Pints O’ Grog Fer Puget Pirates

If Disney should ever decide to start a microbrewery in Orlando I hope they’ll dispatch a boardin’ party from ye olde Magic Kingdom, an’ press them scurvy blaggards at Maritime Pacific Brewing Company inter helpin’ ’em sketch out ‘er timbers an’ lay down ‘er keel. I know just the place for the brewpub: that huge wasted space after you exit Pirates of the Caribbean; you know, where they sell all that overpriced pirate booty crap; fake plastic swords, eye patches, flintlock pistols and the like.

Now me hearties, chart yer course an’ tack ye on aroun’ Cape Horn ta Ballard, probly most naughtycal o’ Seattle ports, and spy yonder Jolly Roger Taproom. It be the brewpub attached to Maritime Pacific an’ it be replete with all scallywag doin’s (pirate-themed fer all ye landlubbers).

The Brewery & Taproom is located in a non-descript warehouse building just east of the Ballard Bridge at NW Ballard Way and 11th Ave NW. This is only a couple blocks from the Burke-Gilman Trail at 11th Ave and NW 45th Street, placing the Jolly Roger as the western starting point of a wonderful Fueled By Beer walk I’ll be blogging about in the near future.

To get to the Taproom by bus:

  • from downtown take the 15, 17 or 18, get off on 15th Ave at Leary Way;
  • or take the 28 and get off on 8th Ave at NW 45th St.
  • from U-district take the 44, get off on Market St at 11th Ave.
  • alternatively take the 30 to Fremont and transfer to the 28.

From the outside, although its obviously a brewery, you have no idea what lurks within the taproom portion of the building. However given its isolated location, relative to other area brewpubs, it has taken me a while to get over there, but get over there I now have, and I gotta say it is worth the trip – a blast in fact.

The first thing you see after walking in is all the pirate flags hanging around the ceiling. The interior is all dark wood – very shiplike – and the entire floor is painted to resemble an antique nautical chart and pirate map complete with an ‘X’ marks the spot. Around the walls is more nautical memorabilia.

I sat at the bar and counted 14 taps plus 3 English handpumps. All the beers on tap are Maritime Pacific. I had a great bartender named Chris who, when I asked for a beer list, I swear he replied with “ye’ll be needin’ the map” – well I definitely heard the word map. And it didn’t stop there. You open the food menu and you find much of it is written in Pirate English – kinda like the way you can now set up your Facebook view.

OK, so how was the Grubbin’ and Grog at the Jolly Roger?

I ordered The Spreaders from the “Lite Grubbin” section and the 5 x 5oz beer sampler tray. Chris patiently listened to my preferences for only ales – no pilsner or hefeweizen styles – and he came back with not 5 but 6 of the 5oz sampler glasses on a tray set on top of a printed chart identifying what each sample was. Unfortunately they were out of ESB but here is what I had:

  1. Flagship Red Ale – styled after German Altbier rather than English ale; I liked it a lot.
  2. Bosun’s Black Porter – limited release Bourbon Barrel aged – easily the best Porter I’ve tried anywhere (and I’m not usually a Porter or Stout kinda guy).
  3. Nightwatch Dark Amber – Not sure what this ale emulates. Color and flavor midway between Flagship and Bosun’s; a likeable brew, but I probably wouldn’t ask for it by itself.
  4. Islander Pale Ale – plain ol’ keg draft, kinda blah – Manny’s & Fremont both blow this away.
  5. Imperial Pale Ale – cask version – just OK, nothing to write home about.
  6. Imperial Pale Ale – with CO2 – again OK, it’s just I’ve had much better NW IPAs.
Me Sample Tray - Arrrr

Me Sample Tray – Arrrr

So, with 6 x 5oz samples already in varying stages of consumption, Chris came up with two more suggestions. Noting I was less than enthusiastic about the Islander he offered me a 2nd sample, this time with nitro: it was better. Maritime also had tapped their Oktoberfest Marzen a couple days earlier and I was urged to try it. A seriously good brew; mid-amber color and balanced flavor kinda midway between the helles and dunkel styles – a pretty safe bet – and it was damned good.

Me Spreaders - Arrrr

Me Spreaders – Arrrr

Now some hindsight about the Pale Ales. While I was at the taproom I knew there was something putting me off the Islander and the IPA; I just couldn’t figure out what it was until I got home and researched Maritime beers a little deeper. Apparently they use malted wheat along with malted barley in all their recipes. I know there’s nothing inherently wrong with this (though some purists might disagree) but I believe the subtle way it affects the flavor was evident enough to me with the paler beers as to turn me off a little, the impact becoming undetectable as I went darker.

In fairness this is actually a differentiator for Maritime, setting them apart from other NW Pales Ales, so I’m not going to be overly-critical. Beer after all is so much a matter of personal taste; I’ll just say I didn’t much care for the Islander – possibly my least favorite NW Pale Ale tasted so far in my quest, and the IPAs were not far behind. However that Porter – oh wow that Porter – I’ll make the trip back to Maritime just to drink pints of that.


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