The Conquest of Capitol Hill’s West Face

Picture the scene: a gentlemen’s club, 1920s Belgravia, pompous upper-class twit:

“I say chaps; spiffing news. As you know, an ascent from base camp to the summit via the fabled western approach has always been considered the unassALEable goal.”

“While climbing from base camp to camp I can be assALEd in a day, the distance from camp I to the summit is just too great. Every expedition that tried has failed, all turned back after running out of time crossing the glacier.”

Upper Class Twits

“Well, remember those swarthy little Sherpas we sent out months ago? They were to search for a site for an intermediate camp II, just above the glacier. Well, hip-hip-hurray, they’ve found it! Jolly good show, eh-what?”

A rousing chorus of Rule Brittania echos around the room…

Ripping YarnsThis analogy of a Ripping Yarn, inspired by the classic 1970s BBC2 comedy series of the same name, refers to the ‘missing link’ in my chain of previously explored brewpubs between downtown Seattle and Capitol Hill.

Base camp is The Pike Pub; camp I is Rock Bottom Brewery; the glacier is I-5; the summit is Elysian Capitol Hill. The elusive camp II is represented by my recent visit to McMenamins Six Arms located just across I-5. These four pubs make for a very nice walk on a fine day – 1.4 miles from first to last (see map below).

Since The Pike, Rock Bottom, and Elysian have already been covered in previous posts this post will cover McMenamins Six Arms.

My recent visit to the Six Arms completes the Seattle area McMenamins brewpubs. My opinion of Six Arms is very much the same as Queen Anne: great location, easy walk from downtown, standard McMenamins menu, so-so beer, and so-so service.

Nothing is outstanding; nothing compells one to return except in passing (like on my ‘ascent’ of Capitol Hill). Also, if I were asked to choose, nothing about Six Arms makes me change my view that among McMenamins Seattle area pubs, Dad Watsons is the best.

There are however a couple points specific to Six Arms worth noting: the seating limitation at Queen Anne is not an issue at Six Arms – all ages can sit anywhere except the bar, including the small upstairs area.

This is the same as Dad Watsons although if memory serves me, Dad Watsons is the larger location of the two. Although I didn’t see specific hours posted at the pub or on the website, the bartender informed me that kids are generally welcome until 7 pm. I’m not sure if this is official or just the guy expressing his personal preference.

Speaking of preferences: I tried the McMenamins taster tray; all pretty blah except the Ruby Ale, which was downright disgustingly bad, so bad I asked the bartender to toss it. He seemed offended, as did the young lady sitting next to me at the bar, as he proceeded to advise me that the Ruby is the most popular brew at Six Arms. This was echoed moments later by the lady.

Now, I don’t want to stereotype Capitol Hill, or appear homophobic, but if Ruby is truly the most popular brew there then all I can say is every limp-wrist on the Hill who prefers ‘fruit’ beer must congregate at Six Arms. To me Ruby tasted worse than Kool-Aid.

So, for the Six Arms to serve a useful purpose during the grueling Capitol Hill ascent, let me conclude with this thought. After sampling the brews at the Pike and Rock Bottom, where I believe everyone can find something to satisfy the highest standards of beer geekdom, liquid sustenance is advised during the 1.2 mile trek between camp I and the summit. Camp II serves that purpose. Pop in, drink a pint of IPA or Porter (safe bets), then move on. The Elysian beckons.

It occurred to me that the average reader will have no idea what Ripping Yarns is: that is, unless you’re British and of a certain age, so I present for your enjoyment one episode from the series – there’s so much more.

And finally, here’s the map of the climb – of course you are expected to walk or ride transit to and from downtown:


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