Archive for the ‘The Grog Spot’ Category

A Lost Post- Beating the Sunday Blues

March 8, 2011 1 comment

This was originally posted by back in 2009. Damn time flies. All of these places are worth a second post. So check ’em out, if you haven’t before!

The inviting inside of Black Raven Brewing Company in Redmond, WA (photo by Lee Killough)

Sunday, November 29, 2009 marked Beer Blotter’s adventure to beer bars unknown and a brewery worth the trip. This trip refers to a 25 minute drive from downtown Seattle to Redmond, Washington. “What is there besides Microsoft in Redmond?” Well, that is why we are here, to stimulate your brain and your taste buds.

Stop #1 Black Raven Brewing Company

Known for their Trickster IPA (which won Beverage Place Pub‘s year round IPA tap spot), Black Raven Brewing Company’s brew pub is part of a commercial park. Inside, the space is warming and welcoming. We immediately walk up to the bar, order the sampler (and an extra Wisdom Seeker Double IPA) and take a seat at a wooden top table. Sunlight, well what Seattleites consider sunlight, streamed through the windows. The bartender and bar regulars were very passionate about beer and Black Raven. Beer blotter would like to thank Lee Killough for the pictures and insider facts about the brewery. Aside from the two IPAs, the Brown Porter and Second Sight Scotch Ale come highly recommended. The porter is surprising light for the style and is nutty with caramel undertones. This brew was an experimental recipe when the brewery first opened and they got it right the first time around!

Black Raven is located at 14687 NE 95th Street, Redmond, WA 98052. Beware: This brewery might have great brewing equipment (which you can sit near in the back room) but they do not serve food. Menus are placed at every table for delivery option to the brewery.

Stop #2 Malt and Vine Bottle Shop

After a great time at Black Raven, we decide to stick around Redmond for a little while longer. This provides us with a great opportunity to visit the local bottle shop, Malt and Vine. Like so many establishments in Redmond, Malt and Vine is located in a strip mall off of Redmond Way and my dear beer lovers, it is worth the stop in every way, shape and form. Not only does this bottle shop have approximately 15 taps flowing at any given time, (Lets take a moment for some name dropping: New Belgium Love, Lost Abbey Angel Share) their bottle selection is amazing and the refrigerators are organized by brewery, not by style. This approach to organizing your beer coolers, in our humble opinion, makes bottle shopping easier and that much more enjoyable. The only negative about this bottle shop is that the area in which one might enjoy one of these profound beers is not very welcoming and is reminiscent of a high school cafeteria. If only high school cafeterias sold rare beer and had an amazing tap list…the world would be a better place….or not… But during our time spent at Malt and Vine, the world did seem a bit better or at least bearable.

Malt and Vine is located at 16851 Redmond Way, Redmond, WA 98052. Less than 5 miles from Black Raven Brewery.

Stop #3 Wedgewood Ale House

We had heard such great things, had such high expectations. Maybe that was our problem. A cold November day, we were looking for a place to walk into, to warm our hearts and fill our souls. The only thing warm about the Wedgewood Ale House was the Boundary Bay Brewing Cabin Fever and Port Townsend Winter Ale on nitro. Although it was too cold and the wings were too small, Wedgewood Ale House has the quintessential bar menu and they support Washington breweries. With only Washington breweries on tap, the BB Cabin Fever is perfect for the winter/holiday season. It tantalizes your taste buds and tickles the back of your throat with hops and vanilla. The Port Townsend Winter Ale was inviting and spiced well with a malt balance.

The Wedgewood Ale House is located at 8515 35th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98115

Stop #4 Fiddler’s Inn

Fiddler’s Inn has a hidden rustic quality upon first sight with a comfortable, “home for the holidays” atmosphere inside. Stuffed from our previous stops, no food was ordered, but the menu boasted pizzas and what we would call Italian fare. But food isn’t really why were are hear as the tap list and wall mounted taps prove their passion for the punch. A taste of this so-called “punch” included New Belgium Wild Ale, Anchor Steam Christmas Ale and Fremont Brewing Co. Little Woody Pale Ale. A quick side note about New Belgium Wild Ale, it is brewed with schisandra berries. WAIT! Keep reading. This berry is known as the “5 flavored berry” presenting notes of sweet, sour, salty, spicy and bitter. This beer is all that rolled into one.

Fiddler’s Inn is located at 9219 35th Avenue NE, Seattle, WA 98115.

Stop #5 Pub at Pipers Creek

The space is awkwardly open and if you decide to take a seat that is not at the bar, your very far away from the only light that brightly shines. Taps form a crescent shape in the middle of the bar. At this point, food was the last thing on our minds, so we are sticking to what we know and love, beer. Big Al Brewing Winter Warmer had stout like qualities and was spicy, somewhat creamy and delicious. We were all pleasantly surprised by Elysian’s BiFrost which has an undeniable hop presence as well as Dick’s Brewing’s, Silk Lady.

