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mingle photoTASTE OF THE TOWN
By Allyson Marrs

They call themselves escape artists.

Escape with them for a full day of tasting the best brews around Seattle—refreshing. On Saturday, March 30, you can drink, and drink some more, with a member event in partnership with EverGreen Escapes.

During EverGreen Escapes "Brews & Views" tour, beer enthusiasts visit breweries in Seattle for a bit of history and a lot of hops. Typically, the tour kicks off at Pyramid, with a talk by the head brewer, a free pint glass and hors d'oeuvres. "One of the great aspects of visiting Pyramid is the ability to taste beers you can't get anywhere else," said Tyler Davis, EverGreen Escapes' Escape Artist Manager and International Program Director. "Pyramid brews a lot of great beer that stays exclusively in its Seattle brewing facility."

Although the itinerary varies depending on brewery schedules, Escape guests (Runaways?) can expect to stop in southern—SoDo, Pioneer Square, etc.—and northern—Ballard or Fremont—neighborhoods. The Artists aim to expose Runaways to breweries with various characters, size, style and, of course, type of beer served.

Some of the company's best beer partners are Elliott Bay, Hale's Ales, Schooner Exact Brewing Company and Fremont Brewing.

Washington has 82 breweries, and Seattle boasts many of these. Most are micro or craft producers, meaning they make less than 20,000 barrels each year. But Tyler says the Pacific Northwest is most known for its hoppy beers, such as the IPA—not surprising given that one of the largest hop-producing regions in the world can be found just east of the Cascades.

"Seattle is also well known for its collaborative beers," Tyler said. "Two or more head brewers from different breweries collaborate to produce a single beer, thanks to the tight-knit beer community, as well as plain old creativeness for seasonals and one-offs."

To celebrate the city, the tour also includes "views." The group stops at various viewpoints that best highlight Seattle's beauty, and which also give the Runaways a breath of fresh air between pints.

Leading this are the Escape Artists—the guides with the wisdom. They have a "deep knowledge of the beer-making process, the history of beer in Seattle and beer in general," Tyler said. Many of the guides have worked in the brewing industry—some as head brewers—and all share the passion.

"Regardless of their 'beer background,' they all are charismatic, have an intimate knowledge of Seattle and its neighborhoods and make each and every tour unique."

If you're craving a great pint, or five, contact Membership Director Kaarin Keil at to attend this fun event. The drinking begins on Saturday, March 30, from 1:30-6:30 p.m. Registration is $95 per member.

mingle photoELEMENTS
By Allyson Marrs

Man evented fire as a way to keep warm, but since then, man has warped the element to create art. Art by Fire, founded in 1997 by Renée Pound and Lenoard Whitfield, is an Issaquah-based glass-blowing studio; and on March 20, Bellevue Club members will have the opportunity to become students.

While glass blowing is first and foremost a form of artistic expression, the folks at Art by Fire have put their hearts into the medium. They created a 9/11 memorial to recognize the bravery displayed on that day and, glowing hearts for the children of Japan after the deadly 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

For Renée and Lenoard, these designs were a way to share something fragile, beautiful yet strong, with perfect strangers as a way to counteract the ugliness in the situations they represent.

Considering it takes at least two people to blow and sculpt glass, there's already a sense of unity tied to the process.

Lenoard, the studio's primary artist, has been blowing glass for more than 15 years, but even people of his tenure can learn something new. "I don't think anybody ever really 'masters' glass," said his wife Renée. "There is so much for one person to ever learn."

So education is a big part of Art by Fire's mission. They want their students to become proficient in glass blowing, and they offer both private and mini classes to achieve this. For the serious aspiring artist, there's also the option to enroll in six-week sessions, where you can craft for four hours each week.

Glass blowing depends on the property of inflation—the expansion of glass into a molten blob after air is introduced. Glass inherently has a liquid structure, so when it's manipulated, it can be blown out with heat, and it gradually hardens as it cools.

Mold-blowing and free-blowing are the two major techniques used, and the former involves placing a wooden or metal carved mold at the end of the blowpipe. This mold determines the shape and texture of the glass.

Free-blowing is a series of short puffs of air into the molten portion of glass, which forms an elastic skin, so the artist can quickly shape the blob before it cools. Experienced glass blowing artists can shape almost any design by rotating or swinging the pipe and expertly controlling the temperature as they work.

If you've been anywhere in Bellevue or Seattle, then you've seen the countless forms glass art can take, courtesy of Dale Chihuly's stamp on the region. It may be a bit more dangerous than watercolors, but glass is just another medium for creative expression.

If you'd like to explore this medium and be a part of the small Bellevue Club class on Wednesday, March 20, at 2 p.m., contact Membership Director Kaarin Keil at Registration is $60, and you'll come home with a beautiful piece of art. More information about the studio can be found at


Member Events Director: Kaarin Keil | 425-688-3384 |
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