The death of George Floyd, at the end of May, that sparked continued anti-racism protests all over the world hit a nerve with us; we at Ghostfish wanted to do something. Some team members are protesting, others are volunteering for various organizations; but what could we do as a team? Brew beer, that’s what!
Head Brewer, Reid Ackerman brought a brewery initiative, Black is Beautiful, to our attention. What started as a single brew by Weathered Souls Brewing Co., based in San Antonio, Texas, spread to a worldwide brewery collaboration. With a Stout recipe as its base, over 1,170 breweries in 50 US states and 22 countries developed their own unique versions of Black is Beautiful.
At the root of the collaboration is fundraising for and awareness of systemic injustices that people of color face daily. Here at Ghostfish, Reid chose Social Justice Fund Northwest to be the beneficiary of our donation.
Social Justice Fund Northwest supports organizations that use community organizing to reach their goals. This develops leadership from within the communities most affected by social inequities, resulting in long-term societal transformation. For more information, visit their website.
About Ghostfish Brewery’s Black is Beautiful Imperial Stout
With a deep dark brown color and velvety chocolate-colored head, Ghostfish Brewery’s Black is Beautiful Imperial Stout is rich and balanced with notes of chocolate and raisin accented with harmonious complexities of caramel, toasty malts, and coffee. It’s full-bodied and warming with a dry finish and lingering notes of raisin and chocolate.
Grain bill: Pale millet, pale buckwheat, caramel millet, chocolate roasted millet, light crystal millet, medium roasted millet, dark roasted millet, flaked *Purity Protocol gluten free oats.
Hops: Mt. Hood, Columbus
Q&A with Ghostfish Brewing Company’s Head Brewer Reid Ackerman
Q: Tell me about the style of beer. A: Imperial Stouts are traditionally an English-style beer, with roots traced to English Porters in the 1700s. The modern craft beer era revived Imperial Stouts in England and it was popularized here in the states.
Q: Any special ingredients used in this beer? A: There’s a wider spectrum of malt roasts and flavors than what we typically use. We have not used much caramel malts, so it’s great to see the interplay of these roast styles – pale, light crystal, caramel, chocolate, medium, and dark roasts. We also sparingly use flaked oats as they are so important to achieve the mouthfeel desired in a gluten free stout.
Q: What do you hope customers take away from drinking this particular beer? A: I hope folks will consider the importance and urgency behind this initiative. Why it is so important and what/who is necessitating it. As a white person, I ask myself what are the ways I perpetuate inequality, especially in small ways. I’m asking myself what I can do to help people of color gain an equal footing not only in the brewing community but overall society. Regardless of size; incremental or sweeping, efforts towards answering these questions can be progressed through collective action, which I invite people to consider. Let’s not judge others; let’s support others.
*Purity Protocol: set of stringent standards for oats that minimizes the chance of cross-contact from gluten-containing grains like wheat, barley, rye, and triticale.
Extra! Extra! Gluten Dude is at it again! The main man behind the popular blog is launching an app and we were lucky enough to catch Gluten Dude for a virtual Q&A. Read on to find out more about what we can look forward to when you download the Gluten Dude app!
Ghostfish: What made you want to create the app?
Gluten Dude: The purpose of my app is simple: to better the lives of those living with celiac disease and anyone else who must eat gluten-free; to create a close-knit community where people in the gluten-free community come to discover, to learn, to share, and to connect, all to make their lives easier, better and healthier.
Living a 100% gluten-free life certainly has its challenges: physically, mentally, and socially. Using the Gluten Dude app will help to alleviate some of those challenges.
Ghostfish:Tell us about some of the challenges the Gluten Dude app will assist us with.
