Happy American Craft Beer Week! I hope you’ve been having a grand time celebrating with your favorite brews and terrific company! Coincidentally, this week is also Seattle Beer Week, and there are plenty of celebrations to be found across the city. I attended one such event the other night at The Pine Box on Capitol Hill, where one question was asked of patrons: can you handle my Randall?
If you are perplexed as to what this question is really asking, you’re not the only one. Whose Randall? Who’s Randall? “Randall” is short for “Randall the Enamel Animal,” a filter developed by Dogfish Head which “you connect to a tap of your favorite beer and fill with flavor-enhancing ingredients.” Wild, right? The term “flavor-enhancing ingredients” is intentionally vague: these ingredients may include, but not be limited to, whole hops, fruit, whole spices, etc. Paired with an outstanding beer, the flavor-pairing possibilities are endless.
On a beautiful and meteorologically fickle (it was simultaneously sunny and rainy for much of the day) afternoon in the Emerald City, The Pine Box has a dozen Randalls set up on their covered patio, each featuring a Washington beer and a fascinating addition of flavors. Elysian Superfuzz with pineapple; Maritime Lager with lemon and lime; Sound Brewery Monk’s Indiscretion with lemons, limes, ginger, mint leaves, peppercorns, mango, and green tea; and Silver City Full Fat with maple bacon (seriously, bacon!) and peanut butter chips were just a few of the combinations available. Where to begin?!
After a moment of consideration, I made my first pick: Iron Horse Double Rainbow with Simcoe hops, Cascade hops, and… Skittles. Yes, Skittles! The fruity little candies had been added, along with whole hops, to the Randall along with the beer. It was most literal instance of “tasting the rainbow” that I could have imagined. With the first smell, I was laughing. It smelled like Trix cereal! The fruity Skittles combined with the citrus and grapefruit aromas of the hops create a supremely sweet-smelling creation. Double Rainbow is usually a fairly bitter and slightly bready beer, so I found the addition of such substantial fruitiness to be both terrifically crafty and supremely enjoyable.
As I stood giggling about my Skittle-laced beer, a few fellow beer enthusiasts were kind enough to invite me to join their table. I was happy to accept their invitation to have a seat and happier still to enjoy some pleasant conversation over a beer on such a lovely afternoon. It turned out that, between the four of us, we’d sampled the majority of that day’s Randall offerings and had ample opinions on each. The bacon beer, as curiosity-piquing as it was, was not altogether well-received, though the Skagit Pilsner with cilantro and lime was a big hit. Fremont Universale Pale Ale with mango brought forth memories of summers past, and Machine House “U-Name-It” ESB with cardamom was spiced and biting. Having visited the brewery earlier that day, I next elected for a sample of Schooner EXACT Seamstress Union Raspberry Wheat filtered with raspberries, rhubarb, and Hallertau hops. The raspberries lent a dainty pink tint to the ordinarily pale golden ale. The fresh rhubarb contributed a delightful tartness that complemented the sweetness of the berries. Hallertau hops added an extra dose of bitterness and bit of spice that balanced out the fruits’ flavors. It was the epitome of a springy, garden-inspired brew, and I absolutely adored it.
I savored every tart sip of the delicate pink brew and every second of the company of my new acquaintances. By this time, the weather had calmed down and settled on the sunny side. Seattle Beer Week was in full swing, and I had another event to head to that evening. Saddened that we had to part ways so soon, I bid a good evening to my new pals with the hopes that we may run into each other later. In total, I left The Pine Box with more than I had bargained for: I finally got to experience the magic of the Randall filter firsthand, I gained some new flavor pairing inspiration, and I was fortunate enough to meet a new group of magnificent individuals. In all, a great deal for $4!
Seattle Beer Week continues through Sunday, May 19th. Check out the Seattle Beer Week website for details on additional events and news.