This year, The Pour Fool is fifteen years old. It started as a weekly column in a suburban Seattle newspaper, went into the online edition of the old Seattle P-I, and in 2014, became this website.
I have always written too much and been mildly, good-naturedly (for the most part) hammered for it. “Jesus Christ!” one reader wrote, “This is like reading ‘War & Peace’.” To which I could only shrug and eat it because…well, it often is and often more War than Peace.
But this is a new decade and my (alleged, unproven) “retirement” of three years ago, like some badly concocted vaccine, has not taken. I am frequently busier now than I was while I was still working. Summers, in fact, usually see this website virtually untouched for a solid three months.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, over this weird, Kafkaesque summer, I had an epiphany and a real change of heart. The Pour Fool reviews, for a decade, have been amply supplied with materials by a bewildering variety of producers of various beverages. Mostly, because sending out samples takes $$$, these have come from larger outfits, for whom sampling is just one small aspect of promotions…and it is IMPOSSBLE to tell you how truly grateful I am to all those GREAT makers of beverages for allowing me to taste their wares. Since I don’t even know the samples are coming, in about 90% of all cases, it’s like Christmas around this here ranch, fifty times a year or more. I have ZERO intention of halting review of ANY products people want to send me. But, in Sequim, Washington, one grey, drippy afternoon back in June, I had that Epiphany. I was in the tasting room of a winery which I had reviewed back in 2014. They’re a boutique producer of really stunning wines which, I believe, stack up favorably with anything made over on the other side of our state, where the glamour appellations are located. They and another producer from another one of the Northwest’s Buzz-Challenged areas were early features in the old Seattle P-I version of TPF and both contacted me to say thanks and tell me about the BIG response they got from my reviews.
Simply put, I want More of that. I want to promote, to the extent of which this site is capable, those small, fiercely independent, self-sufficient, self-realized wineries, breweries, and distilleries who DON’T get slathered with the balm of widespread acclaim. That first small winery I reviewed, eleven years ago, sent me a message that reported a FORTY PERCENT increase in visitors in the six weeks after my review. And this is a winery that is adjacent to a state park, in the dead-center of Nowhere, and appeared during the park’s off-season. I have devoted this site to exposing ONLY products about which I can honestly RAVE. I have no patience for writing lukewarm generally or really even positive reviews. I want to introduce you to GREAT things, what my wife calls “Oh, Wow” beverages.
And, today, even here in this surreal world that seems about to careen totally off its rails, there is great stuff being concocted, poured, canned, and bottled in FAR more places than even before in human history.
You keep reading here, you’re going to find names like Olalla, Moose Canyon, Nightside, Echoes, Abbe, Stein’s, Western Red, Headless Mumby (NOT kidding!), Batteaux, Birchfield, F.O.B(!), Adrift, Black Fleet, Sig, Mastrogiannis, Hardware, and the dazzling Headwind, for a second time, because they’re STUNNING. Most people will have heard of none of these…
And, last but maybe most, ALL of the reviews here are going to become dramatically shorter. Now, if you’ve been reading this for more than year or so, you’re laughing, right now. But this is no longer negotiable, even just within my own head. I have to be able to knock out these posts in MUCH less time because there are likely to be a LOT more of them. Another casualty of The Epiphany is my traditional insistence that any producer I review MUST be excellent across the board and have a bona fide history of consistent quality. The revelation there was simple: I took stock of all the one-off products I had found from all producers and all the makers who had one or two, out of a larger roster of products, that were excellent and realized that there were literally hundreds of things you never read about from me. I will, then, be reviewing a single beers or maybe two, out of a roster of seven, nine, twelve, etc. that hits a home run, tactfully (or maybe awkwardly) leaving out those which are merely passable.
This new approach starts with that first name mentioned in the list above: Olalla. “O-La-La“…just like that, a rural, obscure, mainly-local maker of exceptional wines which you could – and probably would! – miss altogether. I did, having driven past their highway “Tourist Attractions” sign at least fifty times but never becoming motivated enough to roll off WA Route 16 and find the place. Boy, am I glad I did.
It’s a new decade for The Pour Fool and it’s Back To School time, albeit mainly virtually.
Hang onto something. It may be a pretty wild ride.