Updated May 15, 2011 - 8:14 pm
Seattle Beer Week Has Arrived, Prepare for Pints
There are many great weeks throughout the year in the Pacific Northwest; Christmas week, Seafair week, the first week of 80 degree weather (fingers crossed), but none of them are quite like the most recent Northwest spring tradition, Seattle Beer Week.
In 2009 a group of fun loving beer drinkers got together and decided that Seattle would be the perfect city to host a week of beer activities. Modeling the event after the San Francisco Beer Week and the Philadelphia Beer Week the goal was to showcase beer and pub culture in the Emerald City. In the last three years the event has taken off in Seattle; in 2009, there were 19 events spread over 10 days and two years later in 2011, there are 19 events on the first day alone with a total of 182 events over 10 days. 182 events, that's a lot of reasons to have a couple cold pints.
These 182 beer events span from simple single beer tasting events (Pliny Who?) to massive stout festivals (Back in Black), from Olympia (The Fishbowl Pub) to the banks of the Snohomish River (Fred's Rivertown Ale House). I can understand that this is intimidating, I'm intimidated myself after all, so I am going to help you decide which events are right for you.
First there are two main things that you want to think about when choosing the right Seattle Beer Week event, beer style and proximity to your sleeping place. If you are a beer lover in general and live outside of the city, I would recommend coming to Seattle on Saturday or Sunday and planning to hit several events in one day. Ballard for example has many wonderful establishments hosting several events every weekend that are all within walking distance. If you are a lover of a specific beer or beer style, I would recommend a solo event, say the Elliot Bay IPA Fest, Back in Black Stout Fest, or Ninkansi Night. And if you live within the city limits, there is no excuse for not looking your neighborhood up and hitting an event or two for some memorial pints.
Still seem daunting? I understand. Here are my recomendations for each of the 10 days of Seattle Beer Week. All events marked with an asterisk are events I will be attending, so if you see a Seattlite of Norwegian decent talking a little too loud, high-fiving a little too often and randomly breaking into song, cut him some slack, he's excited.
Thursday 5/19 Opening Night - Kick off Night at Brouwer's. This is a fantastic beer bar and I would bet my first pint they are going to do opening night right. Or Kickoff at Maritime Brewery, brewers of the Commemorative Beer of Seattle Beer Week, Decompression Ale. Also, try Upright Brewing Night at Old Town Ale House*. Very original beer from Portland. (See my previous post about Upright)
Friday 5/20 - Iron Horse Night at The Beer Junction. I love Iron Horse makers of the fine Irish Death Irish Stout. Fantastic!
Saturday 5/21 - Back in Black Stout Fest at Brouwer's*. This one is going to get busy, but that's understandable, with an entire menu of the best stouts from around the world, it makes sense. Also, try Hair of the Dog at The Dray* for some of the finest beer from Beertown, USA (Portland, OR).
Sunday 5/22 - Kegs and Eggs with Diamond Knot at Brave Horse Tavern. Tom Douglas food and cask conditioned apple cinnamon ESB from Diamond Knot? Yes, please.
Monday 5/23 - Boundary Bay Night at 74th St. Ale House and Hilltop Ale House*. Boundary Bay makes the best IPA on the West Coast and their Cabin Fever Winter Ale and Scotch Ale are top notch beers. Or, This is Washington Dammit! at Beveridge Place Pub. Twenty-four beers from the Evergreen state all priced at $3. Can't beat that. Also, Odin Brewery at Columbia City should be a fantastic night. Odin Brewery is one of the newer breweries on the Seattle scene and the beer they are turning out is excellent.
Tuesday 5/24 - Exploration of Hops at The Beer Junction. You can learn something and drink great beer at the same time, who would have thought? Jolly Vertical Tasting at Maritime Brewery* should be a primo experience also. Jolly Roger is a Christmas beer by Maritime Brewing that is absolutely excellent. Rich, flavorful but not heavy, an all around great beer. It ages very well so this should not be missed by anyone who loves Jolly Roger or winter beer in general. And if you are out late and ride a bike, check out 12 Pack at the Troll in Fremont. It starts at 11pm and features New Belgium cans. Sounds interesting if nothing else.
Wednesday 5/25 - Laurelwood Night at Hilltop Alehouse. Another great brewery from Portland, I would highly recommend the Free Range Red or the Vinter Varmer.
Thursday 5/26 - Sour Beer Fest at Brouwer's*. Last year I had the pleasure of endulging in a glass of Leeche Sour from New Belgium. It was spectacular. I still remember the bouquet of flavors a year later. If sours are not your thing, I would check out HUB Pint Night at Brave Horse, or Ninkasi Night at 74th St Ale House for some sensational beers from Oregon.
Friday 5/27 - Best IPAs at Old Town Ale House* is sure to be a lupulin filled flavor extravaganza. Or if you are a baseball fan, check out Beers and Brats in the Outfield at Safeco Field as the Ms take on the Yankees. Beers and Brats is a private beer function in the Safeco beer garden featuring a East Coast vs West Coast beer throw down as the East and West Coast battle it out on the baseball diamond.
Saturday 5/28 - Can-Tathalon Beer Olympics at the Pub at Pipers Creek. Were you a beer game champ in college? Time to show your stuff. Put together a team and lets see if you got what it takes to battle your way to the top of a 7 tiered tournment of can-based games. Or Eve of the Apple II at The Duck Island Alehouse. Tired of hops and grain? Head over to Eve of the Apple II for a couple pints of cider paired with cheese flights. For a more traditional Beer Week finale try the Elysian/New Belgium Tandem night at the Hopvine. Two great brewers who love to brew together. Sweet, isn't it?
Sunday - 5/29 - Pike Brewer's Dinner at the Waterfront. This is a truly classy beer week event. Great food, great beer, great wine, how can this not be wonderful? Or check out Squirreled Away at the Dray* featuring rare, cellared and off-seasoned beers.
Regardless of where you are at make sure you try a pint of Decompression Ale from Maritime Brewing, the commemorative beer of Seattle Beer Week. You can read my review here: Decompression Ale.
If you are still intimidated and unsure what event is right for you, just remember that this is a week of celebration. A week of relaxation and fellowship for everyone in the Northwest who appreciates good beer. So find an event that sounds like fun and do it up. After a couple finely crafted beers and some excellent conversation with likeminded individuals you will realize that beer is as complicated or as simple as you wish to make it. After all it is made for one reason, drinking. Cheers.
PS. Let me know what you think of Seattle Beer Week and tell me about your experiences. Unfortunately, as much as I would like to I cannot attend all 182 events, I have a half marathon to run in 6 weeks after all. Email me at Lifebythepint@yahoo.com or on www.Facebook.com/LifebythePint.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.