Field Trip: Destination, Seattle.

I first came to Seattle at the young and impressionable age of twenty-three. I knew little about craft beer and didn’t have my first coffee for another decade, nor did I have a single taste of either that first trip. I was in search of prime backpacking and rock climbing in the Pacific Northwest … ok, let’s be honest, I followed a girl I met in California months prior. She dumped me in a gas station. I did fall in love, but luckily with the city and not the girl.

Since those days I have often made the trek back to Seattle for vacation, coffee and beer binges, marathons (I love running those hills), and to visit family and friends. This September I took yet another trip out there in search of some pristine hiking on Mt. Rainier, spend some quality time with my sister and another good friend who just made the move, and to ingest as much liquid calories and caffeine as humanly possible. I think both of those ladies would agree, I drank all the drinks in Seattle and Tacoma.

Play Ball!  

Aside from Petco Field in San Diego, there could be no better place to watch a baseball game, have some quality craft beer, and get full on some great food than Safeco Field in Seattle. This is always one of my must-do destinations on a trip to Seattle if it’s baseball season.  Even if you’re not a baseball fan the beer and food are worth the trip, and honestly, it’s a nice refresher to escape the Seattle hipsters – man bun sightings were at an all-time low here.

Craft beer selections abound at Safeco, including breweries such as Alaskan, Boulevard Brewing, Fremont (my favorite local brewery in Seattle), New Belgium, Firestone Walker, Ninkasi, and so much more. I started my evening off with an Elysian Immortal IPA and ended somewhere along the lines of a Ninkasi Total Domination IPA or the Alaskan IPA. I’m not going to lie, I lost track, but there was clearly a pattern.

The Breweries

The last time I was in Seattle I told myself I was going to hit every brewery in town for at least one beer. I learned my lesson; there are over 30 breweries in Seattle, varying in quality and proximity to each other. This time around I decided to just visit a choice few and stay for a while.

Elysian Brewing

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See anything wrong with this picture?

Don’t be a hater. We all know they sold out to the big, bad AB-InBev corporate monster, but put your judgey little hipster hat away, I’m sure you have purchased something from a corporate entity by lunch today.

Elysian in Capitol Hill area is everything one would expect from a multi-million dollar brewery with several locations. It’s big, open, and has a lot of corporate/franchise feel to it. I still love their beers though and the service was good.  It was pumpkin season too, so of course I had their infamous pumpkin beers.

Notables: Try the Bud Light sampler. This beer is definitely brewed the hard way.

Fremont Brewing

This is my absolute favorite brewery in Seattle, situated right in Fremont district, which is a hip, young, artsy neighborhood. Lots of twisty mustaches could be found lingering at this brewery, but also that Pacific Northwest feel – it looks like a Patagonia clothing commercial, myself included.

The atmosphere at Fremont is very laid back, nothing out of the ordinary for this city, and it’s an open beer garden style layout. The beer is outstanding, with a few cider and guest tap options. They also have endless bowls of pretzels and cold-brewed coffee on a nitro tap, of course.  The scenery from the front beer garden is picture perfect Seattle overlooking Lake Union and the hills of Queen Anne, and as always with Seattle, lots of dudes in spandex bike shorts.

Notables: Fremont IPA is a classic, but also try anything from their Hop Lab series, the Summer Ale for a lighter option, or for something interesting look at what is currently being pushed through the Randall tap. I had The Brother Imperial IPA with peach and apricot tea; it was interesting. The cold-brewed coffee from Herkimer Coffee was stellar, and like I said, free pretzels.

Schooner Exact

This was a new one for me that my sister convinced me on, and I was not disappointed. Schooner Exact is located in a little industrial area that seems to be some type of conglomeration of actual industrial businesses along with small shops and studios. I can say too much about the place, as I was already getting a little cloudy by this point, but we had a few half pints, most notably the Citra IPA. That’s all I remember, go there yourself and tell me something for a change.

The Beer Junction

Photo Aug 21, 7 53 37 PMIt’s not a brewery, but they sure do have a ton of beer, and it’s Seattle, so it’s all delicious. I managed to meet up with a couple Buffalo friends at The Beer Junction, which is located in West Seattle. Mike and Dave work with New Belgium Brewing in Seattle, so as one could imagine we started drinking some funky sours from New Belgium once these guys showed up.

You could get lost in this place looking for a good beer, which for someone like me could actually be a problem. I did however find the best option  available at The Beer Junction, seemingly untouched: Genny Cream Ale, my favorite.

Hands down, this is the best bottle shop I have wandered into so far in Seattle. A must see for a visitor. Have a pint and take some home for later.


The Real Pacific Northwest

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The city is great, but everything outside the city of Seattle is even better. You cannot come to the Pacific Northwest and not go for a hike – day hike at the very least.  There are so many options ranging from novice hikes to expert day and multi-day hikes out here.  I would suggest picking up a hiking guide book at a local gear shop, such as REI, and have a pint or two researching the perfect trip for your time, equipment, and ability.

My friend and I chose to take a hike through Mt. Rainier National Forest up a very popular trail called the Fremont Trail, which leads to its namesake summit, Fremont Peak. Few words will sum up the beauty of this National Forest, so just check out the pictures and put this on a bucket list.

Not-so-notables: My choice to drink a 10 Barrel Pub Beer atop Fremont Peak. First off it tasted like a skunky Molson Canadian, and secondly, it was Fremont Peak. This would have been the perfect place to enjoy a can of Fremont IPA. Hindsight …

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Shawn Kerr is a caustic sanitation expert at 12 Gates Brewing.  He also writes things from time to time and is an avid enthusiast of Kids in the Hall.