Propolis Brewing, Port Townsend, WA
If there’s a brewery that perfectly embodies the Pacific Northwest, it’s gotta be Propolis Brewery located in Port Townsend, WA. Oozing character and intelligence? Check. Filled with bearded, flannel-clad hipsters that look like they could actually hold day jobs as lumberjacks? Check. No place like it in the world, and yet totally unassuming? Check.
As soon as you walk in the door of Propolis, you know you’re someplace special. Their seasonal ingredients (botanicals, herbs, and spices) include things that sound both homey and exotic; mundane and unusual. Like, salmonberries. Sure. And, spruce. Wait, what?! As odd as they may sound, the list of ingredients used in Propolis beers lend a distinct Pacific Northwest flavor to their beers that is unparalleled and not to be found anywhere else in the world. They strive to create unique, but balanced, beers. And in true PNW fashion, Propolis Brewery uses only 100% organic ingredients, and makes use of all the parts of the ingredients that they use. For example, the seeds from the salmonberries are planted to make more salmonberry bushes.
On our visit, we sampled practically every beer on their tap list. Each beer below is linked to Propolis’s beautifully written descriptions, extensive tasting notes, and food pairing suggestions.
- Melissa – Golden Saison with Lemon Balm
- Ostara – Amber Saison with Chamomile
- Litha – Golden Saison with Chamomile and Lavender
- Beltane – Saison-Brett with Elderflower
- Spruce – Golden Saison with Spelt and Spruce
- Sahti – Dark Amber Saison with Juniper
- Achillea – Farmhouse Dubbel with Yarrow
- Wyrt – Farmhouse Stout with Dandelion, Chicory, Oats and Spelt
According to Wikipedia, propolis is a resinous mixture that honey bees produce by mixing saliva and beeswax with exudate gathered from botanical sources. It is believed to reinforce the stability of the hive, make it more defensible, and prevent diseases and parasites from entering. If bees had glue, this would be it. Propolis is simply a metaphor for strengthening and protecting community. As a small-town trying to preserve its livelihood in an area where logging has died down as a vocation over the last several decades, Port Townsend’s population has grown steadily to just under 10,000 souls despite its economic setbacks. There are other things drawing people to this small town, but like all of rural America, the possibility of die back and die down constantly looms as a possibility. Hopefully Propolis will continue to grow and thrive not only for its own sake, but for the life of the hive.
Please visit this brewery if you are ever in Washington state. If not, you can order their beers online by joining their Ale Club. For a mere $165 per year plus tax and shipping, you can have their beers mailed to you. And for $450, you’ll receive 24 bottles including 12, rare, barrel-aged bottles. You can also check their availability map for where to find their beers in your neck of the woods.