Beer Trek: The Short Version

Over the Labor Day weekend Mr & Mrs Fueled by Beer, The Daughter, The Navy Son, and buddy Gage decided to spend a day sampling chocolate and beer at the Center of the Universe: Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. The day turned into a mini version of the Beer Trek I chronicled back in May

We started out from Theo Chocolate, where we previously took the excellent tour, and this time loaded up on free samples at the factory, then we headed off along the Burke-Gilman trail towards Ballard, to our first beer stop: Hales Ales.

I never tire of visiting Hale’s: I tell people that no matter how many six-packs they might purchase at the grocery store and consume at home, until they sample Hale’s on draft or cask at the source (on-tap at an alehouse is OK too) they will never know how good Hale’s Ales can be.

Then of course there’s the story of “HSB” – Hale’s Special Bitter / Horndean Special Bitter.

Since Fuller’s buyout of George Gale & Co and their closure of Gale’s Horndean brewery, the true descendent of HSB is not the version brewed today at the Griffin brewery in Chiswick, London but the one at Mike Hale’s brewery in Fremont, Seattle. For the background story read this and this.

I have never left Hale’s feeling disappointed; the beers are always first class; and the food is good too. In my estimation Hale’s ranks, after Elysian and Elliott Bay, as one of Seattle’s best, and most family-friendly brewpubs.

A new feature at Hale’s – at least one I don’t recall last time we were there – is side-by-side tasting. This is where Hale’s puts one their brews up against comparable beers from some the world’s best craft breweries.

For this visit we were able to compare Hale’s IX Gold Belgian ale against Sound Brewery’s Tripel Entendre.

I already considered Tripel Entendre, along with Elysian’s Bete Blanche, and Issaquah’s Menage a Frog, as the best Tripels I have yet come across. I would now include IX Gold in the same company. Well done Hale’s Ales.

IMAG0182In our photo taken sitting at the bar, my beer sample contains from (my) left to right: cask-conditioned Supergoose IPA (so good!); Tripel Entendre; IX Gold; HSB on nitro; Troll Porter on nitro.

IMAG0188After our visit to Hale’s Ales we retraced our steps back along the Burke-Gilman trail to Fremont, where we left the trail to walk past Lenin, the Center of the Universe, and the Troll.

On a side note I should mention that as we walked through Fremont, we passed Dad Watsons – rather I should say the building where Dad Watsons pub used to be.

As followers of this blog will know, I’m not a great McMenamins fan, but I am sad to see Dad Watsons gone from Fremont – I considered it the best of the Seattle-area McMenamins pubs.

Word is there was some falling out with their landlord and they decided to close – at a location they occupied for 15 years – such a shame. Apparently McMenamins hopes to reopen at a different location – possibly somewhere in the U-district. I’ll be watching to see what happens to the brewing license – that’s the best way to keep tabs on Dad Watson’s future – if they have one.

fremontAnyway, I digress: finally we ended up at Fremont Brewing for another most enjoyable visit to the ‘Urban Beer Garden’. On tap for this occasion was the usual Universale Pale and Interurban IPA, but what filled our glasses this time: the fall seasonal Harvest Ale, a really tasty French-style Saison; and Wandering Wheat, a classic unfiltered Hefeweizen. Both were perfect beers for such a warm summer’s day.

We eventually finished our day with dinner – and more beer samples of course – at Elysian’s Tangletown pub. All I need to say about our visit is that Elysian still merits my Puget’s Perfect Pint award. Perhaps after Elliott Bay opens their third location the balance might tip in their favor – it was a close call after all – or perhaps some as yet unvisited contender is out there waiting to be discovered.

The quest continues. 🙂

For a map of the walking route click here (opens in new window).


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