roblog - Official Blog of Rob Hurvitz

27 Jan 2011 - 10:05:32 PM
Mac & Jack's

Enough with the short bike rides! I went and put about 40 miles on my bike with a friend, around the north end of Lake Washington to Redmond and the Mac & Jack's brewery, then over to Kirkland where we hopped on a bus back to Seattle.

Most people think of just one beer when they think of Mac & Jack's, their African Amber, but they actually have four year-round brews. We missed their fall seasonal, the Cascadian Dark Ale, unfortunately, and their spring, the C U Lator Barley Wine, won't be ready for a few weeks, yet. D'oh! Supposedly they have a Pale Ale in the works for summer -- seems like as good a reason as any to re-visit them.

    Rob's Picks
  • Serengeti Wheat - Spicy, wheaty, and a bit hoppy. Nice. Refreshing, especially after a bike ride.
  • African Amber - The old standby. Good hoppy finish for an amber, crisp, very drinkable. Guy at their store said it's dry-hopped.
  • Two Tun IPA - Aroma and taste are both very floral. Slight spiciness tempers the floral-ness. Good hoppy bite.
  • Blackcat Porter - Nice dry taste and not too heavy. Slight coffee flavor. Good porter.
Mac and Jack's
Crappy photo in the Mac & Jack's retail store -- Redmond, WA

Should've done some other angle in the photo and had the taps in the background or something, but after 30 miles on the bike I wasn't feeling too creative. Alas. But the guy working there was cool -- he let us keep the taster pint glasses, instead of having to shell out $2 for one. Score!

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26 Jan 2011 - 6:45:51 PM
Hale's Ales

It's been a while since my last visit to Hale's, but after a couple hours at Vertical World it seemed like a good spot for some post-climbing refreshment. For some reason, in my mind Hale's always seemed to pale in comparison to Maritime Pacific, but thankfully I've now cleared up my misconception. They serve up some fine brews. Well, except for that banana beer. Shudder.

    Rob's Picks
  • Kolsch - 4.5% - Starts off with a slight lemon flavor before the wheaty taste kicks in. Nice, light, and drinkable.
  • Red Menace - 5.3% - "Big Amber" - Ambers are usually pretty mellow but this one makes things interesting with extra hops and an appealing red color. Nicely balanced.
  • Super Goose IPA - 7.1% - Big hops! Kinda floral but also citrusy, which makes up for that...
  • Troll Porter - 6.9% - Good smoky chocolate flavor. Not too heavy.
  • Cream Stout - 5.2% - Nitro pour. So smooth and chocolatey and chewy. Definitely a meal in itself.
    The Rest
  • Pale American Ale - 5% - Pretty smooth and hoppy, but it's that soapy/floral hoppiness that I don't particularly like.
  • Cream Ale - 4.5% - Nitro pour. Very smooth and drinkable. Not hoppy at all.
  • El Jefe - 5.2% - Banana beer. Fairly light, but the banana aroma and taste are very strong. The banana taste lingers, too.
  • Belgian - Super smooth. Has a good caramel taste, as well as an aroma and flavor of what reminded me at first of Bazooka Joe bubblegum. As it warmed up (and after I tried El Jefe) the Bazooka Joe aspect became more like banana. It was certainly an interesting beer, but I don't think I'd want more than a taster.
Hale's tasters
Hale's tasters -- Seattle, WA

This will be it for post-gym climbing beer posts. Unless, of course, I venture out to the Bremerton or Tacoma gyms and then hit Der Blokken or Harmon's or Engine House #9 or some such. Hmm. Now that I think about it...

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19 Jan 2011 - 9:55:41 PM
Maritime Pacific Brewing Company

I finally made it to the new location of the Maritime Pacific Brewing Company and its adjoining Jolly Roger Taproom. The Jolly Roger and I go way back -- back to the early days of Vertical World 3.0, when a fairly regular group of us would climb most every Wednesday evening and then hit the Jolly Roger for post-climbing beers and/or Lil Mahis. Times change, though, and most of them are now married or have kids or got too busy with other things in life, and so I stopped going because going there by myself just wasn't as fun (okay, so times change for everyone except me, apparently).

