Monday, April 19, 2010

Big Time to Brouwer's and Beyond (via Wallingford and Fremont)

I've said it before:  it's really nice being underemployed sometimes.

Last Friday I originally planned to watch some Devils/Flyers playoff hockey at Wingmasters (and possibly eat something called "pork wings"), but with the sun shining and the birds singing, I reconsidered and chose an urban beer hike instead.

Big Time to Brouwer's - about 5.5 miles
Big Time / Bottleworks / Fremont Brewing / Traveler / Brouwer's / The Dray (optional)

View Big Time to Brouwer's in a larger map

So Mandy, Link and I hopped on the 44 bus at about 1:30pm and headed east to the University District and one of Seattle's, oldest and coolest breweries:  Big Time.  Link took up his usual spot at the bicycle rack and Mandy ordered some beer while I took some photos.  While I was chatting with the bartender, head brewer Bill Jenkins made an appearance and I introduced myself.  (It turns out we have a mutual friend from previous lives.  Small world indeed...)  Mandy had the Begonias on the Mountain -- my new favorite Big Time brew, but she didn't know that -- and she got me a glass of the Hop de Mensonge.  We also scored a sample of a new batch of Nemesis.  Wait.  THIS might be my new favorite Big Time brew...  I would have loved to stay there the rest of the afternoon as I've done plenty of times, but this is urban beer hiking, not urban beer ass-flattening.

 Tap handle:  FAIL.  Beer:  Epic WIN.

From Big Time, we walked up The Ave. (University Way) to NE 45th Street and turned left (west).  I always enjoy walking over the bridge that crosses I-5 because there's a nice view of the Seattle skyline to the left and almost always tons of stop-and-go traffic below that reminds me how much I love what a great walking city Seattle is.

We somehow made it past the Dick's in Wallingford without stopping -- a first for me and I'm still not sure how I managed it -- and made the required stop at Bottleworks.  Ever since they put their taps in, I've become somewhat of a semi-regular.  There's always something good on and it's fun to sit around and listen to some of the inane questions they get and how much self control they exhibit when answering.  It's fun because it's not me.  Also, they're dog-friendly.

 Trevor (Bottlworks) pouring a Fremont 
Interurban IPA for someone who isn't me.

I had a pint of Avery Maharaja while I shopped for some bottles, which is always a fun exercise and reminds me just how much I don't know about beer.  Mandy tried to wrangle the foam from her bottle of De Dolle Mad Bitch while I walked around the shop and pretended to have every idea what I was looking at.  Link laid right in the middle of the floor and a comically spandexed bicyclist almost tripped on his leash.  I would have laughed.  Felt bad, yes, of course, but laughed nonetheless.

Around 4pm, we headed south (down) to Fremont Brewing's Urban Beer Garden.  I figured that with such a nice day, it would be jam-packed, but it turned out to be a pretty mellow scene.  Casey was at his usual post pouring me a fine pint of Interurban IPA and Draught E, the Good Beer Trips guy was there with his new dog trying to figure out where he went wrong in life and, more importantly, what to fill his growler with.  E and I did a little catching up and, as usual, got overly chatty and failed to make any progress on the planning of our Seattle Beer Week Good Beer Hike 5k (Saturday, May 15, 2010 - stay tuned for more details).

The Good Beer Trips blogger -- jeans may be less acid-washed than they appear.

My buddy Tom showed up just before some heavy rain swept in and insisted he drive us over to our next stop, the Leary Traveler.  I was pretty buzzed by now and put up little resistance.

The Traveler is a fairly new place in Frelard/Balmont and I'd been meaning to check it out, especially since learning from Kristie at Right of Way Dog Walking that they are enlightened (dog-friendly).  I was surprised and happy to find a very strong draught list and a solid food menu.  It was pretty busy and the bartender was doing everything himself (except cooking) and keeping up admirably.  I had an Ommegang Hennepin saison while Tom and his wife had pints of Snoqualmie's Spring Fever Grand Cru.  I think Mandy had a cocktail and Link sat by our table, stoic as usual.  Not long after we started talking about my recent emergency vasectomy (NOTE:  We may not have actually talked about my recent emergency vasectomy), the rain let up and we were treated to a stunning sunset.  I almost certainly should have stopped at this point, but I was determined to complete this hike correctly and head to Brouwer's.  It was still early enough that I might beat the Friday Night Fremont Douche Tide, so Mandy and Link caught a ride home with Tom leaving me to hustle down the Burke-Gilman trail on my own.

 The tap list at The Traveler - so much goodness.

There was a small line to get in when I got to the Blind Lion, but I flashed my "Urban Beer Hikes" membership card and the bouncer let me pass.  (NOTE:  That may not have actually happened.)  I perched myself at the bar and wondered how the fuck I was going to make heads or tails of their typically stellar beer offerings.  Black Raven's Second Sight Scotch Ale jumped out at me right away and that sounded perfect.  It felt like I was drinking that pint for hours as I chatted with my Twitterific new friend, @BlackHook.  I have no idea what we talked about and the next thing I knew I was bidding the oddly tan Tommy (biertender) good night and heading for the door and a 40 minute walk home.  Outside, I ran into Ian (one of the managers) and he asked me if I was headed to The Dray, which is very near home for me.  It sounded like the best idea in the history of good ideas (to him), but I could barely figure out which way was up (north).  With a little push in the right direction, I was off, wading through the drunk 17-year-old girls, backward baseball caps, and deep v-necks that is Friday night in Fremont.

When I got to NW 65th Street, I continued home instead of venturing west to The Dray.  It was probably for the best.  If I didn't have to work the next day, I might have risked it.  I've included it on the route for those of you with more fortitude than I.

Happily, I made it home safely.  I was pleasantly drunk and tired out.  It turned out to be a lot more walking than I had planned, but that's never a bad thing in my mind.  I felt a little queasy the next morning, but at least I didn't shit myself during the night again.  (Note:  I have never shit myself.  During the night.  That I know of.)

DISCLAIMER:  I paid for everything that I ate and drank with my own allowance.


  1. That looks like a fun hike. Brouwer's is the only place on it that I've been, so this gives me some ideas for branching out next time I'm in Seattle.

  2. Be sure to drop a line when you're in town. I can show you all the places to get an emergency vasectomy.

  3. The jeans are naturally faded.