Having recently returned from Seattle Beer Week, I thought I may share some of my unique experiences with you. I journeyed to the Emerald City for just 2 days along with Yetta Vorobik of The Hop & Vine and Kat Martin of Grain & Gristle to meet up with the Ninkasi and Hopworks crews. Our main purpose was to host a couple of Brewing up Cocktails events, but we did so much more than that.
Our first stop in Seattle after checking into the hotel was to get a bite to eat and a beer near the evening’s event venue. The High Life bar was actually a pretty nice place. There was no High Life on tap, but there were a handful of interesting Washington craft beers (albeit in cheater pint glasses).
I was happy to find a brew made by my friend, ex-Oregonian Corey Blodgett, whose “Decompression” from Maritime Pacific was selected as the official beer for this years SBW. Hopped with the new hop variety Falconer’s Flight, it’s a deceivingly big beer with a strong woody and floral English hop character.
From there we headed on to the Shelter Lounge, a newer place with a sweet space that was both indoor and yet outdoor at the same time. You see, the space is built around one central bar that splits the space from indoor to outdoor. One side of the bar features two wells and is facing the wood-paneled and warmly lit interior bar, and the reverse side comes out into the covered patio. If there is bad weather or the staff wishes to close one side off, roll up doors come down splitting the bar in half. There is really no need for that, though, as the outdoor part is mostly walled in with a clear plastic ceiling (though that too can be removed) that features large openings to let in fresh air. Also in the patio is a large gas firepit and various other features to keep you warm. It’s a seriously cool design for a bar, and I wish there was something like this in Portland. The decor and vibe reminded me a whole lot of the Doug Fir.
At Shelter we took over the outdoor side of the bar with our friends in attendance from Ninkasi and Hop Union. We mixed up our now well-perfected Ninkasi beer cocktails, and they went off like a charm, given the warm sunny day that it was. I was super happy to see the aforementioned Corey Blodgett of Maritime Pacific drop by and try some beer cocktails, too.
Meanwhile, Hop Union set up a sweet table featuring blocks of various varieties of hops, as well as bread and balsamic vinegar and oil for dipping. What was more than met the eye, though, was that each oil was infused with a different hop of varying degrees of Alpha Acids (bitterness). This ended up being a great experiment with hops, and demonstrated how soluble their oils are in just olive oil. The guys also brought along pure hop oil and extracts. The oil i dabbed on some mint leaves used in one of the cocktails, but the pure extract that resembled a thick sticky paste was way to potent for anything near as small as a cocktail. I did, however, take a container home with me. My bag still reeks of hops.
While in Seattle and wondering what was going on late at night, people kept telling us about the “Fremont Troll”. I had no idea what that meant, only that Fremont was a neighborhood and a brewery. It turns out the Fremont bridge, which goes high up into the hills of suburban Seattle to the top of a residential neighborhood, features a huge sculpture of a troll emerging out of the earth under one of its ends. I still did not know how this was related to any beer event, but it sounded very cool.
After rushing down to the epic Brouwer’s Cafe from our own event, we caught the tail end of the Beer and Burger Battle, wherein various breweries duked it out with their own Burger and Beer designs. I made it too late to order, but did get a glimpse of Hopworks absurd burger sandwiched between two Voodoo Donuts. Very bummed I missed this event, but next year it’s on my radar…
While chilling at Brouwer’s I ran into my good friend and New Belgium Brewing rep overlord Jamie Mastin and learned that he was the one behind this ‘Fremont Troll’ event.
For the 2nd year in a row New Belgium was throwing a bit of a flash mob-style unofficial can party at the troll. Attendees were encouraged to bicycle to the troll, where New Belgium guys had a car filled with cans of Fat Tire and Ranger IPA that were handed out freely to the jolly crowd, who milled about and lounged on the ginormous troll. In attendance were many Portland faces, like most of the Hopworks brewing team, as well as Ninkasi’s Jamie Floyd and crew.
|New Belgium’s Jamie Mastin on the right|
Afterwards, Hopworks owner Christian Ettinger lead a walk to one of the only bars open late night in the area on a Tuesday, The Red E, which proudly uses the old Ranier “R” salvaged from the defunct Washington brewery as its namesake and calling card. We caught the bar just before they closed the kitchen and during a late night happy hour. After filling 3 tables full of brewery people, we ordered up every plate on the menu and pitchers of Pilsners and IPAs. Finally it was time to call it a night, so we cabbed it back to the hotel to get up early the next day for an epic pub crawl of Seattle breweries, a big event at Brouwers, a new Seattle beer bar opening, and finally a little Hopworks House Party.
More in Part 2 coming soon