The Great Pumpkin Pie Cocktail

DSCN2353It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  That is, if you happen to love autumn, as I do.  The leaves are changing colors, it’s cool enough to wear scarves again, and the time is right to watch repetitively It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  Speaking of great pumpkins, have you yet stocked up on all of the cans of pumpkin that you’ll need for the next three months?  If not, I trust that you’re working on it.  While you’re gearing up to make the first of many pumpkin pies, why not really get into the spirit of the season with a little pumpkin pie cocktail?  Yes, please.

This easy-peezy martini has all of the flavor of pumpkin pie and takes a fraction of the time to assemble and serve.  It involves pumpkin, spices, and a milk product, just like the real thing, but with the pleasant additions of Kahlua and butterscotch schnapps.  If you don’t yet have Kahlua and/or butterscotch schnapps on hand, I highly recommend investing in both; they both can be used throughout the holiday season(s) to make any number of festive cocktails.  For now, however, let’s focus on making this liquid pumpkin pie dream a reality.

The Great Pumpkin Pie Cocktail

Makes 1 cocktail

Ingredients

1.25 oz. Kahlua or another coffee liqueur

1.25 oz. butterscotch schnapps

2 oz. cold milk (any kind)

.75 oz pumpkin puree

1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

dollop of whipped cream (optional, for garnish)

To Make the Cocktail:

Halfway fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.  Atop the ice, ad the Kahlua, butterscotch schnapps, milk, pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spice.  Gently mix with a spoon to start to incorporate the pumpkin and spices.  Vigorously shake the shaker for 30 seconds.  Pour the contents of the shaker into a martini glass.  If you like, garnish the cocktail with whipped cream.  Enjoy!

Spokane’s Summer Bikes and Brews

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Bikes parked at No-Li Brewhouse

With temperatures nationwide regularly reaching into the 80s, 90s, and 100s, there’s only one conclusion I can confidently draw: summer is here and in full swing!  Here in the good ol’ Lilac City, we’re deep in the heart of the hottest season of them all and loving it.  With cloudless skies as far as the eye can see, multiple lakes less than an hour away, tons of great biking and hiking trails, and some of the best breweries around within the city limits, what’s not to love?

Amy (Goose) and me (Maverick) were the only two goons on a tandem bicycle that day. What can I say? We love fun! Image from Lantern Tap House

This weekend, I was lucky enough to enjoy what I think was the epitome of a Spokane summer experience.  Once again joined by Amy from Amy’s Nutritarian Kitchen, I headed up to Spokane’s South Perry neighborhood to take part in the newly expanded Lantern Tap House to take part in their monthly bike pub crawl, though this time around, it was really more of a brewery crawl (or ride).  With about a dozen other intrepid beer lovers, we set off from the tavern in the afternoon sun and headed to our first destination: Spokane’s celebrated No-Li Brewhouse.  Located on a particularly serene stretch of the Spokane River, the wide-open patio of the brewhouse has lounge chairs right on the river bank, as well as a fire pit and picnic tables galore for the enjoyment of sun-loving patrons.  Our ride leader, Mike, ordered up a few pitchers of No-Li’s Summer Wheat for everyone to sip on while we chatted and worked on our tans.  After an hour at No-Li, we steadily mozied on to our next destination.

Enjoying the patio at Iron Goat. Image from Lantern Tap House

Just a stone’s throw from No-Li is Iron Goat Brewing Company, which celebrated its first anniversary just last month.  Once again, everyone grabbed a pint glass, filled it up with the beer of his/her choosing, and scurried to the patio to relax and chit-chat.  Our relaxation efforts were aided all the more by the sudden appearances of an ice cream truck and the Shameless Sausages cart.  After refueling, we summoned our strength for our final destination Budge Brothers Brewing Company, which resided only a few blocks away.  Those who weren’t yet acquainted became so, and we each enjoyed one final, locally brewed pint before heading back up the hill to our starting destination.