Gluten Dude: Eating out is one of the more challenging and stressful parts of having celiac disease. One crumb is all it takes to set off the autoimmune response. Everything that is fun and spontaneous about eating out can be overshadowed by the anxiety of whether you can get through your meal unscathed. [The app will provide a] directory of 100% gluten-free restaurants, restaurants that are gluten-free friendly, recommended by the community, and personally vetted by Gluten Dude, all in an effort to guarantee you a safe meal. Each restaurant includes images, a description, reviews, ratings, directions, etc. Some restaurants even include a video and their menu. The user will be able to search by their current location or another location. The app currently covers the US, Canada, Paris, Italy, London, Spain, Germany, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Australia, with more locations coming. Eating without fear. What a concept.
The internet is littered with falsehoods, outright lies, and dangerous information regarding celiac disease and eating gluten-free. People are looking for answers to their problems, quickly and accurately, and they are not sure where to turn or who to trust, putting their health in jeopardy. [On the app, you’ll find a] forum run by the most trusted voices in the celiac community. There are a number of topics where you’ll be able to chime in with questions, answers, and advice. The forum sticks to the facts, allowing people to get the answers they need…and deserve. The forum includes Ask the Physician, Ask the Dietitian, Ask the Chef, and more, where you’ll be able to get direct answers from experts in the industry.
Ghostfish:We hear that your app will help folks find gluten free beer, we’re obviously pretty stoked about this feature. Can you tell us about it?
Gluten Dude: Beer, sadly, is not gluten-free. The most popular “gluten-free” beers on the market today are actually “gluten-removed” and are not safe for those with celiac disease. There are a handful of amazing 100% gluten-free beers out there nowadays, but because their distribution is limited, they can be really difficult to find. I can’t tell you how many stores I personally have walked into fingers crossed, only to come out empty-handed. The Gluten Dude app shows the stores, bars, and restaurants where people can purchase gluten-free beer. The user will be able to search by any location and each location will show which specific gluten-free beers each establishment carries. Cheers!
Ghostfish: What will be the primary differences between this app and others on the market?
Gluten Dude: What other apps on the market??? Just kidding. While there is nothing that offers the celiac/GF communities as much as the Gluten Dude app will (restaurants, beer, forum, videos, chat, etc.), there are one or two apps that focus on locating gluten-free restaurants. The main one has been out for some time now. Kudos to them for standing the test of time. The main difference is that my app will initially focus on only 100% GF restaurants. You will not find fast-food restaurants and any other restaurants that cannot keep the community safe.
Ghostfish: What was the most challenging aspect of creating this app?
Gluten Dude: Coronavirus!! I’m sort of joking, but not really. We kicked off development in late winter, just before the virus struck. The development team I hired all had to go virtual, which definitely slowed things up a bit.
Locating and vetting all of the GF restaurants was quite a challenge as well. For each suggested restaurant, I first had to make sure they were completely gluten free; sometimes easier said than done. Then for the ones that made the list, I had to gather the address, phone number, and URL, as well as putting together a nice one-paragraph description and a great photo. Doing this for over 1,500 restaurants…well…you can imagine.
While I’ve enjoyed the process, I will say that it’s been a challenge and a half to get it done. But it will be worth the wait.
Ghostfish: What were you pleasantly surprised by when creating the app?
GD: Hmmm…that’s a good question. I love the responses I’ve been getting from the app testers. From those in the celiac/GF community to the restaurants who will be on the app, pretty much everyone has shared my excitement. It really is a win-win for everyone.
Can’t get beer shipped to your state, but you still want to show Ghostfish your support? Consider sporting a Ghostfish hoodie or any of our other merchandise. Shop here.
Gift cards are a great way to help businesses like us stay afloat during uncertainty. Please consider purchasing a gift card to use when the Taproom re-opens.
The day will come when we get to open again. Until that time, we’d love to hear from you! Please consider staying engaged with us on Facebook or Instagram. It’s a delight to see our fans, even if it’s from a distance for now.
Be well! from the Ghostfish team
Update: Monday, March 16
Per Governor Inslee’s press conference, the Ghostfish Taproom is closed for usual business. We remain open for retail purchases (packaged beer, growler fills, etc) and to-go orders from the kitchen. Stock up on gluten free beer, and choose lunch/dinner options from our 100-percent gluten free food menu. You may order online or call us at 206-397-3898.
