Over the past three years, I have done my share of research on beer spots in Seattle. Every neighborhood has a beer bar, a bar with a decent tap list or a bottle shop to offer those that search the land for all that is fermented yeast. One of the things I love most about Seattle is the variety of neighborhoods (reminiscent of Manhattan) where you step out of one and into the next…almost immediately it becomes obvious that you’re in a whole new world.
Each hood offers distinct characteristics and charm. So in order to give each neighborhood their 15 minutes of fame, I will focus on one at a time.
Tonight: Phinney Ridge.
I’ll start with a nice wiki excerpt:
Phinney Ridge is a neighborhood in north central Seattle, Washington, USA. It is named after the ridge which runs north and south, separating Ballard from Green Lake, from approximately N. 45th to N. 85th Street.
I know for those of you who are not from Seattle or do not live in Seattle, the above quote means little to nothing. Phinney is a quaint neighborhood, very residential with your random spurts of bars, restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques. Ballard’s subtly hip vibe seeps into Phinney, yet Phinney remains the more reserved, less frequented of the two. Here you will find beer.
If you read Beer Blotter, then you have heard of The Dray, located on NW 65th right off of 8th and across the street from a massive Goodwill. This bar has so much to offer on any given day. First off, their “brand” is a squirrel, so expect to see some taxidermy on the shelves next to epic and rare Hair of the Dog and Dogfish head bottles.
This tiny space is decked out in wood with slabs of polished tree trunks acting as your bar and table tops. On a cold winter’s night, you couldn’t be cozier. On a warm, sunny summer’s day you are guaranteed a breeze through the open garage doors/windows. The Dray molds to the weather outside; its like some kind of vortex.
Food options include some paninis, landjagers and pretzels with amazing stone ground mustard. I still haven’t figured out if you get charged for the pretzels, but I really doubt it.
But we also go here for beer- 12 taps at any given time. Yes, there are times I have stopped by here and been slightly disenchanted by their beer list, but 9 times out of 10, they will have something unique, something seasonal and something that your heart desires.
Off hand, Ommegang Zuur, New Belgium Love, Dogfish head Immortal Ale and Cascade Apricot come to mind as beers I enjoyed in the past. For that one time out of ten, The Dray has an impressive (and reasonably priced) bottle list, so be sure to check it out!
A gem of a bar, a comfort zone and a beer lovers day well spent.
Every time I walk up to Sully‘s it reminds me of a lodge at a mountain resort in the Alps. With a pitched roof and a Bavarian facade, it couldn’t be more welcoming. Inside, it is a dimly lit, eclectic place with quirky decorations, as well as your quintessential Irish pub signs regarding how drunk, humorous, silly and stupid people get. This is another venue where I can spend an entire afternoon shooting the shit over a few pints of beer.
Like The Dray, Sully’s offers limited menu options. The items they do have include grilled cheese sandwiches, random snacks and some damn good chili. Other than that, throw a buck in the box and grab a bowl of peanuts.
You can always count on Boundary Bay IPA to be served on cask here, as well as several Deschutes taps and a decent IPA selection. I wouldn’t go here if your looking for a unique or rare beer, but quality brews such as Victory Hop Devil and New Belgium Ranger IPA have graced the stage here at Sully’s.
I remember sitting at Sully’s, drinking Boundary Bay IPA with the other 2/3 of Beer Blotter – we were sitting in a booth by the window and it started to hail, hail the size of golf balls. Just a sign from the gods that it was time to order another pint.
Directly across the street from Sully’s, The Park Pub took much longer to get on our beer radar then the previously mentioned joints. This bar serves as a place to listen to live bands, play pool and grab some dinner.
Overall the ambiance is less comfortable and intimate but one glance at the tap list and all is well in the world. Arranged in a half circle, the taps glisten behind the bar.
Note worthy beers currently on tap here: Boundary Bay IPA, Avery ‘Maharaja’ Imperial IPA, Stone Smoked Porter, Lagunitas ‘Lil Sumpin Sumpin’, Laurelwood ‘Hop Monkey’ IPA, Deschutes Organic Amber, Double Mountain Kolsch, Big Time Black IPA
and Rodenbach Grand Cru.
I would recommend this place for a Friday or Saturday night hang out session with a group. Good beers, music, activities and once in awhile, the neighborhood magician will amaze you and stick a card to the ceiling. Take a look next time you are there.
So that’s Phinney Ridge’s beer scene in a nutshell. I have many fond memories and have drank damn good beer at all three of these places. If you have a place that you love in this neighborhood, leave a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next up: Ballard.
Seattle’s sustainable brewer, Fremont Brewing, is making a big splash. Amidst increasing exposure and growing popularity, Fremont Brewing is finally rolling out a canning line. Even more exciting (to us) is that Fremont has begun the process of producing sour beer, right here in Washington state.
Both of these items were disclosed by way of a blog post today at the brewery’s website. The blog post states that the brewery acquired a used canning system that will allow them to put beer in a can at impressive rates.
From the post:
The used caning line Matt scored for us arrived yesterday! It’s a manual system capable of canning 20 cases an hour. Now we just have to buy some cans (minimum order: 85,000) and soon you’ll see us in grocery stores — and elsewhere…
This is some pretty exciting stuff. If Fremont moves quickly, they will be the 3rd (2nd?) canner in the state of Washington. Whats great about this news is that shows that Fremont has fulfilled its dreams.
When the first announcements of Fremont’s launching were released, the press release promised canning – now they have fulfilled that lofty goal. Congrats Fremont, we cannot wait to crack a beer.
More interesting to many of us at BeerBlotter.com was the claim that Fremont began barreling its Universale Pale Ale in Cabernet barrels this week. That beer will be fermented using wild yeasts to create sour ale. Yum.
Washington brewers and sour ale have not historically joined forces. Minuscule batches of sour ales have been brewed in the past for super-limited releases from Elysian Brewing and Big Al Brewing, but nothing consistently produced and available to the public.
Fremont’s sour ale endeavor involves using a pale ale, aged in cabernet sauvignon barrels. The concoction may closely resemble that used to create Russian River Brewing’s Consecration (though no fruit was mentioned).
Lets just hope that Fremont sticks with this trend. Sour beer is a great seller and something that can raise a brewer’s profile considerably.
Hey, maybe they will even entertain the idea of canning their new sour creation? Its highly doubtful, but its been done – just ask Rodenbach, who’s Grand Cru can be found in cans throughout Belgium.
We cannot wait to try both of the new products from one of Washington’s finest.