I had the opportunity to go to Seattle for work recently and was able to check out the local beer scene. I went to three brewpubs (Pike Brewing Company, Elysian Brewing, and Pyramid). While all were good, Elysian was my favorite (and I took the best notes there) so the majority of this entry will concentrate on the awesome beers of Elysian. Hopefully I am able to give you a taste of this Northwest city’s craft beer scene. I actually did do work there, too, I promise!
Pike Brewing Company
I pretty much got off the plane and made a mad dash to the Pike Brewing Company brewpub. According to my trusty Google maps, it was really close to my hotel so I thought it would be a nice way to spend the afternoon after 4 hours on an airplane. The brewpub is located on the lower level of the Pike Place Market, a mostly open air market right on Puget Sound. From what I remember, the beer here was pretty good, especially the IPA. I apparently left my notes in the hotel room so I do not have specific tasting notes but this was a fun place to hang out for the afternoon and drink good beer.
The best brewery I went to while in Seattle was Elysian Brewing. There are three of their brewpubs in Seattle and I opted to go to the Capital Hill neighborhood to check out their original location. The area reminded me of a combination of Logan Square and Boystown: funky shops, punk bars, and neighborhood signs/flags proclaiming acceptance. I loved this neighborhood and I’m glad I had the sense to go beyond the one-mile (tourist trap) radius of my hotel. Score one for me!
I was having a good time just walking around but I caught the unmistakable scent of a mash and followed my nose to Elysian. I spoke with the bartender regarding the tasters that were available. They had a taster of their regular beers and then a separate one for their seasonals. We worked out a deal that I would get the regular taster, but would get a single taster of the Great Pumpkin, an Imperial Pumpkin Ale. I started with this one which was tasty but I didn’t get as much pumpkin pie spiciness that I’ve come to expect from a pumpkin ale. This was not one of my favorite pumpkin beers; Iwill stick with New Holland’s Ichabod and Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale.
Next up was the Immortal, an enjoyable, hoppy IPA with a citrus nose and a very bitter, earthy flavor. The brewer used Chinook hops for bittering, and finished with Amarillo and Centennial for flavor and aroma. It was golden-copper in color with nice carbonation that cleansed the palate. This is a great beer to pair with food.
Next on the taster was the Wise Extra Special Bitter. The tasting menu describes it as a “malty, hoppy reddish-copper-colored ale” and that is a spot on description. It had a faint aroma; I had a difficult time picking one out. The clean, malty aroma became more apparent as the beer warmed up, however. And the flavor was phenomenal. It was actually much more bitter than most ESBs but had a caramel-like finish with slight bitterness rounded out by malty-sweetness. This one was also bittered with Chinook. I’m sensing a pattern here…
Perseus Porter, the next selection on the taster, had a roasted aroma and flavor, with a dry, slightly bitter finish thanks to Centennial hops. This was a little too dry for my liking; I prefer maltier, more robust porters like Edmund Fitzgerald from Great Lakes Brewing Co. or Eugene from Revolution Brewing.
The Jasmine IPA is the usual next selection on the taster, but as they were out of it the Prometheus IPA took it’s place. Approximately 90% of the hops grown in the U.S. are from the Yakima Valley in Washington so I was extremely excited to see the Prometheus IPA used whole flower Cascade hops, which added an amazing floral aroma. I wish Apple would hurry up and create that scratch-and-sniff technology so you could smell this. This beer didn’t have a lot of bitterness up front but plenty on the finish, and there was an intense bitter aftertaste. Hopheads, this one’s for you.
The Men’s Room Red was amber-hued with slight hops on the nose, a malty finish, and nice lingering bitterness. The best part about this beer is that a portion of the proceeds of each beer sold goes to helping support the families of local military vets. A good beer and a good cause? I’m in!
My favorite beer that I had this night was Loser. It had an interesting nose, I couldn’t place the aroma. But the taste? Whoa! It was strong and insanely delicious. It had a unique flavor and a slight sour note. It had a slight whiskey/bourbon sweetness to it that I really enjoyed. I got a growler of this one for my hotel room (you know… For further research…)
On my last night in Seattle, I decided to walk down to the stadium district to check out Pyramid Brewery. I know we can get the Hefeweizen here in Chicago but I was unfamiliar with their other beers and thought I would give them a try. My one main recommendation for this place is DO NOT GO ON A SOUNDERS GAME DAY. It was insanely crowded with rowdy soccer fans chugging plastic cups of apricot wheat beer. When I finally got a seat at the bar, the server talked me out of getting a taster because they were too busy. So, I had to go with her suggestions of what I should try. I started with the Thunderhead IPA, a year round beer. It was an amber-red color with light bitterness that lingers. I then went with the Uproar, an imperial red ale with a malty nose and slight citrusy, hoppy flavor. It was pretty good, although not what I expected. Finally, I had the Mactarnahans Amber which was a classic amber ale with slight lingering maltiness. This was my favorite of the three beers tried: clean, refreshing, and perfect for any season.
The biggest surprise of the trip would have to be that Alaska Airlines has a craft beer on board for purchase: Alaskan Brewing Company’s Amber, an alt-style ale. It was a little too carbonated for my liking but it was a solid beer. And definitely much better than the typical offerings that you find in the not-so-beer-friendly skies.
Next up, my beery July 4th weekend!