(Beer Connoisseur Eric Peters contributed to this post)
Foggy Noggin Brewing LLC
Foggy Noggin can’t even be called a microbrewery – it’s a nanobrewery. Owner Jim Jamison converted the garage of his residential home into a tasting room, and his actual brewing equipment is in a shed in his back yard.
The brewmaster boasted that he has one of the smallest full production breweries in the world. Foggy Noggin has only four beers on tap at a given time, all in their signature style of traditional English ales. Don’t let the small size fool you though, these beers are bold and distinct and some of the best we’ve have to pleasure to taste.
After several free samples, Eric and I both opted to get the Christmas Duck Porter; his regular, mine on nitro. This beer was very dark with a small caramel colored head. It was very opaque; light did not penetrate this beer. The beer had a pleasant roasty porter aroma as expected. At first sip Eric and I both knew it was a winner. We both spent the next 45 minutes sitting in the driveway/taproom trying to articulate the different nuances. The malt flavors hit the tongue and gave way to a slight bitterness that lingers perfectly. This porter had no apparent chocolate or coffee flavors in the roast, but there were hints of molasses and other notes that even after our long discussion we couldn’t identify. It was also stronger than most other porters, weighing in at 6.6% ABV. After conferring we do recommend getting it on nitro, even though it takes about ten minutes to pour. The added smoothness perfectly compliments this porter and the extra head captures the flavors perfectly. Overall, the original English style made this ale memorable, distinct, and delicious. We both recommend that anyone reading this step away from the computer immediately, go find someplace serving this porter and bask in its glory. Yes, its so good we even recommend you stop reading this blog mid-post.
Eric wanted to keep drinking the Christmas Duck Porter for the rest of the afternoon, but his duty to review more than one beer compelled him to get the Bit O’ Beaver English Bitter as his second pint. A bitter is a very English style ale, one that is uncommon around here, though many of you reading this will be familiar with the related style Extra Special Bitter, or ESB. The Bitter has a very low ABV at only 3.6%. It poured a cloudy amber color with no head. Eric could only discern a very minor malty aroma. The beer was very light-bodied and the flavor had a malt profile very similar to an amber. The bitterness was slight, but apparent. It had a lot of similarities with an American Amber style ale, however this Bitter possessed much more character and complexity than any Amber Eric had ever tasted. A unique and interesting brew unlikely to be found elsewhere, Eric recommended this as another beer by Foggy Noggin very much worth checking out.
I had similar feelings for the Porter, but opted instead to get the Rufus IPA for the sake of the blog. Being a true pacific northwest boy, I’m accustomed to the hyper-hoppy, in your face IPAs that we’re famous for out here. The Rufus was of a decidedly different pedigree. By appearance it was similar; coppery-amber colored with no head. However, one sip revealed the classic English stylings of this beer. The hops – all English variety – were unlike any other I had tasted before. In contrast to the bitter, floral and citrus flavors found in American IPAs, the hops in the Rufus were earthy and rustic. There were also a number of ester-like notes interwoven with the hops, giving the beer some characteristics of a Belgian ale. This beer was nothing like any IPA I had tried before, but I certainly enjoyed it. If you’re an IPA fan looking to change things up a little then this is the beer for you.
Whenever we get houses of our own, Eric and I will be opening breweries like this one. Jim is living the dream of every aspiring homebrewer; what started as a hobby has become a burgeoning business. He’s passionate about his beer, and it shines through with every sip of every pint. Foggy Noggin is only open for tasting on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4 (though the hours change sometimes, stay up to date here) but their beers debut across the Puget Sound at places like Rooney’s on the Eastside in Woodinville and at Naked City in Seattle. This nanobrewery may be a little bit out of the way, but these highly unique and stunningly tasty beers are worth traveling from absolutely anywhere to try.
Good luck Jim, we’re rooting for you here at Rosemary Renaissance.