Pub at Pipers Creek is located at 10527 Greenwood Avenue N, Seattle, WA 98133

We met some friends along the way, tried some great beers, bought some bottles and beat the Sunday blues. Let us know if there are other Seattle or Washington State beer bars for us to try. Hell, we will even leave the state or the country if need be.

Leave a comment or email your bar idea to

Bottle Shop Tales: Seattle’s Most Shiny and New

February 3, 2011 2 comments

Photo credit:

I might as well stick with it.  Let’s call it a trend.  Today I hit up 2 Seattle area bottle shops [sic] that I have never visited before.  One is very new, the other is newish, mostly “under new management”, or so I understand.

First up was Chuck’s 85th St. Market.  I have been following these guys for a little while now via Twitter (am I obsessed?).  They go by @chucks85th in case you’d like to follow.  I noticed that they have been having a lot of tastings lately and that they seem to get most of the coveted releases, though often a bit later than the big(er) guys.  They just tweeted that they got Firestone Walker Double Jack in and I have been in need of that ever since it hit the Seattle market.  I had seen the place on many occasions, but never really believed that it would be worth a damn as a bottle shop.  In fact, I used to run past it on a daily basis when I lived on Cleopatra Place NW, one block north of The Dray.

Speaking of The Dray, please check out this article at Seattle Beer News about the soon to be opened bar called The Yard by the same owners.  I’m super excited!

Back to the bottles.  Chuck’s is oddly similar to the Lake Stevens place that I posted about yesterday.  It’s a god damn convenience store with a more than normal bottle collection.  In this case, unlike that of Norm’s, the selection is, as Tim Webb may say, “smart”.  There’s significantly less refrigerators at Chuck’s that are designated to beer as are at Norms, but there is much, much more excitement.  Yes, you will find six packs of your standard, slightly cheaper micro varieties, but you will find almost equal parts eye poppers and “trendy” offerings.  I walked away with a North Coast Twentieth Anniversary, a HOD Blue Dot and 2 Double Jacks.  Great Success!

After a brief stop at 74th St. Alehouse to grab a pint of Two Beers cask Evo IPA dry hopped and infused with D’anjou pears and Pink Lady Apples (drool) I headed over to Seth’s (of Collins Pub/Hudson New American Public House fame) new bottle shop, The Last Drop.

I must admit that I’m massively jealous of what Seth has created here.  From the first moment that I walked through the doors of Belmont Station in Portland I knew that pubs and bottle shops were meant to live in harmony, side by side.  I promised myself that my bar/brewpub would have an adjoining bottle shop.  I stand by that, and you know what, fuck it, you should do it too.  The more options the better.  Let us beer nerds take over the world…of commerce.

I digress.  The Last Drop is a bit stark at the moment, but I have a strong feeling that Seth has made it this way to allow for it to grow organically with time.  He was a lot of space to work with, which excites me.  I want to work for him and help fill the voids, both figuratively and literally.  There is a lot of potential there.

TLD has about 7 (I forgot to count) beers on tap behind the register for growler fills.  Some solid offerings, no doubt.  There’s a few wine options available as well, but beer is clearly the motif here.  If it’s not clear by now, I’m a cranky old snob when it comes to bottle shops.  If I want something cheap I’ll go to Safeway and buy a 12er of Rainier.  When I go to a bottle shop I want the newest releases and I plan to spend $50.  I want to build my cellar or I want to get something that I have never had before.  I also work for a living and find it very challenging to arrive on the doorsteps of Bottleworks when this shit gets released.  The Last Drop, at least as of now in its infantile stage, fucking rules my life.

It’s clear that Seth was buying/cellaring beers for his bottle shop long before the doors opened. I love him for that.  Though some of the rarer offerings have been sicken with an up-charge, it’s to be expected, and honestly, it excites me because it inadvertently offers monetary fortitude to what I’ve cellared in the past 6 months.  This is far different from offering horrible out of season beers like Norm’s does.  This is offering a virtual get out of jail free card to the lazy or the busy (like myself).  If I didn’t already have a 2010 Black Xanthus I’d have picked one up.  If you don’t have one, get over to Last Drop now!

Allow me to state, for the record, that I know I can sound highly narcissistic at times when I write these articles.  Please understand that that is my role here at  I’m the uber-nerd that plays to the sensibilities of the Northwest beer connoisseur.  For those that are not connoisseurs, please feel free to mock me, mostly for spending nearly all of my meager earnings on beer that I horde away and rarely actually drink.  One day, most likely very soon, I’ll die and leave a god-awful amount of amazing beer to some lo-life that has zero respect/understanding for what I have and it’ll be all for naught.  I repeat, mock at will.

Bottle Shop Tales: Snohomish County’s Finest

February 2, 2011 1 comment

Obviously, I'm no English teacher but...

A few weeks back, a customer at Homebrew Heaven asked me if I had tried Dogfish Head Bitches Brew.  I had.  After a brief discussion about its merits he mentioned that he had had quite a bit of trouble locating the brew after learning about it via the Discovery Channel show Brew Masters.  I’ve still never seen the show.

