April is going to be a busy beer month here in the city of subdued excitement
. I have two classes at Bellingham Technical College, a beginner homebrewing class on Sat. the 16th and a Beers of the British Isles tasting on Sat. the 23rd. The following weekend on Sat. the 30th is April Brew’s Day
– the Bellingham beerfest that is an annual fundraiser for the Max Higbee center
The first April Brew’s Day I went to I helped pour beer for Frankenstein/Whatcom Brewery from Ferndale. The next month I started working at Boundary Bay, this was back in 2005. Each year I see the festival it gets bigger and better, well bigger isn’t always better, i guess, since there is a big crowd of people to navigate around. I suggest coming early as there is a line to get in and some of the breweries special beers often run out early. That is why I always try to find beers I haven’t tasted before first before going on to quaff old favorites.
April Brew’s Day is located across the street from Boundary at the Depot Market Square
(home of the Bellingham Farmer’s Market) so I like to try and have something different for people to taste since they could just get our beer across the street otherwise. Over the last few years, some of our rare brews for April Brews Day have become cult favorites, so this year I will be again be brewing my Ginger Peach Blonde and Vanilla Bourbon Oak Aged Imperial Stout (people’s choice last year). It was funny last year while hanging out in the crowd I heard many people talking about the Ginger Peach, but I didn’t hear anyone talking about the Vanilla Bourbon Stout. So I was surprised that nobody seemed to vote for the Ginger Peach Blonde and was really happy when the Stout was voted people’s choice.
The history of the Ginger Peach Blonde was we needed something for Strange Brewfest
at the old WaterStreet Brewery
in Port Townsend. I came up with the idea of putting some fresh grated ginger and some peach juice/extract in a keg of Blonde. I’ve played around with it each year with varied success, but the concept is you smell the peach and then taste the peach, but it quickly gives way to a spicy ginger finish that cleans your palate, kind of like eating pickled ginger with sushi. I’ve never liked sweet, cloying, syrupy fruit beers, which is why I use the peach extract/juice concentrate because it gives the aroma and flavor without all the extra sugar or cloudy pectin. The Vanilla Oak Aged Imperial Oatmeal Stout is a bit more involved, but the process started several months ago to be ready for this month. I hope you’ll come down and try this years beers, and please don’t forget to vote for them!
My Beers of the British Isles
class will have iconic beers of England, Scotland, Ireland, maybe a Welsh beer and then American versions of these styles. The idea is to show how American craft brewers have been inspired by these traditional brewing styles, and then taken them to new levels. I’ll be teaming up with Boundary Bay’s kitchen manager and BTC culinary alumni, Matt Hansen. He’s going to help pair food with each beer style which will be a perfect accompaniment to our beers. The beginner’s brewing class
is for people who are brand new to homebrewing. We will do a demonstration extract brew and discuss all you need to know to start brewing in your kitchen. You can register online
for both of my classes. Hope to see you there.