By the end of the day, our adventure earned its title of “crawl”; the whole voyage took nearly six hours to travel a distance of only a couple of miles.  Nonetheless, it was a great way to spend a leisurely Saturday afternoon: the beer was terrific, the ride nice ‘n easy, and the company amiable as could be.  Lucky for me, and maybe you, too, the Lantern Tap House hosts bicycle pub crawls each month, most with five destinations rather than three.  If you’re looking to ride from a different destination or on a different route, or if you’re still on the lookout for your ideal outdoor beer hangout, there are options to be had here in Spokane.  I encourage you to check each of them out so as to find the one that’s best for you!  Cheers, and ride safely!

Bike Rides Around Spokane

Lantern Tap House Pub Bike Ride – Groups ride from the tap house on South Perry to 3-5 downtown or South Hill pubs.  Rides occur approximately once each month.  Check Lantern Tap House’s Facebook page to find out about upcoming rides.  Note: If running is more your style, there’s also a Lantern Running Club.  They’ll be meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, July 16) at 6pm at the tavern to run, and the run will be followed by $2.50 pint night!  Haven’t you heard that beer is a great post-workout drink?

Two Wheel Transit Recyclers at Manito Tap House – The Two Wheel Transit Recyclers meet at Manito Tap House on Thursday evenings at 6:15pm to go for a 60-90 minute ride around the South Hill before meeting back at the tap house for drinks and snacks.  Manito Tap House has a great little bike maintenance station right in front of the restaurant in case you need to make any last minute adjustments to your ride.

Elk Drug Drop-Outs Vintage & Cruiser Bicycle ClubThe Elk‘s bike club meets at the pub at 3pm on the first Sunday each month.  They ride from the Elk, in Brown’s Addition, to No-Li Brewhouse, located near Gonzaga University, and back.  The ride is family-friendly, and anyone and everyone is invited to ride whatever they’ve got!  The next ride should be on Sunday, August 3rd.

Spokane Party Trolley – OK, so this isn’t a bike club per se; it’s more of a club on a bike.  A really big bike.  Like, a big bike that you can ride with a dozen or more friends at once.  It’s crazy fun.  I was lucky enough to get to take a spin on the party trolley for a pub crawl a couple of weeks ago, though the trolley can also be rented for bachelor/bachelorrette parties, family reunions, team building, you name it.  If you’re looking to try it just to try it, the party trolley also hosts Mixer Tours, 2-hour pub crawls that peddle to 3-4 pubs in downtown Spokane.

For information about other Spokane bike clubs, check out the F&*%ing Bike Club’s website.

Thanks to the Lantern Tap House for leading such an excellent bike ride.  Thank you to both Amy from Amy’s Nutritarian Kitchen and the Lantern Tap House for the photographs.

Night Out: IronFest Finale and Twigs

Would anyone care for an Iron Man-hattan?

Would anyone care for an Iron Man-hattan?

It’s finally here.  The end of an era.  After months of anticipation and weeks’ worth of preparation, the grand finale of IronFest 2013 has come and gone.  And what a finale it was!  Complete with with cocktails, themed outfits, and a big-screen premiere, it was definitely an event worth looking forward to.

Last Thursday, Amy, Amy’s husband, two of our married friends, and I sported our crimson and gold and headed out to Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar before heading out to the town’s first showing of Iron Man 3.   Twigs is one of the premiere martini bars in Spokane, and there are multiple locations throughout town.  This evening, we visited the Valley location, which features a spacious dining room and an impressive wall of colorful and well-organized liquors.  When possible, I recommend sitting in the lounge, where you are able to enjoy a warm fireplace, multiple televisions (if you follow sports), and the aforementioned booze array.

After sitting down, my friends and I ordered our drinks and quickly caught up on the news of the week: someone finished with school for the semester, someone else had plans to go out of town in the coming weeks, yet another had a new development at work to share.  Once we were all up to speed on the week’s happenings, we were free to jump into the topic of conversation we were all eager to get started on: what do you think the movie’s going to be like?!  It did make me laugh that despite the facts that we are all working adults with bills and responsibilities, we still get excited about seeing new movies and are willing to stay out late so that we can be the first to see them.

