Archive for the ‘52 Weeks: 52 new places, in the 52 weeks of 2010.’ Category

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.


52 Weeks: Three Creeks Brewing, Sisters, OR

December 29, 2010 1 comment

Pretty darn inviting.

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

Rank: 4.4/5

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):



Knotty Blonde

Stonefly Rye

Old Prospector Pale Ale

Anvil Amber

Firestorm Red

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


Food Options:


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?!

The bar portion.


Bar Opinions:


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.

Fire place cove in the dining room.


52 Weeks: Ballard Grill & Ale House, Seattle, WA

December 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Ale House indeed.

Week 46 of 52 (6 More!)

Ballard Grill and Ale House

4300 Leary Way NW
Seattle, WA 98107
Neighborhood: Ballard

(206) 782-9024

Mon-Sun 11 am – 2 am

Rank: 3/5

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

Pyramid Haywire

Ninkasi Total Domination IPA

Dick’s 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.


Food Options:


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.


Bar Opinions:


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.

Game on!

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: Great Lakes Brewpub, Cleveland, Ohio

December 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Fear it. Great Lakes Lake Erie Monster Imperial IPA will bite back.

Week 45 of 52– (There are 7 more and we have committed to getting them all done before 1/1/2011. A few days left. Expect some OH, CA, OR and WA spots)

Great Lakes Brewing Co. Brewpub

2516 Market Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44113
216.771.4466 (fax)

Monday – Thursday: 11:30 AM – 10:30 PM (bar open until 12:00 AM)
Friday and Saturday: 11:30 AM – 11:30 PM (bar open until 1:00 AM)
Sundays: Closed

Rank: 4.8/5


Type of Establishment: An aged tavern, the home to Great Lakes Brewing and the holiest of beer grails in Cleveland, Ohio


Visit: A amazing Christmas vacation back to my roots. I spent an evening in Cleveland stuffing myself with Melt Bar & Grilled’s The Godfather (more on this tomorrow). After it put me in a coma, I needed to resurrect myself. A visit to Great Lakes for lunch on a Monday? Sounds amazing.


Beers on Tap (at time of visit):


The updated list is available here. Luckily for me, they broke out the big guns for my visit. This is atypical, but you know, when a local icon like me comes home……obviously this was for Xmas and they could give a shit about little ole me. I like to dream.


Lake Erie Monster (Imperial IPA)

Christmas Ale (God’s Beer)

Blackout Stout (Imperial Stout) – Replaced Lake Erie after I kicked it. Not bad.

Nosferatu (Old Ale)

Cleveland Brown Ale

Subject to change - subject to wow.

Wright Pils

Commodore Perry IPA

Burning River Pale Ale

Dortmunder Gold (Golden Lager)

Elliot Ness (Amber Lager)

Edmond Fitzgerald (Porter)


Bottle List:


No need for a bottle, when they pour almost everything they make on the taps. But, their gift shop is attached, where you can pick up any of their currently bottled grog.

Great Lakes bottles the last six beers above, year round. They also bottle the larger beers (Nosferatu, Dopplerock, Blackout and Lake Erie) in 4 packs released during different quarters. The seasonal brews (Grassroots Saison, Holy Moses White Ale, Octoberfest, and Christmas Ale) are available in 6 packs during each respective season.

I do not believe that you can order bottles at the pub. Again, why the hell would you? The beers are about $4-5 per pint.


Food Options:


Food! One of the reasons to come here is the food – its remarkable. Some people might disagree with me that bar food cannot be remarkable. Of course, those people are evil, shortsighted and mainly, wrong.

GLBC does pub food the right way. They source ingredients from a number of extremely local providers (there is a list on the back of the beer menu). You can actually pick your meal based upon the farm, baker or butcher that you prefer. Awesome.

While many people prefer the pizza, I am a huge fan of the sausage. If you know Cleveland, you know they are sausage people. GLBC serves some wonderful bratwurst and kraut. They also have excellent BBQ pork sandwichs, a crowd favorite.

You really cannot go wrong on this menu. These guys are food people, even suggesting pairings for your brew.


Bar Opinions:


Which part of the bar do you want first? How about the cave-like cellar? Why not the indoor/outdoor retractable roof patio – or no – the long bar lounge. Wait, but there is also a restaurant, wrapped around the small test batch brewing system. Get my drift – there is a lot to this place.

It has been about 6 years since I last truly explored the GLBC’s Brewpub. I know that its supposed to be my first visit – but the brewery has grown a lot since then. I need to give it another go.

Located in Ohio City, its a mere 5 minute trek from downtown Cleveland. Its a “got to go” destination. The brewery is nestled back off the main roads, disconnected from the Brewpub. But, the pub is right down the alley, less than a 3 minute walk.