We are working to set up a delivery service and will have details on that ASAP. Keep an eye on this page and our social media channels (Instagram, Facebook) for updates.
Additionally, consider purchasing Ghostfish from online retailers, more information here.
As with other small businesses in Seattle, your continued support during these unprecedented times is greatly valued. Thank you.
Sending you well wishes, from the Ghostfish team.
Friday, March 13, 2020
At this point in time, most of us understand that we’re dealing with something very serious in our communities and around our planet. Our hearts and thoughts continue to go out to all those around the world who have lost loved ones as a result of the Coronavirus (Covid-19).
Here in the Emerald City, the proclaimed “epicenter” of the U.S. Covid-19 epidemic, we’re in an ever-changing state of flux with a growing number of event, school, and program cancellations and closures. Unfortunately, some of our fellow Seattle-based business owners have already shuttered their doors as a result of declining sales and many more will likely face the same reality if things continue in the same manner over the foreseeable future.
For now, it is business as usual at Ghostfish. Our Taproom & Restaurant will remain open during our regular weekly business hours. We’ve got a wonderful selection of Ghostfish beers on tap and we’re on the heels of adding some exciting new food items to our restaurant menu. You can trust that we’ll continue to uphold our high standard of cleanliness, sanitation and personal hygiene and we’re counting on the fact that you will do the same when visiting us.
I’ve always believed that beer is a great mechanism to bring people together. If you don’t feel comfortable joining us at Ghostfish or just want to take a break in the kitchen, please know that you can always give us a call at 206-397-3898 to place a pick up order for your favorite Ghostfish food or packaged beer.
It’s time to celebrate! And, we can’t think of anyone better to commemorate these last five crazy-roller-coaster-of-a-ride years than with you. All our 5th Anniversary events are right around the corner, and we hope to see you at any (or all) of them!
VIP Membership Launch Party
Wednesday, February 19 ~ 3:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Join us for our first ever VIP Membership Launch Party where perks will be a-flyin’ for VIP Members. Enjoy the first pour of our 5th Anniversary beers – either the Doppelbock or Barrel-aged Tart Saison (must have a current membership or purchased one that day to take advantage of this opportunity. The public releases for these beers are 2/21 & 2/22).
Additional VIP Member-only prizes will be given away all night from merchandise to gift certificates. More information here and instructions on how to purchase a membership can be found on our events page.
Millet Malt – A Hands-On Workshop
Thursday, February 20 ~ 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
We’re delighted to welcome special guest Linsey Cornish, VP of Operations at Grouse Malt House (Wellington, CO) to Ghostfish for our 5th Anniversary celebrations. She’ll lead us through the workshop where you’ll learn about what millet is, its historical use in food & beverages, millet crops in Washington state, and how millet is used in Ghostfish beer.
The workshop explores hot steep malt sensory and provides instruction on millet malt appearance, aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel. We will also sample a special millet malt forward beer created by Ghostfish Head Brewer, Reid Ackerman.
One ticket provides access to the workshop and one 12 oz pour of the millet malt-forward beer, and special tasters of our 5th Anniversary beers (Doppelbock and Barrel-Aged Tart Saison) before they go on sale to the public.
Alright, you’ve got a limited chance to get this one! Our 5th Anniversary Doppelbock will only be available in the Taproom or online at Marina Market. Online, it’s available in 22 oz bottles, and at the Taproom get it on draft or buy a bottle — but hurry, it’s limited.
JUST ANNOUNCED: On this day only, we will sell the last of our 1st year, 2nd year, 3rd year, and 4th year anniversary beers. Once they’re gone they are gone forever. Sales will be limited to one anniversary year bottle per person. There are only a few cases available, so mark your calendars and get to the Taproom.
Annual Bash – Release 5th Anniversary Barrel-Aged Tart Saison
Saturday, February 22 ~ 3:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
As in previous years, this is the party of the year! This year’s bash features the release of our 5th Anniversary Barrel-Aged Tart Saison. It will be flowing all night long. For those that can’t make the party, keep an eye on store shelves for this one. It’ll be hitting the streets this week.