Anyway, one of the old crowd managed to make it out for an evening of climbing (his pregnant wife had just left on a business trip), and afterwards the two of us headed to the new and improved Jolly Roger. I'm happy to say it holds up well. Same decor, same (or an amazing copy of) bar and cupboards and taps, but in a space maybe three times as big. I felt right at home. In addition to the sampler (plus one), I had the Lil Mahis, and they (and the accompanying sauces) were just as tasty as they'd always been. Almost brought a tear to the eye.

    Rob's Picks
  • XPA - Fresh hop pale ale. Good citrusy hop aroma and flavor, with some floral notes, too. Good maltiness, with great lingering hop bite. Light on the tongue -- goes right down.
  • Islander Pale Ale - 5% - Pretty smooth with good strong hoppiness. Yum.
  • Flagship Red Alt Ale - 5.2% - nice balance, slight nuttiness, very drinkable
  • Nightwatch Dark Ale - 5.5% - Really nice. Dark in color but tastes light. Great balance. Not so hoppy, but double yum!
  • Jolly Roger Christmas Ale - Not as dark in color as I remember but so good. One of my favorite winter ales, bit of a caramel taste with an edge. And it's strong - a friend of mine drank three pints and ended up slumped over and drooling.
    The Rest
  • Dry Hopped Pils - Lemony aroma. Initial lemony flavor gives way to breadiness. Pretty bubbly. Pretty good. Doesn't seem too hoppy, actually.
  • Old Seattle Lager - 4.3% - Light but not particularly crisp. Fairly bubbly. Pretty drinkable but not really my thing.
  • Imperial IPA - 7.5% - Not as hoppy as I'd like, but remarkably well-balanced. Should've gone with the double dry-hopped version that they had on tap. Doh!
Maritime Pacific
Maritime Pacific taster tray -- Seattle, WA

It's good to know that while some things change, some things (besides me) stay the same.

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17 Jan 2011 - 6:28:11 PM
Fremont Brewing

Squeezed in another short bike ride between rain storms, this time to Fremont Brewing in the Center of the Universe, the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. Didn't quite work in too many extra hills, but the fairly strong wind made much of the ride feel like I was biking uphill more often than not. Or maybe the sampler set had an adverse effect on my pedaling. Hmm.

A couple friends had suggested this place as a good spot for meeting up, and after some phone calls and texts, we all eventually arrived at various times by various means: me by bike, one by scooter, two by foot, and one by stroller. It was a fine way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

    Rob's Picks
  • Abominable Winter Ale (seasonal) - Can taste the alcohol, but it still tastes good. Not one of those full-bodied (read: over the top) winter ales, which is nice. My oh-so-clever tagline: subtle but strong.
  • Mo Porter - Really, really nice. Not nearly as strong tasting as the Abominable. Nothing fancy, just a solid porter.
  • Universale Pale Ale - Pretty good. Fairly crisp, good hops, although they walk a fine line between the citrusy and soapy tastes.
  • Little Woody - dry hopped and oak aged pale ale - Really smooth. Fairly strong soapy taste to the hops, but smooth enough to compensate, imho.
    The Rest
  • Interurban IPA - tasted like a hoppier Universale, but the extra hops were less citrusy and more soapy
  • Dark Star Imperial Oatmeal Stout - kind of a thicker and bigger Abominable, maybe trying to do too much
Fremont Brewing, and a baby
Baby-sized Fremont Brewing beers and baby-sized Molly (with her pink elephant) -- Seattle, WA

Maybe I should make a 2011 goal of visiting some minimum number of breweries. But maybe not. I wouldn't want to jinx it.

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8 Jan 2011 - 8:00:40 PM
Two Beers Brewing Company

I finally figured out how to alleviate the guilt of a short bike ride to a nearby brewery (besides by crying into my beer at said brewery): go in winter when the weather window is much shorter and/or it's too cold to be biking all day. Also throw in some extra hills, like in today's ride to the Two Beers Brewery in Seattle's Georgetown neighborhood. Instead of cruising down Capitol Hill into the flatlands, my friend and I cruised down Capitol Hill and then up Beacon Hill before cruising into the flatlands. Not the most efficient route, but it helped build up a good thirst.

