The Beer Geek
It almost sounds indulgent, brewing and drinking beer for a living. You better believe, though, that the folks over at Seattle’s Black Raven Brewing take their job seriously. The crew brews on a 15 barrel brewhouse and produces 9000 barrels annually, though they’re growing to keep up with Washington’s increasing demand for craft beer.
Black Raven is constantly experimenting. The first Wednesday of every month, they tap a special cask on the bar that highlights the brewers’ creativity. The brews, which feature uncommon and unique ingredients, sell out fast. We checked in with Black Raven’s Matt Thompson to talk about the brewery, beverage trends, and the Seattle beer community.
What do you love about the Seattle beer community?
When we are talking about the Seattle beer community, we’re really talking about two groups of people: the brewers and beer lovers. Within the brewing community, there is more camaraderie than there is competition. We share recipe ideas and technique, which continually drives innovation. As a result, Seattle area brewers are making some of the best beer in the world. But making the best beer doesn’t mean anything unless you’ve got support from beer drinkers. Fortunately we have plenty of thirsty customers in the area. They push us to be better and are passionate about what they drink and who brews it. And most importantly, they value fresh, local beer.
Please describe the beers you’re bringing to the Festival.
We will be pouring the following beers at the Seattle International Beerfest:
- Pour Les Oiseaux Barrel Aged Saison: Pour Les Oiseaux is a blend of complex earthy, fruity, and light tannic flavors with a crisp and refreshing finish. Brewed with barley, wheat, rye, and oats for a golden color and lightly spiced malt flavor. Earthy hay and wild yeast aromas mingle with light notes of Washington wine grapes. Pour Les Oiseaux is aged in French oak white wine barrels with the addition of brettanomyces.
- Redfeather Session IPA: This red session IPA is part of our rotating SIPA series. The Redfeather SIPA is brewed in the session IPA style. This beer presents the hop bitterness and flavor of a red IPA but in a more refreshing, lower alcohol version. The additional of crystal malts contributes a red hue and malt backbone that the hops are layered onto.
- Coco Jones Coconut Porter: Our Tamerlane Brown Porter, with its subtle nut and coffee tones takes a delicious turn when infused with freshly toasted coconuts.
How did you get into beer, and what’s your advice for people who want to enter the industry?
Our head brewer and founder, Beaux Bowman, has been brewing for over ten years, cutting his teeth at Far West Brewing and The Ram Brewing Company. It takes years to be a great brewer and a lifetime to master. The best way to determine if you want to be a brewer is to start home-brewing. Pick up a home-brew kit and see if you enjoy the process and the beer!
What are some upcoming beer trends that you’re excited about?
One of my favorite beer trends is the continuous evolution of India Pale Ales. This beer style has evolved from the traditional English style into something that’s distinctly American, driven by big hop aroma and a balanced malt finish. Seattle area breweries have an advantage over the rest of the US in that we are only two hours away from Yakima, WA – the top hop producing area in the country. We have access to new and experimental hop varieties that no one else has. Now we are influencing breweries across the rest of the world. They are actually brewing “west coast IPA’s” in Japan, Australia, Sweden, and even Germany. American craft brewing has had an amazing influence on the world.