After five full days of fun, indulge in some “hair-of-the-dog” and delicious nosh at our annual Hangover Brunch.
The menu includes a breakfast taco, our popular All-American (includes spent grain pancakes, eggs, bacon, and fried potatoes), veggie hash, biscuits and gravy, and more, and is available until 3:00 p.m. The regular menu will be available until 8:00 p.m.
A Story of Two Breweries: Ghostfish & Outer Planet
You know what we love more than anything? Changing the perception of gluten free and pushing the limits of what people think they can do with non-traditional grains. This fuels us.
As a result, we get to collaborate with breweries in our community to share our experience from the past five years of brewing hundreds of beers with grains that don’t contain gluten. It’s exciting learn from other brewmasters, but also witness the amazement once they taste these unique brews.
At our facility back in October, our Head Brewer, Reid Ackerman, worked to brew a gluten free beer with Ariel Klein, Head Brewer at Outer Planet Brewing. Ariel was an excellent partner as she has a significant amount of experience with lager-styled beer and yeast proposa. Additionally, she was eager to learn the art of gluten free brewing. Partnering to create this beer was a fantastic learning experience and a win-win for all involved.
What did we brew, you ask? A special helles lager we’re calling “A Smokeball’s Chance in Helles” — on tap now at both breweries.
Check out this fun video Outer Planet Brewing produced. It showcases the brewing process and the joy of the day.
Recently, we spoke with the Reid and Ariel about the process. Here’s a Q&A we hope sparks curiosity and the desire to try something new.
What is a helles beer?
Reid: Traditionally helles are very bright, mildly sweet, light hued, full bodied, bottom fermenting beer. We wanted to add a unique dimension to ours, so we included a small portion of applewood smoked red Proso millet.
Ariel: The smoked helles style is one that has intrigued me for quite a while now – I love the delicate balance of light sweet grain and a gentle smokiness. This balance is quite difficult to achieve, and we were excited to present ourselves with a real challenge!
How did brewing day go?
Reid: Overall it was really smooth! And, considering we were unsure how the proportion of smoked malt would play with the rest of the grist, it was a very pleasant surprise that the smoke flavor was balanced and light, but still very noticeable and appreciated.
Ariel: Perhaps the biggest challenge was attempting to get the balance of ingredients right – something which we hem and hawed about over a few frosty pints. We were lucky to have access to some fantastic smoked GF malts – though we did consider smoking our own millet (perhaps we’ll save that one for next time!).
What do you hope customers take away/experience from this beer?
Reid: For those who haven’t tried our beers before, I hope they walk away with an understanding that you can make excellent beer from alternative ingredients. Especially, when aided by some excellent people in the community.
Ariel: First and foremost, I hope that our customers enjoy the beer! Assuming we are able to accomplish that, I hope they take away the knowledge that excellent beer of any style can potentially be brewed with gluten free ingredients and enough group knowledge. I hope to hear people say “this is a fantastic smoked helles lager” rather than “this is a fantastic lager for a GF beer”.
When you think of Oregon, you probably think of hot springs, hiking and BEER! This blog is going to point you in the right direction for things to do and where you can find Ghostfish in the Beaver State and Rose City. Downtown Portland is full of eclectic shops, very PNW cafes and quite a few parks. Make sure to spend some time in the iconic Powell’s City of Books and stock up on Ghostfish for your hotel room at the Whole Foods Market just right down the street. If fine art is your scene, the Portland Art Museum is for you. Their permanent collection is incredible and they have a unique selection of visiting exhibitions.
The Lan Su Chinese Garden is a beautiful oasis in downtown and totally worth a visit. After you’ve worked up an appetite from walking downtown, swing by either Andina, an upscale Peruvian spot or Imperial, an American restaurant showcasing local ingredients. Both restaurants feature our brews! If residential/city planning is of interest to you, head to south east Portland and take a walk or drive around Ladd’s Addition. It is Portland’s oldest planned residential development and one of the oldest in the western United States. Then be sure to hit up The Beer Mongers, a cozy beer bar on the southwest edge of Ladd’s Addition. If you’re hanging out on E Burnside St swing by The Eastburn Public House for some Ghostfish and a good time.