Anyhow, the customer then went on the tell me that he had gone to the DFH website and navigated to the “fish finder” section.  This section of the site allows you to search for DFH brews at stores and restaurants/bars in your area by zip code.  Since learning of this I have spent some time on my own with the tool and I must admit that, well…it’s just another little feather in the illustrious cap of sir Sam Calagione and another small reminder of how powerful his empire has become.  I don’t know who puts in the time to keep it updated, if it gets updated at all, but it’s a pretty damn fancy and incredibly helpful device.

Getting back to the customer… he lives in Snohomish, as many HBH customers do (the shop is in Everett if you were unaware), and he was directed by said fish finder to Norm’s Market.  “What the hell is Norm’s Market?”, I asked.  The customer quickly answered, “It’s a convenience store in Lake Stevens with a massive bottle selection.”  I knew right away that I had to check it out, but I also knew that it was Lake Stevens that we were talking about (no disrespect meant by any means, great little town you have there) and the likelihood that it would blow me away was minimal.  It’s simply not a very populous area.  Such a business would struggle to thrive, in my opinion.  It’s especially likely that I wouldn’t be blown away because I spend inordinate amounts of time researching places to buy beer and I’d never heard of this place.  You’d think that it would be on someone’s radar if it was especially remarkable.


Never-the-less, I made a point to check it out…to make my own opinion.

It became immediately obvious why the place is nowhere on any radar I am aware of (except for DFH’s apparently).  Norm’s Market is the convenience store associated with a Shell Station.  There is no sign outside, that I saw, that mentions anything about Norm’s Market or that the largest beer selection in Snohomish County is found within its walls.  Unless you live really close by or you just happened to stop there to get gas, you’d never know what awaited you inside.

Even upon entering, I thought that I was at the wrong place.  I was in a quickie mart for god sakes!  Yes, a shade larger than the norm, but a quickie mart none-the-less.  A bit more roaming allowed me to find the beer.  About 90% of the offerings were housed in the 20+ refrigerators that wrapped around the back wall and the flanking wall closest to the door.  The unrefrigerated bottles didn’t seem to have purpose.  They weren’t carefully chosen to be left out of the fridge due to any particular classification or because they have been known to age or anything like that.  It just seemed as though they had run out of fridge space.

The only Belgian made beers that I noticed were the two or three selections of Lindeman’s.  There may have been a few imports here and there, just the standards, but it became quickly obvious that the selection weighed heavy on the domestics and American Micros.  Yes, the selection is pretty vast (the manager said that they were hoping to soon carry over 900 varieties), but there was very little in stock that wowed me.  It should be noted that a pretty sizable portion of the refrigerators are reserved for the BIG name beers that you would expect at a Shell Station.

Faux Fire, Empty Kegs

The most exciting section for me was the Midnight Sun row that contained bottles of Berserker and Obliteration VII.  They also had many bottle of Deschutes Abyss which was surprising.  This is also a great place to go if you missed out on a seasonal.  I found it most odd that they had a large inventory of Southern Tier Pumking.  The DFH Festina Peche peaked my interest as well as it has been off most shelves for months now.

All in all, if you are in the area, you might as well swing through and keep your fingers crossed that they’ll have a few beers that sold out everywhere else long before you could make it to the bottle shop, but otherwise, it’s really just a glorified convenience store.  I still respect the effort though Lake Stevens.  It could be much worse.  You could live in South Dakota.

Seattle’s Newest Bottle Shop: The Last Drop Opens Today!

January 18, 2011 2 comments

Bottle shops rock! Add one to your Seattle list.


Just saw a tweet from Collins Pub that The Last Drop Bottle Shop will open today! The Last Drop is the brainchild of Seth Howard, owner of Seattle’s Collins Pub and Maple Leaf’s Hudson Public House.

We do not know much about The Last Drop (hey, it just opened!), but they claim to be filling growlers and selling a bevy of bottles. The shop is right next door to the Hudson Public House, up in Seattle’s Maple Leaf neighborhood.

So, get on in to The Last Drop. You can find a map to the location by following this link. Their initial hours will be 2 to 10 on Monday – Thursday, 1 to 11 on Friday – Saturday, and 2 to 7 on Sunday.

While their website is currently under construction, you can follow them on Twitter by clicking this link. For the time being, they will be using the Collins Pub Twitter page to post updates.

If you make a visit, please leave us comments below about what we can all expect! Very excited to see the new digs.

100 Best Beer Bars: How About These Five Noted Absences

January 18, 2011 7 comments

No Brouwers? Something went wrong there.

Washington Beer Blog reminded me that Draft Magazine put out their annual 100 Best Beer Bars this week. Thanks for the reminder, Kendall. Now let me go spend two unproductive hours ogling it!

Draft Magazine is a nationally published magazine focused beer culture. They have been around since 2006, sometimes featuring celebrities on their covers. All in all, its not the nerds guide to beer. Its more of a sassy celebration of all things barley pop.

