To those that followed along on Facebook over the weekend, thanks for your comments. This post is a short summation of the weekend and some extra pictures that didn’t make it into Facebook. These photos were taken with a better digital camera. Although, I have to admit, Troy’s iPhone 4’s camera was pretty slick. The flash and resolution were much better then my 3GS. I won’t upgrade……….I won’t upgrade………I won’t upgrade. Okay, got that out of my system.
After landing we headed straight for Red Hook, up in Woodinville. They opened at 11:00 am and we pulled into the parking lot at 11:15 am. We got lucky too. That place filled up fast. When we left it was standing room only. That patio there is great. However, Red Hook is suffering from the same issues that are spoiling Pyramid. That is they have begun to produce their beers for a much larger audience (they are national now) and their beers lack the originality and experiment-ability (I’m sure that’s not a word) that so many of the smaller brewers in Seattle and Boise can offer. They still offer a sampler tray, but it’s limited. Something that really irritates me about Pyramid. We were able to sweet talk the waitress into cutting us a break though. Robert and Troy each got the same sampler, but she gave us a third one of their different seasonals and other brews that were not on the standard sampler menu. Yes, they have a sampler tray, but you are not allowed to pick what you want. I just find that concept ridiculous. The bartender has to fill five little glasses either way. They all cost the same. So what does it matter which he fills it with? Choice Is Good!
Alright, off my soap box.
The beers were good, but not out of the world. We sampled the Longhammer IPA: That was an IPA? Weak. The Cooperhook: Whatever. The Big Ballard Imperial Ale (both on tap and on cask): The cask was very good. We all liked that one a lot. The tap was, eh, whatever. The Blonde Golden Ale: Waste of time. Had to drink it because it was forced upon us. Late Harvest Autumn Ale: Good beer. Hale’s Harvest Ale is much tastier. Belgian Tripel: This was a seasonal and was very good. We all liked it. Finally, of course, the ESB. Still a good beer after all this time.
We left Red Hook and moved along to McMenamins Queen Anne Brewery. Now, although McMenamins has three pubs in town, they brew at all three. All three also serve their standard brews. But each pub offers two or three of their own brews specific to that brew house. Pretty cool.
At the Queen Anne brewery we had one of two beers that really stood out over the weekend. The Ruby Ale. Wow, what a refreshing beer. I’ve moved away from the fruity beers over the years but this one wasn’t that sweet. It was really good. I could see drinking this one after mowing the lawn. A really good beer. Their sampler tray was okay. You had to have four of their standards, then they allowed you to select anything for your fifth choice. So, between the three of us we were able to select all three of their seasonal beers. Again, who cares what we choose! You have to pour five beers anyway! Choice Is Good!
Okay, off my soap box again.
Instead of doing a full sampler tray, Robert did just a small 8 oz beer. No reason to get another sampler tray with the same four beers and he was our driver. See! McMenamins lost money because of their stupid sampler tray policy.
After this little pit stop, we were off to the Elliot Bay Brewery in West Seattle.
Elliot Bay Brewery became a standard for us a few years ago when we discovered it. They do a lot of seasonal (experimental?) beers on top of their standards. They also let you select which brews you want in your sampler tray. The pub is a little dark, which makes picture taking a bit difficult, but they are a pretty good brewpub. Because of the diversity of their seasonals, you run into a few that are……….well, out there. Elliot Bay is always a good stop because you never know what new brews they have on their tap. I’m sure we’ll stop again next time.
Some of our favorites from here were the Demolition Ale, Red von Boorian, No Doubt Stout and the Alembic Pale Ale. Troy tried the Luna Weizen, but wasn’t impressed. Their IPA was good, but not outstanding.
This was our last stop before the ball game. We headed down to Safeco, got a parking spot and killed some time in the Pyramid Ale House’s beer parking lot. They call it a beer garden, but it really isn’t. In fact, I think the place sucks. There are no chairs and the beers they serve are limited to just a few of their standards. Pyramid doesn’t brew at this location any longer, so it’s technically not a brewpub. But they do brew a few good beers and we didn’t want to go to Elysian Fields twice as it was on the itinerary for the next day. We ran into the Bratney’s on the way and we all hung out in the parking lot with a pint of ale.
We didn’t drink at the game at all. Not even a soda. Water, yes, but that was it. After the game we left right away and headed up to Hale’s Ales for the legendary Stout Beer Float. Other places serve a Stout Beer Float, but Hale’s is the only one I’ve had that comes with a brownie. Plus, it’s a Hale’s Ale! I decided to make sure I ordered one with extra ice cream. Hale’s serves these with just one scoop of vanilla ice cream so I ordered an extra scoop so I wouldn’t run out. The Bratneys and their friends joined us and were introduced to the float for the first time. Good stuff.
We were all pretty tired after this fifth stop and decided to call it an evening for day one. We hit all the pubs we had on the schedule and didn’t have to rush around to any of them to make it on time. It was time to go home and get some sleep for another long day on day two.
