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Beer in Tacoma?! Best Bets to Grab a Pint

August 3, 2010 8 comments

The famous beacon of Tacoma's Parkway Tavern

A few weeks ago, I had just got back from a healthy (beer health) trip to Portland and posted a brief article on two great beer spots in Olympia, Washington. You see, on our way back to Seattle we hit major traffic and decided to take a nice long detour through the lesser traveled Washington beer spots.

We stopped in Olympia so that we could check out Fish Brewing and Eastside Club Tavern. Both places were a thumb’s up, though neither provided the stunning shot to the arm we were hoping to find. You can read more about both places on the prior article, but I will applaud Eastside on their amazing tap list, which would compete with some of the better Seattle pubs.

After Eastside and 10 games of ping pong, we jumped in the car and headed North. After seeing that the horrendous traffic remained, we decided to stick with the country roads and wound up the nether-region between Tacoma and Olympia. This triggered my something in my brain which told me to pull out my trusty Beer NW, where a recent article had discussed a mythical place somewhere in outer-Tacoma region.

After a brief skim, I came across the quick read on Jack’s Bar & Bistro, in beach community Steilacoom, Washington. While reading through the book, I also caught a glimpse of Parkway Tavern, nestled deep in the historical (and very nice) Tacoma area. I had been meaning to hit Parkway for a number of years; Jake’s was simply news to my ears. We decided on these two and saddled up for the quick ride to Steilacoom.

 

Jake’s Bar & Bistro

Walking out to Jake's amazing patio

215 Wilkes Street
Steilacoom, WA 98388-2125
(253) 581-3300

 

Pulling into Steilacoom was like driving into a retirement community in Florida. On this beautiful July day, the sun was blazing and a car show in town gave it a nice “village” appeal. We were impressed with the town’s gorgeous streets and stunning views of the Puget Sound. Good start.

Jake‘s is one of only of only a few establishments in Steilacoom’s waterfront area. When we first pulled up, we were a bit turned off. The building that house’s the bistro looks like a 1990s built duplex. But once you get inside, go up the stairs and see the amazing back deck – all is forgiven.

Jake’s is situated up the hill, a short walk from the waterfront. But, its large (1200-1300 square feet?) deck allows seating for about 40 people, while providing unmatchable views over the Sound, towards Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

Walking in to the bar, a quick turn left puts you right in front of 42 taps! The tap list is exciting. A quick glance shows that the bar is pouring Russian River Supplication, Double Mountain Saison, Green Flash Le Freak, and Dogfish Head Sah’tea. The list also include many local and Oregonian beers from brewers like Lazy Boy, Deschutes, Hopworks, Northen Lights, Trade Route, Flyers and Walking Man.

We snagged a table outside and ordered a few beers. Some Double Mountain Saison and Russian River Supplication accommodated our view of blue skies over the Sound. With beer in hand, we hit our comfort zone.

Jake’s also has some pretty good food. We got a lot of looks at other plates being served around us, but with our stomachs full – we decided to grab an appetizer. The menu is jam packed with pub fare, bent on a seafood flare with several crab, clam, shrimp and fish dishes.

Everything, except the initial look at the outside, was pleasing. The beer was aplenty, the taps were cold and the food did the job. We highly recommend this beauty of beer bar down on the South Sound.

The back room at Parkway

 

Parkway Tavern

313 N I Street
Tacoma, WA 98403-3905
(253) 383-8748

 

Parkway is freaking cool. No lies, no exaggeration – this place just looks amazing. One of the things that has also bugged me about Washington beer bars is the lack of culture and history. Obviously, the craft beer industry is very young – and the institutions that flourish within that industry showcase that youth.

But every once in a while you find an older bar that simply grew in to the craft industry. One classic example is Portland’s Horse Brass. While I don’t believe the Brass is particularly aged, it holds a remarkable intrigue and coddles a wonderful culture of an “old timey” pub. Well, Tacoma’s Parkway Tavern is 75 years old this year! The combination of classic pub feel and wonderfully maintained history, make this place a winner.

Parkway is your classic pub. The famous sign hanging outside is the only beacon to locate this bar, hidden amongst a mainly residential neighborhood in the old area of Tacoma. Parkway has an excellent beer selection that is, unfortunately, not listed online. They also have a brief bar menu, focusing on sandwiches and small appetizers.

During our visit, Parkway had a few incredible beers on tap, and a lot of very pedestrian ones. Showcasing Russian River Consecration, Wittekerke Wheat, Boulevard Saison and Dogfish Head Sah’tea, we were extremely excited to grab a beer. Then there is the major dilemma – Parkway’s pricing is pretty gross. For each of the above beers, Parkway was charging between $7.00-$8.00 for a 10 oz pour. While we are accustomed to being charged heftily for beer – these prices were a little unreasonable.

So, instead we steamed a bit about the pricing and decided to order from the $4.00 pint list. We grabbed a Boundary Bay IPA and headed outside to enjoy the front patio in the hot sun.