The first time I tried a Two Beers brew was a couple years ago at a bon voyage/fundraiser party for a friend and others, and there was some sort of friendship connection with very new Two Beers, and so there was a keg of their IPA available. I filled up a cup and took a gulp -- it was awful. Incredibly strong soapy taste. Ugh. I don't remember if I even finished it. Since then, I tried them once more at some pub, one of their other beers, and I wasn't impressed. But they've gotten bigger, and they seem to be friends with about half of Seattle, and they have logo pint glasses available, so it was time for me to bite the bullet and give them a visit. Fortunately, they either have improved quite a bit or my standards have slipped...

Oh yeah, cool guys working at the brewery. I can see why they're buds with everyone. After a little bit of beer talk, the guy behind the bar served us up a bonus sample of the other Sodo Brown batch, but I wasn't exactly sure which version was the one that's been shipping. Ah well. I also managed to haggle down the price of the "vintage" logo glass to $2 -- they're going to change the glass, but haven't ordered or received the new ones yet. Sweet deal for me.

Update! (25 Nov 2011): Jonny and I stopped in again to check out the expanded digs and try some new brews at the end of a chilly day biking round and round Seattle. The new taproom is awesome -- go see for yourself!

    Rob's Picks
  • Beer Church's Midnight Mass - Holiday pale ale. Smooth caramel nuttiness. Yum! Made in collaboration with the Beer Church as a fundraiser ale.
  • Echo IPA - Strong hoppiness and very slight lemon flavor to a strong bready finish, with a lingering bitterness. Pretty cool. Hoppiness not floral, not citrusy - just hoppy, I guess.
  • Heart of Darkness Imperial CDA - Good coffee flavor with a subtle caramel undertone. Decent hoppiness. Very very drinkable.
  • Infused Evolutionary IPA - mango, apple, peach, marigold - Strong mango and peach aroma. Fruit flavors not too strong, go well with the hoppiness. Joel says the dried marigold has a bitterness to it. Decent fruit beer
  • 20:20 Blonde - 4.8% - Interesting. Slightly crispier and hoppier than the usual blonde, with blonde finish. Like it.
  • Persnickety Pale Ale - 5.5% - Nothing persnickety about this beer. Nice balance and hops. Gives Manny's a run for the money. Yum.
  • Impending Darkness Black IPA - 6.9% - Bit of a smoky flavor, not quite as hoppy as the Evo. Fun mix of a beer. Good.
    The Rest
  • Trailhead ISA - 4.6% - 4th Anniversary IPA - ISA can stand for whatever you want, but "India Session Ale" is quite fitting. Slight floral aroma. Light and almost watery, but very hoppy, with citrus notes. Quite nice, but I have mixed feelings about session beers.
  • Jive Espresso Stout - Strong espresso aroma. Stout start, then espresso kicks in and lingers a long, long time. Don't know if I'd want to drink a whole pint.
  • Immersion Amber - 5.2% - It's beer, which is good. Nothing too interesting, but nothing bad. A bit hoppy, which is always nice, but nothing really stood out to me. This might have been my second Two Beers experience.
  • Evolutionary IPA - 6.2% - Way better than that first keg -- maybe that's the reason for its name? Strong citrusy taste, but well-rounded IPA. Not as big as Total Domination, but it tries. I think the bad first impression I had is the reason it didn't make it to the Pick list...
  • Sodo Brown - 5.2% - Hmm. There was some subtle flavor that I couldn't quite identify, until my friend pointed out the description on the board: "Infused with mint and cacao." But maybe too subtle -- just enough to make you think, there's something else in this brown... I tasted the mint more after the fact, actually. The alternate (original?) batch was not subtle at all. It was like drinking a peppermint patty, which was actually pretty fun for a sample, although I wouldn't want to drink a whole pint.
Two Beers taster paddle
Two Beers taster paddle - Seattle, WA

On the ride over, we passed by the new location of Georgetown Brewing, which got me thinking: there are a bunch of local breweries I've visited and acquired glasses from before I started writing these little "reviews," and it's high time I started to re-visit them, make them official and all. Yeah, that's it -- it's my duty as a blogger to go back to these places and drink more beer. The sacrifices I make for my loyal readers...
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