Woodinville Wine Country (for beer fans – part 1)

There’s something new fermenting in Woodinville and it has nothing to do with grapes or hooks, red or otherwise. When I wrote The Beer Fan’s Guide to Woodinville Wine Country back in 2010, the Redhook Ale Brewery was but a lonely island set amidst an ocean of wine. A few months ago that all began to change…

In December 2011, with little advance warning, and even less fanfare, Twelve Bar Brews opened a small production brewery and taproom. This was followed just last month by the grand opening of Dirty Bucket Brewing. And a third brewery, Brickyard Brewing, is preparing to open next month.

That’s quite a change in a relatively short time! I wonder: do these developments mark the beginning of a perfect storm in Woodinville, such as happened last year in Poulsbo? I certainly hope so; but I guess time will tell.

dblogoThis past weekend, after spending an enjoyable afternoon’s tasting at the Woodinville Warehouse District Wineries, The Spouse, The Daughter and I stopped by Dirty Bucket Brewing for a first look at the newcomers and a taste of their brews. Dirty Bucket is situated in a great location on 144th Ave NE just down the street from the couple dozen winery tasting rooms in the winery warehouse complex.

In the commercial sense Dirty Bucket has started very small – at the Nanobrewing scale – loosely defined as a brewery equipped with a 3 BBL or less brewhouse.

Brewmaster Steve Acord brews on a ½ BBL (60 litre) Sabco Brew-Magic system – roughly 100 ‘real’ (imperial) pints at a time. This doesn’t sound like much however I know from Jeff Holcomb’s example using the same system at Valhöll Brewery, that with enough time devoted to brewing multiple batches, and enough fermentation capacity, a surprisingly large amount of beer can be produced.

Dirty Bucket Taplist

Dirty Bucket Taplist

This was evident during our visit: already Steve has five beers on tap; plus the always excellent draft root beer from Snoqualmie Brewing was available for the kids. Right now production is only satisfying demand in the taproom. There is not yet enough production to begin keg or growler distribution, but that should come all in good time.

My take on the Dirty Bucket beers… We passed on the blonde ale but took a taster flight of the pale, the amber, the IPA and the stout. To be honest the XXX-Tra Filthy Imperial IPA was a little too intense for my taste but I suspect it goes down well with NW Hopheads. As for the “Rusty Pail” (nice word play), I’m probably not a fair judge because since I decided Elliott Bay’s Alembic Pale is my benchmark for this style, everything else ‘pales’ in comparison. Let’s just say I didn’t form an opinion – good or bad.

Dirty Bucket Brewery & Taproom

Dirty Bucket Brewery & Taproom

On the other hand I did enjoy the Dirty Amber, and especially the nitro pour Black Lab Stout: both were very good. These two brews left me impatient to sample the Filthy Hoppin’ IPA and the Ruski Porridge Oatmeal Stout next time they hit the taps. My taster flight was followed by a pint of Black Lab Stout – it was the standout on the day.

You gotta love the names: beers called Dirty or Filthy, and a message at the entrance inviting people to “Come On In And Get Dirty.” And finally… Steve’s homage to Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Brewery: “Starting Small and Dreaming Big” is emblazoned on the wall at the rear of the brewhouse.

Based on this initial visit, I believe Dirty Bucket Brewing is off to a great start. I look forward to many more Dirty visits, and even more Filthy pints. 🙂

Dirty Bucket is easily reached by transit – roughly half a mile, about 15 minutes from the bus stop. From there walk up NE 190th St to NE North Woodinville Way, continue up the hill to 144th Ave NE, then turn left. The brewery is a short distance along 144th Ave NE on the left.


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