Parkway has a few seating areas – we like them all. The outside patio is simply a paved area out front, along the road. But the area is planted full of large bushels of blossoming plants, filled with chirping birds and accessible to the sun’s rays. We also spent some time in the back of the bar, where the Tavern’s pool table, shuffleboard table and beer sign roof reside. A third area is the bar, where the majority of patrons hang out, enjoy their beer and watch local sports.

While we were in the back, the wonderfully kind waitress came back and visited. She brought us a few short pours (5 oz) of the more rare beers that Parkway had on tap, apparently agreeing with us that the price was a little absurd. Her kind gift was a welcome treat, as we enjoyed the sour currant goodness of Consecration and Dogfish Head’s Sah’tea.

All in all, Parkway is a must visit for Tacoma. The combination of history, community and intriguing beer list makes this a worthy venue. But, bring your wallet if you expect to drink well.

 

Any other places in Tacoma that you deem worthy?! Please let us know below in comments -

 

Beer in Olympia!? Good Bets to Find a Good Beer

July 19, 2010 1 comment

The inside of the brewpub at Fish Brewing in Olympia, WA.

We just got back from an amazing trip to Portland over the weekend. The goal of our Portland trip was to venture out to venues which we still had yet to visit. We did just that – hitting places like Saraveza, Amnesia Brewing, Apex, Widmer Gasthaus, and even House Spirits (a distiller).

But, on our travel home, we decided that we had no reason to be home at any particular hour. With horrendous traffic ahead, we decided to venture off the highway and check out some venues in Olympia, WA and Tacoma, WA.

Though we have resided in the Seattle area for over three years, none of our members have visited Olympia or Tacoma for beer trips. With the exception of one brief visit to Tacoma’s Red Hot, none of us had even visited these towns!

So, we whipped out our handy iPhones and perused the ‘Places’ tab at Ratebeer.com. We decided on the two most intriguing options that we could find in each city. For Olympia: Fish Tales Brew Pub and Eastside Club Tavern. For Tacoma:  Jake’s Bistro & Bar and Parkway Tavern.

We hope to have some more extensive reviews of some of these venues in our 52 Weeks column, but for now lets shed some light on these establishments. Today we discuss Olympia – tomorrow, Tacoma.

 

Fish Tales Brew Pub (Fish Brewing & Leavenworth Ales)

 

Fish Brewing has always been on my target list. The organic ales produced by the Olympia brewer have never disappointed. But the most impressive beers comes from the brewer’s “reel ale” collection, which includes beers like Leviathan Barleywine and 10 Squared Imperial IPA.

Fish’s facilities are right across the street from its brewpub. The brewpub is located right down the block from Olympia’s east side row of bars and taverns.

The beer list contains each of Fish’s regular rotation beers, as well as one “reel ale” at a time. It also includes the brewery’s Leavenworth Ales and Spire Mountain Ciders.

During our visit, there were no “reel ale” options available – Boo. But we were able to grab a few different IPAs to enjoy with our lunch.

Fish Tales has a fairly impressive menu. Filled with several seafood options, at a reasonable price, there is something for everyone. My favorite item from the table: the Oyster Po Boy with Seafood Stew. The po boy was stuffed with about 8 lightly fried hama hama oysters, topped with mayo and all the fixins. The stew was made with the Trout Stout, filled with clams and shrimp.

All in all, Fish Tales is worth the visit. I sincerely hope you can get a chance to grab one their “reel ales.” They are all worth a  try.

 

Eastside Club Tavern

 

I did not know what to expect from this place. Its located in the short string of bars located on 4th St in downtown Olympia. Outside, there was a suspect group meandering amongst the alleys. But, the beer is always worth it and so we jumped on in.

Eastside is a massive place. It spans more than 3,000 square feet (guess), including a large “game” room filled with several pool tables, ping pong and foosball.

The bar area sprawls across the side of the bar. There are no food options (besides small snacks) and I do not recollect any liquor being served. But, the beer selection was amazing.

Eastside showcases 36 taps at one time, including cask and nitro taps. On tap during our time at the bar: Russian River Pliny the Elder, Anderson Valley Imperial IPA, Lagunitas Little Sumpin Wild, Double Mountain IRA, Lagunitas Undercover Shutdown and various others.

Beers are reasonably priced at $3.50 per 16oz pour. Rare beers, such as Pliny the Elder, were only $5.00 per 16oz pour. Happy Hour (4-7 PM) showcases $3 beers.

A few bonuses, include an amazing jukebox and growler fills. The bar back has a few TVs. Don’t forget to check out their bottle list, which houses several $5 22oz bombers!

Eastside is a must visit if in Olympia. Certainly, an excellent place to grab a good beer.

 

52 Weeks: Red Hot, Tacoma, WA

Americana: Beer and a dog.

