Beer it Forward: Using craft beer to do something positive for racial equality

If you think about the average craft beer enthusiast, though not always true, you probably conjure an image of a bearded white guy. Hey, I am one. 

I’ve been following the local and national protests on the news and struggling with a way that I can show my support and actually do something. Then I found a fellow craft beer enthusiast and bearded white guy, Blake Fitzgerald, deciding to do something. 

What you need to do before June 8:
Because of the outpouring of support Blake will be splitting the winnings between two or three people.
What to do:
– Follow link to Blake’s Facebook page. 
– Donate at least $10
– Put your number and a screen shot of your donation in the comments

“I didn’t know what I was watching at first,” Blake recently shared. “I had hoped that the officer would get off him or someone would step in. It brought me to tears when I realized that George Floyd was being slowly murdered.” 

As George Floyd lay dead on a Minneapolis street, a police officer’s knee still on his throat, Blake said: “I was instantly frustrated, angry and hurt.” 

Millions of people have seen the images and video leaving them feeling helpless, angry, sad and on the brink of tears. How could the police kill a black man … again.

In the days after Floyd’s death, while most people processed the situation and/or protested, Blake Fitzgerald was looking at what he could do within his circle of influence. “I felt helpless with what is going on and wanted to do something positive” Blake said. 

In times of crisis, often the best way to make an impact is to look inward and ask yourself what is it I can do to make a difference. Blake took his love of craft beer and turned it into a fundraiser.

Blake is a level 2 Certified Cicerone (professional beer certification) and a beertender at Josh’s Taps and Caps in Snohomish. With a love of craft beer that started before he could drink, and refined on family trips to breweries, it was only natural for him to set up a fundraiser that incorporated beer.

Blake created a #BIF, or “Beer It Forward,” post on Facebook and Instagram. Blake asked people to donate $10 minimum to the NAACP , post a receipt and pick a random number between 1 and 5000, by the drawing date of June 8. This would allow the winner as picked by a random number generator, to win five beers: Fremont B3K, Structures Blend 2, Holy Mountain Bonne Nuit, 3 Fonteinen 2016 and 3 Fonteinen A&G.   

To get more traction, Blake cross-posted in hard-core beer trading sites in which he is a member and other local Facebook groups. 

Blake didn’t know what to expect once he posted. At this point he really didn’t care and was ready for whatever backlash and results he may get. Personally having witnessed the compassion, caring and genuine kindness of the craft beer community, I’m not surprised at the response Blake received. 

In three days Blake’s post has spurred 47 donations totaling over $2,500 to the NAACP and almost all for more than the $10 minimum. The Thurgood Marshall College Fund has $50 as well. With a lot of the large donors not asking to even be part of the drawing. Numerous people thanking Blake in the comments for reminding them to do their part. While Blake is rather reticent of the attention and the pats on the back, he’s just happy to “spread some positivity into the world.”

He’s had numerous people reach out to donate not just money but beers as well, top shelf stuff <see list below>.  As of last count he was up to 28 bottles (and growing). TJ Borden, co-owner of The Republic, another Snohomish County bottle shop, was compelled to add two Floodland bottles (Red and Gold and Waxwing) from his personal cellar. 

“In the spirit of beer and community I am always up to support what I believe is right and if I can do it by drinking philanthropically or helping someone else drink philanthropically, sign me up!” TJ said. 

Let us not kid ourselves, this isn’t the end-all, be-all and one #BIF is not going to change the world or undo years of systemic racism. Admittedly, it is a small act, but a small act that may inspire other small acts. Combined with a million more small acts, is a step in the right direction on a million mile journey. Blake says he’s just a guy in the local beer scene that decided to do something instead of nothing. I see that, but I also see a man who took his anger, sadness and tears and decided to produce something good in the world. Thanks and cheers Blake.

