Most people seem to love Seattle, although by rights they shouldn’t really. Not the majority of people anyway. The weather is appalling and it really isn’t a pretty place aside from the odd historic street. It’s a city built for camera filters. But almost everyone loves it here, and I count myself among the lovers. For me it’s friendly, it’s accessible, it’s as European-minded as any US city I’ve visited and the beer is constantly incredible. And yes, I concede it isn’t pretty but it is picturesque and appealing in its way, sort of like one of those rescued mutt videos on Facebook.
To get my bearings, see the neighbourhoods and drink good beers I joined a Road Dog tour that picked me up from my hotel close to the famous Pike Place Market. Our group of 10 ventured across the city by minibus to Fremont and the home of Outlander Brewing. When I say home, I mean we went in through the back door of a basement to a house. This incognito entrance was a tour-perk so we initially missed the bar entrance at the front and it truly felt like we had been inducted to some Prohibition-busting brew lab. To make things even cooler, we were met by the brewer himself – Dragan. While we sat he explained their experimental approach to brewing, the small batch process they employ so their taps are always changing and he pointed out the beer beneath my butt was actually a Valentine’s Day special, brewed with the aphrodisiac, oysters.
After meeting with Dragan we went upstairs to the bar for some tastings and soaked up the neighbourhood feel. When so many craft brewpubs are going in for a stark, urban aesthetic Outlander has gone for a residential feel so it almost feels like you’re drinking at your mate’s house. Your really cool mate, called Dragan.
This whole area is awash with breweries, where the brewers have taken advantage of disused industrial units and cheap rent. Bad Jimmy’s Brewing Co is a 15 minute walk from Outlander, in the district of Ballard, and it makes the most of the industrial location with a roll-door wall that opens onto a permanently buzzing taproom. These guys play with all kinds of ingredients and its here that I had a weissbier brewed with blood orange. Makes sense really, since weissbier is always served with a slice of orange. They also do a neat line in habanero beers; the Habanero Amber is mixed with peanut butter and jam to create the immeasurably unique Spicy PB & Jamber.
We bundled back into the bus, best of friends for the night now after a couple of breweries, then offloaded at Kickin Boot Whiskey Kitchen. Aside from the obvious the Kickin Boot does a great line in local beers with plenty of nearby breweries represented, giving you a sort of ‘greatest hits of Seattle’ because, let’s face it, you’re never going to get round all of them in one night out.