They say that brewing is a man’s game. Not true. Sure, men still outnumber women in the world of craft beer, but after brewing with big guys for over two decades I can tell you that good beer—not the cheap stuff that is mass produced by machines—is everyone’s game. One of the things that I love best about my job as head brewmistress for Der Keller, an authentic brewhaus in the Bavarian village of Leavenworth, WA, is watching people taste our creations. There’s nothing better than placing a tray with samples of our creamy straw-colored honey pilsner, hoppy citrus IPA, and chocolate-infused stout on the table and then standing back to observe. Brewers are like chefs. It’s my job to ensure that every beer we produce is made with the finest and freshest ingredients, and that with each sip our customers’ palates are treated to a sensory experience. The fact that our little German village is nestled in the Northern Cascade Mountains, affectionately known as the Washington Alps, and surrounded by abundant apple and cherry orchards, vineyards, and lush organic farmland, means that our beers reflect the same local flavor.
Back in the 1960s, Leavenworth almost died a slow and painful death. The town was on the brink of collapse. What had once been a booming mine town became a ghost town. However, the handful of residents left decided to fight for the land that they called home. They banded together and came up with an unusual plan—to turn their small logging and mining town into an authentic German alpine village. They signed a city ordinance requiring every business along Front Street to be designed in gothic style. Soon white stucco half-timbered buildings with dark wood accents, ornate balconies, and window boxes overflowing with geraniums replaced crumbling saw mills and abandoned farmhouses. Then the city hosted Leavenworth’s inaugural Oktoberfest which drew two-hundred people the first year. Today the festival stretches out over multiple weekends and brings thousands upon thousands of visitors to what is now known as the biggest celebration outside of Munich. A visit to Leavenworth means you’ll find abundant activities throughout the year from Christmas markets to the winter light festival and Maifest to the fall foliage celebration, just to name a few.
Strolling through Leavenworth’s cobblestone streets is as close as you can get to visiting Germany without leaving the country. Other than the fact that no one aside from my in-laws actually speak German, our little “beervaria” is the next best thing. For me, Leavenworth is home. After growing up in the foster care system, I never believed that I would find a permanent resting ground. My husband, Mac’s parents sort of adopted me. They are two of Leavenworth’s original residents and immigrated from Germany. Thanks in part to their vision and incredible brewing talent they helped put the family pub, Der Keller on the map, not only in the Pacific Northwest but throughout the globe. People travel from every continent to sip a pint of Otto and Ursula’s doppelbock. They’re the only parents I’ve ever known and the kindest people on the planet. Working in the family business had helped develop my nose for hops and given me the confidence to break out of my shell.
That was all changing now. I’d recently discovered my husband shagging the beer wench in the middle of the day. In the middle of the brewery!
I wanted to kill him. Can you blame me? In a town of two-thousand residents everyone was going to know what had happened. I couldn’t face showing up at Der Keller and having people look at me with sympathy, so I took a job at a new start-up brewery and threw myself into the process.
It might have worked, only someone else ended up dead and my soon-to-be-ex-husband quickly became the most likely suspect. Suddenly I found myself on the case. I knew that Mac was a cheater. But a killer? No way.
You can read more about Sloan in Death on Tap, the first book in the NEW “Sloan Krause” mystery series.
When Sloan Krause walks in on her husband, Mac, screwing the barmaid, she gives him the boot. Sloan has spent her life in Leavenworth, Washington becoming an expert in brewing craft beer, and she doesn’t have time to be held back by her soon-to-be ex-husband. She decides to strike out on her own, breaking away from the Krause family brewery, and goes to work for Nitro, the hip new nano-brewery in the Bavarian-themed town. Nitro’s owner, brewmaster Garrett Strong, has the brew-world abuzz with his newest recipe, “Pucker-Up IPA.” This place is the new cool place in town, and Mac can’t help but be green with envy at their success.
But just as Sloan is settling in to her new gig, she finds one of Nitro’s competitors dead in the fermenting tub, clutching the secret recipe for the IPA. When Mac, is arrested, Sloan knows that her ex might be a cheater, but a murderer? No way. Danger is brewing in Beervaria and suddenly Sloan is on the case.
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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a signed copy of Death on Tap. U.S. entries only, please. The giveaway ends October 5, 2017. Good luck everyone!
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About the author
Ellie Alexander writes the bestselling Bakeshop Mystery series for St. Martin’s Press, set in the Shakespearean town of Ashland, Oregon and featuring a romantic, artisan pastry chef, Juliet Montague Capshaw.
Ellie is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.
All comments are welcomed.