CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Previous Beer Columns >> 3 Pubs in Seattle

Previous Pint Pleasures - January 1, 2011

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Brouwer's Cafe, 400 North 35th Street, Fremont, Seattle, Washington

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Nabob Restaurant and Lounge Bar, 819 Fifth Avenue North, Lower Queen Anne, Seattle, Washington

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Market Arms, 2401 Northwest Market Street, Ballard, Seattle, Washington

At the end of my summer visit to California, before returning to the UK I spent three days in my adopted hometown of Seattle, Washington, staying with my old friend The Barb. In that short time I packed in a lot of activities, including visiting several old friends as well as my uncle. In the process I had the chance to visit three distinctly different pubs.

The Friday afternoon before I was to meet my friend Adam at a pub in Fremont, The Barb and I decided to go check out where the pub was located. When we passed an unmarked building located across from the former Trolleyman Pub and decorated with Belgian beer signs Barb, a true lover of Belgian beer, immediately pulled into the car park, turned off the engine, and said, "We have to check this out". The building turned out to be the pub we were looking for, Brouwer's.

We were greeted in the entryway by a miniature version of the famous Manneken Pis that eternally urinates in central Brussels. The pub itself is very large and roomy, with two curved upstairs balconies and a long bar on the rear wall offering 40 beers on tap. We sat at the bar where Barb had one of the Belgian lagers and I had a pint of HUB Hopworks Organic IPA (6.6% ABV, HUB Hopworks Urban Brewery, Portland, OR). I instantly opened my mouth and said, "Chop-chop!" This brew makes a vertical ascent to the top of my palate. I felt as if I was climbing up Mt Hood using my tastebuds as crampons, attempting to reach the summit of the Great IPA Tor to plant my big "YUM!" flag.

When we returned in the early evening the place was already packed. We managed to find the last table available, upstairs in the front balcony which overlooks the main floor and the long bar, with a view across to the back balcony. There is a skylight in the centre of the high ceiling and art splashed all over the walls. The Barb decided to sample one of the large selection of single malts, so she went for the Scapa 16-year-old single malt which, at $11.00 (£7.00), may seem a bit expensive; but I was impressed that a pub in Seattle would have anything from Orkney at all. Although this 16-year-old is more amber in colour than the amazing champagne coloured Scapa I loved when I was in Orkney, The Barb thoroughly enjoyed it.

My first pint of the evening was Caldera IPA (6.1% ABV, Caldera Brewing Co, Ashland, OR), a pleasant hoppy beer. I was instantly happy: hoppy happy! Hoppy hoppy happy up in the air, on heppazeppalin heights of hoohahness, high up here in the Gods section.

While we were waiting for the arrival of Adam, The Barb and I shared a plate of deep-fried mahi mahi with frites with the skins still on, a proper Belgo-Pacific Coast meal. By the time Adam joined us I was ready for another pint. My second pint was Port Townsend IPA (4.5% ABV, Port Townsend Brewing, Port Townsend, WA), which features a nuttiness wrapped around the hops. Or is it the other way around? It was a good beer to accompany political discussion and baby-bath talk. It's a versatile brew. My third pint (yee-hee, I was on holiday, after all!) was Titan IPA (7.1% ABV, Great Divide Brewing Co, Denver, CO). Not in the choppy-hoppy category, this is more classy malt-hoppy. I could detect a hint of shellfish, perhaps clams. Although I forget to taste Adam's first pint of Chuckanut Scwwarzbier, I did have a taste of his second, Velvet Merkin Oatmeal Stout (5.5% ABV, Firestone Walker Brewing Co, Paso Robles, CA). This is really smooth and chocolaty, truly lovely. Adam googled "merkin" on his iPhone for the definition. Once we learned a merkin is a pubic wig, the taste seemed to change completely. There is no treacle, no bitter, and definitely no hair in this brew -- just good sensuous stoutness.

Oh, to be a resident of Fremont, because it would take a long time to journey through Brouwer's wide selection of micros from California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Delaware, New York, Maine, Pennsylvania, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Ireland, and England. The pub also hosts special beer events such as Trappist nights and a Hop-Fest.

The next afternoon we met my friends Celia and Paul at Nabob, a comfortable and funky little pub in my old neighbourhood of Lower Queen Anne, situated between my favourite Greek restaurant in Seattle, Panos Kleftiko, and the fine restaurant-bar called Crow, and just two doors down from my favourite neighbourhood espresso cafe, Caffe Vita. While The Barb had a cocktail and Celia had a glass of wine, Paul had a pint of Manny's IPA, a local brew, which I was tempted to try. But when I saw that they had Stone IPA (6.9% ABV, Stone Brewing, Escondido, CA) I couldn't resist, because it's always g-g-g-g-great! It's definitely one of the prime California IPAs, a true classic that lifts the spirits from the very first sip.

The decor features paintings and a stag's head on the wall, and there are hooks under the bar for handbags and jackets, something I rarely see in an American pub. As it was still relatively early the pub was quiet except for the classic psychedelic rock that served as background music to our discussion of the word "roshambo". I'm not really sure how this conversation came up, but it seemed an appropriate venue, as the term Nabob refers to the governors in the Mogul's Empire who, as the British influence broadened in India, became men of great wealth and wisdom.

The next day, my final day in Seattle, The Barb and I met Sue at the Matador Restaurant in Ballard, where I had my final fix of Mexican food. After lunch we walked down the road to the Market Arms. Opened only 2 months previously, just before the World Cup, the Market Arms is owned by John and Debbie, English expats from Hereford who also own the George & Dragon in Fremont. Located on a corner just 400 yards from a public boat dock on Salmon Bay, the pub is open-plan and long with huge windows, two flatscreen TVs airing British sports and NFL, and a pink pool table and darts in the far corner. There are 13 beers on tap includingFullers, Newcastle Brown, "Boddy", Strongbow, Stella, Carlsberg, Guinness, and Kronenbourg, and a few local beers including Rainier, Manny's IPA, Elysian IPA, and a rotating guest; and the Imperial pints at $4.25 seem quite cheap for America. The food menu is traditional British fare with a few Pacific Coast specialities, and they even serve a Full English breakfast.

I had an initial taste of Hop in the Dark (6.9% ABV, Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR), a hoppy porter with a black malt backdrop, like spiky stars in the night sky. But for old time's sake I decided to go with a pint of Elysian IPA (6.3% ABV, Elysian Brewery, Seattle, WA), one of my favourites back when I lived in Seattle. It wasn't as spiky-hoppy as most of the pints I tasted on this trip, but it was classically hoppy and golden: simply loverly. It was all I needed in preparation for my marathon travel day which would consist of 2 car trips, 3 flights, and 3 train rides. What some of us will go through to taste new brews...