Friday, September 16, 2011

Icicle Brewing Company: Leavenworth, Washington

It has been nearly 10 years since Leavenworth, Washington had a brewery of their own. It was then that Leavenworth Brewing Company consolidated production and merged with Fish Brewing Company in Olympia, Wa. Since mid-April of 2011 however, Leavenworth is back on the beer map with their own brewery: Icicle Brewing Company. Open for just five months I had the pleasure of visiting the brewery on a quick visit to the Bavarian style mountain village this past week.

First impressions upon entering: very impressive facility, high ceilings, massive interior and a very clean rustic feeling with large oversized wooden table-tops and stools. I quite enjoyed sitting at the bar top. The photos adorning the walls were a nice touch as well; old photographs showing hop harvest from Selah Valley in the early 1900's. As the brewery is still quite young they are just now settling on their core selection of brews. I was informed this will include a light lager, a Kolsch, American Hefeweizen, German Märzen style, an IPA, and a Porter, as well as a rotating seasonal (at least this is what they're rolling with for now) selection. The seasonal on draft when I was there was a Raspberry Wheat Ale, and I heard they would soon be releasing a fresh hopped "Hoptoberfest" Ale within the coming weeks.

The staff was friendly and willing to discuss their beer and their new operation. Their menu includes mostly easily arrangeable meat and cheese platters utilizing locally produced ingredients, most namely their delicious assortment of cheeses. Beers from Icicle Brewing Co. are available at several locations throughout the city and earlier in the day I had a pint of their IPA while enjoying a bratwurst down the way at the Munchen Haus. Once to the brewery (they open at 2 pm, at least in the summertime) I ordered a sampler ($9 for six) and swapped the Raspberry Wheat for the IPA. The three beers that really stood out to me: Raspberry Wheat, Freund Festbier (German style Amber Lager (Märzen)), and the Priebe Porter. Tasting notes on each to follow...

I found the Raspberry Wheat full of fruit flavour: full-on Raspberry (obviously) and a little watermelon. A little wheat and spice on the nose. Medium bodied, a little bitter, and a little tart. My experience with Raspberry wheat beers is limited but thought this was a stand out amongst the other core brews. The Freund Festbier stood out to me because I thought it was a prime example of a good German-style beer. Flavourwise it reminded me so much of brews I'd tasted while in Munich. Lots of malt and grain on the nose and a little noble hops in the back. Flavours include: little toasted malt, little sweetness, ripe banana and a little bitterness; all the things I would want in a German style brew. The last beer that stood out was the Priebe Porter (named for the head brewer). I was told that this recipe was conceived in a Washington State University dormitory. It has won multiple awards and flavourwise I thought it included everything and more one would look for in a Porter. It starts off with a little brown sugar nose, little roasty malt and chocolate. Flavours align with the nose: toasted grain, dark chocolate, malty sweet and a touch of caramel. It finishes dry and roasty, little burnt coffee bitterness there as well. The carbonation was low to medium. I actually went back the next day for a full pour of this.

The brewery (as with most things within the city) is located 2 blocks east of the main drag (ie the central gazebo and Maibaum) right across from the festhalle. As for other places to have a good pint, the Munchen Haus has a decent selection, as well as bratwursts and all the spicy mustard and sauerkraut you can eat. The Adventure Inn (located adjacent to the medical center) apparently has one of the best beer selections in the entire city, I was told something like 32 different beers (on draft and in bottles) but I never personally confirmed this. The Loft, Uncle Uli's and Visconti's all feature Icicle Brewing Co's (IBC as it's called) beers. There was also a small homebrew shop located near the hospital named: Der Man Shoppe. I think more often than not, if you walk into a restaurant in Leavenworth, you will find beers from IBC.

In any case, I was glad to have had the opportunity to visit and sample beers from such a young brewery (the first in Leavenworth in a decade); it was bustling on the two occasions I visited. It would seem the Icicle Brewing Company is off to a good start and with Leavenworth Oktoberfest looming in the not so distant future, it's safe to say IBC will get plenty of advertisement to project their name into the masses. Hopefully they'll be around for a long, long time....

Thanks for reading!


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