Beer of the Week: Populuxe Brewing Double IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I am lucky to live in Ballard – we have so many breweries popping up, all within walking distance, that this is becoming a beer nirvana in a city that is pretty close to being beer nirvana. One of the “new kids on the block” is tiny Populuxe brewing, located in a renovated auto repair shop on NW 49th between 8th and 9th Avenues (and right across from the Iron Chef family favorite – Domanico Cellars; Ballard’s only winery tasting room). Saying Populuxe is small is an understatement – they have a 1.5 barrel brewing system so they don’t brew a huge selection of beers. What they lack in size, they make up for in quality. The Double IPA is one of the beers that they have been putting on tap along with their IPA, EuroBlonde, Saison, Bitter and Brown. Check out their FB page for their current tap list.

The DIPA pours hazy golden orange with a white head. Lots of citrus and grapefruit on the nose with notes of grain; you won’t mistake this beer for another style. The initial sip yields large quantities of grapefruit and citrus which linger for a long time coupled with a hint of bitterness that reminds you that this is a northwest Double IPA. It has plenty of hop character but is well balanced and does not feel like a hop bomb – you are not going to blow out your palate after drinking this beer. That balance between the alcohol and hops coupled with a long, smooth, refined finish makes me want to drink more than one and it is easy to forget that you are drinking a 7.2% ABV beer.

Perhaps the greatest compliment paid to this beer and its drinkability was by Mrs. Iron Chef who described the beer as “Not Terrible”. Mrs. Iron Chef does not like anything that is remotely hoppy, so for her to say that is the greatest compliment that can be paid to an IPA.

Populuxe Brewing’s Double IPA pours into the foundation with a spectacular 4 Googies out of 5.

I leave you with this:

El Camion in Ballard

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I have never been shy about my love for the local taco truck, El Camion, which has locations in Ballard, SoDo and North Seattle. I do go there frequently and I do tend to order the non-gringo items on the menu (tripas, cabeza, lengua and chorizo) and I love them. Actually, I am not sure I could tell you what their other stuff actually tastes like, but I am sure it is good. When you go to the truck and there is a Mexican in line ahead of you, I can almost guarantee that they will order one of the four above meats. Heck, I have had Mexicans in line behind me ask if I knew what I was ordering because they are surprised that a white guy would actually order them. But I digress.

Mrs. Iron Chef has been reluctant to go to El Camion because she has a thing against eating food from a truck. Well, she has that excuse no longer – El Camion is opening a non-mobile location in Ballard (in the space formerly occupied by Zesto’s and Ro-Ro BBQ) AND they are keeping their truck in Ballard! Hopefully they will find success there and have a few more items on their menu beyond what you can get on the truck. Let’s celebrate – dos tacos tripas for everyone!

The Ballard Beer Revolution

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Holy hops, Batman! Ballard is really becoming a hotspot for beer. I saw this on, yet another brewery opening soon. That means when Peddler Brewing opens, we will have the following breweries in a 1 mile radius:

Hale’s Ales
Maritime Pacific
NW Peaks
Populuxe (if they ever get their act together and finally open)

I am not surprised that a brewery moved into the old Maritime space. I think it is a good location for a small operation.

If beer is not your thing, there you can always visit my friend Jason at the fun tasting room of Domanico Winery. Now if we could just get a distillery….

Beer of the Week: Reuben’s Brews Pumpkin Ale

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I love the fall when it comes to beers – you get the return of fresh hop beers, and you get the return of pumpkin beers, probably my favorite seasonal style. The newish Ballard brewery, Reuben’s Brews, tossed their hat in the ring with their pumpkin offering – a pumpkin rye. This beer comes in at 5.4% ABV and 32 IBU and is their rye beer brewed with the inclusion of pumpkin puree, toasted pumpkin seeds, spices, sugar and bourbon.

The beer pours a hazy yellow, almost golden hue. There are definite notes of pumpkin with hints of spice and rye hiding in the background. The palate is initially dominated by pumpkin pie spice, but not overpoweringly so, and it gives way to pumpkin puree, toasted pumpkin seeds and light notes of rye. The finish is short, with the pumpkin seeds fading after a short stay, but the flavor does stick around longer the further into the glass you dive – it reminded me of eating fresh roasted pumpkin seeds on a cool fall day and had me looking for a bucket to spit out the shells into. The beer is remarkably balanced with enough use of spice to remind you it is a fall beer, complimented with a dominant pumpkin flavor that stands out and reminds you that this is a pumpkin beer. The hints of rye add a little something that you can’t quite put your finger on, but server to enhance the finish product in a good way. This beer is definitely not the one you want if you are looking to drink something that is liquid pumpkin pie, but is one to order if you want to enjoy the flavor of pumpkin complimented by the inclusion of spice.

The rye base makes this a very different beer than many of the pumpkins out on the market and I would classify this one in my top 5 pumpkin beers.

Reuben’s did a fantastic job with the Pumpkin Ale, which is why they are getting an outstanding 5 Cucurbita maxima out of 5.