Week 47 of 52 (Only 5 to go!)
Three Creeks Brewing Co.
721 Desperado Court
Sisters, OR 97759
11:30am – 9pm Sunday-Thursday
11:30am – 10pm Friday-Saturday
Type of Establishment: 10 bbl brewery and brew pub, gorgeous cabin at the foot of the Cascade Mountains.
Visit: After spending Christmas with my mother in Bend, OR I chose to head home via Rt. 20 to I-5 in order to bypass some, potentially, more hazardous mountain pass conditions. This route took me through the small tourist town of Sisters, OR. Sisters is home to one of Oregon’s newest and brightest production breweries. They also happen to have a killer pub. I had to stop to fuel up (in more ways than one) before my intrepid trek across the Santiam Pass.
Beers on Tap (at time of visit):
Old Prospector Pale Ale
Hoodoo Voodoo IPA
Five Pine Chocolate Porter
Cripple Creek Cream Ale
Rudolph’s Imperial Red
Left Behind Barley Wine
Bottle List (all 22oz):
Hoodoo Voodoo IPA
Five Pine Chocolate Porter
Rudolph’s Imperial Red
I didn’t eat here, but after glancing at the menu I immediately wished that I had a much smaller breakfast. The menu was, for the most part, as far as content goes, pretty typical for a up-scale brewpub… apps, soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, etc, but everything seemed to have a little extra panache. The most notable item that I saw was found on the specials menu – a reuben pizza. I actually had to ask the bartender if it was really a reuben pizza or two separate items. Holy shit! Pastrami and kraut and thousand island on a pizza. How on Earth did I not order it?!
I really like this place. The end.
Just kidding. Immediately upon pulling my car into the parking spot out front of TCB I felt a sense on comfort. I knew that I liked the place before I even entered. It wasn’t so much the brewery that I was standing outside of (though you can tell from the picture above that it does look pretty cool from the outside), it was just such a pretty, pleasant, calming situation I was in. My stomach and heart were full from the recent Christmas festivities, there was fluffy snow on the ground, I was in a cute little town right on the cusp of a beautiful mountain, I had just driven through pristine fields full of horses and cattle… everything was right as rain.
As I entered, things seemed to only improve. Just within the doors, the foyer housed the hostess and the “gift shop”. I was overwhelmed. The hostess wanted information from me – was I alone? Was I eating? Where would I like to sit? But alas, I was most inattentive, after all, there was beer and brewery merchandise to ogle. Eventually I regained my composure and asked if there was a bar that I could sit at. There was, just through the door to my right.
I guess the bar area is where the unsavory folks tread. That’s why they had to build a wall to separate that area from the more family friendly dining room to my left as I entered. Sucks to be a family because that area was seriously weak in comparison to the bar, with the great exception of a very luxurious leather couch adorned alcove around a blazing fireplace in the rear of the room that is.
Once I got situated at the bar it became evident that there was nothing unsavory about any area within TCB. The bar portion was uber clean, cozy and comfortable. There was wood everywhere, which is an attribute that I adore in a Northwest bar. There was a huge bay window on one side of the room that revealed the shiny new brewing equipment. There was a pool table, a Christmas tree, several free-standing tables and a gorgeous leather chair surrounded copper topped bar. The tap handles seemed to be all hand carved and burnt wood. The lighting was inviting, and so was the staff. Wow! Really impressed!
Sadly, considering that it was snowing and chains were required on the pass, I was both slightly in a hurry and very conscious of my alcohol consumption. Because of this I inquired on the sampling situation. TCB does offer a flight of all of their standard offering and a flight of every beer that they have on tap. I was only really interested in getting three samples so I negotiated a pay as you go deal and the bartender was happy to appease me. I had the IPA, the barley wine and the chocolate porter. All three were tasty, but the barley wine really stood out. I asked if they were pouring growlers of it to go, but it was a little pricey so I stayed content with things as they were.
I took in my surroundings one last time and hit the road. If there is one thing that I know for certain it is that I will make it back to TCB, hopefully sooner rather than later. If TCB’s brewpub bar was in Seattle it would, without a doubt, be a regular visit for me. If you are ever in or passing through or near Sisters – maybe you’re heading to the rodeo – do not miss this precious little beer filled cabin in the woods.