You can’t go to Oregon and not think about hiking, depending on the time of year. Luckily there are plenty of options for Ghostfish no matter which direction you head out of Portland, just remember to leave no trace and pack out what you pack in. Use our Beer Finder App to see which is closest to your hike or hotel.
If hiking is a bit too outdoorsy for you check out Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. Just a few short miles from the center of Oregon’s largest city. The honking of geese replaces the honking of cars. A refuge and special place for both animals and humans.
Oregon Fun Facts
Hells Canyon is the deepest river gorge in the United States.
At 1949 feet deep, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States.
The Oregon state flag has a beaver on the back. It is the only US state flag with a different image on the reverse side.
The University of Oregon mascot is the Ducks. Go Ducks!
Oregon has the most ghost towns of any state. Booooooo!
It is the only state to have an official state nut, the hazelnut.
Portland is known as the City of Roses. (The nickname grew in popularity after the exposition, where Mayor Harry Lane suggested that the city needed a “festival of roses.”)
The Oregon Trail went from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City. It was 2,000 miles long and was used by people to travel west during the 1800s.
No one knows for sure what the word Oregon means. It was used by the local American Indians to refer to the river.
Ghostfish being available in Oregon is all because of our distributing partners at Columbia Distributing and Bigfoot Beverages. Checkout the list of retailers in the area that carry Ghostfish below!
The Big Apple… The City of Dreams… The City So Nice, They Named It Twice… NEW YORK, NEW YORK! We’re so excited to finally have our brews in one of the oldest cities in the country. From the history to the art and food, we’re happy to finally be able to offer our friends in the east a chance to enjoy Ghostfish. You can find all of our retail partners using The Beer Finder App on our Website but this blog will help you plan your trip and grab some gluten free beer along the way.
When it comes to New York City, the first thing almost everyone thinks of is the Statue of Liberty. This symbol of Amerian Freedom and the American Dream is something you can’t miss and should truly be on your bucket list. Before or after you head to the ferry, check out Fraunces Tavern near Battery Park for a taste of Ghostfish and a moment to yourself in all the hussel and bussel.
After checking out the Statue of Liberty and taking in the view of what thousands of immigrants saw when they pulled into the bay for the first time, wander up Lower Manhattan and check out the Tenement Museum to see where a lot of these dreamers landed between 1862 and 2011. After your history lesson head over to Top Hops Beer Shop to find some of the best beers in the city, including Ghostfish!
Looking to avoid those spendy restaurants in the big city? Hit up a bodega for some grub and check out Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. Washington Square Park is a 9.75-acre public park in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan, New York City. One of the best known of New York City’s public parks, it is an icon as well as a meeting place and center for cultural activity. Once you’ve relaxed enough and are ready for some refreshments, don’t forget to visit The Half Pint nearby for another spot to grab your Ghostfish.
What’s a trip to New York without a live show? While there are the big musicals and broadway shows, there are also plenty of affordable shows around the city with talented cast often ending up in the bigger shows. Check out the infamous STOMP, The Comedy Cellar, Webster Hall, Gramercy Theater, and Irving Plaza for entertainment. Now that your night on the town is planned, don’t forget to grab dinner and some Ghostfish at any of the three “Smith Restaurant and Bar” establishments. Trendy bistro food complimented by some of our classic brews made perfect for a night on the town.
There are a world of things to do in this magical city and we highly recommend you add it to your #TravelTuesday list and make sure to keep an eye out for Ghostfish along the way. Here are some fun facts about the city and check the bottom of the page for a list of other retailers in the area. Don’t forget you can always search for Ghostfish near your zip code on our website using the Beer Finder App!
From the Swedish Nomad:
1. IT’S NOT ILLEGAL TO GO TOPLESS IN NEW YORK
While you probably won’t see many topless people in The Big Apple, it’s pretty interesting to know that it’s not illegal. In 2018 there was even a “Go Topless Day Parade” where people walked around topless in the city.