List of Beers Donatednot complete since more are being donated

Fremont Brew 3000
3 Fonteinen 2016 Vintage
3 Fonteinen A&G
Structures Blend 2
Holy Mountain Bonne Nuit
Floodland Neither Site Nor Time (was added at the $1,000 goal mark )
Side Project Lagnst B2
8th State Whale Blood
Anchorage Endless Ending
Weller Special Reserve
Floodland Red / Gold Floodland Waxwing
Cantillon Grand Cru Bruocsella Weldwerks & Bottle Logic Vanilla Destination
Horus Millenialistic Falcon
Chuck’s 10th Anniversary
3 Fonteinen Hommage X2 375ml
Fair Isle Eleanor
2 Burke Gilman Brewing Company Crowlers of your choice.
Fremont The Smoking Jacket
Fremont The Inner Circle
3 Fonteinen Hommage 750
Toppling Goliath Coconut Assassin
3 Fonteinen Hommage 2017 
Bobby Wood’s legendary hot sauce!

The Ultimate Quarantine Six Pack

Like most of you, I have been quarantined at home for the better part of 2 months. If you’re a beer nerd like me, these quarantine days have you drinking just a little bit more. 

For me, it started innocently enough. Grabbing a few extras from my cellar. But once I saw the releases breweries we’re putting together, I started re-stocking the fridge. It became part of my weekly routine: groceries and beer, not necessarily in that order. 

With American Craft Beer Week starting today (May 11) and running all week, I thought it would be a good time to take stock and highlight a few of the beers released during quarantine that I have really enjoyed. Beers I was actually able to secure (while social distancing) and drink. Some I missed out on (Reuben’s Triple Crush!) and a few that went right into the cellar (Fremont’s B4K and Skookum’s Quarantine and #BIL). Those aren’t included. I also wanted to highlight a few different styles, a mixed 6 pack if you will. Without further ado, here is Wheezy’s Quarantine 6-pack.


Vanilla Solitary Confinement
Skookum Brewery

| RELEASE DATE April 8
| ABV 11% | UNTAPPD 4.22

A version of Solitary Confinement (stout aged 13-20 months in bourbon barrels) but aged 16 months in Woodford Reserve barrels and finished on whole vanilla beans.

Tasting Notes
At this point do we expect anything less than barrel-aged perfection from head brewer Hollis Wood and the crew at Skookum? They have set the bar high and people are driving up from parts unknown to the lil’ ol’ brewery near the airport. I’ve seen Skookum bottles pop up as far away as Kansas City and Florida as the trade market has been crazy for any and all of their barrel-aged offerings.    

While I prefer the original SC, this one is still exquisite. I found where the regular SC has that delicious big bourbon, boozy kick on the back end, VSC is smoother with a hint of vanilla. It still has some warmth, but is more approachable. The vanilla really smooths the edges so if bourbon isn’t your thing you may prefer VSC over SC. That being said I love bourbon, but I also love VSC.

| BETTER UP YOUR TRADE GAME; SOLD OUT

Die in Haze
Structures Brewing

| RELEASE DATE April 23
| ABV 10.2% | UNTAPPD 4.64

Hazy Triple IPA

Tasting Notes
Structures released this version of Die In Haze on the same day as Fuzz and their collaboration with Skookum, Farewell Transmission. While all three are really good, Die in Haze stood out to me. It was the best IPA that I have tasted this year, so far.

This tasty juice bomb hits everything you want and not too much or too little of anything. With its juicy but smooth taste you won’t believe this is a triple IPA. It’s so chock full of hops that I found a fair bit of hop residue lingering in the bottom of my pint glass.  

| SOLD OUT

Demonteller
Holy Mountain Brewing

| RELEASE DATE April 20 
| ABV 5.1% | UNTAPPD 4.13

Mixed culture Saison fermented and aged in oak foudres and hopped with galaxy and mosaic 

Tasting Notes
This is not a new beer. It’s actually one of the tap list staples at HM. The reason this beer is on the list is because for the first time ever it has been bottled and offered to go. A refreshing, moderately tart Saison with light funk and a citrusy effervescent mouth feel.  Demonteller is a classic summer sipper and can now be enjoyed at home, sitting on the porch, reading a book or tending the barbecue. At $10 a piece there is no reason not to add a couple in on your next HM order. 

| GET THIS BEER

Dr. Evil
At Large Brewing

| RELEASE DATE March 27 
| ABV 6.3 % | UNTAPPD 4.16

Hazy IPA made with Citra, Idaho 7, Wai-iti hops.

