and pumpkin pie spices
Availability: Seasonal
Food Pairings: Why not give this a try with some pumpkin pie?
Glassware: Pint glass
Aging: N/A

Where to get it: I picked my bottle up at Whole Foods in Bellevue, WA



Never Fear… Tasty Mug (is still) Here!

Greetings fellow beer drinkers! You may have noticed that Tasty Mug recently went on hiatus, and you may have even worried if it would ever return. I’m happy to announce the hiatus is over and Tasty Mug is back in full force.

Downtown SeattleThis brief interlude was the result of receiving the exciting news that your author (me) received a brand-spanking-new job in a new city – Seattle! The past month involved driving 2400 miles across the country (with some pit spots at breweries along the way of course). While the journey from the flat, Midwestern landscape of Ohio to the mountainous realm of the Pacific Northwest has been very exciting (especially when I got lost in the middle of Wyoming) I’m nonetheless happy to now be settled so I can get back to the very important business of enjoying and writing about craft beer!

There is definitely a bustling beer business here in the Pacific Northwest. You can “talk shop” with just about any random Joe wandering about. And the selection of local brews alone is enough to put a dent in your wallet and keep you busy tasting for a long time.

Total Wine & MoreI recently wandered into a wonderful wine and beer superstore called Total Wine & More. They boast over 8,000 wines available in their stores, along with 3,000 spirits and 2,500 beers (I’d believe it too!). It’s basically like walking into a magical Candy Land for adults aged 21 and older. In other words, knowing I was tasked with buying beers to host a local tasting (more on that in a later post) and walking in with a cart was a bad idea for my wallet. And in addition to that, there is a huge aisle devoted purely to Washington beers. It’s a beautiful site to behold. I’ll give props to Ohio for its recent growth spurt of local breweries, but in the category of most local brews, the West Coast gets the gold.

If you’re in Seattle and looking for some upcoming beer events to get your brew on, check out Fremont Oktoberfest coming up this weekend (September 20, 21, 22). If that’s not enough beer for you, make sure to buy your tickets for Elysian Brewing’s 9th Annual Great Pumpkin Beer Festival –  this is a popular local event and has previously sold out. As of today, Saturday tickets are no longer available, but you can still score some tickets for Friday or Sunday. So what are you waiting for?? There’s more than enough beer drinking to go around here in the Emerald City, so tip back a pint and let’s get started!



Beer of the Week: Great Lakes Lake Erie Monster

Beer of the Week - Great Lakes Lakes Erie MonsterThis week’s featured beer is Lake Erie Monster, brewed by Great Lakes Brewing Company. The Great Lakes website describes it as “An Imperial India pale ale exploding with bold hop flavors.”

This is a seasonal release that is usually out in late Spring, and it only has a shelf life of about 90 days (this is typical of most IPAs). So if you buy some bottles, drink them down while they’re fresh!

This particular brew is named “Lake Erie Monster” in ode to South Bay Bessie, Cleveland’s Lake Erie version of the Loch Ness Monster. Just don’t drink too many of these brews and wander alone near the water’s edge – you never know what may be lurking underneath the surface!

Tasty Mug Review

Appearance: Slight hazy medium amber with moderate head and lots of nice lacing.

Smell: Sweet with strong citrus hops in the nose and maybe some floral notes.

Taste: Citrusy sweetness upfront; pineapple, oranges, and some light malts that move into a dry, bitter, hoppy finish. As the beer warms more of a spicy finish emerges. The warmth of the booze comes out after just a few sips.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and creamy with balanced carbonation.

Overall: While a good IPA, it’s a little on the sweet side for me. Not as sweet as the Unita Hop Notch but definitely sweeter than Hop Stoopid or the Enjoy By IPAs from Stone. Overall though a solid IPA that is especially good for a hot summer day.

Tasty Mug Rating: 3.75 / 5

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA
ABV: 9.10%
IBUs: 80
Original Gravity: 22º Plato
Malts: Harrington 2-Row Malt; Caramel 30
Hops: Simcoe; Willamette
Special Ingredients:
Availability: Rotating (Released in May)
Food Pairings: Steak, pork chops, aged cheese, and dark chocolate
Glassware: Snifter, Tulip, Oversized Wine Glass
Aging: Check the bottle for a date – if you purchase the 25th anniversary bottles you should consume this one by August 2013. General shelf life is about 90 days for this brew.

Where to get it:
I purchased my 4-pack at Gentile’s (corner of King Ave and North Star in Columbus). Most likely available at most beer stores while it is in release.


Beer of the Week: Three Floyds Gumballhead

Beer of the Week - Three Floyds GumballheadThis week’s featured beer is one of my all-time favorites, Gumballhead from Three Floyds Brewing – which incidentally is also one of my all-time favorite breweries. They produce some very high quality brews.