As fun as it is to go to midnight movie screenings, I do have one problem with them: they’re so late!  I realize that this makes me sound like an old woman, but the truth of the matter is, I’m just not a night owl.  I’d much rather get up early than stay up late.  That said, I was secretly thrilled that the “midnight showing” of Iron Man 3 was actually a 9:30pm showing.  Score!  With plenty of time to spare, we claimed our spots in the theater and speculated on the film to come.  Amy’s husband and I, both avid Iron Man fans, shared our thoughts and looked forward to finding out whether our plot hypotheses would prove correct.  As it turns out, most of them would not.

In my opinion, the movie was a blast, and I was glad that my friends and I made the effort to get together and go see it.  There were twists and turns, laughs and suspense, and a plot twist that none of us saw coming (I gasped when it was revealed).  More than anything, I was glad that we all had something to look forward to and enjoy together.  As we all get older, it becomes more and more difficult to coordinate everyone’s schedules.  There’s work, school, family obligations, and myriad other responsibilities that take up time and prevent us from getting together as often as we’d really like to.  It takes effort on everyone’s part to meet up and set aside time to enjoy each others’ company.  On this particular outing, many of us have now known each other for the better part of a decade.  We’ve been able to watch each other grow into the people that we now are and witness the various trials and tribulations that we each experienced along the way.  At times, we’ve grown apart for one reason or another, but it’s comforting that we’ve been able to find our ways back to each other and continue what have become fulfilling and cherished friendships.  Whether it’s to celebrate a wedding, someone’s birthday, or a movie we all want to see, I, personally, am glad that I have people with whom I am able to not only enjoy myself, but be myself, no matter how goofy, nerdy, or otherwise embarassingly unconventional I may be.

Night In: IronFest 2013 – Night 3

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I feel very excited and a little bit sad that IronFest is now halfway over.  It’s like the feeling you have when you’re looking forward to Christmas: you’re eager for it to be here so that you can celebrate and enjoy it, but you know that its arrival also means that it’ll soon be over, so you’ll have to wait what will feel like an eternity until it comes again.  Only, in this case, the event in question is a superhero movie and there won’t be any presents.  There will probably be cake, though.

Night 3 of IronFest 2013 was, perhaps, the least Iron-tastic of them all, at least in terms of film.  As we had four weeks to fill and only three movies featuring Iron Man (neither of us had any desire to watch the entirety of The Incredible Hulk just to see a 30 second cameo), we had to pick another film from the Marvel line-up.  In retrospect, I guess we could have just chosen another Robert Downey, Jr. film and been just as happy (if not happier) with our choice, but, I suppose, everything’s clearer in hindsight.  Anyhow, we tuned in to Captain America: The First Avenger last Thursday evening, thus commencing the night’s festivities.

This time, it was my turn to play hostess, and I couldn’t have been more glad to do so.  I’d been tossing ideas about what to make around in my head all week, and I had finally come to a satisfying conclusion: crepes!  Not just any crepes, but Supreme BLT Crepes.  Oh, yeah, now we’re talkin’.  The prep work went surprisingly swiftly, so by the time my good friend, Amy, arrived with the last of the ingredients (some crumbled goat cheese and exactly four pieces of bacon), it took only a short while to throw everything together and enjoy our feast.

I have neither plans nor an occasion to wear lederhosen anytime soon, but I applaud RDJ for sporting some. Sir, please, keep bein’ awesome.

