17 Nov 2011 - 3:37:04 PM
It was a cold and sunny November Saturday, and my climbing plans got canceled. So I called beer-biking friend Jonny and made plans for a pleasant little ride to the very new Hilliard's Beer in Ballard. I'd read a few blog posts of theirs earlier in the year and was looking forward to visiting. We hit the Burke-Gilman and slowly made our way through the weekend throngs to Fremont, where we decided to take a detour and check out the new section of the Ship Canal bike trail. It's still under construction, but the trail part was done -- all that's left is finishing the fencing (which made it easy to get on the trail) and doing the landscaping. Can't wait for it to be officially open! Unfortunately, its western end was more securely gated, and we had to backtrack a little ways in order to then get to Magnolia and down across the locks.
Skillet and, eventually, the Blue Truck Special were parked in Hilliard's parking lot and serving up food. I got the veggie option from Skillet, their fresh berry brioche dessert. It was wonderfully tasty and filling, and probably packed more calories than I burned on the whole bike ride. We sat down inside and sampled the three beers they had available. I liked them all, which made it a hard choice to pick just one for a full pint, but I went with the freshly canned Amber (just two days previous). Hilliard's is now the third Puget Sound brewery I know of that's canning (after 7 Seas and Two Beers), and apparently the micro-canning revolution is really taking off -- the Hilliard's guy said that Sierra Nevada is going to start canning, as well. Go figure.
Update! (3/24/2012) - Finally re-visited, after hitting NW Peaks just around the corner. Got the Saison this time, but the three other beers available were the same as before. Just one food truck there this time, and it looked like some pork-only outfit. Ah well.
- Amber - From the can! Very slight floral aroma. Good hoppy/malty mix, with a bit of an alcohol flavor. Not a wimpy amber. Very nice!
- Regimental Scottish Blonde - Tangy, hoppy start, wheaty finish, with a very subtle lemon flavor. Nice and crisp for an unfiltered beer. Very refreshing.
- Cast Iron Stout - A hoppy stout, with a strong coffee start, subtle caramel sweetness, and a Guinness aftertaste. Not too heavy, as well.
- Saison - Pretty cool mix of a light tripel and slight lemon flavor. Caramel and alcohol flavors. Somewhat sweet but also has a slight sour mash edge. Bit of that clove/banana taste, too. Sort of all over the place, actually. Pretty wild beer to can.
Hilliard's samples -- Seattle, WA
All in all, a fine addition to the local brewing scene. Can't wait to try more of their beers, especially on a Saturday when all the food trucks are there. A hidden epicurean corner of Seattle.