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One THOUSAND! The Video

We’re back on video! We created this shortish clip as a companion piece to the travelogue I wrote about our 1,000th brewery Urban Beer Hike.

Going in, Merideth and I realized that we would be too distracted enjoying the moment to shoot enough footage for a full beergeek.TV One Pint at a Time episode. Instead, we decided to film short snippets at each brewery stop to capture the spirit of our milestone day.

Enjoy this snapshot of our 1,000th brewery day…

One THOUSAND!

One THOUSAND breweries. A journey that began in the late 1980s culminated earlier this month in Seattle, WA with Merideth and I visiting our 1,000th brewery.

This was never really the plan. There was no plan when I started keeping track of the breweries we visited. But “the List” began to take on a life of its own becoming the focus of our travels.

We really didn’t think about 1,000 until we reached the 750 range. Then it was just a feeling “I want to reach 1,000 before I turn 50.” Only at #900, did Merideth and I start discussing the possible the milestone brewery. Ideas ranged from some exotic locale to that brewery we always wanted to visit, Budweiser in St. Louis.

When we reached #950, I realized I needed to start planning in earnest. Reaching out to a fellow beer traveling friend, he said something that stuck in my head. Whatever we did, it needed to be special. After some thought, special to us was an Urban Beer Hike in Seattle with a group of friends.

Fast forward to Merideth and I sitting at #994. On a rainy Saturday morning, we met up with that group of friends at Brouwers Cafe, the starting point for our hike. Over a few beers and some much needed food, Merideth and I caught up with our fellow beer hikers, most we hadn’t seen in a few years. At the scheduled time, 12:30pm, our group started our trek to the first brewery in a light drizzle. Our looping journey would start in the Fremont district and end in Interbay. In between, we would hit the brewery dense Ballard and Magnolia districts.

Let’s get hiking!

Despite the rain, it was a pleasant walk as we set out along the tree-lined path decorated in fall colors. The only hazard were the puddles. There would be plenty of time for wet feet without the added soaking of stepping into one of the small lakes along our route.

First stop

Covering territory we had walked on previous beer hikes in Seattle, we passed Hales, one of the first 50 breweries visited and the new Fremont Brewing facility. Before long and still relatively dry, we were at Lucky Envelope Brewing, #995 on “The List.”

Usually, Merideth and I would order a taster set. But today wasn’t about the beer, it was about enjoying the moment, enjoying time with friends. Quickly scanning the choices, Merideth ordered a Blonde Ale. I went with ENIAC 2.0 a 6.9% ABV Mosaic-based IPA. With pints in hand, we rejoined the group at a large table and continued the banter that began at Brouwers.

With a schedule to keep, Lucky Envelope was a one and done. Thankfully, more beer wasn’t long in coming as our second stop, Stoup Brewing, was literally around corner. With the weather, their rather large outdoor seating area was empty. We squeezed into the smallish, busy tasting room and joined the queue for beer.

All smiles at our second stop

Merideth and I played true to form with our beer choices; she with their award-winning Hefeweizen, me with the Citra IPA. Beers in hand, our group scattered about the tasting room looking to squeeze into a corner or along the wall.

Despite being a non-taster flight day, traveling with our little gang afforded us the opportunity to try a number of beers that our compatriots ordered. Getting a sip of the wonderful and also award-winning Stoup Porter I decided going forward  I would temper my hophead tendencies and branch out with my beer choices.

The special moment of the day happened when Chris D. pointed out a Fraggle sticker on the wall at Stoup. Merideth and I thought it very fitting that Fraggle unexpectedly became part of our big day.

Beers at Reuben’s

In the Ballard district, ticking off breweries was like shooting fish in a barrel. After contemplating a second beer at Stoup, we again decided our schedule dictated we press on. Reuben’s Brews, our third stop, was another short walk.

A dizzying array of beer choices confronted us, 24 in all. While Merideth started with 5.7% ABV Belgian Pale I jumped off the IPA train and ordered the 6.2% ABV Robust Porter. After quick sips at the bar, #997 was officially added.

Lucky for our sizable group, a large table opened up in the crowded tasting room while we were lined up for beers. Sitting at the beer glass filled table with our friends chatting about this and that, I realized that we had made the right choice for our 1,000th brewery trip.

Maybe starting to get into a groove, Reuben’s was the first multi-beer stop. Despite my vow to broaden my horizons, I went back to the hops, ordering the Amarillo Fresh Hop Pale Ale.

Hilliard’s

Even on our 1,000th brewery day, we stuck to the code we developed all those years ago. Walking into a tasting room that the locals in our group weren’t sure met the brewed on premise rule, we verified with the bartender that in fact the beer was brewed elsewhere. I felt bad as our group of eight, who had just entered, all left.

Our backup choice and last Ballard brewery of the day was Hilliard’s Beer. It truly felt like the quiet before the storm as Merideth and I sipped on Chrome Satan, their delicious version of a California Common. Props for the name, an anagram for the well-known version from San Francisco.

With a number of beers under our belts, our hike leader, Dave,  recommended a quick stop for some food. After a few slices and pints at Ballard Pizza Company, it was time for the first of two long legs of the hike.