After the treat that was an arugula BLT atop a crepe, we were about ready to wind down.  Each armed with a Spokane Sour, we claimed our spots around the TV for movie time.  As we’d both seen Captain America before, neither of us was all that concerned about interrupting the film to discuss more pressing issues… like what we plan to wear to the finale of IronFest.  Red and gold, obviously.  Discussing this, we realized that this is far from the first time that we’ve sported coordinating outfits for an outing.  Far from the first, in fact.  Just a few examples: last October, we both sported knitted Jack o’ Lantern vests with pumpkin headbands.  To see the stage show Rock of Ages, we wore shiny gold bottoms with ’80s band t-shirts.  Last time we went to Manito Tap House, we both purposefully wore brightly colored maxi dresses.  You see the trend, here?  We like have a good time, and that usually involves some foresight as to what we’ll be wearing.

Dessert?  Did someone mention dessert?  I did.  I’d given considerable thought to what a good springtime dessert would be.  How about a strawberry rhubarb galette?  Yes, please!  Strawberries are starting to pop up at the grocers, and I’m lucky enough to have plenty of rhubarb growing in my back yard, so everything fell into place to make this most excellent vernal delight.  Served with homemade whipped cream, this sweet and tart lazy pie was an ideal way to end what had been a terrific evening of cooking and conversation, with a bit of movie-viewing to boot.

Night Out: Selkirk Abbey Brewing Company

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Have you ever walked into a room and thought to yourself, “This seems strangely familiar”?  You find yourself hit with an unexpected sense of deja vu that really gets you wondering why the scene seems so recognizable.  This is precisely what I thought to myself upon entering the tasting room at Selkirk Abbey Brewing Company in Post Falls, Idaho.  Featuring low, warm lighting; an inviting fireplace; a big, comfy couch; and walls adorned with wooden shelves, antique books, and photographs of far-off monastaries, one can’t help sinking in to the simultaneously relaxing and captivating surroundings.  After thinking on it for a moment, I realized why I felt as though I’d been there before: the room was strikingly similar to what I’ve imagined my home’s future library to look like, but with the fantastic addition of a dozen beer taps.  With this visual in mind, my maiden trip to the Abbey was off to a positively dreamy start.

My friend, Amy, and I arrived at the brewery around six o’clock last Friday, and we quickly discovered that we were far from being the only people with designs toward enjoying a celebratory end-of-the-workweek beer.  We walked in to the tasting room to find that it was already packed with the brewery’s fans and loyal patrons.  Both of us had been looking forward to visiting Selkirk Abbey for some time, so, while waiting to order, we took the opportunity to take in the atmosphere.  Realizing that more and more people were headed toward the tasting room, we quickly snagged the first open table we saw and prepared ourselves for the evening’s endeavor: to sample all of the beers that Selkirk Abbey had to offer.

Established in 2011, Selkirk Abbey Brewing Company places its focus on Belgian-style beers.  In addition to keeping six of their own beers on tap, including a seasonal or two, Selkirk Abbey also hosts five rotating guest taps (all of which are Belgian styles) and keeps the popular Duchesse De Bourgogne on permanent tap.  From saisons to dubbels to quads and beyond, this North Idaho brewery produces a formidable myriad of styles that serves to satisfy even the most persnickety beer fan.  As their slogan states, “It’s not for the masses.  It’s for you.”

Moments after we took our seats, our selection of six petite beer arrived.  Upon our samples’ arrival, Amy and I listened attentively as we were regaled with synopses of each of the beers and their identifying characteristics.  The descriptions left us intrigued and zealous about tasting each option.  Lining them up from by color, we commenced with the evening’s tasting.

