Thursday, November 4, 2010

North by Northeast

I don't get up to the northeastern part of Seattle very much, but when I sat down and thought about it, I actually came up more than enough top-notch beer spots for an urban beer hike.

I've been wanting to do this hike for awhile and a couple of weeks ago some fellow beer hikers and I finally took it on.

NORTH x NORTHEAST (about 6 miles)
Cooper's Alehouse / Beer Authority / Fiddler's Inn / Wedgwood Alehouse / Hudson Public

View North x Northeast in a larger map

START - Cooper's Alehouse
We parked behind Hudson Public and walked across Lake City Way to our starting point, Cooper's Alehouse.  Cooper's is not dog friendly and there is absolutely nowhere to hitch up outside that is safe and/or visible.  We decided to leave Link in the car for this round, but at the last minute I poked my head in the door and saw that the place was empty (they'd just opened).  The bartender saw that Link was no menace, so he graciously let him in to sit with us while we chowed on a tremendous hummus plate and drank our beers.  An Old Rasputin for Mandy and a 2010 Jubel for me.  I spied a bottle of whipped cream flavored vodka on the shelf, and if I had been slightly less sober, I might have asked for a taste.  I'm so glad I still had my senses, but I still wonder what it would taste like in lime soda...

Watch your back.

The 2.5 miles along Lake City Way to the next stop is urban.  The sidewalk is narrow (or non-existent) in places, crosswalks are scarce, and the traffic whipping by you is constant and unapologetic.  It's not much different than walking along Aurora Ave. just north of Downtown.  But you take the bad with the good and there is always something unique to discover along routes like this.  Just open your eyes.

Yeah.  That's weird, too.

STOP #2 - The Beer Authority
This was my second visit in two weeks to The Beer Authority and I definitely count myself among its many fans.  The selection of bottles is solid and the tap lineup is fine as well.  Owner/bartender Barry is a good conversationalist, but if you'd rather play Angry Birds while you drink, there are a few small tables inside and outside.  The Beer Authority is dog-friendly, too.  We joined up with The Beer Retard here, too, and after a pint of Ninkasi Sleigh'r and some shopping, we were off again.  (They were hosting Ninkasi Brewer's Night, but we couldn't stay.)

The 2.0 miles to the next stop is relatively flat for the first two-thirds and provides beautiful glimpses of the Cascade Mountains (and fall foliage) to the east.  The last third is a gradual climb that had us huffing a bit, but not too bad.

STOP #3 - Fiddler's Inn
Fiddler's Inn is another great Seattle beer spot that I'd only been to for the first time recently.  It has a unique, ski-lodge feel inside -- not as much as Sully's Snowgoose, but surely reminiscent.  We chose to sit outside, on the medium-sized, enclosed patio, where Link was allowed to join us.  We grabbed our beers and some tasty sandwiches.  My mates said my Port Townsend Hop Diggity tasted like "butter town".  I wasn't getting it and had no problem finishing, so I think they lost a little respect for me.  Screw them and their refined palates.

By now, the sun had set and it was almost dark.  We jumped to the next stop, which is not even eight blocks south.

STOP #4 - Wedgwood Alehouse
I haven't been to the WaleHouse (I just now made that up) in quite a long time, but thankfully little had changed from what I remembered.  We ordered up pints of something called Embrocation from the nearby Big Time Brewery and looked at the food menu.  They claimed to have the best wings in Seattle -- there it was right on their menu:  "Best Wings in Seattle".

I'm always on the hunt for Buffalo wings as good as I used to get in my hometown of Rochester, NY at Richmond's or The Distillery.  I've only found comparable ones in Seattle at Ballard's Wingmasters.  Most places in Seattle either don't have a good Buffalo sauce or serve the ridiculously small wings that have almost no meat on them, or both.  (Wingmasters has always satisfied me on both fronts until my most recent visit a couple of weeks ago.  The wings were tiny.)  As for the Wedgwood Alehouse's wings, the wings were the smallest I've ever seen -- actually, I didn't get any wings at all.  It was all drumettes. Where did all the flats go? -- but they tasted fantastic.  And the portion was more than I could eat, so they get points for that.  I'm still looking for a Seattle Buffalo Wing Champ though, and I hear that The Attic is a contender.  I plan to check them out.  E-mail me if you know of any other places.

After The Wedgwood, it's about a mile through mostly quiet residential streets and past a brightly-lit and very busy Dahl Park.  Where NE 80th St. appears to end at 30th Ave NE, there's a staircase that connects you back to NE 80th.  I love that.  (Thanks to Dor and Bob for the tip.  I almost certainly would not have seen it in the dark.)

STOP #5 - Hudson Public House
We'd reached the final stop well after I had expected (big fuckin' surprise), but not too late.  Link was happy to get back into the car and relax (Hudson is not dog-friendly, but there is plenty of safe room on the sidewalk to hitch up if you want).  I've been meaning to come back here for a long time.  Hudson Public is the sister pub to Collins Pub in Downtown Seattle.  If you've been there, you'll see more than a few similarities.  The beer list is always exceptional and the food menu nearly always offers many good dishes.  Like Collins, it can get annoying when crowded, but on the night we stopped in, it was a mellow scene and the service was very prompt.  We enjoyed pints of Double Mountain Killer Green (if there were a Fantasy Fresh Hop League, Killer Green would easily be on my starting line-up, along with Deschutes Fresh Hop Mirror Pond, Rouge Issaquah's Wet Frog, and Snipes Mountain's Harvest) and a nightcap of Flying Dog's Gonzo Imperial Porter along with our truffle fries.

Another fun urban beer hike in the books.  Next up:  outer Southeast Portland and a ridiculous weekend in San Francisco.  Stay tuned.


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