Don’t let my description drive you away. Draft Magazine is good. In fact, all 3 of the Beer Blotter writers are subscribers. We enjoy the fact that Draft presents a global expose on happenings in the beer world. Its really a good way to locate beer venues from around the world.

Just this week, Draft released its annual Top 100 beer bars list. This list is sorted geographically into 4 regions. I was afraid that they were attempting to force options for each of these regions, but it appears that the selections are not equally divided (for example, the Northeast has many more than the South).  So, it appears that the choices are without prejudice.

In scouring the list, I was very pleased to see places like Avenue Pub (New Orleans), Apex (Portland), Blind Lady Alehouse (San Diego) and our very own Monk’s hole – The Stumbling Monk (Seattle).

But, one cannot peruse the list without finding their own list of absentees. While less deserving pubs made it (i.e. Cooter Browns (New Orleans), Green Dragon (Portland), McNulty’s Bier Markt (Cleveland)), some of the nation’s most celebrated beer venues are missing.

While that absentee list will differ for each of us, here are my Top 5 Absentees:


  1. Brouwers Cafe (Seattle) –  They must have pissed off a Draft Magazine writer. Many of us know that Brouwers can sometimes rub the wrong way (and its been stated by commenters here on the site), but there is no better selection of ale in the NW. Brouwers routinely procures 60 taps of rare beer, one of the best bottle lists in the country and an unprecedented number of unmatched in-house beer festivals (See Sour Fest, Hopfest, Big Wood, and Hard Liver). Again, they must have pissed someone off.

  3. Bangers & Lace (Chicago) – This might simply be too early for Draft to call this place a winner. But, Bangers & Lace has quickly ascended to the top of the Chicago beer world. Presenting an unmatched selection of rare beer, along with phenomenal food, B&L deserves a spot. Guest writer For Whom the Bell Toales agrees that this is the #1 beer venue in Chi-town.

  5. Small Bar (San Diego) – Ok Ok, they got it mostly right. Hamilton’s Tavern, Blind Lady Alehouse, and O’Brien’s Pub should all be on the list. But, Small Bar gives that Top 3 a run for their money. Mixing a spectacular beer selection with epic food and spunky surroundings, I think it deserved a spot above many of the LA selections.

  7. Brew Kettle (Strongsville, OH)  – Draft picked one of the many Cleveland suburb favorites – Buckeye Beer Engine. But, I think they got the wrong one. The Brew Kettle blends an incredible draft lineup (thank god for the connection with Founders), house made ales, and some spectactular bar grub. Get drunk enough? Go brew a batch in the back. Beyond that – its just a cool dark place to grab a beer.

  9. New York’s Forgotten Trio – Ginger Man, Mug’s Alehouse and d.b.a. (NY, NY) – They picked a lot of NY spots. I can understand that its pretty tough to run into your editor’s office and say we picked the Top 100 – 20 of them are in NY. Its a tough job to pick between the excellent spots in NYC. In my mind, they got the top 3 on the list – Rattle N Hum, Blind Tiger and Spuyten Duyvil. Those three are iconic, and the three places that I spend the most time while in NY. But, the above three all deserve a shot at the list. The Ginger Man is just a few blocks from Rattle N Hum – many would say its the cooler bar. Mug’s is tucked away in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. But unlike the uber-hipster crowd at Spuyten Duyvil, you will find comfort at this grog spot. d.b.a. is the lone East Village fave. d.b.a. has been pouring beer for a long time and has an excellent wide spread selection.


I will say, writing the Top 5 absentees was pretty tough. All in all they did a great job finding the appropriate bars. The Top 100 is a worthy list and you should take a glance.

What else is missing!?



52 Weeks Ends: Sweet Lou’s, Seattle, WA

The Sweetest of Lou's

Week 52 of 52 (We done!)

Sweet Lou’s

820 NW 85th St
(between N 8th Ave & N Dibble Ave)
Seattle, WA 98117

(206) 782-9690

Monday-Sunday: 11:00am – 2:00am

Special Nights: Wed. is trivia night; Thursday is taco night (3 tacos for $2)


Rank: 3.5/5 (bonus for wow factor)

Type of Establishment: The definition of bar. A great little neighborhood spot, complete with iffy food, lots of can beer, pool tables and arcade games.

Visit: A forced night of new bar visitation – to complete the 52 Weeks collection. It was a Wednesday, and we followed this up with visits to local icons, Crown Hill Pub, Goofy’s and the T-Bird Tavern.


Beers on Tap (at time of visit):


All I can say is “What the F&*%?!” They are pouring Deschutes The Abyss and New Belgium La Folie! Read more below:

Deschutes The Abyss (Imperial Stout)

New Belgium La Folie (Sour Flemish Red)

Rogue Dead Guy

Bud Light



and a mess of other microbrews that I cannot remember because I was in awe of the Abyss……


Bottle List:


They have a lot of beer in cans and a few in the bottle. Think of the NW regulars: PBR, Ranier Ale, Olympia, Miller High Life and add Guiness, Strongbow, Bud Light, Bud, Stella and Pacifico. Nothing exciting.