2. THE FIRST PIZZERIA IN THE UNITED STATES OPENED IN NYC IN 1895
Another interesting fact about New York and the pizzas is that the price of pizzas and single ride tickets for the subway has remained pretty much equal for more than 50 years! Economists call this the pizza principle.
3. THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY HAS OVER 50 MILLION BOOKS
Consider yourself a bookworm? Then it would almost be a sin not visiting the Public Library which has over 50 million books available!
4. MORE THAN 800 LANGUAGES ARE BEING SPOKEN IN NEW YORK
Considering the fact that 37% of the NYC population comes from another country, you might not be surprised that there are a lot of languages spoken. Some experts claim that there are more than 800 languages spoken in the city, and some others say it’s just a little over 200 different languages, but nonetheless, that’s a lot of languages!
One of the many interesting facts about New York! It’s such a diverse and multi-cultural city.
5. BROOKLYN BRIDGE IS OLDER THAN TOWER BRIDGE IN LONDON
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most iconic bridges in the world, and so is the Tower Bridge in London, but the NYC bridge can flaunt with being 11 years older.
6. THE AVERAGE RENT FOR A ONE-BEDROOM IN MANHATTAN IS US$ 3,400
Want to move to New York, namely to Manhattan? Then you need to save your bucks ahead. The average rent price is currently around 3400 USD per month. Sure, there are some cheaper ones as well, so it’s good to remember that this number is an average of the most expensive and the cheapest rentals combined.
Nonetheless, quite higher than the average price worldwide for a one-bedroom. To make a comparison, you can easily find a one-bedroom in Greece for 350-400 USD per month.
7. NEW YORK CITY’S FEDERAL RESERVE BANK HAS THE LARGEST GOLD STORAGE IN THE WORLD
Deep down in the heart of the financial district Wall Street, sits the largest storage of gold in the whole world. More than 7.000 tons of glittering gold bars, which is equivalent to about 5% of all the world’s gold ever mined.
Want to see it for yourself? Quite remarkably, public tours are being offered.
8. THE FIRST EUROPEAN SETTLERS IN NYC WERE DUTCH
Until 1898, the city was known as New Amsterdam. That changed when the city was gifted to the Duke of York on his 18th birthday. He then decided to rename the city to New York, which has stuck around ever since.
9. SMALL CRUSTACEANS CAN BE FOUND IN THE DRINKING WATER
The reasons for this is the fact that the water is not getting filtered, but it’s still pure enough to drink, even though it’s probably best to filter the water before drinking. I recommend bringing a filtered water bottle if you’re coming as a tourist.
And don’t worry, the copepods are totally harmless and not something you notice, but vegans might not want to drink the water without filtering it first.
10. HOME TO THE WORLD’S FIRST UNDERGROUND PARK
The success of the Highline gave rise to the new project and park called the Lowline. This is the first underground park in the world, and it’s located on Manhattan’s West Side.
It’s not yet completed, but the current date for the park to be fully completed is set to 2021.
Heading to Massachusetts most definitely means you’ll probably be heading to “Beantown”. Boston is one of the most exciting cities on the eastern seaboard and offers something to everyone. Whether you’re looking for fine art and performances, or just want to explore the city streets and absorb the city at its grittiest, there is truly something for everyone.
If you’re more inclined to spend time outdoors, the Emerald Necklace is a chain of parks between Boston and Brookline. The consist of 1,100 acres that are on the National Historic Register. It’s a perfect walk after breakfast before heading off for a day of breweries. Nearby, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston houses one of the most extensive art collections in the U.S., ranging from ancient Egyptian to contemporary American works. Faneuil Hall Marketplace is a great spot for people watching, as well as a consolidated place to pick up souvenirs from local artists.
