I can't say that 2012 was the best year for me personally, but on the urban beer hiking front, it may have been the best yet. The major feat was easily the two-day, 25+ mile, bad-ass keg haul from Black Raven Brewing in Redmond to Latona Pub in April. Thinking about climbing that hill from the Burke-Gilman Trail up to The Beer Authority and feeling my legs buckle and sweat roll down my back still makes me shudder. I probably could have mapped that route better, but what the hell. There is only one way to really learn. It's worth noting that I could never have done it without my hiking partners Link and Chris and our gracious overnight hosts Gayle & Jon. Thanks. I love you all.
There was also the beach hike from Chuck's 85th St. Hop Shop in Greenwood to American Brewing in Edmonds. The hike along the shore of Puget Sound was very challenging in spots, but also equal parts mysterious, scary and scenic. Cutting Link loose to run on the beach is one of my all-time favorite things to see. He doesn't get to be off-leash very often, but when he does, it's like watching a jack rabbit on speed.
In Seattle, there were hikes to the usual haunts: Bottleworks, Fremont Brewing, Big Time Brewing, Collins Pub, Beverage Place, Brouwer's, and Latona Pub, but also to several newcomers: Reuben's (damn, it was fucking hot that day of their opening), Pine Box, Burgundian, Twelve Bar Brewing, Hilliard's, Copper Coin... There was also the Urban Cider Hike for Washington Cider Week (I still have to write that one up... It was fun and educational.) I'm sure there were more, but I only documented about 1/3 of the Seattle beer hiking I actually did this year. To write something every time I set out is beyond my ability and attention span.
But I'm happy to say that I actually spent more time exploring outside of Seattle than ever. Most of the hiking I did this year was in other great beer cities such as Victoria, BC, Portland, OR, San Francisco, Oakland, and San Diego, CA, and Bellingham, WA. (We almost made it up to Mount Vernon, WA, too -- I'll get that one done one of these years...) Exploring new places is not only fun and informative in of itself, but it also keeps me honest in the blogging department. Not that I really give a shit if people are reading this. To me it's good enough if this just acts as a personal journal of where I've been and where I still want to go. If you like it and get something from it, too, that's great.
Thinking about all the "accomplishments" this past year also gets me thinking about what to look forward to in 2013. I'll be another year older and less durable, but with all the new bars and breweries popping up, I have no doubt I'll have plenty of flashes of lunacy that will get me into trouble. I'd certainly like to get that Mount Vernon hike finally in the books (I mapped it almost three years ago). Another trip to San Diego is in the works. And there is a very good chance that I might finally get down to Bend, OR, which always comes up when I meet people and tell them about urban beer hiking.
Of course, there are still a lot of things to explore in Seattle and Portland. New breweries and beer bars are opening all the time and it's not slowing down. (With the new addition of Bellevue Brewing, it looks like an Eastside Seattle beer hike is in order.) Plus, looking over some of my old posts, it's clear that many of my routes need to be revisited and updated. Can't forget about Seattle Beer Week either, which always holds promise for good miles and pints.
As usual, I love to hear about your urban beer hiking exploits. Keep sending me your stories and recommendations.
Cheers and Happy New Year!