North Sound Brewing

With a belly full of food, I got back on the bike and pedaled from Anacortes to Mt. Vernon in the hot August afternoon sun, with one break en route to cool off with an iced mocha. It felt like it took forever to reach North Sound Brewing, but after parking my loaded bicycle out front and then ordering the mega sampler tray I became a bit of a conversation piece with the locals, and that made it all worth it. One guy suggested NSB install a web cam above the entrance to capture video of out-of-towners like me trying to bike away after drinking a bunch of high octane beers. Fortunately, they did not heed his advice.

North Sound samplers

A whole lot of North Sound Brewing samplers — Mt Vernon, WA

    Rob’s Picks

  • Mystery Wheat – 4.5% – Really smooth and refreshing. A bit creamy, lightly bready, really drinkable. Made with “mystery” juice — I guessed apple or grape but was wrong. It was pretty subtle.
  • Goosetown Brown – 7.2% – Good coffee and chocolate flavors. Really drinkable.
  • Rye Opie IPA – 6.8% – (Opie 2) Touch of orange plus bitterness. Pretty light, but good mix of flavors, with a nicely balanced maltiness.
  • To Hell in a Hop Basket Imperial IPA – 10.6% – Big and barley wine-ish. So many hop flavors. Piney and citrusy, with a bit of an alcohol taste, as well. Somewhat creamy.
  • Imperial Porter – Really smooth. Similar barley wine-ish flavor, but so creamy, and with some chocolate/coffee flavors, too.
    The Rest

  • Big Bend Blonde – 5.6% – Light, bready, bitter finish, but with a stale taste. Bad batch, maybe?
  • Bitter Rain ESB – 5.8% – Malty flavor, smooth, with light bitter finish. Drinkable, but I’d prefer something more aggressive.
  • Hop Chops IPA – 7.5% – Lots of floral hoppiness. Decent malt balance. Bitter finish.
  • Sláinte Stout – 5.9% – Really creamy and smooth. Coffee and chocolate flavors, with lingering coffee finish. Thick and chewy. Very drinkable, but I’d prefer more of a bite.

As I slowly made my way through the tasters, the possibility of catching the 8:30pm train back home to Seattle became increasing less guaranteed. The local farmer/homebrewer sitting next to me at the bar offered to let me camp on his property — would’ve been fun to try his potato beer, actually — but I decided to stick with the train.  Sleeping in my own bed was just too tempting.  I didn’t quite finish all the samplers (sorry, Big Bend), but I did just barely have enough time to safely bike to the station, procure a ticket and bike upgrade, and board the train.

Earlier that day, when I took the ferry from Vancouver Island to Anacortes, I met three folks who were biking down the Pacific Coast. Then on the train I met someone else who would be starting her bike tour down the coast the next morning. It was the perfect time of year to do that trip, and part of me wanted to just keep biking — it made the uphill ride back to my place a little bit harder. Ah well. Another time.

Oh yeah, the mystery juice was blueberry.

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