Food Options:


Its an inviting, yet expected menu. Lou’s is sporting a number of sandwiches and BBQ options. Check out the menu by visiting this link.

We opted to explore their wings, which are reasonably priced at $4.50 per 6 (I opted for the $9 dozen, with both sauces), the reuben and the pile of nachos.

We won’t lie – none of it was great. In fact, the reuben got an incredibly bad response. The wings were too small to be considered actual chicken wings. I believe they were taken from a cornish hen. Not enough meat to soak up what was an otherwise yummy sauce. The nachos were ok, i guess. But who the hell can mess up nachos.

Luckily its cheap enough to not bother you. From 4-6 PM, they sport a $4 happy hour that features wings, quesadillas and mini-burgers. That might be the way to go.


Bar Opinion:


This article is all about random opportunity. Its the story of 3 unsuspecting men coming along to find the deal of a century.

Sweet Lou’s is a little bar on the crosshairs of Crown Hill, Greenwood and Northgate. Its the former location of the Sundowner, a frightening abyss of drunken madness that scared many a patron away. Now, its been taken over by former industry folks who turned it into a welcoming, yet still dark, bar with an inviting menu and beer selection.

Sweet Lou’s is decorated with the photos of many famous Lous of lore. Think Lou Reed, Lou Pinella, and Lou Gehrig. They offer about 10 taps and a menu of your typical pub offerings. You can eat crappy food and drink crappy beer – sounds like a dive.

But, I’m not going to be too hard on Lou’s. In fact, I loved our visit. Excluding the food, the aura and layout is great. They have billiards and a few arcades, a lot of space, sufficient bar seating and outdoor patio space. During our visit, they also had some trivia. Though a group of 12 year olds might have dominated the game (really easy), its still good entertainment for your Wednesday.

dun dun dun......dun.......The Abyss

But why were we in love? The Abyss. Its funny that I called Sundowners an “abyss.” Because today, our minds were blown by the fact that Sweet Lou’s found a way to have the Abyss on tap. Beyond that they served it in a pint glass (holy shit) and charged us $4.25! If anyone at Brouwers, Uber, Collins or Naked City is reading this – I am serious.  I would expect to never get more than a 10oz pour of this beer. For that 10oz, I would pay somewhere between $6-$8. That is not to be debated. So, I think you can all see why our minds were blown – and why we had several.

On top of the Abyss, they were also pouring New Belgium’s delicious La Folie. Same rules apply to this amazing beer – 16oz pours are available.

While you might not get any of the perks that we encountered, Sweet Lou’s is worth a visit for the shock factor. Who knows what you might find next? Sweet Lou’s has an excellent connection with beer distributors that makes the chance of finding a special beer less a risk.

Stop by and check it out. Be cautious when you order. Keep the expectations low and you will have a blast!



52 Weeks: Melt Bar & Grilled, Cleveland, OH

January 2, 2011 1 comment

Two locations. Same incredible booze and food.

Week 51 of 52

Melt Bar & Grilled

East Side Spot (place of visit)

13463 Cedar Road
Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118

(216) 965-0988

Monday-Thursday: 11:00am – 11:00pm
Friday-Saturday: 11:00am – 12:00 midnight
Sunday: 10:00am – 10:00pm
Bar open till 2:00am every night.

They are also located on the West Side of Cleveland

14718 Detroit Ave

Lakewood, Ohio

(216) 226-3699

Rank: 4/5

Type of Establishment: Psychotically creative meal emporium; home of grilled cheese magic.

Visit: A homecoming for Xmas, I went to Cleveland to spend an evening with my little brother. He recently graduated college and became a man. It was time for him to finally buy his big brother a beer (he bought 1, I bought all the others).


Beers on Tap (at time of visit):


Yikes. Unfortunately, it was so dark that I couldn’t get a legible photo. This is from memory, but they have about 25 beers on tap at any time.

Bells Two Hearted Ale

Bells Winter Ale

Breckenridge Small Batch IPA

Breckenridge Christmas Ale

Troegs Mad Elf

Great Lakes Christmas Ale

Thirtsy Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

Left Hand Milk Stout

Southern Tier Old Man Winter

and many others…..


Bottle List:


Excellent bottle list for a place more geared towards food than beer. The full list is here, but they supplement that list seasonally, with some random others.  All in all there are about 100 bottles on hand at any time. I was really excited to see the offerings from New Holland Mad Hatter, Jolly Pumpkin selections, and Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Imperial IPA.

They also have an impressive Belgian list. This is one of the few places in Cleveland where you can find a bottle of Gueze from Cantillon, the full gamut of Trappist ales, and a tasty bottle of Boon’s Oude Gueze. Don’t forget to check that list out here, as well.


Food Options:


This should be the focus of this article, not the beer. The beer is simply a pretty cool little throw in, to the epic food options available here.

