Posts Tagged ‘dive bar’

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, 52 Places: 8 of 52 – The Copper Gate, Seattle, WA

The Copper Gate entryway in Seattle's Ballard Neighborhood

8 of 52

Copper Gate

6301 24th Avenue Northwest

Seattle, WA 98107

Rank: #4 of 8

Type of Establishment:  Scandinavian Cocktail Lounge/Restaurant

BEERS ON TAP (at time of visit) —> Copper Gate has no (0) beers on tap; however, they do have 13 bottles available, 11 beers, 1 non-alcoholic beer, and 1 cider.

Clausthaler – Germany, non-alcoholic

Amstel Light – Holland

Carlsberg – Denmark

Heineken – Holland

Maritime Pacific Islander Pale Ale – Ballard

Full Sail Amber – Oregon

Grimbergen Abbey Blonde Ale – Belgium

Orkney Skullsplitter Ale – Scotland

Unibroue La Fin Du Monde – Canada

Sinebrychoff Porter – Finland

D. Carnegie Porter – Sweden

Cidre Bouce Fermier E Dupont Cider – France

Kostriker Schwarzbier – Germany (Seasonal Selection)

FOOD OPTIONS:  A large number of “small” plates with Scandinavian names that I can’t pronounce.

STAFF OPINION:  Very serious and business like, but knowledge of the offerings that approaches encyclopedic.

A mere 2 to 3 neighborhoods north of the Beer Blotter Headquarters, within the confines of Seattle’s Nordic center, Ballard, lies an establishment that its members had never before set foot in.  This day, that was changed.

Reasons to go to Copper Gate:

– The bar is a freaking Viking Ship!

– There are boobs everywhere!

– It’s practically a museum!  I imagine one could visit on many occasions and still         find new nooks and crannies each time full of trinkets of wonder and delight.

– It smells nice and clean

– The copper bar top is pretty and feels nice

– They have a private room through a magical door that appears to be an entrance to an elf’s quarters (open on Tuesdays to the public with Jazz music!).  Red light peaks out through the cracks like some strange séance is being performed behind the door, or the Wizard of Oz is hard at work just a room away.

– Strange cocktails, namely, Aquavit!

Reasons not to go to Copper Gate:

–       To drink beer

24th Ave in Ballard has a few hidden gems of dive-i-tude.  Both The Viking and Wingmasters are within stumbling distance from each other.  If fancy cocktails are a sign of class, then the Copper Gate is a small, respectable blip on the radar on this seedy strip.  Expensive cocktails and foreign named dishes may just be where the classiness ends though, for flagrant nudity, Viking grittiness and fantastical, cinematic kitsch rounds out the Copper Gate experience, and in my humble opinion, that’s awesome!

This place has serious personality.  It’s Ballard to the core.  I want to just…be there all the time.  I want to get to know all of those intriguing artifacts personally.  If I have to settle with a Maritime Pale Ale in a bottle while I do it, life could be much worse.

Hell, if I’m feeling a bit fancy and loose with my wallet, I might even sip on some not-so-commonly mixed cocktails.  There are 6 aquavit-based drinks on the menu.  Aquavit means “water of life” and is a Scandinavian schnapps like liquor distilled from mainly grain or potatoes and spiced with caraway seeds (the spice of rye bread).  We didn’t try it on this visit, but we are determined to venture back and give it a whack, along with some food items that looked really appetizing.

Our conversations with the bartender told of the determined stance of Copper Gate to not reproduce the “shitty dive” feel of the address’s previous occupant.  This being one key reason to the “no beer taps” stance.  That, the fact that they are a self proclaimed “cocktail bar”, and the fact that they couldn’t get the Scandinavian specialty beer that they would like to serve in kegs.  Click Wholesale Distributing helps them out with the more rare bottled offerings, which, according to my research, are mainly Calsberg products.

One of which, the Sinebrychoff Porter, was sampled this evening.  It was a bit steep in price, $8 for a 12oz bottle, but I don’t believe I have ever seen it before, and at the time, a Finish dark beer seemed ever so appropriate.  The Sinebrychoff website (Calsberg Group) is actually quite informative when it comes to this beer’s stats.  They call it an imperial stout, at 7.2% abv, brewed with pilsner, Munich, brown and caramel malts and Saazer hops.  It was enjoyable.  Dark, roasty, toasty, chocolaty goodness, though clearly a non-craft, European imperial stout if you like to call it as such.

Though I did not question the bartender for fear of being perceived as hatefully pretentious, I cant help but wonder how such a place could go without nary a Mikkeller (Denmark), Nogne-O (Norway), Nørrebro Bryghus (Denmark), nor Bryggeriet Ølfabrikken (Denmark) offering on the menu, all of which are highly respected Scandinavian craft breweries and available in bottles here in Seattle.

Maybe Beer Blotter should open their own Scandinavian Beer Bar in Ballard…nah, you can’t compete with Viking ship bar and boobies.

Part of the very cool decor inside is this crazy carpentry