Just south of Boston in Dedham, MA is McGolf, a driving range, mini golf, and simulator facility. It’s a great outing for the family, or for a release smacking some balls. When you’re hungry again, make sure to check out Nebo. They are an Italian restaurant with a gluten free menu in downtown Boston. The Mad Monkfish is a fantastic sushi restaurant in Cambridge that has a gluten free menu as well as standard fare. All in all, don’t be afraid to let yourself get a little lost in Boston. They have some of the most amazing architecture and it’s a culture unlike any other in the United States.
Boston Fun Facts
1. Boston is actually named after a town in England
Little Brewster Island is where the first lighthouse was ever built in what is now the United States. While that lighthouse is long gone, the current island resident pictured above is actually the second-oldest working lighthouse in the United States, dating back to 1783.
3. Boston is home to the oldest public park in the U.S.
In January 15, 1919, a storage tank holding more than 2 million gallons of molasses burst, sending a giant wave of the hot syrupy substance through the North End of Boston. It killed 21 people and several horses and injured more than 100 others, making it the worst molasses-related accident in history.
9. In turn-of-the-century Boston, you didn’t need to take a test to receive a driver’s license
Massachusetts started issuing driver’s licenses and registration plates in 1903, but didn’t make people take a driving test beforehand. In 1920, Boston began requiring a driving test before issuing someone a license.
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of Mountaineer Magazine and on www.mountaineers.org.
Leave it to a Mountaineer to find a mountain!
This was my thought as I finished reading an email from Web Chang, a staff member at Mountaineers Books. Web’s message arrived shortly after Ghostfish released our third packaged beer of 2015: Shrouded Summit Belgian White Ale. In this case, the mountain Web had found was on the side of our can, which vibrantly depicts two trekkers stopping for a moment to take in a majestic view of cloud covered Mt. Rainer (designed locally by Kevin LeDoux).
Web wanted us to know that he appreciated the can design of Shrouded Summit, and as one of three co-founders of Ghostfish Brewing Company, receiving this message was extremely gratifying. Looking back, this early brush with The Mountaineers was foreshadowing of an incredible partnership to come, focused on supporting your nonprofit mission in the most delicious way possible.
Ghostfish Brewing didn’t start out as a dedicated gluten-free brewery. While many people now associate Ghostfish as “the gluten-free brewery”, we’ve always considered our focus to be making the highest quality beer that also happens to be gluten-free. We don’t make beer for people who are gluten-free – we make beer for beer drinkers!
I joke now that in the beginning (2013) we were setting ourselves up to be yet another one of the 7,000+ craft breweries across the United States. The plan was always to be innovative by providing an environment that encourages individual contribution, artful aesthetics, and challenges norms. Sometime into the planning phase, we decided to become a dedicated glutenfree brewery to support our vision and contribute to a more sustainable model of production.
What we didn’t necessarily grasp at the time was that we were pioneers in a growing, yet small segment of the craft brewing movement. When you think about beer made from barley, wheat, and rye, you don’t necessarily think about how much tinkering and transformation has occurred over centuries in beer engineering to get to where we are today.
There was no history of gluten-free brewing, nor a playbook that existed, when we started Ghostfish.
We create our beer using traditional brewing methods, but grains we use are most certainly non-traditional by today’s standards. You’ll find plenty of millet, brown rice, and buckwheat (unrelated to wheat) in our grain room. These grains were used in the creation of beer around the globe for centuries, and in fact, millet predates barley in beer brewing history! All these grains are naturally glutenfree and don’t contain the proteins that cause harm in people with Celiac Disease.
While each of our primary grains have amazing sustainable qualities, millet is particularly drought and heat tolerant. It is a highly nutritious cereal grain that sustains more than a third of the world’s population. Buckwheat, which is a fast grower, thrives in poor soil conditions, and is a wonderful cover crop that maintains soil health, reduces soil erosion, and supports a healthy proliferation of honeybees. If you want to bring bees back to your garden, plant some buckwheat!
I’ll admit that I knew very little about The Mountaineers prior to starting Ghostfish Brewing. Growing up in rural northwest Ohio didn’t lend itself to thinking much about mountains, not unless you count watching the von Trapp family escaping Austria into Switzerland. My first exposure to mountains came during a family vacation to Gatlinburg, TN, right in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. It wasn’t until I moved from Ohio to Colorado in my early 30s that I began to appreciate mountain pursuits.
