Local Beer


A double IPA from both Three Magnets Brewing and Oly Taproom

Beer can be very contradictory at times.  Beer should always be enjoyed as fresh as possible, unless of course it shouldn’t.  Some beers, like the Taxman Evasion that I blogged about some time ago develop more complex and enjoyable flavors as they age, both before and even after packaging.  The beer that I am sharing in this blog post is NOT one that should be aged, it is one that should be enjoyed as fresh as possible, and is why I decided to use it as the star of this post about local beer.  It is an IPA, and IPA’s are one of those types that are at their absolute best as fresh.

There is a lot of both science and art involved when it comes to brewing a great beer.  The brewer takes a lot of things into account when they craft what they hope is a perfect recipe for a beer that they hope will be enjoyed and appreciated by beer lovers.  They will select the grain, hops and yeast that they will use to craft that special beer.  The science comes into knowing how those ingredients will interact with each other and the art is knowing exactly how much of each ingredient needs to be introduce at exactly the right time to craft a beer that they had in mind.  A great brewer will also know when it will be the absolute best time to enjoy his or hers masterpiece.

The beer in this post was produced by Three Magnets Brewing here in Olympia in Collaboration with The Oly Taproom to celebrate the taprooms 3rd anniversary.  I not only enjoyed this beer on it’s release day, as fresh as possible, but I also brought home a couple 4-packs and put them in the back of my garage fridge.  This beer was simply spectacular on the day that it was released.  It had everything I wanted in a hazy IPA and it sold out very quickly, it stayed on the shelf less than a day.  I have staggered the enjoyment of my cans over the last few months.  While it was truly spectacular on release day, it has changed a bit since then and now it is only very good.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing at all wrong with very good, and if this beer would have been shipped across the country through normal beer distribution channels it would have ended up in a lot of beer drinkers as a very good beer, but the vast majority of those beer drinkers would never have known how amazing it was right after it was born.  When it comes down to it, the only way to truly know that your beer is as fresh as possible, and is being enjoyed the way that the brewer intended it to be enjoyed, is to drink it at, or as close to, the source as possible.  In others words, enjoy local beer.  🙂

Posted in Beer

Pliny The Elder

Pliny The Elder

Pliny The Elder is a double IPA from Russian Rivery brewing

The world of IPAs has gotten very interesting over the last decade or two, I won’t go into great detail on my thoughts on the subject, but it seems that there are as many subsets of the style are there are actual IPAs.  The truth of the matter though is that the IPA, as we know it here on the west coast, has been around for quite a while, and in many ways was responsible for the birth of the craft beer movement as we know it.  Pliny the Elder, a double IPA from Russian River Brewing in California is possibly one of the best examples of a beer that helped create a movement.  It was the first west coast style IPA, but one could argue that it is one of the most sought after and highly rated one.

Pliny has been on my beer wish list for a long time.  It’s distribution is somewhat limited to the Southern California area, but kegs of it will end up in tap rooms across the country from time to time.  I was fortunate enough recently to have a friend of mine offer me a bottle from a case that he got his hands on.  Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity.

I’m going to be very up front about this, I have had better IPAs, but this is a VERY good IPA.  This is one of those beers that seems to really stand the test of time.  Take it’s Untappd rating for example.  As of my writing this, it has been reviewed over a half a million times by over 200,000 unique users and still holds a rating of 4.54.  That is a MASSIVE.

I did say that I have had better IPAs, but that really shouldn’t be all that surprising.  New IPAs are being released by breweries each and every day, and any brewery that is worth visiting is always trying to up the game and make a better beer than the one that made last time.  This is great for those of us that love craft beer, and we have to thank beers like Pliny The Elder for that, they set the bar early and set it high.

I really did enjoy this bottle, and hope to get more of it at some time and would highly recommend it to you if you come across it at your local bottle shop or tap room.

Posted in Beer

Taxman Brewing Evasion 2018

Taxman Evasion 2018

Taxman Evasion 2018 is a barrel aged stout

I really can’t believe that it has been a year since my last blog post here on My Blue Heaven.  I always have the greatest of intentions to keep things a little more current here, but life always seems to get in the way.  With that said, I have some ideas bouncing around in the back of my head to sort of “re-launch” things a bit, both here, and on my YouTube channel, and share more things related to BBQ and beer.  I thought I would kick that off with some comments about a stout that I recently discovered.  Taxman Brewing Evasion 2018 limited release.

Before I get started though, please don’t panic, this is not going to be the sort of beer reviews that you might come across.  I am not an expert in beer, while I have been called a beer snob by friends, the truth is that I simply enjoy craft beer and “know what I like,” which might or might not align with the ratings that a beer might have on any of the given review sites.  You can however follow me on Untappd if you want to. 🙂

Evasion is a Belgian style stout from Taxman Brewing in Bargersville, IN.  Living in the Puget Sound area you  might wonder how I got my hands on a stout from Indiana.  The answer is simple, Tavour.com to the rescue.  I will go into detail on my experience with Tavour soon, but in a nutshell they are an online company that curates beers from breweries across the company and offer them to people who live outside the normal distribution areas for those breweries.  Enough of that though, what did I think about Evasion?