Melt was featured on Man v. Food, and several other eatery TV shows. It has the distinct pleasure of being called Cleveland’s greatest pub food venue. I cannot disagree, after partaking in their grub for two meals during my 24 hours in Cleveland.

Sorry so dark - the Godfather in the flesh

Melt’s name means something – melted cheese. The pub offers about 20 grilled cheese masterpieces, along with about 12 burgers, which might as well be grilled cheeses stuffed with burger.

The motif is this – take two giant pieces of texas toast, smother then in butter, fill them with an epic proportion of cheese, stuff it with some other artery clogging delight – grill that puppy. Check out the full list of options here. Pay attention to the one stuffed with bratwurst, the one stuffed with pierogi, the one stuffed with LASAGNA!

I will talk more specifically about the sandwiches that we ordered, below. But, Melt also offers some amazing appetizers. We had the grilled pierogis and the buffalo chicken soup, which has become a cult classic. Both of these items were incredible. I especially loved the soup, stuffed with blue cheese, celery, carrot and a delightful spicy broth.

Whether you elect to go savory or sweet, you cannot miss with these sandwiches. Get one.


Bar Opinions:


Melt is my type of place. Its dark, heavily decorated in Cleveland lore, and full of great bar seating. When you enter the Cleveland Heights venue (they also have a place in Lakewood, on the west side of Cleveland), you see a wide open space, with the bar in the center. The bar area is rectangular, providing seating all around a central “island” where the booze is stored. This provides maximum area for lounging at the bar and starting at the taps and bottles. I like it.

We grabbed some bar seating and some menus. We are clamoring for some christmas beer and some massive heart attack initiating sandwiches. Luckily, our menu obliges. We decided to start off with some pierogis and a couple of xmas ales. I start with the Breckenridge Christmas Ale, and my brother grabs the Mad Elf from Troegs.

While we sip on these beauties, I begin mulling over my stomach’s demise. The menu’s best options appear to be the Municipal Stadium Magic, stuffed with local bratwurst, vodka kraut, grilled peppers and american cheese; the Parmageddon (named for local burb, Parma), stuffed with potato & cheese pierogi, vodka kraut, grilled onions and sharp cheddar; and of course – the Godfather, 3 cheese lasagna, fresh fennel-oregano pasta sheets, spicy red sauce, provolone and garlic spiked bread. No lies, lasagna in a grilled cheese. Got to have that one.

We grab a Godfather and decide to get the Municipal Stadium for the other, as we had already had some pierogis. The sandwiches weigh in at no less than 2 lbs a piece, but to add insult to your small intestine, they dump a large serving of their delicious house-made slaw and a pile of their fresh cut fries. Someone get the stomach pump ready.

Those first two beers were very good. Breckenridge’s Christmas Ale has a nice spiciness and light body that makes it easy to drink. But, the Mad Elf is the surefire winner. Mad Elf has a sharp boozy finish and a bright euro spiciness. Some say that this beer is off this year. Sometimes when I hear that its because the beer is “too much” for the palette. While that turns off some beer drinkers – it only peaks my interest.

the Mad Elf

In preparation for our meal, we grab a second round – all Mad Elf. When our sandwiches arrive, I am famished. By the time, I box up the remainders – I can barely move. The Municipal Stadium is incredibly flavorful. I love the local bratwurst, which was juicy, spicy and wonderfully matched with the vodka kraut. But, the Godfather is clear victor. As if any lasagna stuffed in a grilled cheese wouldn’t be amazing? Guess what – this lasagna is amazing! The amount of cheese in this puppy is striking. It bursts with flavor and spice and is unmatchable. Its a no-brainer.

The pierogis, slaw and the buffalo chicken soup (which I got on a follow up visit the next day) were all amazing. Nothing that I tried failed to meet expectations. Get as much as you can. Remember that you can always take it home. No one at this place will judge you. Take a visit, eat some food, drink some good beer and take a nap.



52 Weeks: Port Brewing Co./Lost Abbey, San Marcos, CA

Pic Courtesy of!

Week 50 of 52
Port Brewing Co./Lost Abbey

155 Mata Way, Suite 104
San Marcos, CA 92069
(760) 920-6121

    Friday: 4pm – 9pm
    Saturday: 12pm – 6pm
    Sunday: 12pm – 5pm

Bottle Sales & Growler Fills Only
Hours for bottle sales and growler fills only (sorry, no tasting flights or pints):

    Wednesday: 1pm – 6pm
    Thursday: 12pm – 6pm

The tasting room is closed to the public on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Rank: 4/5

Type of Establishment: Brewery/Tasting Room/Barrel Aging Facility

Visit: After a trip to Alpine Brewing Co., my hangover started to subside. As one of my favorite breweries, I was so excited to visit Port Brewing Co./Lost Abbey during our SoCal trip.


Beers on Tap (at time of visit):

Under the Port Brewing Co. label:

Santa’s Little Helper

Mongo Double IPA

Wipe Out IPA

Under the Lost Abbey label:

Red Barn Saison

Judgment Day


Witch’s Wit


Bottle List:


Most of their regular bottles (and occasionally special releases) are available for purchase in the tasting room. Prices range from $4.99 to $12. There is a 10% discount for full case (12 bottle) purchases.