Gumballhead is an American Wheat Ale and is actually named in honor of an underground comic book cat character called Gumballhead that was created by Rob Syers. Initially a seasonal summer beer, it is now brewed year round due to demand. It’s brewed with Amarillo Hops and a lot of American red wheat, which gives it a complex hop aroma with notes of grapefruit, lemon zest, marmalade and peach. According to Three Floyds – “These flavors combined with low bitterness make Gumballhead a refreshing American Wheat Beer that doesn’t suck.”

Tasty Mug Review

Appearance: Pours a mostly clear, light amber with a nice frothy head that retains around the glass and leaves a lot of nice lacing.

Smell: Hoppy-smelling for a wheat beer with definite notes of pine and citrus and some nice, malty undertones.

Taste: Excellent brew; awesome mixture of flavors, very well-balanced and smooth. There are strong but balanced hops upfront that transition to more of the citrus, grapefruit sweetness that then finishes on a slightly dry, hoppy note.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, smooth and creamy; makes you lick your lips after you drink. The carbonation is very balanced with the body of the beer.

Overall: I typically don’t like the general category of wheat beers but this one is definitely special. I could easily drink more than one of these without thinking twice. I’ve been fortunate enough to have it on a few separate occasions and each every time it just proves to me how good it really is. One of the best beers in this category I’ve had and it would take something pretty special to change my opinion on that.

Tasty Mug Rating: 4.00 / 5

Style: American Pale Wheat Ale
ABV: 5.60%
IBUs: 35
Original Gravity: Unknown
Malts: American Red Wheat
Hops: Armarillo
Special Ingredients: Not listed
Availability: Year-round
Food Pairings: Latin American or German dishes; Cheese (earthy; Camembert, Fontina) General (Salad) Meat (Poultry)
Glassware: Pint Glass (or Becker, Nonic, Tumbler), Mug (or Seidel, Stein), Weizen Glass
Aging: Definitely drink this one soon after acquiring for optimal freshness.

Where to get it:
You pretty much have to go the Three Floyds brewpub to pick up bottles of this beer; you won’t find bottles of it distributed in Ohio. It does, however, pop up on draft randomly from time to time. The best way to hear about it when it does is to follow most of local bars and restaurants on Facebook that are known to carry good draft beer selections.



Beer of the Week: Lagunitas Hop Stoopid

Beer of the Week - Lagunitas Hop StoopidThis week’s featured beer is delicious IPA named Hop Stoopid, yet another beer from Lagunitas. I’ve featured their beers several times as of late – but hey – I can’t argue with a brewery that consistently brews great quality beers! And ’tis the summer season which means hoppy beers are in abundance. This beer is extra hopped, and dry hopped at the end, however it is also “extra malted” so the malt backbone does a dandy job of balancing things out so it isn’t too bitter, despite it’s larger IBU rating.

Tasty Mug Review

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy, deep gold with a nice foamy head, good retention and nice lacing.

Smell: Smells super hoppy to me, with hints of pine and citrus. Nicely aromatic. As the beer warms slightly the malty aroma emerges more.

Taste: I was very pleasantly surprised at how well the flavor of this beer rounds out when compared with the strong hop aroma and the high IBUs. Just as a side-note, I’m still working my taste buds up to super hoppy IPAs and on first pass this smelled as though it would be heavy duty. Has a really clean, hoppy and bitter finish to it with a slight sweetness that lingers in the mouth afterward.

Mouthfeel: Nice, creamy medium-bodied beer that goes down smooth has very well-balanced carbonation. Follows the typical mouthfeel that is characteristic with most Lagunitas brews.

Overall: Fits the bill for hop heads and non-hop heads alike – a very good middle-of-the-road and well-balanced IPA that should be a real crowd pleaser. Yet another good brew from Lagunitas.

Tasty Mug Rating: 4.34 / 5

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.0%
IBUs: 102
Original Gravity:
Malts: Not listed
Hops: This is a dry-hopped beer
Special Ingredients: Not listed
Availability: Year-round
Food Pairings: Cheese (peppery; Monterey / Pepper Jack, sharp; Blue, Cheddar, pungent; Gorgonzola, Limburger) Grilled meat, fish or barbeque. I personally think this would go well with any spicy dish.
Glassware: Snifter, Tulip, Oversized Wine Glass
Aging: Can be cellared for long periods, under the proper conditions

Where to get it:
This one should be available at most stores that carry a decent craft beer selection.



Weekly Roundup – Where to Drink on a Weekend Trip to Austin

I recently visited Austin for the first time, and being the beer freak I am, I went to as many beer destinations as I could possibly cram into a single weekend. For a detailed run down of all the places I visited, check back in a week or two – I’ll be posting the full article of my exploits. In the meantime here are a few of the places I highly recommend you make time to visit if you’re only visiting the Lone Star state for a few days.

Weekly Roundup - Austin - Austin BeerworksAustin Beerworks

Austin Beerworks a must visit if you can time it right – their beer is seriously good but they’re only open to the public at certain times. Make sure you check their events page to see when they are hosting events or happy hours – a ticket is almost always required in order to attend, and it isn’t uncommon for them to sell out.