Week 46 of 52 (6 More!)
4300 Leary Way NW
Seattle, WA 98107
Mon-Sun 11 am – 2 am
Type of Establishment: Pool hall, sports bar, arcade game laden divey joint with over 30 taps.
Visit: After grabbing dinner and a handful of wax dipped bottles of barrel aged quad from Hale’s, I figured, why not grab a pint at the bar directly across the street? I’d never been there, so I changed that.
Beers on Tap (at time of visit):
Maritime Pacific Jolly Rodger
Maritime Pacific Imperial IPA
Emerald City Beer Dottie’s Lager
Ninkasi Total Domination IPA
Elysian Men’s Room Red
Big Sky Moose Drool
Big Al’s Winter Warmer
Red Hook Winter Hook
Deschutes Mirror Pond
Deschutes Black Butte Porter
Rogue Dead Guy Ale
Mack & Jack’s Amber
Stone Arrogant Bastard
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
New Belgium Fat Tire
New Belgium 2 Below
Georgetown Manny’s Pale Ale
…and other macros.
Bottle List: Nothing exciting.
The “Grill” portion of the name is pretty accurate. The menu boasts a decent selection of burgers, sandwiches and apps. It’s bar food. Nothing too crazy, but it will surely do you right if you are looking to lay down a nice foundation for a long night of boozin’ and hustling the tables.
The bartender informed me, as I was scribbling down the taplist (no website), that BG&AH always has three rotating taps. It seemed as though the bartender said it in a way that would imply that I should be impressed with that. Only three rotators isn’t very impressive to me, but the more I thought about it, it actually is sort of impressive in this case because it means that they have a pretty decent number of darn delicious permanent taps. In hindsight, I’m perplexed with myself that I didn’t think to ask which ones where the rotators at the moment. I was in an anti-social mood. It happens sometimes.
I ordered the Dottie because, believe it or not, I had yet to try it. It’s an amber lager, not something that I’m ever excited to drink, but I do respect craft brewers that make a solid lager. It’s not easy to do, and I’m happy to say that Emerald City Beer hit it out of the park with this one. Seriously, if ECB had some serious dough to invest into making massive amounts of Dottie, canning it in pounders and selling it for cheap, I think every Seattle hipster would leave their precious PBR or Ranier behind. Easy drinking and flavorful to say the least.
As the bartender poured my Dottie he mentioned that they had just tapped it for the first time. Rotator? You would think, but you would also think that the seasonals like Jolly Rodger and Big Al Winter Warmer and Winter Hook and 2 Below would be the rotators. Wait that’s 4 winter beers right there that are obviously not available year round. I think there just might be more that 3 rotators. Never-the-less, even if just Arrogant Bastard and Dick’s IPA and Moose Drool and Maritime Imperial IPA are full-time handles here, that’s pretty solid.
BG&AH is pretty spacious inside, and though I was there in a Thursday night around 8 p.m., there was enough people there to prevent it from feeling cavernous. But even it you were there completely alone, there’s plenty to keep you occupied. It may be slightly challenging to play on one of the 6 pool tables by your lonesome, but you could easily work on your dart game, or shoot some hoops, or some guns on the various arcade games available. This is definitely a place to bring your insatiable appetite, your lustful, unquenching thirst for fermentables and a pocket full of quarters.
52 Weeks: De Zon, Woesten-Vleteren, Belgium
No other place in Belgium to find a fresher Antiek or Struise.
Week 9 of 52 (We are through Week 12 – this one is late)
057 42 20 62
Rank: #2 of 12 (uniqueness gets the boost)
Neighborhood Pub/Time Portal
BEERS ON TAP (at time of visit) —>
De Zon, in a surprisingly not all that uncommon European business practice, has zero beers on tap.
BOTTLE OPTIONS: I don’t know for certain, but experience tells me that neither Brouwerij Deca, nor Struise Brouwers keg their beers. This pub is one block from Deca, and is therefore the unofficial brewery pub. Struise is a brewery with no brewery. They make a large percentage of their brews at Deca. De Zon carries many of each brewery’s offerings in the bottle.
FOOD OPTIONS: Well this is quite humorous, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Read on.
