Marina Market in Poulsbo: Where the beer flows like wine

Marina Market owner Jonathan Rowe pours some brew during a recent beer tasting.  - Leila Arciero/Staff Photo
Marina Market owner Jonathan Rowe pours some brew during a recent beer tasting.
— image credit: Leila Arciero/Staff Photo

POULSBO — Traveling man Rick Hoffman from Hat Island slowly sipped the sample of Dogfish Head’s World Wide Stout he sought out at a recent Marina Market beer tasting. A man of simple pleasures, he was intrigued by the array of hops and malts offered at one of the market’s tastings. He found himself partaking in the trend of beer appreciation in Poulsbo.

“As soon as I found out (Marina Market) was having (a beer tasting), we decided to make a weekend out of it,” Hoffman said.

Jonathan Rowe, owner of Marina Market, said he’s trying to make his beer tastings a true experience. They are always accompanied by food — some edibles started off in a bottle and became a porter cake or stout fondue.

Two circumstances in particular will spark a beer tasting.

“We do it when we have something to crow about; (or) whenever I get strong armed into it,” Rowe said.

Many faithful patrons are happy to shell out the $5 cover and grow restless when it’s been too long between tastings, he said. Rowe has done a handful of tastings since jumping through the rigmarole with the Washington State Liquor Control Board last year.

Beer and wine tastings in grocery stores are relatively new to the state of Washington after a pilot program was tested in 2008. Grocery stores must apply for an added endorsement license to perform the tastings. The license brings with it a strict set of conditions.

Rowe would like to establish a monthly beer tasting. He currently draws anywhere from 12 to 25 beer drinkers per tasting. He’s established an email list to announce the times and dates for planned tastings.

“It was a good tasting and it’s goodwill, it’s really not so much about the money as it is about creating a fun environment for these hobbies,” Rowe said.

Europa Bottleshop in Poulsbo has also jumped into the beer tasting frenzy. It has free beer tastings every Saturday. With themes varying from “think globally, drink locally,” to “what does your palate prefer,” they always offer a unique selection.

“There’s still so many people who have no idea that we’re here,” employee Breezie Daniel said.

Originally a deli, Europa grew into a bottle shop only about six months ago. After a month of settling in, they began their tastings every Saturday without missing a beat.

“The locals that we get literally live within walking distance,” Daniel said.

Europa’s tastings start around noon and continue until the bottles run dry. Their tastings can be from an hour to three, depending on the foot traffic in the store that day.

Both Rowe and Daniel are passionate about the beer on their shelves and they are more than willing to help guide those who would like to try the finer points of the malts, hops and yeast beverage.

“I like doing this, really promoting the store and provide a place for people to get together, to gather (and) maintain a position in the community,” Rowe said.

Marina Market is located at 18882 Front St. and Europa Bottleshop is located at 18928 Front St.

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