I was very excited a few months ago when the Seattle Sounders v. Manchester United exhibition match was announced. Not that Seattle’s beer scene wasn’t enough of a reason to make a trip to the Pacific Northwest, but seeing our first ever Sounders match against one of the best teams in the world was the push we needed to schedule our first visit to the Emerald City since the Year in Beer.
We had the afternoon to kill before the match so naturally we occupied our time with beery pursuits. Planning the brewery stops on this trip proved somewhat difficult and the first stop, Fremont Brewing, was a good example of this. They have an Urban Beer Garden, where they open up the brewery to visitors and pour their beer. Normally this would be a good thing, but the limited opening hours didn’t fit into the rest of our schedule. Luckily, Fremont Brewing also has regular drop in hours where people can pick up bottles, growlers and kegs. So that’s what we did.
We arrived right at around noon. Standing in their small tasting room/retail shop we could see the brewery workers busily plying their trade. One worker was able to take a moment to pour us a few samples–Universal Pale Ale, Solstice Ale and Interurban IPA. I knew that this was going to be quick stop, but after tasting the samples, I was doubly disappointed that we couldn’t fit the Urban Beer Garden into our schedule. We quickly grabbed bottles of the Solstice Ale and IPA and were back out the door in under ten minutes.
Lunch was next on the agenda so Merideth and I made the short journey from Fremont Brewing to Brouwer’s Café. Seattle’s world-famous beer bar was sparsely crowded as Merideth and I grabbed two seats at the bar. Scanning the beer list, I have to admit I was a tad disappointed in the range of Washington beer choices. There were some excellent brews on the draft list but I just didn’t feel inspired. I started with the Big Time Perspective IPA, a nice brew with a refreshing citrus sherbet flavor. Merideth began with Elite Pilsner from American Brewing. I followed my IPA up with another IPA, the same Boundary Bay IPA I had the previous day at the brewery.
When traveling, our usual normal healthier eating goes out the door, especially when bacon is on the menu. Merideth went with the Brouwer’s Speakeasy, a turkey sandwich with bacon. My bacon-y treat was the sandwich special, a BLT with heirloom tomatoes. Both were quite pork-a-licious!
After a quick visit to the Theo chocolate factory for desert, we were on our way to our last stop before heading to downtown Seattle for the Sounders match. Driving to Naked City Brewery and Taphouse we came across a sign in front of a corner market that said “Tap Room & Growler Fills.” Curious, Merideth and I popped into Chuck’s 85th St. Market.
Tucked into the back of what looks like a typical neighborhood convenience store was a slice of craft beer heaven. On top of a pretty amazing bottled beer selection, Chuck’s had nine taps pouring local craft beer as well as a few national craft players. While checking out Chuck’s beer selection including his private stash, I indulged myself with a pint of Skagit River Del Rio Lager. Even the plastic cup didn’t deter me from thinking Chuck’s was a cool place.
We only had time at Naked City for a quick taster set. The five beers were some of the most eclectic of the trip ranging from Ewige Liebe Amber Weizen to Cherry Pi (a Kriek) to Double Header Oaked Imperial IPA. However, I’m not sure we were in the right mood to do eclectic. I was particularly excited about the Kriek when I saw it on the menu, but it had more of a raisin quality than cherry, which was a bit disappointing. Our favorite turned to be an IPA sample that the owner poured from the fermenter. Hopefully, on our next visit to Seattle, we will have time to give Naked City a proper visit.
We arrived downtown a few hours before the Sounders-United match and were hoping to get a quick pint at Collins Pub before the “March to the Match.” Unfortunately, the throngs of fans wandering the downtown area didn’t bode well for getting a beer. Collins Pub was packed and after only a few minutes (and not even getting eye contact from the bartender), we gave up and left.
Denied a pre-match pint, we joined the large crowd of fans already congregated in Occidental Park for the short walk to the stadium. This was my first experience with the rabid support for the Sounders. As someone who dates his support of American professional soccer to the late 1970s attending Washington Diplomats matches, I found it to be a sight to behold. It brought a tear to my eye and tingles to my spine.
The match really was a tale of two halves. The Sounders’ first team played strong in the first half but couldn’t convert any of their numerous chances. Manchester United went into the half with the 1-0 lead. Mass substitutions by the Sounders after the break and United’s introduction of Wayne Rooney, one of the world’s best players, turned the second half into a farce. United scored six goals on the Sounders’ second and third team including a hat-trick from Rooney. It would have been nice if the Sounders had played better but the experience of our first Sounders match was incredible.