Though visiting In De Vrede and sampling the beers of the legendary Wesvleteren Abbey was without a doubt a top highlight of West Flanders Day, Beer Botter’s experience at De Zon was quite possibly the most hilarious and notable destination of the entire trip. Our experience here will forever live on in infamy.
Woesten is, at most, 8 km from Westvleteren. Struise is, without a doubt, one of Beer Blotter’s favorite breweries of all time. You can do the math, we were REQUIRED to go to De Zon. We knew, however, that the chances it would be open at the time of our attempted visit were very small. In De Vrede, in a stunning display of oddity, opens at the early hour of 10am, and you better believe that we were there when the doors opened. This meant that our foray into West Flanders would, for the most part, be confined to the daylight hours. As we had already discovered earlier in the tip, this is bad news when you are in Belgium and trying to drink beer.
Generally, beer bar owners in Belgium open and close their establishments at will. One could easily go to a bar at 10pm one night, have a great time, attempt to go to the same bar the very next night at the very same time and find that they are closed, completely randomly. This was a subject of much frustration on our trip, but 10pm is a reasonable hour of imbibing, mid-day on a Thursday, not so much.
Our attempts to view both the Saint Bernardus brewery and the Van Eeche brewery in Watou had already failed due to timing, so we were prepared for disappointment when we pulled up to the unassuming bar front in the tiny town of Woesten. Before even trying the door, quite possibly in a move to circumvent potential rejection, we trotted down the street to take a gander at the brewery. It looked much more like a beer distributor than a brewery from the outside. Various unrecognizable beers were stacked up to extreme heights all about the outdoor lot. It was like nothing I’d seen before at a brewery.
We figured we should get a closer look, but simultaneously, as curiosity grew within us, so did bravery, and an attempt at the De Zon door was made. For the love of Black Albert, the door opened and a bright heavenly light led us into the promised-land (promised-land, maybe, but that light thing…I just made that up!)
A rare moment of humor was found in Tim Webb’s guide when he described De Zon as a “Seventies time warp”. Humorous as it is, its god damn true. The inside of this place is small, smoke stained, old as all hell, and full of dog…
Most likely, many dogs have come and gone since this place last had a makeover, but the latest little yapper to frolic amidst De Zon was the first to greet us, after quite a few awkward moments sitting at the bar completely alone. We felt as though we had “broke and entered” into someone’s home and an uncomfortable feeling of not belonging washed over us.
We soon came to realize that we actually were in someone’s home! De Zon, as you can see above, looks like a pub in every way from the outside, once you enter, suspicions arise, and then by the time you leave you wonder how you ever were fooled into any thought to the contrary.
We were finally greeted in Dutch by the pub owner/inhabitant/dog whisperer, a woman in her 70s (or so) that was very kind, but as we came to find out, spoke no English what so ever. Now those of you reading who have never been to Belgium may not think that odd, and believe me, I’m not making note of it because I have expectations that everyone should be able to speak my language, but we were a good handful of days into our trip at this point and this was our very first encounter with someone that spoke absolutely no English. It was weird. I had expected it from the beginning of the trip, but it was still weird.
We fumbled a bit through the ordering process (and actually learned how to accurately pronounce De Struise in Dutch in the process), but we were eventually served beer, and that was an accomplishment of great ecstasy. I really wish you could hear our conversation with this woman in your head like I can. The words “De Struise” were said aloud at least…oh I don’t know…like 10 times each by all parties present. That was about the extent of our communication. We understood “De Struise”, the end. Could be worse things to bond over.
We were kindly served a bowl of nuts to snack on, a bowl full of nuts and…dog hair. I present the food options of De Zon. Yum!
At least we drank well. Bottles enjoyed: Brouwerij Verstraete’s (of Diksmuide, one of our favorite town names, pronounced like male genitalia and wet dirt all smashed together) Papegaei, a Belgian strong pale ale brewed at Deca, Deca’s Vleteren Dark Old Strong Ale, Struise Tsjeeses, a Belgian strong pale ale, and Struise Black Damnation, a Russian imperial stout. All were amazing.
Amidst our beer drinking, two joyous events transpired. First, a trip to the bathroom.