Day two started with breakfast at Cafe Javasti, right down the street from the house, then off to the ballgame. We got down to Elysian Fields about 15 minutes before they opened. I think we all had a pint of The Wise ESB on cask with a salad and calamari.
After the game it was off to the brewpubs again. First stop, Maritime Pacific’s Jolly Roger Taproom.
This is by far and away my favorite brewpub in Seattle now. They moved out of their little non-AC equipped, bar/patio near Market St in Ballard and into a really nice, huge bar just a few blocks away near Trader Joe’s. The old place was really nice, but small and lacked AC. We went there a couple of years ago when it was 95 degrees outside and it was probably 105 inside. It was miserable. Now their new place is huge and has a larger kitchen too. The cooks now have a full entrée menu instead of light, pub fare. They even brought over with them the old back-bar with its giant curved mount for their tap handles.
But it’s the beer that makes this place. It was the only stop we had all week where every beer we had on our sampler trays was great. Not a single one disappointed. And they let you select every beer for the sampler. They had two cask beers and two nitro beers in addition to their standards. The new menu is great and they kept all the little pub-fare foods too. I really love this place and now that it’s in a new building with more parking, it’s just gotten much better.
After taking our time and enjoying the new Jolly Roger Taproom, we moved on down the street to Fremont and another McMenamins pub, Dad Watsons. This place was really nice, but had a very small patio. None of my pictures of the inside turned out since it was a bit dark. They did have a couple different beers from the Queen Anne Brewery, but since they still had the same standard McMenamins’ beers, we opted to just do a pint of their beers associated with this location.
I had the Old John Brown as did Troy. Robert did the Terminator Stout on nitro. This Old John Brown was really, really good. The stout was good as well, but I only sampled a couple sips out of it. I can say for sure that the Old John Brown was great. One of the top 5 beers I tried all weekend.
After finishing our sample from Dad Watsons we drove up to Tangletown. This is another of the three Elysian breweries in town. The brewery down by the stadiums do not allow sampler trays on game days, but Tangletown does and we all got our own. The only draw back to this sampler was the sizes of the beers. They were pretty small at just about 4 oz each. They also have a set standard as to what you can get, with a couple of exceptions, and after some flirting with the waitress (Troy was in charge of this) she hooked us up with some other substitutions. Unfortunately, a neighborhood ordinance that Tangletown agreed to prohibited us from sitting on the patio. They have to close it by 10:30 pm for noise issues. The pub is right in the middle of a bunch of residences, so that makes sense.
Our last stop of the weekend was a little brew pub in Greenwood called the Naked City Taphouse. I found it on a Google search and it looked very interesting. My sister didn’t know we were stopping by it, but sent me some stories about them. So that made the trip there a bit more interesting. Now, when I say they are a small brewpub, they really are. In fact, they are just a 3-barrel operation. That is small. In fact, they are so small that they did not have any of their own beers at all. They were completely dry. There was a neighborhood beer festival the weekend prior and they ran out of all their beer for the festival. They do serve a bunch of regional beers on tap, however. So it was not a complete loss. They don’t really do large sampler trays either. Just little 3 oz samplers for $1.00 each. That wasn’t a bad deal and you could get as many as you wanted. Troy and Robert got five. I couldn’t decide and ended up getting six.
Course, we had to line them all up on the table and take a picture.
Robert picked out a tangerine beer that was on the “coming soon” menu. It is the Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat. I don’t know why I was liking all these fruity beers. I’ve moved away from that taste over the last few years and towards more of the darker beers, but that was a really good beer. So, Barbara or Joe, if you stop in you must try that one before the keg is gone. But try a taster first to see if it’s too sweet.
The bartender was super nice here too. Once he realized what we were doing, he kept apologizing for not having any of their own stuff. He really went out of his way to pour all these little glasses, keep them organized and answer questions. We’ll definitely be going back to this place on our next trip. We’ll have to make sure out next trip is a few weeks before or after the beer festival though. For those of you in Boise, this place is what the Front Door should be like. They had regional beers from all over Washington. From local Seattle beers to beers from Oak Harbor and parts of Oregon. They even had two beers from the 21st Amendment in San Francisco. Alas, no Hell or High Watermelon Wheat.
By the time we were done, it was close to midnight. We thought about dessert, but we opted to go home and crash. There was no reason to get up on Monday so we planned on sleeping in and then walk down to Cafe Javesti again for breakfast.
So, that was the 2010 Pub Crawl. We stuck to the rules, we kept hydrated and hit every pub on our itinerary. 10 pubs in all. We didn’t keep detailed notes (maybe we should have) but Troy and I figured we sampled at least 38 different beers over the weekend. That’s probably on the low side too.
My favorites? Well, my top 5 in no particular order:
McMenamins Old John Brown
McMenamins Ruby Red Ale
Maritime Pacific’s Flagship Red Alt Ale on cask
Maritime Pacific’s Nightwatch Dark Amber Ale
Maritime Pacific’s Bosun’s Black Porter
Elliot Bay’s Red von Boorian
Elysian’s The Wise ESB on cask
Yes, that was seven. I just can’t decide!!
Choice Is Good.