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A Niche Unfulfilled

December 31, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  I apologize for sporadic posting, but I figure that I should post when I have something to say rather than fill this space with meaningless drivel.  🙂

At any rate, my family and I just returned from a brief trip across the Cascade Mountains to take in the snow and Bavarian culture of Leavenworth, WA.  It was a nice trip, however the town’s hotels were booked solid, so we elected to stay a bit farther down the road in Wenatchee.  Lovely places, both.

While east of the Cascades, I felt it my duty to find and enjoy some brews from that part of Washington.  It was harder than I imagined.  Several stores were visited, and yet the closest thing I found was Snoqualmie, which is still west of of the Cascades.  What I had my heart set on, was Iron Horse, Roslyn or maybe something out of Spokane.  Most of what I found were the ubiquitous Red Hooks and Pyramids.  Sorry, but I can get that at home with ease.

It was near the end of our trip that I noticed a bottle or two of Iron Horse Quilters Irish Death in the window of a wine tasting boutique in Leavenworth.  Yes, a wine tasting boutique.  It was a quaint little place, and I think it’s called Bavarian Cellars (but I wasn’t paying too close attention since I was out on a beer hunt).  From what I can tell, it’s associated with the Maison de Padgett Winery.  That all well and good, but I was there for beer.

And so beer is what I tasted.  Iron Horse had both the Quilters Irish Death and the Hop Spoke there representing Central and Easter Washington.  Western Washington had one sole entry from Elysian… Jasmine IPA.  California was represented by Stone with the Arrogant Bastard and the Smoked Porter.  Oregon was represented by Ninkasi with the Believer Double Red Ale, Total Domination IPA, and Tricerahops Double IPA.  It was an okay selection.  I was not in the least wowed.  But hey, they had Iron Horse beers.

I recognize we are dealing with a wine boutique, so beer seems to be an afterthought.  I credit them for being the only place in town that recognizes a market for boutique beer.  Hell, it brought me in.  Even though it brought me in, I don’t know that it can hold me.  So, I’d offer some advice:

  • The beers were relatively flat… and warm.  Not ideal tasting conditions.  A refrigerated draught system would enhance both aspects of the beers available.
  • The focus wasn’t apparent, unless it was continental United States on the Pacific Coast.  It seemed that they cast their nets a bit wide.  Washington alone boasts enough breweries to round out the tasting menu.  Moreover, this beer menu could be split for “tours” of Washington’s different regions.
  • Leavenworth is a little town, where just about every business (whether German-inspired or not) decks itself out in old-world Bavarian decor.  The beer menu could also be expanded to include authentic German beers.  Additionally, two Washington breweries (Alpine and Baron) also specialize in traditional German style beers.  Why not add some German flare?
  • The gal pouring me samples was pleasant, but I believe she learned more about the beer from me than I did from her.  Yes, I am a beer geek, and I am always eager to learn more about the beer which I consume.  Yes, this establishment’s core business is wine.  Yet, I felt that this was something else that was lacking: a resident beer expert.

All was not lost!  I did enjoy the beer that was offered in the tasting.  The conversation about/over the beer was pleasant.  I also came away with two bottles of Quilters Irish Death (although I had intended to pick up the hop spoke instead).

What struck me, though, is that this place was the only establishment in town offering beer in the manner it did.  Several wineries had tasting rooms throughout the shopping district.  Yet we are talking about a town with tons of tourists and a German flare.  Something is amiss.  I smell an opportunity for enterprising beer geek… one that I’d take if I weren’t so set on moving back to Texas someday.

Lastly, Andreas Keller has a killer jägerschnitzel.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2011 4:07 pm

    Well, it sounds like they are on the right track! Hopefully, someone points them to this post for their own good!

    • Big Tex permalink
      January 5, 2011 4:26 pm

      I’d have let them know if they had a website or if I had planned this post while in the shop.

  2. January 6, 2011 1:18 pm

    Thanks for making me think about that…dreaming at work!

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