There was one hallway that split off from the bar area that was clearly the only possible home for the bathrooms. After a few steps down the hall it became apparent that the men’s room was behind the door straight ahead. A bit of confusion struck me as I opened the door and found daylight…an outdoor courtyard of sorts was behind the door. Had I misinterpreted the foreign markings for men’s room? Not unlikely, but a quick second glance at the door supported my initial decision.
I allowed the door to close behind me, and it immediately was evident, I was in the “men’s room” after all. Two urinals were fastened to the wall that marked the right hand side border of the patio. Quite possibly the greatest bathroom ever!
Next up, a visit from the perma-smoking co-owner/co-inhabitor/co-whisperer. This was clear not only due to the fact that he was in just as many photos tacked to the walls of the bar as our female host (who was so rudely interrupted from her sit and magazine read at the table directly next to us [awkward!]), but also due to the fact that he was greeted much less jarringly from the shedding dog at our feet.
Soon after his arrival, both hosts slipped through the non-bathroom door in the hallway that let into the house portion of the building. Smoking was soon accompanied by a lover’s quarrel, quite visible and audible through the door that was left wide open for our pleasure. At this point, we tried our very best to make a quick exit, which wasn’t easy, but we escaped relatively unscathed.
Thanks De Zon, you were…a…ma…zing!
That closer look at the brewery that we were earlier distracted from came directly after our departure from De Zon, and after our loss of a single tear out of pure respect for De Zon’s epicness.
The Deca brewery visit was very much worth it. We ended up acquiring some very rare versions of Black Damnation; III (Black Mes) and IV (Coffee Club). These were successfully transported back to The States for future enjoyment. Woesten = Great Success!
We are back tracking to week nine, one of the two weeks we spent in Belgium. If I said I wanted to go back there tomorrow and live for all eternity….that would be an understatement.
9 of 52
9000 Gent, Belgium
09 225 06 80
Rank: #1 of 12 (again including there is one other unknown Belgian place, which will be in the top 5)
Type of Establishment: Your quintessential Belgium beer bar
BEERS ON TAP (at time of visit) —>
Rodenbach Grand Cru
House Beer Gandavum (blonde hoppy ale)
House Beer Mammelokker (dark ale)
House Beer Klokke Roeland (strong ale – 11.5%)
FOOD OPTIONS: No food options. Remember we are in Belgium. They drink all day on an empty stomach and so should you!
STAFF OPINIONS: A small establishment, there were two bartenders, one of which we had the pleasure of interacting with. He, like many, if not all Belgium residents knew his beer….he knew it well. He discussed 3 of the brews on tap that were the house beers and suggested we try them all. (Interesting, rare beers on draft are hard to come by in Belgium, a country that prides themselves on aged bottles). He was pleasant, informative and happy to introduce beers that we had never had into our lives. We are forever indebted.
Ghent was the first stop outside of Antwerp that we made in Belgium. A city with so much history and beauty, Ghent has much to offer in the realms of beer and art. During our stay we encountered medieval churches, bell towers, castles, canals and quaint squares. Although these elements of the city were preserved, Pizza Huts and modern hotels proved that Ghent was a city of the past and of the future. Prior to stopping at the Waterhuis, we ventured into Saint Bavo Cathedral to see the Ghent Altarpiece, otherwise known as the Altarpiece of the Mystic Lamb by Hubert and Jan Van Eyck. Completed in the early 15th Century, this masterpiece was very high on my bucket list and is the single most impressive piece of artwork I have ever seen. The picture in this post is from the internet, as you are not allowed to take photos of the piece.
After taking in our art for the day, we head over to Het Waterhuis located along side a canal and therefore appropriately named in more ways than one. A modest space with old, almost rotting wood paneling along the floor, a layer of dust and a cloud of smoke, this bar would not exist in the US and this is why we love it. We find a space in the back with a barrel surrounded by four chairs next to a window looking out onto the water with a castle in the back drop. Dried hops hang from the bar with bottles, many of which we had yet to try, layered with dust and mold that lined the wall.
We sat in awe of the country we just arrived in, in awe of the beer we were drinking. Het Waterhuis was one of many beer experiences to come. It was amazingly worthy of our top spot to date.