Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Week Keg Haul 2013

(Seattle, WA)

Last Sunday, for the fourth consecutive year, I had the pleasure of joining some local brewery reps and the crew from Latona Pub on one of their Earth Week keg hauls. I won't describe the event in too much detail (it's covered much more thoroughly here and here).  Basically, for the week following Earth Day every year (that's THIS week, dummy), all of the beer on tap at the Pub is poured from kegs that were delivered with no aid from combustion engines/fossil fuel. Most kegs are walked from the breweries, but others have come via bicycle trailers, canoes, and sailboats. Unlike last year, I didn't go rogue and do my own crazy thing, but I did call my old wheelchair back into action.

The day before had brought thunderstorms and hail to Seattle and the forecast for this day was not much better. I debated about bringing Link, but decided that if a thunderstorm did come, he'd probably rather be with me than alone at home. Luckily, it didn't matter. For the fourth year in a row, the weather not only cooperated, it was fucking perfect. By noon, the sun was shining bright and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

Elliott outside Georgetown Brewing

We began at around 9:30am at Elysian Brewing's production brewery in Georgetown. Our first keg was Trip XV, a collaboration beer with New Belgium, brewed with dates, dandelions, and buckwheat. From there, it's a short walk to Georgetown Brewing where we picked up a keg of Lucille IPA and got our drinking underway with some Roger's Pilsner. I've walked around SoDo and Georgetown a lot and it was cool to see other people's reactions to this under-explored and ever-changing part of Seattle. It really is an interesting part of Seattle to walk around in and it's about to undergo some major changes in the near future.

Earth Day Keg Haul to Latona Pub 2013
Elysian G-town / Georgetown Brewing / Schooner Exact / Elysian Fields / Pike Brewing / Nickerson Street Saloon / Elysian Tangletown / Latona Pub; 10.6 mi.

View Earth Week Keg Haul 2013 in a larger map

With our first beers under our belts and two kegs strapped to hand trucks, we set off for Schooner Exact. Co-Head Honcho Matt was there to greet us and he helped me strap a keg of Gallant Maiden Hef into the wheelchair. I could tell some newcomers in the group were a little skeptical at first, but once they got to push it for a few blocks and felt how well it handled, it was tough to get them to give it up so someone else could have a turn. A wheelchair is a perfect vehicle for long distance keg-hauling and there was even some talk of acquiring a few more to use next year. We get plenty of weird looks already, but imagine a fleet of keg-hauling wheelchairs coming up the street.

From Schooner Exact, it's a good long walk to Pike Brewing, so we made a stop at Elysian Fields for some beer and food. Link had to stay outside, but the weather was perfect and there was a lot of foot traffic headed to the Seattle Mariners' game so he got plenty of attention.

From The Fields, we headed up 1st. Avenue to Pike Brewing where we picked up a keg of Octopus Ink, about 5 more hikers, and another dog. (Of course we had pints all-around as well.) After taking a bunch of pictures, we continued up 1st. Ave. to Stewart St. and then over to Westlake Ave.

Personally, I would have chosen to go up Eastlake, through the University District and Ravenna to Latona Pub, but the group consensus was that it would be easier (albeit longer) to go up Westlake to Fremont and then up through Wallingford to Green Lake. Either way, there are plenty of places to stop for good beer, so it didn't matter.

From South Lake Union to our next planned stop was a good distance and pretty flat. It was a perfect day to walk along the lake and take in one of the best views in Seattle. Before long, we were at the Fremont Bridge and our next beer stop, Nickerson Street Saloon. The Nick's sizable outdoor seating area had plenty of room for us and we sat and enjoyed pitchers of beer as we took in the sunshine.

After leaving The Nick, we made a quick stop for cans at Fremont Brewing, but we didn't linger too long or pick up a keg.  Fremont Brewing was to be part of a separate keg haul later in the week.

From Fremont, we headed north on Wallingford Ave and I got a little ahead of the group. This was easily the toughest part of the hike. You don't really grasp how much of a hill it is to climb from N 34th St. to N 45th St. until you're pushing a keg of beer. I was sweaty and spent by the time I got to the top. In retrospect, I shouldn't have forged ahead of the group as a little relief would have been nice.

The ten or so blocks from Wallingford to Tangletown is much more merciful. At Elysian-Tangletown, we once again grabbed a huge table and shared some pitchers of beer. The group could sense the finish line was near and the party was really getting started. I had friends already waiting for me at Latona Pub, so Link and I took off a little early (yeah, maybe I just wanted to be first...) and headed for the end.

I arrived at Latona Pub to a warm reception of golf claps and pats on the back. It seemed like everyone there knew what was going on and appreciated the effort. What a stark contrast from last year, when Chris, Link and I walked 25+ miles over two days and no one really had any idea what the hell was going on when we finally arrived.

All in all, I'm glad I joined again this year. It really is a unique event and a fun idea. I was a little butthurt when our original idea was done by someone else (sailing a keg from Sound Brewing in Poulsbo, WA) and considered just skipping out, but pushing a keg almost 11 miles from Georgetown to Green Lake is nothing to scoff at. Doing this kind of distance walk so often makes me lose sight of just how unusual and difficult it can be.

Cheers to Elliott, Patrick, Bob and everyone at Latona Pub for continuing to make this event something I look forward to every year. Next year I hope to come up with a different, crazy idea like last year's that no one will possibly want to join me on (except Chris and Link, of course).

Ready for next year

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