My little brother, having dreams of electric sex gleaming in the window

No more than a block away is Cleveland’s epic West Market. After visiting again, I’m fairly sure it blows Seattle’s Pike Place Market out of the water, in terms of food offerings. I’m talking 30 places to grab a sausage, a dozen or more pierogi stands (a Cleveland fave) and the infamous Steve’s Gyros (bring your cash and something to do for 45 minutes).

This is also not far away from the home that housed Randy, Ralphie and the old man, stars of A Christmas Story. Though the movie took place in Inidiana, it was shot in Cleveland. The storefront next the Brewpub pays homage with its very own leg lamp. My brother was entranced.

The Brewpub spans about a half block. Over time, it appears to have grown. They have added a side patio, which is covered and sealed in the winter time. We get seated here.

Its not my first choice for seating. The cellar basement is incredible. For good reason – its packed. So, we are relegated to the brightly lit patio. Not the best choice for a couple of hungover guys trying desperately to cling to life. We manage.

I have already notice that the Lake Erie Monster was on tap before even arriving to Cleveland. I had been scouring their website endlessly in the week before my trip, praying that the beer would stay on tap. I order one, I drink it, I fall in love. Then another.

According to the brewery, Lake Erie Monster has a tale: “a beer this distinctively hoppy inspires many a tall tale. And they don’t come taller than South Bay Bessie, the legendary monster that roams the shallow depths of Lake Erie.” The monster in this bottle is attractive, sexy, provocative and deeply addictive. Thanks Bessie, for my drinking problem.

The beer is described as being brewed with Simcoe and Fuggles hops, exclusively. That seems to be an interested combination, but the taste is magnificent. Pineapple and lemongrass are both popping up in this glass. At 9.1%, every sip packs a punch. Check out the stat sheet here.

GLBC also brews one of the greatest porters on earth – Edmond Fitzgerald. This is a must try for anyone who loves cocoa and coffee in their brew. On top of that, we also enjoyed the Cleveland Brown Ale, a homage to the lovable losers of Lake Erie.

After consuming 8,000 calories of sandwich the night before, I had to opt for a salad at the Brewpub. Sue me. I promise you would have had nothing to say after seeing what I did to my stomach the night before (tomorrow, i promise). But, my salad was briskly whisked down and we paid up so that we could move about and jockey for position at the bar.

The cellar was still flooded with lunch visitors who had given up on the thought of returning to work, so we opted for the upstairs lounge and bar. We grabbed two seats and had a few more pints. I immediately kicked the Lake Erie. Instantaneously, I felt the gaze of every waitress and patron in the place. Not to fear though – they have tapped Blackout Stout.

Blackout Stout is amongst my favorite imperial stouts to compliment a meal. It has an uncanny roasted flavor, matched with a brightly bitter hop profile. Though 9.0%, it doesn’t weigh you down. Its an incredible beer that has won a bevy of awards. Check out its profile here.

Coming soon.....more beer.

After we finished our beers, we hit the gift shop. GLBC will sell you just about anything with its logo on it. We got a tap handle for the old man’s keg/fridge and some new glassware and hit the road.

Another amazing beer adventure ends in Cleveland’s old town. Alas, there is much life to this place. A second brewery called Market Garden Brewery will be opening in 2011. The brewery will feature many german styled brew, crafted by Andy Tveekram. Andy was a former brewer at Dogfish Head and GLBC. So, 2011 brings much promise to Ohio City.



52 Weeks: Alpine Brewing Co., Alpine, CA

December 22, 2010 1 comment

Picture courtesy of I currently do not have access to ours.

Week 44 of 52– 8 MORE!

Alpine Brewing Co.

2351 Alpine Boulevard
Alpine, CA 91901
1 619 445 2337 (BEER)

Rank: 4.4/5

Type of Establishment: Brewery, hangover cure, the mecca of IPAs

Visit: A highly anticipated trip to SoCal and Alpine was at the top of our list.


Beers on Tap (at time of visit):


Pure Hoppiness

Captain Stout


Bad Boy IPA


O’Brien’s IPA

Chez Monieux

Great (barleywine)


Bottle List:


They have bottles to go of most beers, but they don’t always have them in stock. Today we left with a bottle of Duet, a Pure Hoppiness and Ichabod (a sour pumpkin ale).


Food Options:


They have several options (nachos, wings) but their menu is focused on BBQ- pulled pork sandwiches, brisket, the works!


Bar Opinions:


After a night of bar hopping during San Diego beer week, we rolled up to Alpine Brewing Co. and I was in a bad state. The thought of getting on a plane later and worse, returning to work the next day did not help my mood. Alpine was one of the most anticipated stops on our trip so when we got out of the car and saw that the open sign did not have neon pumping through the glass tubes, I almost fainted.

