Our trip to Seattle wouldn’t be complete without going on an Urban Beer Hike. Conveniently, we are friends with the guru of Urban Beer Hikes, Dave Doran, who was gracious enough to organize a UBH for our visit. Scheduled for Thursday afternoon, our walk would take us from industrial South Seattle to trendy Capitol Hill.
The hike started at 1pm at Georgetown Brewing. Merideth and I first visited Georgetown Brewing during the Year in Beer at their old facility a couple of blocks away. The previous location in the old Rainier Brewery malt house was dimly lit and showed it’s age. The new facility, while not really looking like it on the exterior, was much more modern. Walking through the Star Trek-like automatic sliding entrance doors, we entered a brightly-lit tasting room. The stainless bar was on the right with three well-marked stations: samples, keg sales and growler fills. We arrived early, but a short time later our guide Dave, his wife Mandy and their sidekick, Link, joined us.
I seem to remember on our first visit in 2008 drinking pints at Georgetown. But this time it was only sample pours. Given that we had a long day of beer drinking ahead, starting with samples was probably fortuitous. Georgetown was all about the growler fill and at only $6 & $7 per fill (depending on which beer), we observed a steady stream of mid-afternoon customers exchanging empty growlers for full ones while we sampled a few of their brews.
We passed on the ubiquitous Manny’s and started with Johnny Utah, a wonderful 3.99% ABV session IPA. I think the session IPA is a great trend and the Johnny Utah was the latest star example I’ve had the pleasure of drinking. Really light in body, but still packing the hop punch that I enjoy. Even Merideth, the self-avowed non-hophead, loved Johnny Utah. Roger’s Pilsner, Lucille IPA and Georgetown Porter rounded out our samples. Loving the Johnny Utah, I went back for seconds before we moved on to our next stop.
Lunch was next on the agenda. After a short half mile walk through a gritty industrial area, we arrived at Hudson, a nondescript roadside diner. It’s brick exterior and interior reminded me of the 1970s and walking in, I wondered why Dave brought us here.
Merideth and I passed on the draft Miller High Life and canned PBR and both ordered the Fremont Brewing Summer Solstice Ale. We only had a small sample at brewery the previous day so it was nice to finally get a pint of this much talked about brew. For lunch, we both had the large and delicious fish tacos. I finished our time at Hudson with Big Al’s IPA. The brewery was on our target list for trip but it looked more and more like we wouldn’t make it there, so,I took the opportunity to try their beer.
Sitting at the horseshoe-shaped bar, we watched cars speed by on the busy road. I could see that Hudson would be easy to miss by drivers rushing past trying to get from point A to point B. To miss this place would be unfortunate because Hudson is a real gem.
We could see our next stop from our seats at Hudson. Painted a bright yellow, Two Beers Brewery was our first new brewery of the day. Housed in an industrial park, the brewery’s loading dock was transformed into a mini beer garden during opening hours. We took advantage of the beautiful Seattle afternoon and grabbed one of the outside tables.
Here, we were joined by our friend and Urban Beer Hike regular, Chris Devlin. In the company of so much Seattle beer knowledge, I jumped the gun. Without asking for advice, I automatically ordered the Evo. IPA. I have to say, it was quite a strange beer. I was much smarter on my second choice and ordered what our fearless leader ordered, Sodo Brown. A much more enjoyable brew.
After three stops relatively close together, we finally reached the first mile plus stretch of the day. The longer stretch came at a good time as the beers had been piling up. It was time for a longer break that comes with a well-planned Urban Beer Hike.
The walk up First Avenue was the most scenic of the day so far as the Seattle skyline loomed in front of us. Midway though this stretch our quintet plus a dog became a sextet plus a dog. We were joined by Eric from goodbeertrips.com. After introductions, we continued on our journey to Schooner Exact Brewing.
Schooner Exact, another new brewery for us, was set back from the street. I could imagine driving right on by if Merideth and I had been in a car. (In fact, after we left we were stopped a short distance away by a carload of people looking for the brewery.) Also located in an industrial space, Schooner’s small tasting room had the feel of a neighborhood bar. Our group, again increased by one with the addition of Plus Russ, each ordered a beer and sat outside on their patio.
Of the breweries we visited on our UBH, Schooner Exact was my favorite. There were eight beers available and all the beers we tasted were well made. Merideth started with their wonderful Gallant Maiden Hefeweizen. I, of course, started with the 3-Grid IPA. My second beer was Gateway Golden. Of the seasonals, I took a sip of the Berliner Weisse. While not as tart as I would like, it was still puckery good.
We didn’t think we were going to get to visit our next stop but luck was somewhat on our side. Outside of their normal tasting room hours, we continued our journey up First Avenue towards downtown Seattle when we found Cody from Epic Ales on a smoke break out front of his building. He was gracious enough to pour us a few beers.
Epic Ales motto is “New Adventure in Beer Drinking” and that it was. The first beer, Solar Trans Amplifier was a spin on a Belgian Wit with rice, ginger and chamomile. Very enjoyable, STA was quite refreshing after a day of walking. Cinco Plantas, a Saison, was the second beer. Brewed with Epazote, a Mexican spice, this brew was very unique and hard to peg. One taste was enough for me.
We entered downtown Seattle on our next leg, a one and half mile trek to Collins Pub. It was much less crowded than the night before and our group, minus Link, all found a seat at the bar. Seven hours into our hike, I’m not sure we were still going strong, but we were still going despite things getting a bit fuzzy.
My first beer was Pliny the Elder, mainly so I could get on my soap box and complain that people in Seattle could get PtE, while I couldn’t despite living only three hours from the brewery. Rant over, I next enjoyed a Double Mountain Hop Lava, one of my favorite Oregon brews.
We had one more stop after Collins Pub. The walk to Stumbling Monk was the longest stretch of the day, two miles, and also included the only hills of the day’s Urban Beer Hike. The walk up to Capitol Hill was pleasant in the warm Seattle evening, but by the time, we reached Stumbling Monk, we were done. I had one final beer, Russian River Damnation while Merideth abstained. We bade farewell to our friends and grabbed a taxi back to our hotel.
In the end, we covered over six miles and stopped at four breweries and three beer bars. It was quite a day and we want to thank Dave from urbanbeerhikes.com for organizing it for us.