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We began with the lightest of the bunch, in terms of both color and ABV.  First up was the aptly named White, an American wheat ale.  Garnished with an orange slice and pale as can be, this crisp, summery ale left us pining for warmer days.  The wholesome wheat flavor was satisfying to the palate, and the additions of orange peel and coriander to the brew gave it just enough spice to leave one pleasantly intrigued.  Next, Deacon showed itself to be everything that we had hoped a Belgian pale ale would be: bursting with the tell-tale aromas of sweet fruit and politely biting spice, this beer had a feel of European delicacy that complemented its vivid and rejuvenating vibe.  Deacon was succeeded by another Belgian staple: a classic saison by the name of St. Stephen.  Befitting the warmer months to come, St. Stephen initially seemed a bit subdued, but it soon showed its true character, letting loose carefree notes of fruit and a subtle aroma of hay, an olfactory homage to its farmland roots.  Not to be upstaged, St. Stephen’s cousin, St. Augustine, soon followed, eager to show us its stuff.  A rye saison, St. Augustine shared several of the style-indicative features of its predecessor, namely, profound fruit and spice influences from the vibrant Belgian yeast, along with a classic “barnyard” quality that really makes saisons stand out.  With the addition of rye, this beer gained another level of depth not present in the beer we had just tried.  Most notably, the spice notes in St. Augustine were perceived as slightly amplified in comparison to St. Stephen, and its finish came off as slightly sour, a feature I found to be an enjoyable and fascinating touch.  Relishing our first four samples, we were already impressed with Selkirk Abbey’s performance and exuberant about sampling our remaining two beers.  It was at this point that our time at the brewery took a terrific and unexpected turn.

It was at this point that Selkirk Abbey’s owner and president, Jeff Whitman, approached us to ask how things were going.  Anticipating that I would want to write about my visit to the brewery, I’d brought my notebook with me to dictate my experience.  Noticing my feverish scribbling, Jeff asked whether I was reviewing their beers.  I laughingly replied that I was not, though Amy did mention my intentions to write about our time that evening.  After inquiring how we had been enjoying his company’s beers thus far, Jeff asked whether we wanted to try something special that wasn’t yet on tap and wouldn’t be for some time.  Gleefully surprised, we replied in the affirmative.

Jeff disappeared into the back, only to return moments later with gold-rimmed goblets filled with ethereal deep amber elixirs.  Setting down the glasses, he proudly introduced us to what is to be Selkirk Abbey’s anniversary ale, an imperial saison named St. Joseph.  I know what you’re thinking: an imperial saison?  Isn’t that a contradiction of terms?  This was my thought, too, and I’m certain that my befuddlement was clearly written across my face.  Prepared to counter my confusion, Jeff proceeded to tell us St. Joseph’s story: brewed this January for the brewery’s anniversary this coming June, St. Joseph weighs in around an astounding 9% ABV.  Yes, 9% ABV.  For a saison.  An imperial saison, mind you.  This gorgeous caramel-tinted amber ale is brewed with Pilsner and dark Munich malts and utilized a unique French saison yeast strain which imparted soft fruit notes that were velvety smooth.  After Jeff’s glowing introduction, I was more than a little curious to try this most pecuiar brew.  I took a hard look at the contents of the goblet, then leaned in to take a whiff.  Reviewing my notes for this beer, I realized that I dropped the vernacular ball when describing it: my first note on it is an expletive expressing my flabbergasted delight.  I was smitten.  It smelled amazing.  The prologue bestowed on St. Joseph resulted in high expectations for it, and in smelling, let alone trying, the beer itself, my expectations were wholly exceeded.  The aroma was nectarous and silky, with an intoxicating sweetness that neither Amy nor I were able to put our fingers on.  Plum?  Caramel?  Apricot?  After considerable consideration, I decided that I was reminded of the soft sweetness of a marshmallow.  Saisons’ usual barnyard aroma was not as pronounced in this iteration of the style as in the others we had already tried, and the addition of dark Munich malt imparted not only a glorious reddish hue to the beer, but also a mysterious sweetness that was pleasing to the palate and entertaining to the senses.  We sipped away on our goblets of St. Joseph, cherishing every bit of the precious ale.  Amy was kind enough to save a bit of her’s to share with her husband.  I was not so generous.  I guarded that goblet like it was the Holy Grail, committed to selfishly savoring every drop.  St. Joseph was absolutely worth it.