We peered in and saw an employee. After locking eyes, he opened the door and informed us that the hours had changed and we had an hour to kill. Phew. Coffee- stat. Alpine is a beautiful little town with a frontier meets artsy vibe. Exactly an hour later, we showed back up at Alpine. stalkers.

The pub just opened in 2010 and has a diner quality to it with black and white checkered floor, a raised bar and shiny, plastic stool and chair covers. Almost immediately we strike up a conversation with the very nice staff members. Since they could sniff out our eagerness to experience all that is Alpine, we got a lot of attention during our stay.

At this point in my day, beer is the only thing that will make me feel better. We each order our own beers to start, a Great barleywine and Chez Monieux, their kreik. Both were amazing. The Great is a big beer with a thick body and a distinct alcohol taste. The Chez was light in body, tart yet refreshing and not syrupy.

Next up, an IPA tray. Alpine, like many Southern California breweries are known for their amazing IPAs. SoCal IPAs generally have heavier citrus notes and are light and refreshing. Our tray served in taster glasses placed in a muffin tray included: Duet, Pure Hoppiness, Bad Boy, Nelson and O’Brien’s IPA. Nelson was one of my favorite beers during our trip.

A Golden Rye IPA
An outstanding hop from New Zealand, Nelson Sauvin (hops), is generously used throughout the brewing and dry-hopping of this unique beer. European rye is added for a smooth, malty addition to flavor. 1.065 OG 7%ABV

Wings were ordered (of course) and they are the full wing! They have a smoky flavor to them, plenty of meat on the bones and are down right tasty.

Alpine did not disappoint, in fact, it proved to me that they brew a line of quality beers- IPAs and beyond. Visiting the town, interacting with the lovely people at Alpine (very knowledgeable and they love their beer) and drinking all of their beers side by side was an experience all beer drinkers should have.

To do for 2011: Purchase plane ticket to SoCal.

52 Weeks: Port Townsend Brewing Co., Port Townsend, WA

December 15, 2010 1 comment

Picture courtesy of It was dark by the time we arrived.

Week 43 of 52– catching up. We will get there before the end of the year. PROMISE!

Port Townsend Brewing Co.

330 10th St # C
Port Townsend, WA 98368-1815
(360) 385-9967

Rank: 4/5

Type of Establishment: Brewpub, Friday night summer music venue

Visit: A quick trip across the Puget Sound for a camping trip in Port Townsend.


Beers on Tap (at time of visit):



Hop Diggity IPA

Peeping Peater Scottish Ale

Glass Kisser Double IPA

Straight Stout

Pale Ale

Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter

Chet’s Gold Golden Ale


Bottle List:


Find something you loved on tap? Ask the bartender if they have any in stock. My suggestion: grab several bottles of the barleywine.


Food Options:


Peanuts. Peanuts you can throw on the floor. Depending on the time of day there is a taco stand/hut right outside. Tonight, we got there too late.


Bar Opinions:


Visit this brewery in the summer on a Friday night and you can hear the music playing from the parking lot. Located about a mile outside of downtown Port Townsend, Port Townsend Brewing Co. attracts the whole town which creates an amazing vibe. However, when we went, it was a bit colder, the band had retired for the season and the party had moved inside.

Despite the cool weather, we had plans to camp nearby at Old Fort Townsend. The second we arrived in Port Townsend, we stopped at the brewery. We emerged from the car and as we approached the brewery, a large fermentation tank towered over us with the brewery’s logo stamped on the side- a fisherman leaning over a “lookout bucket” holding a telescope. I own a long sleeve shirt with that very same logo now except my shirt declares “Thar she brews!”

We entered the first door that we see and decided to take a seat and order a brew in this taproom with windows on two of the four walls, plenty of bar style seating (around the bar, in the middle and along the windows) and the likings of a modest ship.

With a Barleywine, a Glass Kisser Double IPA and their limited release Bourbon Barrel Porter in hand (well my hand and two other peoples’ hands) we set out to experience the craft brews, the top notch brews that come out of this brewery located on the other side of the Puget Sound (and then some). All three of those beers were amazing. A bottle of Barleywine was purchased and the owner so kindly poured us a growler of the limited edition porter to bring back to the campsite.

Aside from the space we nestled up in, there is an outdoor area where a band plays on the weekend during the warmer months and people get together to dance. There is also another tap room which is older than the one we spent our time in. The other area is also wooden but darker and smaller with less space to sit. Mixed nuts and peanuts are available at both bar areas.

Its a great brewery with a space that keeps the party flowing from area to area. You can bring your beer outside, inside, wherever suits your fancy (as long as it is on thier property).

This is the perfect place for a Friday night in Port Townsend- great beer, people and a live band in the summer to top it off!