Woodinville Wine Country (for beer fans – part 2)

In my last post – Woodinville Wine Country (for beer fans – part 1) – I spoke of three new breweries in various stages of opening in Woodinville. I went on to review my visit to Dirty Bucket Brewing Co. In this second instalment I visit Twelve Bar Brews

The best way I can describe Twelve Bar in relation to Dirty Bucket is to compare Redmond’s pair of breweries: Black Raven and Mac & Jack’s.

Both are production breweries: which means they produce a range of draft beers for wholesale distribution to area bars and restaurants. And although neither operate as a brewpub, they each have a taproom at the brewery for beer tasting and retail sales.

But from here on the similarity ends: in the Black Raven taproom you can fill a growler, get a 5×5 oz tasting flight, and drink full pints and schooners. You can also order in food if desired. Mac & Jack’s taproom serves just to fill growlers and provide individual small tasting samples and that’s all.

By these criteria Dirty Bucket qualifies as a Fueled by Beer destination in Woodinville: you can go there to hang out with friends, have a few drinks, get some simple food – much like at a traditional British pub. Twelve Bar Brews, like Mac & Jack’s, does not meet these criteria: it is a place you go to and taste beer with the intent of buying some to take home – nothing more.

However this is not to say that Twelve Bar isn’t worth the trip: visiting the brewery is the best way to familiarize yourself with what from my first impressions are some high quality and quite innovative brews. This way you’ll know which Twelve Bar brew best suits your preference, and then perhaps be more inclined to seek it out (or request it) in your local bar or restaurant.

Unfortunately at the time of my visit only the Pentatonic Pale was available to taste; apparently the recent Seattle Beer Week cleaned out all other inventory – a good thing, right? The Pentatonic was good – enough to whet my appetite – and I lucked out about an hour later when I walked into Elliott Bay’s Lake City pub to find Twelve Bar’s Turnaround Red on one of the guest taps.

On first impressions I can say that both of the Twelve Bar brews thus far tasted were very good. They both displayed qualities that place them a little outside the crowd, but without making them weird. For example, the Pentatonic: like most NW Pale Ales, it relies heavily on pale and crystal malts, but it also has some oat, wheat and rye added to broaden the flavor significantly. Also, the use of dry-hopping enhances the flavor and aroma without overwhelming the brew. These are precisely the kind of ‘finesse’ touches I look for in a beer to see if it can stand out from the crowd.

Similarly the Turnaround Red was excellent. First the color: it is surprisingly dark; darker than the darkest blood red I have come across, almost to the color of Diamond Knot’s excellent Brown Ale, yet this is unquestionably a NW red ale – big with malty sweetness like a brown but packing a hop wallop like an IPA. An English style ESB doesn’t stand a chance against this.

Twelve Bar currently brews two other styles beside the Pentatonic Pale and the Turnaround Red: Wicked Riff IPA; and Supertonic India Black Ale. The latter brew is essentially their take on a CDA (Cascadian Dark Ale).

Twelve Bar will be attending the Washington Brewers Festival June 16/17 at Redmond’s Marymoor Park. I look forward to trying more Twelve Bar Brews then. 🙂

My visit to Twelve Bar (and later Elliott Bay Lake City) was a true Fueled by Beer transit trip. Use the map below to build your own itinerary


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