Tasting Notes
Part of At Large’s Villain Series of IPAs, Dr Evil is a soft IPA that still has a full creamy mouthfeel, with citrus notes galore. Before we go any further, I need to admit my love affair with Idaho 7.  It’s real and while I don’t think the feeling is reciprocated, I won’t stop enjoying its charms any time soon. Idaho 7 has all the flavors that make IPAs great. Pine, tropical fruit, citrus and some say earthy. I don’t know, but when this hop is used with Citra it’s an instant classic for me. At Large has been cranking out tasty IPAs for a while but this is one of my all-time favorites from them.    

| SOLD OUT

Patchwork Pale Ale
Good Brewing

| RELEASE DATE April 18
| ABV 5.2% | IBU 40 | UNTAPPD 4.06

A hazy pale ale with 100% Mosaic hops.

Tasting Notes
While not as hazy as we’ve come to expect from the style, this cloudy beer still delivers on flavor with 100% Mosaic. Kevin King of Good Brewing is not one to skimp on the addition of hops to his beers and Patchwork shines with the dry hopping with copious amounts of Mosaic hops. 

This amber-colored gem is easily crushable with its lower ABV and IBU, but it still delivers on flavor. If you are looking for something hoppier than a pilsner but not as heavy as an IPA, this is a great choice. Easy to drink while mowing the lawn — or watching someone else mow a lawn. 

| GET THIS BEER

Three Strands IPA
5 Rights Brewing

| RELEASE DATE March 12
| ABV 6.6% | IBU 55 | UNTAPP 4.24

Hazy IPA made with Citra, Idaho 7 and Azzacca hops.

Tasting Notes
5 Rights has always exuded and fostered a feeling of family and community. Three Strands IPA is a symbol of that connection. I didn’t pick this beer because of those references, I picked it because it is damn delicious. 

Loaded with the delicious combo of Citra and Idaho 7 (I told ya’ I love these hops!) this smooth haze bomb is chock full of tropical fruit flavors on the nose and in the mouth, while remaining creamy and well-balanced. I’m impressed because a couple of the hops are so high in bittering alpha acids but this beer remains delicious and juicy without a ton of bitterness. My hope is this beer joins the family of other 5 Rights IPAs in regular rotation. 

| SOLD OUT


As the majority of us are waiting for the world to reopen, and breweries are continuing to crush it with releases, this 6 pack may easily grow into a half rack or even a case. It’s been exciting to see the speed, styles and creativity of the brewers during this time. Adaptation is a skill of survival and for us the beer drinker, this adaptation has led to some amazing beer releases.

Now this is just one man’s rambling, so I fully expect and am actually excited to hear everyone’s own Quarantine 6-Pack. Leave a note, make a comment, or tag us in a post. Until we can drink together again, Happy American Craft Beer Week and Cheers! 

| Photographs by Brian.

Good Brewing’s Great Reinvention

If I learned anything from Saturday morning cartoons, besides three being the magic number, it was “necessity is the mother of invention.” In the past few weeks, I have heard this old proverb bandied about to express the way retailers and the beer industry specifically have responded in the face of the current quarantine.

Never was this point more clear than in talking with Kevin King from Good Brewing in Woodinville. When news broke of the Washington stay at home order Kevin and his wife Shalliah, a nurse, knew it was the right approach to the crisis.

“We both understand what is at stake,” Kevin said.

While we can all agree there is never a good time for a statewide quarantine, the timing hit Good Brewing especially hard. Right now, their business model is based 90% on in-house pint sales which is tough enough. But after just opening a second location in the Hollywood Schoolhouse area of Woodinville, it was especially painful.

“We wanted to make sure people had an opportunity to grab beer from their doorstep.”

Instead of getting ready for spring and summer crowds, Kevin was left juggling taproom hours for in person pick up, but soon realized, “I was not going to make enough revenue to pay payroll, rent for both locations and utilities.” That’s when he saw that some breweries had turned to delivery. Figuring out next steps, he called his friend Michael Dempster, from Mirage Beer Co., who had already implemented delivery. Kevin picked up a few tips and off they went.