Where is it?
3009 Industrial Terrace Austin, TX 78758

Weekly Roundup - Austin - Barber ShopBarber Shop

While Barber Shop is officially in Dripping Springs, about a 30 minute drive from Austin, it’s totally worth every minute to take a detour for a drink with the locals. While I’d be inclined to label it a hole-in-the-wall, it ultimately really isn’t, especially with the selection of beers on draft as well as some special bottles they may have tucked away in the cooler. I had a thoroughly good time the night I rolled into Barber Shop and I guarantee you will too.

Where is it?
207 Mercer Street Dripping Springs, TX 78620

Weekly Roundup - Austin - BangersBanger’s

Sausage any way you want it abounds at Banger’s, along with the best beverage to pair with cooked meat – beer! They boast the largest sausage selection in Austin and also have over 100 beers on draft. There’s a bar and tables inside and long community-seating picnic tables underneath the shade of the trees outside. If you have a dog there is even a leashless mini dog park so your pooch can mingle while you get your drink on. If you’re vegetarian you’ll find options on the menu to accommodate you as well – even sausage – with choices of smoked mushroom and asparagus, or beet and goat cheese.

Where is it?
79 & 81 Rainey St. Austin, TX 78701

Weekly Roundup - Austin - Pinthouse PizzaPinthouse Pizza

Pinthouse Pizza may seriously be the best place in Austin to get a pizza and a flight. They have over 40 craft beers including a lineup of their own brews – which I recommend ordering if you enjoy IPAs because most of their beers have a hoppy, bitter profile. If you aren’t sure what to order the bartenders will assemble a flight for you. Their pizzas are also very tasty – I got the Hill Country and it paired very nicely with my flight, which by the way, had a very nice presentation. If you really like the taster glasses (which I did of course!) you can buy those as well as any of their other glasses too!

Where is it?
4729 Burnet Rd. Austin, TX 78756

Weekly Roundup - Austin - The Ginger ManThe Ginger Man

Part of a family of pubs that were opened by a man named Bob Precious, The Ginger Man in Austin is the third location that opened, back in 1994. The pubs derive their name from a 1952 novel by J.P. Donleavy called The Ginger Man– a story about the misadventures of a young American studying in Dublin, Ireland just after World War II. Supposedly the main character was quite the witty, boozing scoundrel, and the book is a hilarious read according to the reviews. The Ginger Man pub focuses on quality beer and service and they have an extensive list of beers both in bottles or draught.

Where is it?
301 Lavaca St. Austin, TX 78701

Got a favorite beer hangout in Austin? Tell us about it in the comments below!




Beer of the Week: Équinoxe du Printemps

Beer of the Week - Équinoxe du PrintempsThis week’s beer hails from Canada – a uniquely-flavored brew called Équinoxe du Printemps from Brasserie Dieu du Ciel. This is a Scotch Ale brewed with maple syrup and definitely packs a punch at 9.5% ABV.

Équinoxe du Printemps translates to “spring equinox” in French, and the bottle states that this time of year is “the quintessential marriage of two great traditions – beer brewing in Scotland and maple syrup production in Quebec.” I’d have to agree that mixing the two together in the correct proportions results in a nicely flavored Scotch ale with a twist that is definitely enjoyable and makes for a complexly-flavored beer.

If you like spicy beers, I recommend checking out Route des épices from the same brewery – it’s a rye beer brewed with both black and green peppercorns.

Tasty Mug Review

Appearance: Pours a hazy deep brown with a bit of a fizz; has a minimal head but it retains around the sides of the glass.

Smell: Malty, sweet and syrupy (maple syrup) with a hint of woodiness and underlying undertones of booze.

Taste: This is an interesting one with the woody flavor upfront that transitions to sweet, maple syrup, and malty flavor on the back, then finishes with a warm boozy tone. Rich and complex.

Mouthfeel: Solid, medium-bodied beer with fine and balanced carbonation and a very smooth, buttery feel.

Overall: This is a solid brew. The maple syrup doesn’t overwhelm with sweetness – in fact it balances with the traditional flavors in Scotch Ales in a way that rounds this beer out nicely and makes it a very enjoyable sipping beer. I’d recommend giving it a try!

Tasty Mug Rating: 3.75 / 5

Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy
ABV: 9.50%
IBUs: Unknown
Original Gravity: Not listed
Malts:Not listed
Hops:Not listed
Special Ingredients: Maple syrup
Availability: Rotating
Food Pairings: Cheese (buttery; Brie, Gouda, Havarti, Swiss); smoked meat
Glassware: Pint Glass, Snifter, Tulip
Aging: Can be cellared for long periods, under the proper conditions

Where to get it:
This isn’t a beer I’ve seen just on any old shelf. I think I bought this bottle at Jungle Jim’s down near Cincinnati (they often have a lot of imported beers to choose from). I’d recommend grabbing a bottle if you randomly come across it and giving it a try!

P.S. In case you were wondering, the glassware sporting this week’s beer is one of CraftGeer’s snifters – come on admit it … you know you want one!