Our friend and freelance writer Renee Brincks reports on the Emerald City.
She can be found on the Interwebs at reneebrincks.com
I’ll admit, I’ve got a crush on Seattle. You sometimes see sun, rain and snow all in one day. Flowers bloom even during the winter. Public transportation makes exploring really easy, and each neighborhood has its own coolness and character – plus a few good pubs. I sampled the local beer scene during my first Seattle visit in 2010, and was quick to say yes when a Fremont friend needed a house sitter this February. Thanks to great people I’ve met through beer friends and festivals, I landed at Sea-Tac with a full set of plans.
The adventures kicked off when I caught up with Dave of Urban Beer Hikes at Maritime Pacific Brewing. It was my first visit, and the bartender was pouring $3 pints to celebrate the Jolly Roger Taproom’s first anniversary. I had an Islander Pale and a Jolly Roger on cask, and then sampled the special release, vanilla-bean aged Navigator Weizenbock. We soon pulled tables together to accommodate friends like Chris, who writes about beer and such himself, and ordered some snacks. Seattle is a terrific city for cheap nights out, because many bars and restaurants hold twice-daily happy hours with $3 pints, $3-$4 appetizers and other deals. While Maritime’s fried ravioli was my favorite, I couldn’t leave without ordering beer-battered bacon. Wow…yes, it was as unhealthy as it sounds, but tasty.
From there, Dave, Chris and I took the Burke-Gilman Trail to Fremont Brewing’s Urban Beer Garden. When I stopped in last year, the doors were rolled open and summer sunshine streamed in. This evening, the doors were down and a line of beer lovers waited at the taps while others filled every seat in the place. After an Interurban IPA, a few of us made the mile walk to Bottleworks to end the evening with pizza, Big Time saison and a shared bottle of Rodenbach.
My next big beer outing was a Deschutes dinner at The Leary Traveler. The Traveler has good food (try the open-face breakfast sandwich available on weekends – yum), a good bottle selection, and six regular and four rotating taps. I claimed a corner table with Chris, Dave, who tends bar there, and Dave’s wife Mandy, who works over at Brouwers. The first pour was a surprise: Black Butte XXII. As Mark, the local Deschutes rep, explained, the anniversary beer was scheduled for 2010 release but never hit stores because the chocolate didn’t dissolve correctly. It didn’t hurt the taste – the beer was smooth, with a bit of chocolate and spice – but the visual presentation didn’t meet brewery standards. So, they canceled the release, bottled a few cases and decided to share it only when someone from Deschutes could tell the story and watch the pours.
Five excellent food courses followed, paired with Miss Spelt, Green Lakes Organic Ale, Red Chair and Black Butte. Dessert was the star: a chewy homemade graham cracker dipped in chocolate and toasted sesame seeds, filled with marshmallow, and served with Abyss imperial stout.
The highlight of my Seattle trip came a few days later, when Dave and his dog, Link, organized a beer hike for our Deschutes dinner crew and another friend Chris, who also works at The Traveler. Afternoon snowflakes spoiled our West Seattle plans – the city’s public transportation doesn’t always stay on schedule when it snows – so we stayed closer to home. Several soccer fans were watching an Arsenal-Stoke City match when I ordered a Pike IPA at our meeting spot, The Dray. It’s a small bar, and one of those cozy neighborhood places where everyone seems to know each other. We shared a bottle of black label Girarden Gueuze before moving on to 74th Street Ale House. Though the menu listed tempting happy hour appetizers, Link couldn’t come inside, so I had Laurelwood’s Workhorse IPA and we moved on.
After a torta stop at Barriaga Llena, we settled in at Uber. More snow was falling by now, and we warmed up around the fire while sampling – with four-ounce pours for around $2 each, it’s easy to create your own impromptu tasting menu. Then, it was off to Kangaroo and Kiwi. There’s not an extensive beer menu here, but one Chris and I relived our Australian university days over Coopers Pale, he and the other Chris went head-to-head at pool, and we all took third in the bar’s trivia contest. When it ended, we bundled up and went to Park Pub a final stop and a Big Al IPA. Altogether, we walked about three miles, sampled beers from Washington and beyond, and hiked home in three inches of snow – a rare thing for Seattle, I’m told.
While in town, I also stopped by my Capitol Hill favorite, the Stumbling Monk, drank Fremont’s Abominable Ale at People’s Pub, and ate at Molly Moon’s, Top Pot, Paseo and Palace Kitchen. Still, there are several places that I didn’t get to visit, and a few people (Philippe, are you reading this?) I didn’t get to see. That’s the thing about Seattle, though. It always gives you good reasons to return.
Big thank yous to my Seattle friends – especially Charyn, Dave, Mandy, Link and Chris D. – for making my week so fantastic. Even if Dave did make me do a Bart Simpson shot… Thanks to Chris and Merideth, too, for letting me invade their blog.