Darkness had started to settle in during our pizza and beer break. Bundled up, we set off through “downtown” Ballard heading towards the Magnolia district. Walking past hip shops, bars and restaurants, I felt oddly dressed in my shorts and rain gear. Thankfully, I wasn’t wearing a bright yellow rain poncho or I would have really felt out of place.

The locks at night

Through a park we came upon the Ballard locks. Officially called the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, I had no idea they even existed in Seattle. The series of locks connect Lakes Washington and Union to the Puget Sound and looked beautiful at night lit up in the rain.

The last of the triple digit breweries

Arriving at Urban Family Brewing, there was not just one but two kids birthday parties happening. Seeing no cake, I moved on to the important matter of getting a beer. Easily the most eclectic selection of beers on the day, Urban Family specializes in French and Belgian-style Farmhouse ales.

For the last of the triple digit breweries, Merideth and I both ordered the Saison, The Flowers Are Always Asleep. Other beers ordered by our crew were Limesicle, an IPA with lime zest and the deep purple colored Herr Kinski’s Blackberry Thought-Forms.

Over these beers, we squeezed in a few games of Asteroids and Missile Command on vintage consoles.

The last portion of the hike to West Seattle was another long one. In a beer hike first for us, we passed a bustling rail yard full of locomotives and boxcars. Something that I would expect to be behind a security fence, we walked past as if we were walking through a mall parking lot. If I had dreams of dropping out of society to ride the rails as a hobo, this seemed my big moment to leap on a locomotive or car and really travel. Even after a bunch of beers, I think I made the right choice to continue walking.

1000th brewery kiss

Holy Mountain Brewing was aptly named for our thousandth brewery. For me, the day’s hike to reach Holy Mountain was the end of a long beer pilgrimage that started in 1987 at Triple Rock Brewery in Berkeley.

For the milestone beer at the milestone brewery Merideth ordered the 4.8% ABV The White Lodge Wit. My beer to mark the moment was Three Fates, a 4.8% ABV Pilsner-style beer.

Nowhere else to be, we celebrated over many beers at Holy Mountain. Eight miles walked. Six breweries visited. Milestone achieved. We can’t thank our friends enough for joining us on our special day: Chris D, Dave, Mandy, Link, Allie, Melissa, Renee, Mike, Russ, Phillippe. Special thanks go out to Dave for not only planning the hike but also keeping us on schedule during  and Chris D for letting us invade his work for our thousandth.

It truly feels like an end of an era for us. When we started beer traveling, there was a sense of adventure, such as finding the brewery in Italy with our only directions being that it was in the village’s main piazza. Today, with the sheer number of breweries and technology, beer travel has morphed into more a matter of logistics; how many breweries can we fit in a certain amount of time. We’re not sure what thebeergeek.com will look like moving forward but it will most likely more closely resemble our Zoigl experience rather than what we have done in the past. We hope you continue to follow along as we look for new beer adventures.

Here is a little video shot to commemorate the moment.

View all the images from our Seattle trip

New beergeek.TV Episode – Scarves Up

The March to the Match

Scarves Up” is the latest episode of One Pint at a Time.

Since our last visit during the Year in Beer in 2008, we’ve been meaning to get back to Seattle. The chance to see the Seattle Sounders play one of the world’s great soccer clubs, Manchester United, was the push we needed to make the return journey to the Pacific Northwest. Getting to experience the Seattle beer scene again was an added bonus.

So enjoy our latest adventures in the Pacific Northwest…

For all the episodes of One Pint at a Time go to beergeekTV.

Since our last visit during the Year in Beer in 2008, we have been meaning to get back to Seattle. The chance to see the Seattle Sounders playing one of the world’s great soccer clubs, Manchester United was the push we needed to make the trip. Getting to experience the Seattle beer scene again was an added bonus.

Kitsap Peninsula Beer Tour

We had one more day in Seattle. It was obvious that we were beer touring but the question was where? Chris Devlin suggested we take the ferry over to the Kitsap Peninsula. With several  new breweries to visit, that sounded like a good idea to us.

The Seattle skyline under sunny skies

The day was the most glorious of our short trip. Arriving at the ferry terminal 45 minutes before our Bremerton-bound boat sailed, Merideth and I enjoyed a few minutes of downtime and soaked in the warm sun. Joining us on the ferry for the beer tour were Chris Devlin and Dave Doran; reuniting four sevenths of the previous day’s Urban Beer Hike. Once we reached Bremerton, the plan was to make the short drive to Silverdale for lunch at Silver City.

Silver City in Bremerton

An overlooked component to successful beer touring is luck. And luck was on our side on Friday. Chris Devlin received a text from his friend Matt, a brewer for Silver City. Matt suggested we stop by Silver City’s production brewery in Bremerton on our way through town. Usually, deviations from a plan cause me quite a bit of consternation but for some reason I readily agreed. And Merideth concurred.

We found Silver City’s production brewery on the outskirts of Bremerton. After introductions, Matt showed us around the brewery. As Matt was talking, it became evident to Merideth and me that Silver City no longer brewed at the pub in Silverdale. At an appropriate break in tour, I clarified this with Matt. Yes, all beer production was now at this facility.

