Dogs Blog

Yakima Valley


Yakima Valley
by Jason Shrum

Every company, big or small, deserves a company outing...a Team Building experience if you will. Road Dog Tours is no exception. In order to relay the best information in the craft beer industry, we must emerge ourselves into it’s epicenter. This is where we rely heavily on the hard work and dedication of our R&D (Research & Drinking) team. These fine folks, minus the slacker on the right (see photo), are the reason Road Dog’s is able to provide such great service and great education. Earlier this month we were able to head down to Yakima Valley in southeastern Washington and get a look at a hop farm and processing center.

Bale Breaker Brewery was responsible for making this possible. While the brewery is located in their family’s hop field, #41, BaleBreaker Brewing Company is operated as a separate entity from all farming operations. The family’s farm, B.T. Loftus Ranches, is now in its fourth-generation of family ownership, with its daily operations managed by Patrick Smith and his parents Mike & Cheryl Smith. Established in 1932, B.T. Loftus Ranches Inc. is one of the Yakima Valley’s longest running hop farms. In 1920, the Loftus family moved to Moxee, WA in pursuit of work on the railroad and began farming a variety of crops and livestock. Twelve years later, B.T. and Leota Loftus, great- grandparents of Patrick, Meghann, and Kevin, established the family’s first five-acre hop farm. The farm is now involved with Select Botanicals Group and the Hop Breeding Company, growing 9 different varieties such as Cascade, Simcoe®, Citra®, and Mosaic®. Loftus Ranches is one of the largest growers for the craft beer industry, valuing quality, sustainability and innovation. They are dedicated to their craft and look forward to growing varieties that meet the needs of microbrewers for many years to come. We had a great time exploring the fields and even helping produce a fresh hopped beer with the family. The Top Cutter IPA was a personal favorite from Bale Breaker and we hope to see big things from them in the future.





Whiskey, Stills, and Mash

Whiskey, Stills, and Mash
by Jason Shrum

Here’s a fun question: How many craft distilleries did we have in the state of Washington 5 years ago?  The Craft Distilling was illegal in the state of Washington going all the way back to January 17th, 1920. You might know that date, as it represents a nationwide prohibition in the United States. Thanks a lot Woodrow Wilson. The repeal of prohibition would not come until Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933.

But what is craft distilling? Here is how the state defines it:

-'Craft Distilleries' are producing less than 20,000 gallons and at least half the raw materials are grown in Washington State.

- For Distilleries Producing less than 20,000 gallons, the annual state license fee is reduced from $2000 to $100.

- Allows Craft Distilleries to sell up to 2 liters of spirits for off premise consumption per customer.

- Allows Craft Distilleries to provide 1/2 ounce samples of spirits of it's own production, maximum of 2 ounces per customer.

- Makes alcohol server permits mandatory for serving samples at a distillery.

Pretty simple guidelines that are peaking the interests of local entrepreneurs, because now, 5 years later, we have roughly 90 distilleries in the state of Washington. that is more than any other state in the United States and more than Tennessee and Kentucky combined.  Seattle is on the forefront of this Craft Distilling uprising, boasting 16 distilleries within city limits.

The best part of all of this is that Road Dog’s Tours is visiting most of these fine businesses.  Whatever your taste buds crave, there seems to be a little of something for everyone.  While whiskeys will take some time to develop (there are a few producing including 3 Howls, and Westland) because of the barrel aging process, there are some many other fun products to try.  Whether it’s a Limoncello from Letterpress, Moonshine from 2Bar, Aquavit from Sound Spirits, or Shochu from SoDo Spirits, Seattle has tons to offer.  

So many spirits, so little time, but Road Dog’s can take you there and show you what happens behind the scenes as well.  We are there, with the help of many awesome local Seattle distilleries, to take you from grain to glass.  All Road Dog’s Distillery Tours also include a shot glass and t-shirt before it’s over. Cheers!




The Beer Snob


by Jason Shrum

There was a time, not too long ago, when I would drink just about any kind of beer that you placed in front of me. I didnʼt know the difference between lagers and ales, porters and stouts, or even bottles and cans. Okay, I went a little far on that last one, but you get the idea, I am driving home a point here. Beer, was simply, beer. In my mind it all fell into the same category. I would have never imagined the world that I live in now.

I now think of myself as a bit of a beer connoisseur. My wife, only half jokingly, refers to me as a “beer snob”. Either way, I now know my beer. I can easily talk to people in length about exactly what they are tasting as they sip on their libations. Although, I am sure most would prefer I shut up and let them drink. I can tell you about the IBUʼs (International Bittering Units), the OG (Original Gravity), the ABV (Alcohol by Volume). I can use terms like “gristing”, “sparging”, and “pitching” when referring to the beer making process. I can do all of this for one reason and one reason only...I went on the Road Dog Seattle Brewery Tour.

I only moved to the Pacific Northwest just recently (5 months ago to be exact). I was unaware of the vast beer culture that I was about to be immersed into. My aunt had sent me a gift certificate to Road Dog for my birthday which was right around the time of my move. I figured Iʼd go drink some beer with my wife, and see some breweries, but I never expected the overall impact that this experience was going to have on my life. I absolutely fell in love with the entire process of beer making. The hard work, the persistency, the dedication, and most importantly the passion that these brewerʼs possessed.

I also loved the idea that there was a company that took me to three different breweries and gave me a BEER 101 at each. Explaining the differences in style and technique. And of course, there were tons of samples.

I called Dustin Boast (Founder/CEO) a couple of days later, set up an interview and eventually I became part of the Road Dog Team. Long gone are the days of drinking cheap beer with no taste. My palette has changed, and so have I. I am very proud of the fact that my wife, and inner circle of friends, call me “The Beer Snob”.





Outlander Brewery


Outlander Brewery and Pub (Fremont)
225 N 36th St Seattle, WA 98103 (206) 486-4088 Website

If you havenʼt had a chance yet, be sure to stop by one of Fremontʼs newest breweries, Outlander. These guys are almost always the talk of our tours. Outlander Brewery is a nano brewery and pub specializing in foreign and unique beers and eats. Last year these guys produced 110 barrels of beer. To put that in perspective, Anheuser Busch produced 125 million.

In the basement of a 114-year-old house, Head Brewer, Nigel Lassiter is pushing the boundaries of brewing. In the past, Lassiter has used ingredients like lavender, ginseng, dragon fruit, sriracha, and heather to recraft, craft beer, if you will.

Their brewery is a 1 barrel system (two kegs), which they use to create hand-crafted, more often than not, specialty ales. The brewery is based around experimentation, so the taps change almost weekly. They almost never brew the same beer twice, but will do so if enough people ask them to.

By definition, an outlander is a stranger, a foreigner, but at Outlander Brewing he represents much more. This is how co-owner Dragan Radulovic defines him, “The outlander is the innovator; he is the one who drives change. It is the outlander, whether in mind or origin, who represents the ambitious, passionate pioneer who is willing to put everything on the line in order to make his dream come true. Itʼs often a simple dream, a dream to share his knowledge, his expertise with the ones who call him stranger. And certainly the public may reject his ideas, they may cast him back to where he came from. But does this ever worry the outlander? Never. Because the outlander believes in his ideas. He knows what he is offering is great and he knows others, once they put aside their prejudice, will know this too. He knows that someone who has invested their time, their life, their hopes and dreams behind something cannot fail. And he knows one last vital piece of information– that there have been many outlanders in this world before him and there will be many more to come.”

So stop by Outlander Brewery for some unique craft beer and tell them that Road Dogʼs sent you.