Tuesday, June 29, 2010

5 South

About a month ago, I set out to visit 5 breweries on the north end of Seattle and it was a great all-day hike.  (Read the oh-so-banal post here.)  I knew when I had the idea that a visit to 5 breweries on the south side wouldn't be far behind.


A couple of Thursdays ago, Mandy, Link and I did just that and it turned out to be one of our longest and most fun hikes yet.  We visited EPIC Ales, Schooner Exact, Georgetown Brewing, Odin Brewing, and Big Al Brewing.  (We also walked right near Two Beers Brewing's tasting room, but we skipped it this time because our plan was to end up at Beveridge Place Pub where they were featuring Two Beers for brewer's night.)  This was a marathon hike.  It totaled almost 12 miles and featured a couple of big hills.  Here's the route we took:

5 South
EPIC Ales / Schooner Exact / Georgetown Brewing / Odin / Big Al / Beveridge Place; almost 12 miles

View 5 South in a larger map

Just as with 5 North a couple of weeks prior, we lucked out with the weather.  For having such a shitty spring (and summer so far), we got a beautiful day for urban beer hiking.


We began around 12:30pm at EPIC Ales where brewmaster Cody Morris was gracious enough to host us while brewing up a new recipe.  Link and Cody's hound Fuji sniffed ass and wrastled a bit while Mandy and I enjoyed a sneak preview of Simply Summer Ale that was due to be released the next day.  By our second taste, the pups were wiped out and asleep on the floor.  After a second taste of the Terra Saurus and some more chit-chat, we thanked Cody for taking the time to have us and headed to Schooner Exact's new space.


Schooner Exact is only open on Fridays and Saturdays (I think), but they were also gracious enough to let us stop in and poke around.  The new space is very sleek and features a pleasant patio area just outside the front doors to sit and have a few.  Our guide Mike poured us some Hoppy the Woodsman, King Street Brown, and tastes of their Imperial Projects 1 & 2 -- which I'd not heard about, but enjoyed very much.  While we drank and chatted up Mike, co-owner Heather came by and began filling growlers for the party that night that would celebrate her and Matt's freedom from their day-jobs.  They can now focus full-time on Schooner Exact and that can't be anything but a good thing for all of us beer drinkers.  Congratulations Matt and Heather and thanks again for letting us in on a day that you're not normally open.  We'll surely be back!


From Schooner Exact we headed south and then east to Georgetown Brewing who also has a shiny new brewing space.  We didn't get a tour of the brewery or anything like that, but the retail area is gargantuan with an absolutely gorgeous bar top made of some kind of old timber support beams or something.  (Dave, the dude filling growlers and slinging us tasters, told me their origin, but I can't recall it now.  I'm such a typical slack-blogger.)  About the time we were there, they started to get busy with phone calls and people coming in to fill growlers, so we got out of their hair, but not before being sent on a mission.  As it happens, the nearby kick-ass bottle shop, Full Throttle Bottles, was out of postcards announcing the brewery's new location and specifics.  We hadn't planned on going to Full Throttle (I'd planned on making them a stop on another beer hike sometime soon), but we couldn't resist helping G-town Brewing out, so we accepted.  Dave made it worth our while and that's all I'll say.

It'll always be 9 lb. Porter to me

Full Throttle Bottles was a very short detour and a worthy one at that.  We dropped off the cards and met the shop owner, Erica.  She seemed excited about the urban beer hiking idea and we learned that she is also a dog-lover (even if her dog isn't).  The shop is all the best things about Georgetown and I look forward to visiting again on another hike.  I promise I'll buy something next time.


Our next stop, Odin Brewing, was about an hour (3 miles) away.  It's not a difficult hike, but it is very urban.  Lots of traffic, trash, railroad tracks, and a broken bridge -- the South Park Bridge.  We were lucky to have done this hike when we did because as of June 30th the bridge is permanently closed due to some irreparable earthquake damage.  (If you're planning to do this hike now, you will have to find an alternate route.  Sorry.)  I really hope they figure this mess out soon because the little neighborhood just over the bridge can't afford to lose this artery for long.  It's a great area with a lot of character and some great bars and restaurants.  (See EBIS' review of Loretta's.)

 I was feeling pretty buzzed by now, but I might have been on my ass if Mandy hadn't thought to pack some sandwiches which we ate on the way.  Even though we arrived at Odin a lot later than I anticipated (big fucking surprise, eh?) the brew crew of Brian, John, and later, Dan, stopped what they were doing to talk with us share some tastes of Freya's Gold Kölsch and the second runnings of Odin's Gift Sour Stout.  This made the third stop of the day in which we were welcomed when they're not normally open.  (Odin Brewing's tasting room is currently open on Friday afternoons and is well worth a visit.  It's definitely a bit out of the way, but don't let that discourage you.  Bring your growler.)