The most important part of a brewery visit

At this point, for Silver City to count on “The List,” we would need to try the beer. And for all of Matt’s hospitality, trying the beer wasn’t a given. We don’t expect everyone to know our “rules” and Matt probably just assumed we would try the beers at the pub during lunch.

Merideth and I explained our predicament and Matt disappeared back into the brewery. A few minutes later, he came back with a quarter pitcher of Baby Fat 60 Schilling Scottish-style Ale. At 2.99% ABV, Baby Fat was quite flavorful and a perfect start to the day. With Silver City officially added, we bought a few bottles for home and thanked Matt for saving the day.

Silver City in Silverdale

A mall is the last place we expect a beer place. But Kitsap Mall boasts two with the Hales Alehouse joining Silver City in the expansive shopping center. Silver City was still doing a brisk lunch business mid-afternoon when we arrived.

As Merideth and I poured over the lunch menu, we counted our lucky stars for the text message Chris Devlin received. I am not sure we would have backtracked to Bremerton if we got to Silverdale and realized that Silver City no longer brewed there. I hate backtracking on beer tours!

The finale at Silver City

Lunch felt much more relaxed with the mini disaster averted. Merideth had the Baked Crab Sandwich with their nice Bavarian-style Hefeweizen. It was middle-of-road on the banana-clove scale, a very pleasant lunchtime brew. I paired the Indianola IPA with Silver City’s Pulled Pork Sandwich. The IPA was nicely balanced with Cascade and Columbus hops. I was disappointed in the Porter BBQ sauce on the pulled pork. Looking forward to trying it, I think the issue was there wasn’t much of it on the sandwich. Dave, Mr. Sweet-Tooth, ordered a seemingly odd pairing of Panther Lake Porter with the Baked Crab Sandwich. But there was method to his madness, as he was setting himself up for the very yummy chocolate brownie desert which luckily came with four spoons.

It was a short drive from Silverdale to Poulsbo (pronounced POLES-bo). With a population of just under 9,000, the tiny town astride Hwy 3 boasts three breweries. We visited two of them.

The homebrew-like kit at Valhöll Brewing

First up was Valhöll Brewing. Located just off Hwy 3, Valhöll was somewhat hard to find. The brewery was located in the garage of a private home located behind a medical office building. Despite assurances from our navigator that we were in the correct place, it took some fumbling about before we finally found it’s location.

Not knowing anything about Poulsbo, I was somewhat surprised by the number of people hanging out in the converted garage enjoying an afternoon pint. The Begian Wit, at 4.8% ABV was a refreshing beer and clearly my favorite of the ones I sampled. The others I sampled were, for a lack of a better word, strange. This included Smoked Cherry Rye, a big brew at 8.4% ABV. The smoke was provided cherry wood-smoked malt and cherries were also added. I enjoy experimental beers but this experiment I think went somewhat awry.

Sound Brewery in Poulsbo

For our Kitsap Peninsula Beer Tour, we saved the best for last. About a mile from Valhöll, Sound Brewery was the end business in an industrial park. They had the door up and the beer flowing on Friday afternoon with a similar sized crowd as our previous stop.

Chris Devlin was also friends with Sound’s brewer/owner, Brad. After quick introductions, I purchased a taster set and settled in for our last stop of the day’s tour.

The taster set at Sound Brewery

The six beer sampler had some tasty, 8%-10% ABV  Belgian-style beers including a Dubbel and Tripel. However, the stars were three of the lower alcohol brews. O’Regan’s Revenge, a 5.9% ABV Red Ale, was one of the best of the style I have ever tasted. Poundage Porter had a pleasant roasty/toasty flavor with a nice amount of hops. The third of this trio, and my favorite, was Koperen Ketel, an easy drinking Copper Ale.

Having a friend of the owner has it’s benefits, as Brad poured us samples from back in the brewery. Their Belgian-style IPA, Bevrijder, was excellent and the yet-to-be-released Double IPA was in the best beer of the trip category.

Evening view of the Kitsap Peninsula from the ferry

Time flew by on our beer tour. We were having a great time at Sound, but unfortunately, we had the ferry back to Seattle to catch. We finished our samples and bade farewell with thanks to both Brad and Matt who had popped into Sound after work at Silver City. It was a great end to the the trip–an afternoon with friends and adding three new breweries to “the List.”

And Dave, I’m sorry for passing that Dairy Queen. I really didn’t see it.

View all the pictures from the Kitsap Peninsula beer tour…

For more information on beer on the Kitsap Peninsula
go to visitkitsap.com

Urban Beer Hike in Seattle

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.

Our first stop, Georgetown Brewing

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.

Merideth enjoying the Georgetown Porter

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.

The beer list at Hudson

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.

Two Beers Brewery

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.

The skyline view...

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.

Gallant Maiden Hefeweizen at Schooner Exact

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.

Talking with Cody from Epic Ales

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.

Chris Devlin being Chris Devlin at Collins Pub

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.

View all the images from the Urban Beer Hike…