I LOVED it.  As a general rule I am a stout / porter fan.  I love dark beers, and REALLY LOVE a good barrel aged stout.  While something like an IPA should be enjoyed as fresh as possible, a high ABV beer, such as Evasion is at 13%, ages wonderfully and when that aging is done in something like a bourbon barrel, it imparts a complexity that IMO makes beers like these something that shouldn’t be missed.  I really hope that I am able to get my hands on more beers from Taxman, based on Evasion alone I am a big fan.

Down the road I will most likely have more detail on the beers that I comment on here, but for this post I wanted to do it more as an introduction as to what will be coming soon.

If you have enjoyed this beer, or others from Taxman, I sure would appreciate your leaving a comment here.


Posted in Beer

Review – Artestia 15″ Extra Wide Rib Rack

I recently hinted that there might be more BBQ related content shared here on my personal blog, and this post is going to get that kicked off.  I plan on sharing techniques, recipes and reviews.  Before I get into this review of the Artestia 15″ Extra Wide Rib Rack, let me say that I was not provided with these racks in exchange for a review, I bought them out of my own pocket, with my own hard earned cash.

Artestia Rib Rack

Artestia 15″ Extra Wide Rib Rack

Before I get to far into this post, perhaps a little background on what rib racks are, and why I chose this particular product.  In the simplest terms possible, rib racks allow you to cook racks of ribs vertically instead of laying flat in your smoker.  This allows you to cook a lot more at one them as you can pack more meat into the same amount of grill space.  I have tried numerous rib racks over the years, and all of them had one flaw, they were simply to narrow to allow for a whole rack or ribs.  When I came across the Artestia extra wide rib rack on Amazon it seemed like this might bit my needs.

Why are narrower rib racks a problem?  Simply put, a narrow rib rack doesn’t support the entire rack of ribs and unless you cut them in half, the ribs will lay on top of each other.

Artestia Rib Rack with Ribs

Extra wide Artestia Rib Rack loaded with 3 racks of St. Louis style ribs

As you can see from this image, the Artestia rack does a very good job of supporting the entire width of a full rack of ribs, exactly what I was looking for.

This rack has slots for 4 racks or ribs, and the slots are spaced enough to allow the ribs to be in the rack without touching the other rack.  You do have to watch how you load the rack though, I found that I needed to alternate the thick / narrow ends of the racks of ribs to get even spacing.  For those that don’t know, racks of ribs are thicker on one end than the other.

Artestia Rib Rack with Ribs showing spacing

Extra wide Artestia Rib Rack showing the spacing between the rack of ribs.

While the space between each rack isn’t huge, it is more than enough to allow for an even flow of heat and smoke around the ribs.

Artestia Rib Rack finsihed product

The finsished product, 3 racks of St. Louse sytle spareribs cooked on the extra wide Artestia rib racks

I cook my ribs in a 3-2-1 style, this means that the the first 3 hours of the cook are open and the ribs are taking on heat and smoke.  The next 2 hours the ribs are wrapped in foil with something to enhance the flavor, brown sugar and agave nectar in my case, as well as to enhance the tenderness.  The final hour is open again and during this phase of the cook I add a little more rub and then a light coating of sauce at the end to glaze the ribs.

One of the disadvantages to rib racks when cooking 3-2-1 ribs though is that while there is no issue with stacking racks of ribs that are wrapped in foil, you don’t want to do that during the last hour, and at this point the ribs are generally very tender.  The tenderness of the ribs at this point might make it a little more difficult to get them into the racks, but the wide slots in the Artestia racks helps a lot with that.

One final note on cleanup.  I found this rack to be very easy to clean, it has a no-stick coating, but I can’t comment on how long this will last, I haven’t had the greatest luck with no-stick coatings lasting over time, but as long as you are in the habit of liberally oiling the rack before putting the ribs in them you won’t have a problem with the ribs sticking or with cleaning up the racks after the cook.

All in all I am very impressed with these rib racks, so impressed in fact that after my test cook with the rack I bought, I ordered 2 more to allow me to do 12 racks or ribs at the same time.

If you are looking for a good quality, extra wide, rib rack, I would highly recommend this one from Artestia.

Posted in BBQ

A sneak peek at some new blog content

Sliced Beef Brisket

A sliced beef brisket cooked low and slow on my home made pellet cooker

It’s no secret that I haven’t been very good at updating my personal blog space, but this image of a sliced beef brisket, cooked low and slow, will hopefully serve as a bit a sneak peek of some ideas I have for upcoming blog content.

Stay tuned, and hopefully you will find what I have planned exciting and worthwhile.

Posted in BBQ