Puget’s Perfect Pint: And The Winner Is….

It has been many months since I began my quest to find Puget’s Perfect Pint. During this time I have visited and sampled brews at no less than 28 microbreweries throughout King County. It eventually became a two-horse race, one in which I leaned first towards one finalist, then to the other. Finally, it required return trips to both during the last couple weeks to reach my decision. Now, at long last, I am pleased to announce the winner.

When I first set out on my Perpetually Persistent Perennial Pursuit For Puget’s Perfect Pint what I imagined was one single brew at one of the area’s microbreweries.

However as I encountered one amazing brew after another it became clear to me that finding one pint to eclipse all the others would likely be a practical impossibility.

You see, every brewer produces anywhere from 4 to 10 year-round brews covering the most popular beer styles.  Plus they also feature rotating seasonals and special brews.

For this reason it is not uncommon to walk into the brewpub or tasting room, sit down at the bar, and then be confronted with more than a dozen taps – all of them pouring house-brewed beers.

So, as it turns out, at almost every brewery you find at least one brew that, if not a definite style winner, is at least a potential candidate, which makes it impossible to choose a single beer.

However, I did begin to recognize certain breweries whose across  the board excellence did stand out from the crowd – and so by this criteria my quest evolved and my decision was made.

But before I announce who the winner is, as runners up I would like to give honorable mention to the following…

  • Maritime Pacific Brewing in Ballard
  • Fremont Brewing at the Center of the Universe
  • Big Al Brewing in White Center
  • Black Raven Brewing in Redmond
  • Schooner Exact Brewing in Seattle

It’s worth mentioning that the last four brewers I listed are all less than five years old. In a hotly contested marketplace these guys have gone from former home-brew start-ups running tiny nano-breweries to production-scale microbreweries with wholesale distribution and a retail tasting room.

They are not so far behind my finalists that they couldn’t be challenging them for top spot. All they lack at this time is a brewpub to showcase their excellent beer. This may or may not be part of their business strategies – it remains to be seen how they grow from their present positions.

I mentioned the two-horse race earlier and I’ll waste no more time telling you that the breweries involved are Elysian Brewing Company and Elliott Bay Brewing Co, two of the Greater Seattle area’s longest established brewers. They both have their beginnings during the mid-90s at a time when the American Craft Brewing Rennaisance was experiencing explosive growth.

A complete beer sampler at any of the (3) Elysian or (2) Elliott Bay brewpubs will yield 8-10 different brews to taste and they will both be the best across the board beer sampling you will find anywhere in the Seattle area. This is where I would want to take out of town guests to experience the very best beers available in Puget Sound.

The recent return visits to my two finalists were made only after I had visited all other candidates and I needed something to help me make a final decision and stop flip-flopping back and forth.

It really is hard because while I was completely satisfied that Elysian and Elliott Bay stand out head and shoulders over every other Seattle-area microbrewery, the differentiators between them are so very, very close.

In the end the two things that have impressed me most about Elysian and Elliott Bay compared to everyone else is, ironically, what separated them.

In short it is: (1) the breadth and consistent excellence of their beer offerings and (2) how imaginative and diverse are their food menu choices, coupled with the quality of what actually comes out of their kitchen.

On both counts, and based on our multiple visits to both brewery’s brewpubs, our winner stood just a shade higher than the second place contender.

Drum roll please…

And the award goes to (scroll down):

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Elysian Brewing Company – Congratulations!

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