Kevin explained, “Most people are making the right choice to stay home and not venture out. We wanted to make sure people had an opportunity to grab beer from their doorstep.” Kevin revamped the website himself and started to figure out how far they would deliver. “For the boundaries I wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to get beer,” he said.

They set south Seattle as one boundary, figuring highway traffic would be light. Originally Kevin thought Bothell would be as far north as they could go. That’s when a volunteer stepped up and showed what a tight-knit family Good Brewing is. Literally. Kevin’s aunt said she could help deliver up north, which allowed Kevin to set the northern boundary to Arlington.

“She offered to deliver anything north of Bothell which helps out,” Kevin said. “She really loves doing the beer deliveries.”

So, every day on her way north from work to home, Kevin’s aunt, who is an essential medical employee, delivers beer. I guess we know who the real MVP is here!

Besides Kevin, in his 1949 Studebaker pickup, and the gracious aunt, Good Brewing is currently keeping 2-3 people busy with deliveries.

Asked about the response Kevin said, “Some people just order up a 4-pack and 6 Dave coins — coupons for free tap room beer — just to keep the money flowing for the brewery.” Adding a food option of “Pizza in a Box” where you get dough and all the ingredients to make your own pizza at home has helped. As more people hear about what Good Brewing is doing they continue to see an uptick in orders.

“This week looks like it will be the best so far,” said Kevin, which he’s hoping will allow Good Brewing to bring on/back more staff.

Naturally, I had to test it out. Because really, pizza AND beer delivered to my doorstep, am I dreaming? I ordered 2 mixed 6 packs of beer and 3 pizzas in 3 different boxes one evening and set delivery for the next day. Lo and behold, in early afternoon of the next day there was Kevin, with cold beer and pizza on my doorstep! I could’ve hugged him.

But, you know, there’s that whole social distancing thing.

The pizzas come with dough and all the ingredients needed to make them: sauce, toppings and cheese. We made the pizzas as a family, which, besides giving our wi-fi a break, also gave us a fun activity to do together. All of the beers were great, which isn’t surprising if you know Good Brewing. The two that stood out to me were Birthday Haze Craze and the Patchwork Hazy Pale.

Once things settle down and get back closer to normal, Kevin said, “we hope people will come running back to sit in our seats. However, I think things will be different, so depending on sales, we may keep beer delivery going.”

Personally, I love going out for a beer and will continue to do so as soon as I’m legally allowed. But I hope the innovation of home beer delivery sticks around much longer than Miller Chill and Four Loko.

Peace. Love. Beers. Brian


Brian’s Tasting Notes

Birthday Haze Craze

Had to get this. Because anytime I see “Idaho 7,” I just can’t help myself.

| KEY INGREDIENTS Row Barley, White Wheat, Oats. Mosaic, Columbus and DDH of Idaho 7 hop hash
| ABV 6.2% | IBU 60

Patchwork Hazy Pale

Light enough to crush. Hoppy enough to make you think you’re drinking an IPA.

| KEY INGREDIENTS 100% Mosaic
| ABV 5.2%

Order here

If you can’t come to us, we’ll go to you.

| Artwork + Photography courtesy of Good Brewing Co.

Wheezy’s Post-COVID Beer Bucket List

When all this craziness finally ends where is the first place you will go to meet friends, grab a beer and a bite?

What permanent remnants, of what’s now becoming normal, will remain after COVID leaves us? Will bartenders continue to wear gloves, and people to wear masks? Will social distancing still be a thing? In a time where “Virtual Happy Hours” have filled a desperate void of interaction with fellow humans, I know we are forever changed.

When I think about when this is all over my “I can’t wait till …” moments involve my friends, beer lines, trivia, live music, Seattle Beer Week (SBW) and bottle shares. In a time of circumstances pulling us apart, I wanted to find something that may eventually pull us back together, given a chance. And for my mental health, I need to believe we will want to gather in large places again, drink beer, eat food and kibitz with friends and strangers. Here are a few places that would be great choices once the COVID quarantine is a thing of the past.