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After the thrill of sampling St. Joseph, we wondered, how could our night get any more exciting?  By sampling two more of Selkirk Abbey’s beers, that’s how.  Returning from our delectable departure, we revisited our original line-up of the brewery’s current offerings.  Breaking our pattern of drinking the beers in order of descending color, we next tried St. Thomas, a black saison.  It would have been all too easy for one to visually mistake St. Thomas for a stout, but upon tasting it, the distinction became apparent.  Tingling with the roasted bitterness of coffee flavors, this dark seasonal was surprisingly light and crisp.  It lacked the thick heaviness that can occasionally make some stouts less than ideally drinkable, and its flavor was full and satiating.  Being an avid fan of North Coast’s Old Rasputin, I found St. Thomas to be an exhilaratingly fresh take on the realm of dark beers.

Amy and I are both die-hard hopheads, so the choice to save the hoppiest of the group for last was more personal than stylistic.  Our final beer of the evening was Infidel, Selkirk Abbey’s Belgian IPA.  I quickly found myself reliving the olfactory euphoria that I had experienced with St. Joe, though this time, I was captivated by the citrusy aroma the emanated from the glass.  Finished with crowd-pleasing Cascade hops and dry-hopped with high-alpha Citra® hops, Infidel was everything we hoped that it would be: it was floral, with accents of grapefruit, and brimmed with sharp hop bitterness.  Unlike the other beers that we had sampled that night, the aroma of hops far outweighed the aromas produced by the Belgian yeast in the beer.  Another factor that set Infidel apart from its beer brethren was its color: brilliant, glowing gold, this beer was quite hazy in comparison to the others in the line-up.  Jeff enlightened us as to why this was: as a result of rough filtering, Infidel comes out looking cloudier than the other beers, which are filtered using other means.  Perhaps what truly set Infidel apart from Selkirk Abbey’s other beers was its origin: Infidel is the brewery’s only beer not to be an original creations.  The beer’s first incarnation was conceived by Steve Milnes at Sandpoint’s Laughing Dog Brewing Company where it went by the (somewhat long-winded) name “St. Benny’s Hoppy Monk.”  It was brewed as Laughing Dog’s Pro-Am entry at the 2011 Great American Beer Fest and was served at Laughing Dog’s 7th anniversary party in August 2011.  The recipe has since been lovingly adopted by Selkirk Abbey and has become one of its most popular products, providing the area’s hopheads with the high doses of bitterness they crave alongside the iconic spicy fruitiness brought about by Belgian yeast.  Having gained some supplementary insight into the brewery’s processes and back story, we continued our discussion of the beers and our then-present delectation of them.

By this point, our outing had already been an remarkable evening of sampling beers at one of the area’s premiere breweries.  Little did we suspect, it was about to become even more exceptional.  As we paid our tabs and prepared to depart, Jeff approached us with a terrific invitation: would we like to check out the brewhouse itself and see where they make the beer?  Of course, we would love to!  Exchanging looks of wide-eyed shock, we hurriedly followed Jeff behind the tasting room.  Three more friends had joined Amy and I over the course of the evening, and our group of five must have looked like ducks in a row walking after Jeff .  We were very excited.

Exiting the tasting room and entering the brewhouse, my friends and I gazed at the scene.  Filled with great steel tanks and a variety of brewing machinery, the brewhouse was an impressive sight.  Jeff proceeded to tell us a bit about their operation and its background: Selkirk Abbey houses a seven-barrel brewing system which produces about ninety barrels each month.  In total, the brewery is currently capable of producing about 2,700 barrels each year.  Selkirk Abbey’s beers can currently be found on tap throughout central and eastern Washington and northern Idaho, and they also distribute to Virgina and Delaware.  As we moved through the brewhouse, Jeff showed us a spacious refrigerator full of kegs waiting to be shipped east.  The brewery isn’t expanding its horizons through distribution alone: in the coming months, Selkirk Abbey is set to start releasing its brews in 22 oz. bottles.  Initial offerings will include three of its saisons, Saints Stephen, Thomas, and Augustine, as well as Infidel, Deacon, a quad, and Octavian, a special release imperial dark ale.  Besides releasing their beers in bottles, Selkirk Abbey also has aspirations of beginning a sour beer program.  As I have encountered numerous barrel-aged beers from local breweries as of late, I couldn’t help but ask about Jeff’s thoughts regarding the barrel-aging trend.  He replied that they would like to try barrel-aging their White in whiskey barrels from Spokane’s Dry Fly Distillery and have been eying aging some of their other brews in used Chardonnay wine barrels.  Intriguing, no?  If their present success is any indicator, their fans are sure to love and embrace any and all new offerings, sour or otherwise, that the brewery may produce.

