Seattle: Day Five

My last day in Seattle was a very low-key one, owing to many busy days/nights and a particularly late night the day before. But luckily a driving tour of some of the outer neighbourhoods led us near to the Bottleworks beer store, which apparently was one of the don’t-miss places in the city. There was a small party going on in the afternoon for the Stone brewery, but it is hard to be excited for the usual Stone products when you’re staring at walls of full-size fridges stocked with some of the best beers from around America and the rest of the world. In a similar fashion to Pike St Beer & Wine, this specialty shop was low on six-packs and high on bombers or single bottles. It was hard to choose what to buy, knowing that this would be my last chance to purchase any beer before leaving. The local selection was quite impressive and I was glad to find a bottle of Epic Ale Terra-Saurus, simply for the fact that it is brewed with shiitake mushrooms. The bottle is sitting under my sink, waiting for a time when I feel like a good dose of umami.

And then of hockey seemed in order and it helped that the Leafs were playing a game in Toronto, meaning that it was possible to watch hockey at 4pm and enjoy some beers at the same time. First up was the Iron Horse Mocha Death (Ratebeer) – it was one of those times where the need for a dark beer full of coffee just hit me. After a promising start of chocolate and espresso aromas, the taste just isn’t there. The espresso is hidden behind a lot of muddled grain flavours. It tasted like the malts were over-mashed and there was a distinct cardboard element. The bottom of my glass also had distinct sediment, even though I could find no information to say there should be some floaties. Maybe Iron Horse is the Trafalgar of Washington state.

And then the Maritime Pacific Jolly Roger Christmas Ale (Ratebeer), because the world really needs Christmas beer before American Thanksgiving (which has obviously passed by the time you’re reading this, but hadn’t by then. Confusing? Yes). Nothing spectacular, but pretty much what you would expect from a balanced English strong ale – lots of rich maltiness (toffee, bread, slightly fruity), along with some earthy hops. Probably would’ve been much nicer around the holidays. (To be fair, this was not the only Christmas beer available, but was the most obscure sounding.)

I didn’t expect the Stone/Nøgne Ø/Jolly Pumpkin Special Holiday Ale (Ratebeer) to be magical, so I was shocked to find one of the best beers of the week. A mixture of chestnuts, white sage, caraway seeds and juniper berry may sound like an odd combination for a beer, but the beer essentially ended up tasting like a magnificent Belgian style holiday ale – crystal malts layered with a nice amount of juniper and the warmth of the chestnuts. The spices provided a nice complexity in the background, nicely rounding out a beer that screams for a warm fire after a day of tobogganing.

And those were the beers, bars and stores of my Seattle trip! The planned trip down to Portland didn’t work between work schedules and my flights, which means I’ll just have to visit the Pacific Northwest some other time. Luckily all my bottles survived the trip back, though it is taking all my will power not to drink them all now that I’m back. Hard times.

Travel Notes:

  • We brunched at Cafe Flora, a vegetarian/vegan resto that came well recommended. The beignets were a great start, as light as possible and swimming in espresso creme and raspberry coulis. My harvest hash of sweet potatoes, red onion and apples was nicely spiced, though my vegan scramble could have used less mustard. A nice start to the day after a lot of drinking the night before.
  • The driving tour of the city included the Fremont Troll and Queen Anne Hill. The former is weirder than it sounds.
  • Tom Douglas is THE restauranteur in Seattle, so it was appropriate to have my last meal at his Serious Pie. It runs on the same basic concept as Pizzeria Libretto – well made ‘za and a lineup that is indicative of that fact. Actually, that last part is only partially true. The wait was long, but the pies were a mixed bag. My pork belly, pistachio and pumpkin pizza was just okay, but bland at times. The potato and rosemary was fantastic, expect a little over salted. Good, but not as good as the hype or worth the wait.

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