After the abbreviated but fun visit, we left the guys to their work (something about mash) and began the trek to Big Al Brewing.  This route is also about 3 miles and very wonderfully urban.  Just before crossing over State Route 509, the sidewalk ends and you can either walk on the shoulder or up on the grass next to the shoulder.  (The bridge that actually crosses 509 does have sidewalks.)  After you make it over 509 and take a soft left curve, you have to dance across 1st Ave S.  This is tricky because you have to pick a good spot and make a dash for it.  There are no crosswalks and you're near two on-ramps and two off-ramps.  (See the "caution" marker on the map.)  Be careful and look both ways!  It looks scarier on the map that it actually is.

After this heroism, it's a nice steep climb up Myers Way SW and onto SW Roxbury.  At some point I went to check my trusty shoulder-mounted GPS for some time/distance stats and it was gone.   Shit.  I wasn't about to abandon it, so I told Mandy to go ahead to Big Al and I'd catch up.  Luckily it was only about 200 yards that I had to backtrack before I found my old friend sitting dumbly on the planting strip without a scratch.  The clip attachment had failed and the traffic noise was loud enough that I never heard it fall or hit the sidewalk.

When I arrived at Big Al Brewing, a couple of good ol' boys were outside having a couple and we chatted for a bit.  I told them what I was doing and they offered me a ride to our next and final destination, Beveridge Place Pub.  "It's too far to walk," they claimed.  (Weren't they listening to my riveting tale?)  On the way in, I ran into Big Al, who wished he could stay and have a beer with us, but was off on a sales call or some other brewery business.  I quizzed him on the odds of me ever getting to try his Peanut Butter Stout, but he made no promises.  Probably a good policy, Al.

I've been to Big Al's before and really enjoy it.  They are dog friendly (to friendly dogs, of course) and have a good-sized outdoor seating area.  Their anniversary party is coming up this August and sounds like huge fun.  I doubt I'll be able to make it though now that I work weekends. 


Inside, the place was very quiet and this took me aback a little bit.  I didn't know why there was no music or why at least the TVs weren't turned up.  There were a few people at the bar, but they weren't really talking to each other.  Odd.  While the beertender got my pint of Brougham Bitter, I took a look at their "Beer It Forward" chalkboard above the cash register.  Still no one has bought the Urban Beer Hiker any beers, so I dropped some cash and went upstairs to their super-cool rec-room-ish area complete with lots of art on the walls, comfy couches, a large screen TV (with a Wii!), and dart boards.  The only other people up there besides Mandy and I were three people sitting at one of the few tables, having what I perceived to be a somewhat intense and private conversation.  This might not have been all that bad if there were something else to listen to, but the TV was off and there was no music on in the place so we were sort of forced to listen to this tale of...whatever they were talking about.  (Something about politics at their work, romance, bitter betrayal and pregnancy.  I think.)  I considered turning on the TV, but I knew we weren't going to be there that long.  The sun was starting to set and we had a good long last leg of the hike.

This last part of the route -- 3.8 miles --  is courtesy of DraughtE over at GoodBeerTrips.com.  I had originally mapped out the way to Beveridge Place Pub using the Google Maps walking directions, but E (local to this part of Weat Seattle) recommended a different, more scenic route and the hike was much better for it.  Thanks E -- you don't owe me a beer anymore.

Since it's been almost two weeks since and I was a little drunk by that point, I don't remember a lot of details from this part of the hike.  I do remember that we saw a kick-ass playground at Roxhill Park and a cool, big old hunting lodge sort of house on Gatewood Rd. SW, just before connecting with California Ave SW, which eventually takes you right to Beveridge.

We made it to the finish line at about 8:30 pm -- almost exactly eight hours after starting out at EPIC.  It was Two Beers Brewer's night and we arrived just in time to get one of the last pints from a cask of dry-hopped Evolutionary IPA.  It hit the spot very well.  I said a quick hello to Joel, the Two Beers brewer, but I don't think that counts as a sixth brewery on the hike.  (I thought about calling it "6 South".)


Link, Mandy and I nabbed some pasta from Abbondanza just down the street and put it away like champions.   (Link got a bunch more of the dog treats he'd been snacking on all day.  That held him over until we got home later on.)  We were pretty beat by now, but we convinced ourselves to have one more.  I have no idea what it was.

This was a great hike in a part of the city that people rarely experience by foot.  I'd love to do this one again sometime if I can find a suitable alternative to the South Park Bridge (R.I.P.)

Next up:  Bellingham!  Stay tuned and thanks for reading.  Leave questions, comments, and critiques below.






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