Like Spokane’s breweries, Selkirk Abbey, located several miles away and just over the Washington-Idaho state line, has access to the Spokane Aquifer.  Other than having to treat the water to counter annual chlorine additions, Selkirk Abbey does not treat the water it uses in its beers.  Along with its water, the brewery locally sources as many of its ingredients as it can.  As evidenced by the stacks of sacks filling the shelves of the brewhouse, much of the malt used by the brewery originates in Vancouver, WA and the surrounding areas.  With few exceptions, the hops featured in Selkirk Abbey’s beers are grown Washington’s Yakima Valley and near Bonners Ferry, Idaho.

As we slowly made our way out of the brewhouse, we were delighted that Jeff took the time to entertain a few of our questions about both his brewery and the brewing industry at large.  Regarding Jeff’s own background, he worked for Avista Utilities for over a decade and homebrewed for seven years before founding his brewery.  He now works full-time at his brewery, and he and his wife can frequently be found manning the brewery’s tasting room.  Even if he were to win the lottery, Jeff says, he wouldn’t dare leave his brewery.  If anything, he said, he’d use his hypothetical winnings to expand his company. Speaking of growth, Selkirk Abbey has already begun its foray into the national competitive brewing scene: its brews competed at last year’s the Great American Beer Festival and North American Brewers Association competition, and Jeff has every intention of competing again this year.

My final inquiry regarded barley wines.  With the exception of the presently unavailable Octavian, the brewery didn’t appear to have any on-tap offerings resembling strong ales.  When Jeff asked whether I was a barley wine fan, one of my friends took the liberty of answering for me, declaring, “Yes, she loves barley wines.”  With that, Jeff vanished for a moment into yet another exceptionally spacious refrigerator.  Upon his reemergence, he graciously offered me his last remaining bottle of vintage 2012 Terra Incognita, a barley wine brewed as a winter seasonal by Matt Ganz at Salmon River Brewing Company in McCall, Idaho.  Gratefully, I accepted the generous gift and promised to enjoy it as soon as possible.  That said, I drank it the next day.  It was fantastic.  It reminded me of Selkirk Abbey’s own St. Joe in that it had a difficult-to-identify sweetness which I found irresistible.  The off-white head emitted notes of citrus and notions of caramel, and the deep amber liquid revealed a sweetness that alluded toward dried dates and warming spices.  Terra Incognita was more bitter than I expected, though I appreciated it all the more for it.  A beautiful beer that brought forth memories of blazing fires on frigid winter days, I was and am greatly appreciative to Jeff for offering to share this beer with me.

After shaking hands with Jeff and thanking him for allowing us to tour his brewery and sample an exclusive and outstanding brew, we migrated back into the tasting room to regroup before going our separate ways.  My friends and I had a wonderful time trying each of Selkirk Abbey’s selections and were so grateful for the opportunity to get a closer look at the brewery.  Given the outstanding quality of its brews and its fans’ fervent support, I believe that this standout brewery has nowhere to go but up.  Whether visiting for the premiere of a new brew or to simply enjoy a soothing pint after a wearying workweek, I can’t wait to return to the Abbey to worship the Northwest beer powers that be.

Special thanks to Jeff and Dana at Selkirk Abbey Brewing Company for their generosity, graciousness, and hospitality.  It was an absolute pleasure meeting both of them, and I had a fantastic time sampling their beers and visiting their brewery.  Also, thank you to Amy for helping me with the photography for this post and for being game to go on yet another brew-venture.