Pictures of beer in Seattle, number 1 in a series.
Pictures of beer in Seattle, number 2 in a series.
Beers 1 and 2 were consumed at Elliott's Oyster House. This destination wasn't chosen for its beer selection, but instead their progressive oyster happy hour. Happy hour, as we soon learned, was an ubiquitous concept in Seattle. At Elliott's, they offer a happy hour from 3-6. At 3, the oysters are 75 cents each, and they go up by 50 cents each hour. We arrived at 4, which meant we had to pay the exorbitant rate of $1.25 for each fresh, Puget Sound oyster. Obviously you can see why we chose this destination. The tap list kept us at least a dozen oysters longer than we planned to stay, offering up around 16 Pacific Northwest options.
Beer 1 was Mac and Jack's African Amber, which came recommended from a number of friends. I was on vacation, so I didn't take notes on anything, so experiences come to mind more quickly than flavor descriptions. I hadn't heard of Mac and Jack's prior to this trip, so I was somewhat wary of my order. Fortunately, no one led me astray with their recommendation. Mac and Jack's African Amber renewed my interest in the Amber style. The perfect balance between a nut brown and a pale ale, this was certainly not my last African Amber on this trip.
Beer 2 was the current rotating IPA at Elliott's, Lucille IPA. I didn't know if that was a brewery or a beer name, but I was on vacation and I love trying new things. Later, I found out this was from Georgetown Brewing Company, located right in Seattle. Following up the African Amber was no easy feat, but Lucille did it. Many know that my favorite IPAs offer a balance between malt and hops. Much like the Crown Special Forces IPA or People's HopKilla, Lucille offered plenty of American hops and a satisfying malt background. I was pleased, but we were full of oysters and needed to keep moving.
Pictures of beer in Seattle, number 3 in a series.
After Elliott's, we decided to cut through Pike's Place, which led to us stumbling upon Post Alley. In a bit of serendipity, we walked past Pike Brewing while walking down Post Alley. A brewpub in Pike's Place? How convenient! Pike Brewing offered up an eclectic brewing museum, full of kitsch from around the world. Not sure which of their beers to make my first, beer 3 was actually a sampler of beers. Lots of beers here, and with the exception of the stout, pretty much every one was some degree of hoppy. My favorite, however, was not on the sampler tray. Jess ordered the Space Needle IPA, which was brewed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Space Needle. We enjoyed it so much that we took a bomber back to the hotel.
Pictures of beer in Seattle, number 4 in a series.
The next day, we stopped in at Serious Pie for lunch. I won't go on and on about how great the crust and combinations of toppings were (and they were). Instead, let's discuss beer 4. When the menu has a chef collaboration beer on it, you can almost guarantee I'm going to order it. Chef collaboration beers are all the rage in Chicago, so I'm very familiar with them. This one is the 3.14 ale from Elliott Bay (get it? pi.) and is made from all organic ingredients. A lighter, sessionable ale that seems to be targeted more at light beer drinkers, this one didn't really grab me. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy it, it just didn't stand out among the beers I had up to that point. Luckily the pizza did.
Pictures of beer in Seattle, number 5 in a series.
Pictures of beer in Seattle, number 6 in a series.
Beer 5 was my first beer at Elysian, which happened to be only a few blocks from our hotel. Elysian is known for their pumpkin beers, of which they have a lengthy repertoire. Since they are so popular, the pumpkin beers that had gone on tap throughout the week had already blown. A long list of hoppy beers and other enticing options still remained. Beer 5 was the Maelstrom Blood Orange Ale, one of Elysian's beers of the apocalypse. Not as tart or wheaty as a traditional wit, as I was expecting, this beer offered a nice fruity flavor without being overly sweet or orange juice-like. Beer 6 is one that I have forgotten the name of, but I remember that it was an IPA that contained oatmeal. I recently brewed a session IPA that contained oatmeal, inspired by an oatmeal IPA that I had at Deschutes. This one continued my interest in the style and contained a respectable amount of Pacific Northwest hops. Food portions of sweet potato fries and hummus were both ridiculously large. Truly a great brewpub.
Pictures of beer in Seattle, number 7 in a series.
Pictures of beer in Seattle, number 8 in a series.
Later that night, we went to the Garage, which was a huge bowling alley / pool hall / bar in Capitol Hill. The beer selection was not as great as many of our other destinations, but we were not without plenty of craft options. Beer 7 was Manny's Pale Ale, which was perhaps the most popular beer for local bars to carry. Just as I am writing this article, I had to look up that Manny's is brewed by Georgetown. I didn't see the brewery associated with this beer at any bar that I visited, which I found quite odd. The beer itself was not nearly as remarkable as Lucille, but it was a good Pale option in its own right. Its popularity is not unfounded. Beer 8 was Deschutes Obsidian Stout. Most of our readers are probably very familiar with Deschutes, who is known for brewing great beers overall. If you haven't had Deschutes, you really can't go wrong with any of their beers.
Pictures of beer in Seattle, number 9 in a series.
Beer 9 comes to us from Six Arms, which is part of the McMenamins family of brewpubs. Six Arms was certainly the most creative brewpub that we visited, with a large collection of bizarre plumbing, Indian themes and odd figurines. The beer pictured is Monkey Wrench (or Monkey something, there were a lot of monkey themed beverages), which was a double IPA, or maybe a hoppy strong ale. Either way, it was nicely balanced and very enjoyable. I had never been to a McMenamins, but I will certainly visit one again.
Pictures of beer in Seattle, number 10 in a series.
Ah, beer 10, Pyramid Hefeweizen. After a night filled with much celebration, wine and Red Hook, I found myself with a reasonable hangover. I also found that Hefeweizen might be my ideal hangover beer. The citrus and banana flavor of this well balanced Hefeweizen hit the spot on a warm, sunny Seattle day.
Pictures of beer in Seattle, number 11 in a series.
Pictures of beer in Seattle, number 12 in a series.
Everyone tells you to go to Brouwers. I don't disagree that Brouwers is likely the best pub in Seattle, but it's also not downtown. In my internet reading, I found a bar by the name of The Pine Box. Perhaps most importantly, one of the owners at the pub was a manager at Brouwers. Perhaps most awesomely, The Pine Box is in the same funeral home that housed Bruce Lee's funeral. A bar in Portland called Bailey's introduced me to a cool tap list technology that used the same source list for the tap list at the bar and the tap list on the website. The Pine Box is using something similar. I have no idea why no one in Indianapolis is doing this.
Beer 11 is Russian River Supplication. Enough Said. Beer 12 is Ninkasi Lady of Avalon, which is a schwarzbier, fed through a randall full of hops. Ultimately, the hops were probably unnecessary, since the base beer was good by itself. It is remarkable that they have an in-line randall for one of their taps and offer by randall-ed and un-randall-ed versions of the same beer on tap. It's not just hops, either. Prior to Lady of Avalon, they were feeding Firestone Walker Union Jack through lavender. I certainly would recommend this bar to anyone visiting Seattle, especially people who have been to Brouwers. I'm curious how it compares.
Pictures of beer in Seattle, number 13 in a series.
Our trip ended with a Deschutes Black Butte Porter in the Seattle-Tacoma airport. Simple and well executed. I can't wait to go back to Seattle. And I didn't even mention all the coffee shops we stopped at.