Pine Box – Cap Hill

Going to a place that celebrates “Bruce Lee Day” has to be on any list of anything, doesn’t it? Considering the Pine Box was once a funeral parlor and the location of Bruce Lee’s actual funeral with Steve McQueen and Chuck Norris as a couple of the pall bearers, it does officially qualify as bad ass.

While they do have some great food choices, the real draw here are the 24+ taps, which bleed local beer as you sit at a bar, in an old funeral home. You can work on your own Black Belt of beer with taps from Holy Mountain, Cloudburst, Reubens, Stoup and Future Primitive all on tap. And with something running through their in house randall there is always something fun and unusual to pick from.

Brouwer’s Cafe – Fremont

Every time I enter Brouwer’s I feel like an underdressed extra in Vikings or The Witcher, stumbling in for a pint of grog. With the medieval vibe of stone and dark wood, it is easy to see why Barleywine just tastes better here. #truth

If you want to drink your way out of COVID, Brouwer’s is your place. I lost count of their taps at 50. Filled with local and other west coast favorites – but also some hard to find beers from Belgian and German. They have great bottles for in-house purchase and consumption. And we haven’t even started on the Whiskey. I’ll save that for when we start that whiskey blog!

Along with the beer, another must have is the Stoofvleez Frites. It is a Belgian beef and beer stew poured over delicious fried potatoes. Think Belgian poutine but way, way better!

Loretta’s Northwestern – South Park (pictured above)

Out front hangs the classic “Loretta’s Northwesterner” neon sign, cool enough to be retro but old enough to feel authentic and original. Inside, the dim lighting and low wooded ceilings make you feel like you are below deck on an old sailboat. Housing an old Airstream trailer parked in the partially covered outdoor area and a fire pit, Loretta’s is unpretentious and funky
in that typical South Seattle, Georgetown way.

They support their own with beers from the area including multiple Georgetown beers on tap, Counterbalance, San Juan Seltzer and Rainier tall boys. Besides the uber local, you can also find a Skookum IPA or taps from Wander, Boundary Bay and Holy Mountain. Seriously, this place has your beer needs covered.

One thing to eat is the Tavern Burger, sometimes called the Northwesterner. Known to turn hardcore vegetarians into meat eaters — fine print: not substantiated and probably not true — but it’s that damn good. A toasted bun and a no frills cheeseburger, beautiful in its simplicity. And oh go ahead, get the double.

With the curve flattening, and the governors of Washington, Oregon and California at least starting the conversation about opening up for business again, I can almost taste the draft beer on my lips, as I start making my breaking the ‘tine plans. Because I need to see people enjoying themselves over beers and talking about anything besides COVID. I hope to see you out at one of these places or just around somewhere in the Post COVID world. And if you have a great neighborhood bar in your area I didn’t get to please let me know. There are way too many to name in one post!

Peace. Love. Beers. Brian

Meet Brian

I’ve liked beer from an early age. According to family lore I waddled around in my diaper to finish cans of Budweiser that lay within arm’s reach of a toe-headed toddler. I guess I was just born to drink beer. Writing on the other hand doesn’t come as easy.

I have a day job, which thankfully doesn’t require much writing. Unfortunately it doesn’t involve much beer drinking either. One of the ways I subdue the day-to-day grind of my suburban 9-to-5 life is by engaging with the beer community. Drinking beer, discussing beer, trading beer, waiting in line for beer, making beer, making friends through beer, taking beercations, and now writing — poorly — about beer.

Having homebrewed I appreciate the craftsmanship and creativity of brewing, the science and the art melding together to form beer. I admire the ingenuity and risks brewers take to try something new and different. As new styles come and go. The one thing that I’ve found constant is the sense of community and support within the beer world. I can only hope as we start this endeavor the beer community is supportive of our risk to try something new and different. Brian aka ‘Wheezy’

| FAVORITE BEER STYLE?

IPA

| DREAM BEERCATION?

Belgium

| IF YOU WERE A BEER, WHAT KIND WOULD YOU BE?

Irish Stout — the working man’s drink. And, well, I’m Irish … and stout.