Week 20 of 52

Red Hot

2914 6th Ave.
Tacoma, WA 98406

Rank: 4/5

Type of Establishment: Beer Bar / Hot Dog Mecca

BEERS ON TAP (at time of visit) —>

Avery Maharaja Imp. IPA

7 Seas Rude Parrot IPA

Bear Republic Racer 5

Victory Storm King Imp. Stout

Silver City Pale

Unibroue Maudite

Pike Monk’s Uncle Tripel

Baron Pilsner

Lagunitas Lucky 13

Georgetown 9lb. Porter

Tetley’s Pub Ale (Nitro)

Scooner Exact 3 Grid IPA (Cask)

Ranier

BOTTLE OPTIONS:

Russian River Pliny the Elder

Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA

7 Seas Ballz Deep IIPA

Duvel

New Belgian Ranger IPA

Saison Dupont

Ommegang Hennepin

Chimay Tripel

Chimay Premier

Chimay Reserve

Lindeman’s Lambic Peche

Lindeman’s Lambic Framboise

Lindeman’s Lambic Pomme

PBR

Session Lager

Session Black

New Belgian Fat Tire

Avery White Rascal

Bards

Coors Light

4 White Wines, 4 Red Wines

FOOD OPTIONS: Meat in linked form is the name of the game here.  9 different styles of hot dogs are the highlight, in addition to kielbasa, brats, andouille, veggie dogs and veggie brats.

BAR OPINION: Roughly 40 miles south of the Beer Blotter home base, in beautiful downtown Tacoma, WA, lies a beer bar that we have never before visited.  On this day, we changed that.

Red Hot has been on the list for quite a while now.  When I first heard of its existence, a few years back, I kind of freaked out a little.  “A hot dog centric beer bar! Are you kidding me!!”  Yeah…it sounds like heaven, and it’s pretty close.

The biggest challenge that has stood in my way for so long is the drive.  Yes, T-town really isn’t all that far away from Seattle.  In fact, I commuted nearly to Tacoma from Seattle for 3 years.  It’s a lot quicker than you may think.  But… if you are visiting Tacoma from the Seattle area with beer on your mind, it is highly, highly recommended that you find a designated driver.  Any distance is too far to drive when you are drinking, but 40 miles is just far enough to make the journey lose its luster if you are forced to have just one drink.

Luckily for me, my girlfriend’s band was playing a show in Tacoma and I was able to catch a ride with her.

The place looks pretty unassuming from the outside.  It’s on a street that has a very suburban feel.  A street that houses enough businesses to feel like a main road, but more likely one in a very small town, not a city the likes of Tacoma.  It’s nestled right between a bridal shop and a dog washing business, and if you blinked you’d miss it.

Luckily for me, the GPS was accurate.  Parking was a breeze and once inside, my senses were quickly stimulated.  There was a sizable clientele, for early on a weeknight, that created quite a din in the somewhat small space.  The scent of hot dogs filled my nose, and the huge chalk board of beers filled my eyes… all of my hopes were fulfilled.

The place has a bit of a dive feel to it, but everything is clean and well designed.  That is just how I would describe my kind of place.  A smile arose instantly and remained throughout my visit.  11 stools stand at the bar.  7 tables are spread throughout the front section of the room and down the side wall that flanks the bar.  A small, roughly one foot deep “bar” (attached to the left wall as you enter) extends the real bar all the way to the front door.  It offers addition seating via bar stools for 6.  For some very strange reason, Fantastic Mr. Fox was playing on the enormous projection screan.  I found this to be a bit distracting.  Not appropriate for a bar.

Once I gathered in the decor, it was time for the true “first order of business”: a beer.  Ommegang Hennepin, a refreshing Belgian Farmhouse Ale, put a glimmer in my eye and made for a great start to my experience.  Food was next, after all, I had been saving up room all day for a few of their “Best Hot Dog[s] in Western WA”.

I started off with the Destiny City Slawdog.  The description on the menu noted that it was a “Southern classic”, and that sold me.  It’s a dog on a poppy seed bun with coleslaw, chili, onions and yellow mustard.  Two things struck me right away.  First, the dog arrived at my table in about 3 minutes.  Second, the hot dog itself was a bit different from what I’m used to.  There is a distinct skin or “casing” that doesnt normally exist in your average run-of-the-mill ballpark frank.  There was more of a sausage or brat feel to it as you sank your teeth in.  As it turns out, this is a really good thing!  Delicious!

The beer list at Red Hot

As I ate I realized that above me hung a massive collection of tap handles, each screwed into a section of the wooden rafters.  It reminded me a bit of Duck Island Ale House in Green Lake, but the ceiling is significantly higher at Red Hot.  It made for a bit of fun scoping out what beers have been on tap through the years.

I was able to squeeze in one more round before the show.  Bear Republic Racer 5 paired quite nicely with the savory Hilltop Strangler.  This dog comes with bacon, Thousand Island dressing, onions, mustard, nacho cheese and tomatoes.  It’s a good thing I was hungry because this puppy was stacked with goodies.  I was very thankful that I got a good run in earlier on in the day.  It made for guilt free splurging.

I probably don’t have to do much more selling with this one.  I would imagine that I got most of you with hot dogs and beer.

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