Food Options:


None. This is purely a place to drink beer.


Bar Opinions:


I honestly didn’t know what to expect from this brewery. With two labels brewed by the same man under the same roof, I wasn’t sure which label, if either, the ambiance and decor would favor.

The overall ambiance reminded me of a Southern California, laid back attitude. The place has a garage door that remains open providing lots of fresh air and sunlight. In this warehouse, you feel close to where the magic happens and you even have access to the barrel aging room.

A brief description from the brewery’s website sums up the decor and provides essential beer drinking information:

Belly up to our 42 foot bar or one of our barrel tables and enjoy 20 taps of fresh Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey beers. The tasting room offers individual tastings as well as (semi) structured flights of our beers. Tasters are $1 each per 4 ounce glass; Tasters are also available in pint-sized portions for $4 to $5 per glass based on the beer (some special releases may be more).

Yes, $1.00 tasters. A great way to try several, if not all of the beers on tap on any given day. Today we were greeted by a lively, ball busting bartender, who was very informative and even gave us a taster of the one year old Red Poppy. Red Poppy is Lost Abbey’s Kriek and is aged for two years before distribution. It is so damn good.

We each ordered a Mongo Double IPA and also got a taster of Santa’s Little Helper. All of the beers we had here were top notch. The people that work there love the beer, are passionate about the mission of the brewery and are willing to share this love with just about anyone who pulls up a barrel.

Despite my hangover symptoms, I was in heaven, sitting in the place where these beers that I cherish and enjoy so much are brewed. It is a wondrous feeling, to be so close to the origin of something that brings you such pleasure. I enjoyed the simple decor, the breeze from the open door and the beer that never, ever disappoints!

52 Weeks: Goofy’s Bar & Grill, Seattle, WA

December 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Photo cred due to

Week 49 of 52

Goofy’s Bar & Grill

8519 15th Ave NW
(between 85th St & 87th St)
Seattle, WA 98117

(206) 783-5164

Mon-Fri 2 pm – 2 am

Sat-Sun 11 am – 2 am

Rank: 3/5

Type of Establishment: Dive, sports bar, pre/post-strip club home of intoxicants.

Visit: On Wednesday of this week, DSR, Amateur Hour and I decided to do a quick, impromptu dive bar crawl down 15 Ave. NW.  Amateur Hour and I have lived in the neighborhood for over a year now but there were three bars practically within walking distance that we had never been to before.  We decided that it was time to get to know our local haunts a little bit better.


Beers on Tap (at time of visit):


Three Skulls Poison

Sam Adams Lager

New Belgium Fat Tire

Widmer Hefe

Georgetown Manny’s Pale Ale

Mac & Jack’s Amber

Bridgeport IPA

Sam Adams Winter Lager

Rogue Dead Guy

Lagunitas Pils

Other Macros


Bottle List:


There were a few bottles on display behind the bar but nothing to speak of in this forum.


Food Options:


We had, unfortunately, decided to eat at Sweet Lou’s just prior to arriving here.  The food was terrible there if I do say so myself.  Luckily the beer and atmosphere redeemed that joint, but we are talking about Goofy’s here, not Sweet Lou’s.  I didn’t even get a chance to glance at the menu while we were there (like I said, it was a quick bar crawl…it was a Wednesday people!) but they do have their menu on their website.  I did notice that a young lady seated at the bar had ordered and received the Wednesday special, complete chicken dinner for $4.99.  It wasn’t a very large portion but it looked just like home cookin’ and that made me comfortable.


Bar Opinions:


Prior to this visit, I had only ever known 2 people who had been to Goofy’s.  The one guy, that mind you, was only a mere acquaintance, told me that he would always go there for drinks after tossing some (many) ones at the fine ladies of Centerfolds.  Since Seattle strips clubs are 100% a joke, I didn’t really put too much weight to the complimentary words of this fellow.  The other is a friend that’s from WI and often goes to Goofy’s to watch Green Bay Packers games. Apparently, Goofy’s is a Packers bar.  Odd.  Considering that I care very little about American Football and even less about the Packers, I cared not about any complimentary words that were spoken about the place.

Fire is always a good idea.

But…despite all that, I did feel that there were three legitimate reasons to check out Goofy’s.  The first is that the place is called Goofy’s.  I just really want to be able to tell people that I’m hangin’ at Goofy’s.  I want friends to ask, “Who the hell is Goofy?  Some fat, jovial drunkard that is always getting into crazy situations?  Some ne’er-do-well high school dropout with a mild cocaine problem and a pension for the outlandish?”  I’d quickly respond, “No you silly son of a bitch, it’s a bad-ass dive bar that I just walked to from my house!”

