Anytime I got out of Saskatoon in 2016, mission one was partaking in some craft beer sampling. My desire to try a new beer every time I crack one open had run into a small (but thankfully growing and delicious) craft beer scene in Saskatchewan. In Seattle I had the opposite problem – so many beers, and so little time – so I got started right away on my first afternoon. With a reservation just around the corner at a great Mexican restaurant, I stopped in at Optimism Brewing for a quick four sample tasting. Most memorable was the Afraid of the Dark lager, but the prize for best named went to “Don’t Boo, Vote” – particularly sad as I was sipping it just two days after the election.
I really liked the vibe of the brewery and taproom. It had a warehouse feel, there was a food truck parked outside and you were welcome to bring along your dog to keep you company while you had a pint. Their menu and event listings displayed a sense of humour, even in the process of taking a pot shot at my Philadelphia Eagles.
Some unseasonably warm weather the next day allowed me to combine two of my favourite things at Old Stove Brewing – trying new beers and sitting on a patio. Two of these really caught my attention. First, on the far left, the Two-Pronged Crown was a great example of a Pacific Northwest IPA. It was so good, that I got through half of it before stopping to take the picture. The other outstanding beer was the one on the far right, a smokey and malty Schwarbier
A pleasant fifteen minute walk away from my hotel, Downtown Spirits is where I stocked up on a few craft beers for my hotel fridge and to pack up in my luggage to bring home. I was paralyzed by the choice, but they offer a surprise bag of local beers and promised there’d be no duds in it. I ended up very happy with what was inside.
On my previous visit to Seattle, I stopped in at Elysian Brewing and really liked the pint I selected, so I made a return visit on this trip. All of these were solid, but the one on the far left took the award for “best beer of the Seattle trip” for me. The Fifty Shades of Green was a fresh hopped beer and a perfect example of an American IPA. Also notable was the Dragonstooth Stout (far right) that tasted of chocolate, smoke and coffee.
One other night, I popped out for a quick pre-dinner sampling at the Flatstick Pub just south of downtown. While sitting at the bar, I enjoyed watching a couple of dogs hanging out. I know I’m a dog person so I want to see dogs everywhere, but if/when Saskatoon opens a liberal dog-friendly taproom, you can just put a nameplate on a seat for me. Dogs aside, the highlight was the last sample on the far right of the photo – Bainbridge Brewing’s Windfall Grapefruit IPA – dangerously smooth for a 7% beer and a perfect summer sipper.
My last taproom adventure in Seattle was a quick half-pint at Cloudburst Brewing just north of Pike Place Market. It’s a low key, minimalist space, and I wish I had more time to come back here. Not just for the space, but for the amazingly named Hop Vomit IPA. Leaving here, I was sad I had left it until last. It’ll be first on my next visit.
For a six day trip, I got a taste of a good number of beers, and even with the pull of so many IPAs, I managed to try a wide selection of styles – pale ales, stouts, bitters, dark lagers, saisons. Now to wait for this type of selection to grow in Saskatoon…