Summiting “14’ers” was something that a low-lander like me could handle and appreciate. If reaching the top of Mt. Elbert (14,440 ft) was one of my proudest outdoor achievements while living in Colorado, summiting Long’s Peak (14,259 ft) gave me serious bragging rights amongst my friends and family. Okay, so I know what you are thinking: ”Yea, but you started at an elevation near 10,000 ft.” Well, you’d be right, and I’ll also admit that none of my 14’er adventures were considered technical feats, but they did give me a deep appreciation and respect for mountains and how unruly they can be.
When I moved to Seattle, my mind was blown once again by the outdoor recreation possibilities of our region. In researching new objectives, I stumbled onto The Mountaineers and was drawn to its mission.
CREATING KICK STEP IPA
I was intrigued by the idea of creating a beer with The Mountaineers from the first mention. In discussing the details with The Mountaineers CEO Tom Vogl over a few Ghostfish beers in 2017, we both grew even more convinced. While I like to think that we were chosen because of our environmentally sustainable grains, our pioneering spirit, or the fact that we already boasted a few mountain-themed beers (Shrouded Summit Belgian White Ale and Peak Buster Double IPA), in the end I believe the decision had everything to do with shared values and alignment of our mission to develop community by fostering a sense of teamwork and a place of belonging.
We got right to work, starting with a name. It might seem easy, but choosing beer names has become extremely challenging in today’s overcrowded craft beer scene, and the last thing you want to do is step on another brewery’s toes by duplicating or replicating an existing beer. We brought a group together to brainstorm name options to convey climbing heritage while being modern, edgy, authentic, distinctive, aspirational, and cool. Fortunately, we landed on Kick Step, a technique true to the outdoor community that also lent itself well to a can design (and avoided the standard mountain-themed clichés).
While I can’t take credit for the “romance copy” printed on the side of each can of Kick Step IPA, I will say that it sums up in every way possible why it makes sense for Ghostfish Brewing and The Mountaineers to work together.
Ghostfish and The Mountaineers were both founded on the idea of transcending limits. We thrive on a spirit of wonder, a sense of adventure, and a commitment to the wild places of the Pacific Northwest. We’re powered by strong, passionate communities who support our missions. Whether it’s distinctive craft beer made from high-quality, low-impact grains, or unique, life-changing experiences in the outdoors, we believe life is meant to be lived and lived well – no matter who you are. This is Kick Step IPA: a liquid representation of our shared values.
A DELICIOUS WAY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Any good brewer will tell you that there’s always room for improving a beer. To that point, we’ve been tinkering with the Kick Step IPA recipe over the past 5-6 months, making small adjustments to improve the overall taste, flavor, and aroma. The goal from the beginning was always to create a uniquely Pacific Northwest-based IPA to celebrate the place we call home. To accomplish this, we chose a trio of Washington grown hops to accentuate the blend of millet and brown rice malts that comprise the base of the beer. A healthy dose of Bravo, Cascade, and Simcoe hops creates a pleasant bitterness profile with distinct flavors of candied orange, sweet fruit, and pine. Kick Step IPA is crafted with a sessionable spirit in mind to keep you light on your feet after any adventure.
Today, Kick Step IPA distribution is growing across the U.S. and Canada, and people in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and many other areas not only get to enjoy Kick Step IPA, but get exposed to The Mountaineers mission.
I am extremely proud of the relationship we have with The Mountaineers, a nonprofit organization committed to connecting people with the natural world, and I am honored to support the incredible work you do. That’s why 10% of Kick Step IPA cases and kegs sold go to The Mountaineers. It gives me great pleasure knowing that our contributions, nearly $20,000 and growing, will benefit future generations of outdoor enthusiasts who desire to explore the wild places of the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
The next time you are out adventuring with purpose, reward yourself with an ice-cold Kick Step IPA!