This brings me to my second reason, it’s in my neighborhood and I had never been there before.  I was recently talking to a friend of a friend that I had just met and in describing what I had done that day I mentioned that I had gone to Lunchbox Lab for the first time ever.  I also related to him that I found it to be ridiculous that I had never been there before, not only because it’s awesome but also because it’s about three blocks from my house.  He responded, “Yeah, that always seems to happen.”  Does it?  Maybe I’m not alone on this one after all.  Obviously, we here at are highly interested in trying new places.  That is why this column, 52 Weeks exists.  So given that, why is it that there’s many places right around the corner from me that I have never before visited?  I always seem to hop in the car and drive to some back-country destination to visit a new place when I could just walk up the block and be enlightened near instantly.

The third reason is that I needed to write one more 52 Weeks article before the end of the year and the idea of having the word “Goofy’s” in the headline really excited me.  Hmm… maybe I should talk about the actual bar.

It is really easy to be overwhelmed the first time you step into Goofy’s.  It’s kind of one of those neighborhood bars, where everyone looks at you if you aren’t a regular.  That’s always a little awkward.  Then there is the huge fire pit in the middle of the room.  This puppy is something to behold!  I immediately thought of the fire pit at Uber, but that one is small and modern and actually looks like it belongs indoors.  The pit at Goofy’s looks like it should be in the back yard of a medieval castle.  You could roast an entire pig over that beast!  Then there is the massive wall of random paraphernalia and beer signs and pull tabs behind the bar.  It’s quite busy.  I think if I was on drugs I would have needed to huddle in the corner and suck my thumb, but no…just beer in the system this night.

I was quite amazed by the size of the place.  There is another room at the rear of the establishment that houses the 2 pool tables and various arcade consoles.  There is a few tables and high tops spread about the place…it’s a pretty laid back joint, which I wasn’t expecting.  It’s quite pleasant in fact.  The fire really sets the cozy mood.  The beer list left much to be desired, but none of us had ever seen the Three Skulls Poison on tap before.  We gave it a try, as well as a few pints of the Bridgeport IPA.  We sat and chatted and had a good time.  Amidst it all, there seemed to be a DJ or musician unloading some gear in the back room.  We didn’t stay long enough to uncover the mystery, but I was intrigued.  I think I’ll be heading back to Goofy’s another day.

52 Weeks: Hamiltons Tavern, San Diego, CA

December 30, 2010 1 comment

The Tap List at Hamiltons Tavern. Glorious.

Week 48 of 52- 


(4 to go! We are dedicated!)

Hamiltons Tavern

1521 30th St.
San Diego, CA 92102


(619) 238-5460

Hours: M-F, 3PM-2AM and Saturday/Sunday 1PM-2AM

Rank: 4.2/5

Type of Establishment: A place to disappear from the sunny outdoors and get lost in a beer or 5.

Visit: This was stop 3 or 4 during out San Diego Beer Week trip. It was Marin Brewing Co. night with tons to offer from the Northern California brewery.


Beers on Tap (at time of visit):


There are so many, but here goes most of them.

Marin San Quentin Breakout

Marin 2009 Old Dipsea

Marin Tiburn

Marin Hoppy Holidaze

Marin St. Brendans

Marin Tripel Dipsea

Marin 2008 Chocolate Porter

Marin Star Brew

Big Sky Moose Drool

Marin IPA

Marin 21 Something Year Old with Brett

Marin 2007 Old Dipsea

Marin 2008 Old Dipea Bourbon Barrel

Green Flash Fizzy Yellow

Bottle List:

With an updated bottle list on their website, Ill let you check it out for yourself! Beers of note: Brewdog / Mikkeller Devine Rebel; Deschutes The Dissident; Firestone Walkers 13th Anniversary; Alesmith Decadence 2009 and so many more, all at reasonable prices!


Food Options:


Usually there isn’t a menu. The day we went, we were lucky enough to encounter a full spread buffet with cupcakes to top it all off. But on your average day, come full or leave hungry.


Bar Opinions:


After hitting up several amazing beer locations in San Diego, we wanted to keep the vibe and our buzz going so we headed to Hamiltons Tavern.

The sun was blazing outside, but as we stepped inside, I felt worlds away. Hamiltons Tavern is just that, a tavern. When I think of a tavern, I think of a dark, eclectic space with minimal access to the outside world (maybe a couple of windows in front). Hamiltons is lit in a way that creates a comforting ambiance, one that protects you from the mutation of impending drunkenness. Well not really, but it sure feels that way.

Today, Hamiltons was packed with beer lovers as Marin Brewing Co. was featured across the taps. We had the pleasure of trying Marin’s 21 year old (old ale) with Brett, Brass Knuckle IPA on cask and Old Dipsea Barleywine. We sipped on these amazing brews while chatting with the head brewer of Marin. A passionate, humble man who knows his beer and brews some pretty incredible recipes.

We stayed at Hamiltons for quite some time, admiring the beer while chatting up locals, brewers and bartenders. Hamiltons is spacious (although cramped today) with a long wooden bar, pool tables and high ceilings. A great place to spend a laid back Sunday afternoon or a energetic Friday night.