One of the most interesting parts of my Seattle trip was spending time with craft beer drinkers that don’t obsess about what they’re drinking. Apparently they didn’t get that whole “Drink Less, Drink Better” memo, but that is understandable when you’ve got $7 pitchers of Ninkasi Total Domination IPA (Ratebeer) available at Linda’s Tavern. Happy Hours in the States is depressing in that they make $5 pint nights at Volo seem like an expensive night on the town. And everyone is oblivious to the fact that the beer they’re downing would be treated like a rare nectar of the gods if it ever went above the 49th parallel. Linda’s is a cheap bar in the Capitol Hill hood, mainly frequented by hipsters in plaid (which is either trendy again or never stopped being trendy) who like to drink PBR for some god unknown reason (possibly because it is cheaper than bottled water). People had told me that the great thing about Seattle is that even the shitty bars will have one good beer, a theory that is proven by Linda’s. The beer geek in me wanted to scream at the idea of ordering a pitcher (beer isn’t meant to be poured twice, people!), but I was fearful of being attacked by ironic mustaches if I tried to order a pint. The Ninkasi was good, but merely a warm-up for the rest of the night.
This was a rare night of staying in, eating some delicious chili and playing the new Xbox Kinect. You wouldn’t think the dancing game would be fun for a number of white males in their 20s, but it was surprisingly entertaining (and, somehow, we got better as we consumed more beer). I tried to picked some beers would be good for splitting, but nothing to crazy as we were just relaxing playing video games, not trying to run a formal tasting. A bottle of the Port Brewing Wipeout (Ratebeer) was opened to go with the chili. The beer really enhanced the spices in the chili, but the pine and bitter qualities were still able to stand up to the food. The next bomber was the Alaskan Smoked Porter (Ratebeer), a beer that always seems to be mentioned as a monumental American craft beer yet I have been unable to come across until now. The smokiness is at just the right level, complimented by a really creamy mouthfeel. The roasted malts are subtle compared to the campfire flavours, but prevent the Smoked Porter from focusing solely on one flavour. This beer is definitely worthy of its status.
The evening ended in a big way with a bottle of Port Brewing Old Viscosity (Ratebeer). Why American breweries insist on offering 10% ABV beers in 650mL bottles astounds me, but at least there were enough people present to make sharing a possibility. This one was a treat to have – big flavours of dark chocolate, cherries, raisins, coffee and vanilla. A woody note from the casks. Just as the bottle promises, this is a thick, syrupy beer. That’s it for the beer notes from today, so here’s a preview of tomorrow: two Russian River beers on tap, alongside bone marrow, escargot and wild boar.
- Touristy day-activities included the Experience Music Project (EMP) and adjoining sci-fi museum. Decent but not spectacular, unless you love Hendrix or all things sci-fi. But don’t go to the vegetarian Chinese place nearby, unless you love all things grease.
- If you’re an architecture or public library buff (or just looking for something free to do), the main branch of the Seattle Public Library (seen above, somewhat abstractly) is a must-stop. It is all things the ROMs crystal should have been, offering up amazing vistas of downtown Seattle through walls of glass. The all-red fourth floor and a couple of neon-green escalators that really mess with your mind combine for a really trippy experience. Best viewed on a sunny day.
- Seattle would be a great place for a coffee blogger to go. Got a great espresso from Caffe Vita and a decent coffee from Victrola. The baristas in this city really have personality, at least at the independents.