Over the past three years, I have done my share of research on beer spots in Seattle. Every neighborhood has a beer bar, a bar with a decent tap list or a bottle shop to offer those that search the land for all that is fermented yeast. One of the things I love most about Seattle is the variety of neighborhoods (reminiscent of Manhattan) where you step out of one and into the next…almost immediately it becomes obvious that you’re in a whole new world.
I’ll start with a nice wiki excerpt:
Historically Ballard is the traditional center of Seattle’s ethnically Scandinavian seafaring community, who were drawn to the area because of the salmon fishing opportunities. In recent years the decline of the fishing industry, and the addition of numerous condo buildings, has decreased the proportion of Scandinavian residents but the neighborhood is still proud of its heritage.
Ballard is situated by so many unique landmarks: the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (a facility that move boats from the water level of the lakes to the water level of Puget Sound, and vice versa and is the location of a salmon ladder); the Ballard Farmer’s Market; the Ballard Bridge and historic Ballard. This neighborhood was Redhook Brewing Co.’s first home, has colorful public art works as well as restaurants with the freshest ingredients. With all of this going on, spending a day in Ballard will keep you entertained. Stopping at these places will satisfy your beer needs.
An Irish pub, Old Peculiar has a large wooden bar with a mirrored bar back lined with whiskeys. Cozy nooks and an outdoor patio make this a versitle space while killer tater tots and at least 10 microbrews on tap nurture a bar patron’s desires. A place where the young and the old co-exist, I’ve seen Ninaski, Dogfish head and local brews such as Hales on tap.
During happy hour, food items such as Irish nachos, tater tots, chicken strips and chips are $4 with microbrews clocking in at just $3. When does this amazing deal occur? So glad you asked– during the hours of 4-6 pm and 10 pm-midnight ANY DAY of the week.
Its been awhile since I have visited Old Peculiar. Located on the main drag, Market St. NW, you step in and immediately your past journeys melt away. The space is a good size- not so big that you have trouble navigating and not so small that you are sitting on a stranger’s lap (unless that is your thing, then don’t let us stop you). There are plenty of regulars and some wildly entertaining people watching.
This taproom is home to Maritime Pacific Brewery and is a new space. Before this newer, much bigger space, the Jolly Roger Taproom was located right across the Ballard Bridge in a small warehouse. The old warehouse was used for brewing with the taproom there for us to enjoy the fruits of Maritime’s labor. That’s what beer drinking is all about, right? It was a quirky space that felt as though you were on a shipwreck which fits with the whole Ballard, fisherman, Maritime, pirate theme.
Then one day, we were riding past the space and it was empty with a FOR LEASE sign. Oh no! Soon after, we found out that they were just moving to a larger space, but we would have to wait, as the space was being remodeled.
I honestly can’t remember how many months past before the new space opened, but when it did, we were the 4th and 5th people in line to experience Maritime’s new dwellings. The new space still alludes to the fisherman, pirate, sea captain theme except the boat is way nicer with bright, finished wood, plenty of natural light and amazing food and beers. I’ll start with some food recommendations: the fried pickles are delicious, as is the dipping sauce they come with, the onion rings are massive and tasty and the mahi sliders are killer– add some of the homemade hot sauce that is on the table.
BEERS: Maritime is more or less the staple local microbrew. Even bars that don’t focus any energy on beer will have a Maritime beer on tap and is usually my saving grace. Their dark amber ale, Nightwatch is a personal favorite- it is bitter, smooth and hoppy with that roasted flavor. Maritime has a good line up of beers that will appeal to any beer drinker, so check it out.
If your looking for something a little more sophisticated, a little more upscale, but still want some damn good beer then stop by the Old Town Alehouse. Their food and beer prices are not outrageous by any means, but the motif lends itself to the low key evening. Every time we walk by here, we pop in to see what they have on tap and generally there is at least one intriguing option.
Their beer selection says they are trying to keep a diverse tap list, but aren’t willing to do the research to get the rarer, more innovative beers on tap.
For example, currently they have three Belgium beers on tap: Hoegarden Wit, Chimay White Label and Lindemans Framboise. All good beers but commonplace compared to several other Belgium breweries. In looking at their current tap list, it appears that the Old Town Alehouse tries to keep one of every style pouring. Port Townsend Brewing Co.’s Straight Stout, Georgetown Brewing Co.’s Georgetown Porter and Boundary Bay IPA is enough to make me stop in and wet the whistle.
I am very intrigued by their menu and its making me hungry. Your average appetizers such as fries, onion rings and hummus are followed by many affordable and delicious sounding options: gumbo, the spicy fried chicken sandwich (smothered in hot wing sauce- SOLD), the Ballard Beef Dip Sandwich (lets see if it rivals Chicago) and fish and chips. All sandwiches are $10.75 and most of the appetizers are under $9. So those of you that have experienced this joint, please leave a comment and let the world know!
So that’s Ballard’s beer scene in a nutshell. If you have a place that you love in this neighborhood (I can’t cover them all), leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next up: Belltown.
Say it isn’t so!
As reported by Time Magazine on time.com, Belgium macro brews, such as Hoegarden, Stella Artois and Leffe are loosing their spots at local bars and supplies are running low all over the country. Why the sudden change in heart? Job cuts, and lots of them.
Over 800 jobs cuts are looming, about 10% of Anheuser-Bush inBev’s Eurpoean work force (Yes, AB is EVERYWHERE). Unions have set up blockades outside of the country’s largest brewery in protest of the decrease in employment. Granted the economic climate isnt great, but this decision to downsize comes as quite a surprise after the company posted a gross earning of 1.55 Billion dollars during the third quarter of 2009.
Belgium’s rich tradition of brewing beer, drinking beer and loving beer has been tainted by a brewery who’s main concern is not the social, economic benefits of the beer, but the shareholders. This has caused upset in a country who houses 6 of the 7 Trappists breweries in the world. Every bit of profit received by the Trappist breweries is given to charitable causes. Talk about a juxtaposition!
Another problem faced by AB InBev — the overall consumption of beer in Europe is on the decline. To provide some perspective: between the years of 2000 and 2008, beer sales have taken a nose dive by 20%. Europeans are indulging more in wine and spirits. Don’t worry, Beer Blotter intends to drink enough beer in Europe to make up that 20%.
Although all this news sounds grim, there is an upside. Less macro brews in bars and on the shelves of grocery stores means more room for small breweries. Breweries that brew beer in hopes of creating something unique, something extraordinary, something you have never tasted. Breweries that care about the people who work with them, for them, the people that drink their beer and the people that love their beer. Breweries that began from the ground up and appreciate the process and the outcome.
Raise your glass to micro brews around the world!