fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)

beer and crayfish, washington style

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A few years ago I threw a hasty thought in Sean’s general direction: at or soon after age 21, how ’bout he and I and whoever was willing spend sometime tasting brews in Washington state?

He didn’t forget.

We’re back now, but here’s to hoping that memories of our trip will pop to mind every time we sip Rogue Brewery‘s Dry Hopped Saint Rogue Red Ale (Mark – Sean and I already have some in the fridge) or the harder-to-find Chipotle Ale.

It was a good, relatively unstructured trip. After twenty-plus years of deadlines, I’m beginning to tend to avoid them on my own time. The only specific goals: beer and crayfish and visiting with the folks and the bro’ and his family.

Bookended by crowded but relatively uneventful flights, our vacation begin last Thursday morning, conveyed in The Buick by mom and dad. Thursday was a day of visiting, catching up and re-introductions between the cousins/nephews and the cousin and uncle. Kaden seemed to have a fuzzy recollection of who I might be, or at least the idea that I wouldn’t bite. Levi was a bit standoffish, or perhaps a bit more focused on grandpa and oma’s toy selection. It was an enjoyable afternoon.

August 2009 visit 024 Dad Mark Issaquah Brewery

Mark and Dad discussing beer at the Issaquah Brew House

Friday’s mission was beer-ucation. Fueled by a pancake breakfast and skewered meat for lunch, the boys-Sean, Mark, dad and me-it was off to Issaquah Brew House. Among the beers we tasted were the aforementioned Saint Rogue Red and Chipotle Ale, as well as Brutal Bitter, Chocolate Stout, Hazelnut Brown Nectar, Juniper Pale Ale, Morimoto Imperial Pilsner, Old Crustacean Barleywine, White Frog Ale (a favorite), and Ménage À Frog Ale (an abbey tripel, my personal favorite). It’s a great place to enjoy a variety of Rogue and “guest” beers. A place we should all hope to visit again.

August 2009 visit 026 Sean Raven

Sean and our flight at the Raven Brewing Co. (Redmond, Wash.)

Unfortunately, all of my research was conducted online, so our next stop was the actual brewery, and without a taproom it was on to the Black Raven Brewing Co. Tucked into an industrial park, the Black Raven taproom offers somewhat of an upscale, almost yuppy-ish setting. (Dad asked the barkeep if coffee might be available, and got a resounding “no.”) The selection of beers is limited to Black Raven’s production, but we enjoyed a flight, with Kristale Wheat bring one favorite, as well as an unfiltered version of a German weizen beer.

The next stop was predicated on hunger. Knowing that Redhook Ale Brewery tends to be popular and crowded, we stopped anyhow, hoping to grab some beer and grub. But a 40-minute wait didn’t sit well, so a short drive later we dropped in on Teddy’s Bigger Burger. Pretty good place; clean, well lit, with good burgers. And dad learned that a 7-ounce burger is much more filling than a 5 ounce.

Saturday started with stomach stretches as a prelude to a good ol’-fashion crayfish boil. With a Pacific Northwest twist. We occupied our time in the morning visiting with Mark and family, and Kaden beating me at Mario Kart on the Wii. Mark whipped up some salsa and guac’ to tide us over. Then Sean, Mark and me headed out to visit our hosts, Joe and Toby, then drooled over a few motorcycles before returning to the house, where dad was waiting.

August 2009 visit 034 Dinner

A meal!

When judged by Northerners, and even West Coasters, crayfish don’t top the list of foods with which we have much of a relationship. However, boiled with just the right amount of Zatarain’s seasoning and accompanied by king crab legs, shrimp, clams, three varieties of sausage, corn on the cob, and potatoes, crayfish become more than food-you-can-play-with. Add to that plenty of beer, ranging from Coors to Pacific Northwest craft brews; a sweet and deceiving alcoholic beverage with “vixen” in its name, side dishes, and desserts, and you’ve got a food festival. Between the crowd rushing the table as each pot’s contents were poured out, the kids running around, and the socializing, it was an awesome time. (Public thanks once again to Toby and Joe!)

Sean and I crashed at Mark and Kenna’s house that night…crashed I say thanks to Mark-made apple-tinis; only to awaken Sunday to a Breakfast Nirvana of stomach-stickin’ buttermilk pancakes, Lil Smokies sausages, and bacon. Kenna and Kaden had a party to attend, so Sean, Mark, Levi and me took the nickel tour of the area and took a man-walk around Snohomish, which is basically an antiquing town. After a stop in a coffee house, it was back home…

…and after doing laundry and filling our suitcases with clean clothes, we all met at the Ixtapa restaurant in Duvall. A nice ending. It was a great trip.

Just means we’ll be back again. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Below are the rest of the pictures…



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