Monday, May 2, 2011

Earth Day Keg Haul 2011

Last week, I once again joined some dudes from Latona Pub in their week-long celebration of Earth Day by hauling some kegs from local breweries to the pub by hand.  I was only able to help out on Friday, but it was the culmination of almost ten straight days for Elliott Ryan, manager of Latona.  He and lots of other volunteers fetched kegs from participating breweries all over the city and the tap list at the pub all week contained beers only delivered by walking or cycling.

We used a few trusty two-wheel hand trucks and took turns pushing (and sometimes pulling) the precious cargo.  We got a really nice day for it, too.  It started out a little cold and overcast, but it wasn't long before the sun came out and the sweat was flowing.

View Earth Day Keg Haul 2011 in a larger map

Whether or not you are pushing a keg, this is a good route for a beer hike.  None of the places are dog-friendly (except Fremont Brewing, of course), but almost every place has adequate space outside to hitch up.

1.  Jolly Roger Taproom (Maritime Pacific Brewing)
I met the Latona All-Stars, Elliott and Patrick at around 11:30 am and our Maritime host Geoff treated us to a round of schooners.  A perfect way to launch the hike -- I love drinking dark beer in the morning.  After paying for the keg and strapping it to the hand truck, we jumped on the Burke-Gilman Trail for a quick trot over to our next stop.

2. Hale's Ales
It only takes about 10 minutes to get from Maritime to Hale's, but I was thirsty anyway.  More dark beer for me, Hale's Troll Porter.  We picked up a third hiker, Brandon, and he had our keg loaded up and ready by the time we were done.  (He even paid for our beers.  Thanks Brandon!)

(L to R): Elliott, Patrick, & Brandon
From Hale's, we got back onto the Burke-Gilman trail and continued to our third and final brewery.  Along the way, we resisted the temptation to stop at The Leary Traveler and Brouwer's for another beer.  Elliott felt it was wise to keep going as we were expected at Latona at a certain time.  That was probably for the best.  If I were on this hike alone, I probably would have stopped at both places.  Thanks, Elliott, for being a voice of reason.

The next time he checked, however, we were actually a bit ahead of schedule. So, just like last year, we stopped at the Fremont Dock for a little sun fun on their deck.  The Dock's selection of local beer is not bad, but for some reason Elliott ordered us a pitcher of Peroni.  It tasted good and he paid for it, so I won't complain.

After failing to recruit some of The Dock's barflys to join us, we walked a block over to grab our third and final keg.

3.  Fremont Brewing Co.
I was feeling a little buzzed by now (Skipped breakfast.  Very stupid.) so it was weird to arrive and find the crew at Fremont Brewing busily working away at...  whatever it is they do all day.  Even though it was obvious that they had a lot of shit to do, they stopped and welcomed us in to look around at their new expansion project and poured us some fresh pints of Solstice Ale.  I groaned that the next leg of the hike would be the toughest, so our host Matt poured me another one.  That was easy.

An idea for next year?  It would be a bitch to push up Stone Way...
We left FBC and headed over to Stone Way.  We again resisted the urge to stop at the one and only Pacific Inn and began our march up Stone Way.  Believe me, it's a lot steeper that it looks when you are pushing a keg.  Doing it for the second year in a row, I was quickly reminded that I'm another year older and softer.    I managed to make it all the way up to N 45th St. before I had to ask for relief.  Elliott took over and got us up to the southeast side of Green Lake where we decided to make another refreshment stop at Elysian Brewing's Tangletown pub.

Link waited outside and guarded the kegs while we hikers put down a pitcher of White Woods Wit.  (We probably would have sat outside, but their patio seating was not quite ready.)

Not much of a guard dog.
The last leg of the hike to Latona Pub is through a quiet neighborhood with a load of beautiful gardens.  We haven't had too many nice spring days yet this year, but you wouldn't know it by all the colors.  East of Green Lake is definitely one of the more attractive neighborhoods to get lost in.

It was a good feeling to finally arrive at Latona Pub, although I was a bit sad that it was over. The pub was already pretty lively with patrons and we were greeted heartily by friends and well-wishers who wanted to shake our hands and have their pictures taken with us.  A couple of very hearty souls had just arrived before us after a 50+ mile bike ride from 7 Seas Brewing in Gig Harbor.  They left at five that morning and used a kid trailer to tow a small keg of beer the whole way.  Very impressive.  Makes our little 4.6 mile hike seem like nothing in comparison.

It was nice to sit down at the bar and have a pint and a sandwich (Big Time Atlas Amber and one of the best grilled cheeses in the city.)  Looking down the tap list -- every keg delivered by walking or cycling -- I was impressed by the number of different breweries that were able to participate.  On the adjacent wall, a map of the city was posted with some flags marking where they had all come from.  It reminded me how lucky I am to live in a city with so many great breweries.  I also remembered something I read on a beer blog (I think) no too long ago:

"Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time."

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