Lucky Envelope Brewing

Ballard had ten breweries for a little while, then dropped to nine when one relocated to Magnolia, but Lucky Envelope Brewing brought the count back up to ten. Whew! I visited them twice on short bike rides around town, and then they won a GABF medal for their Helles Lager. Pretty surprising for a brand new brewery, but good for them. Their taproom has a nice open feel to it, there’s a good-sized patio for the warmer months, and occasional food trucks. In addition to their regular production equipment, they make use of a small pilot system to try out new ideas, so there’s usually some interesting one-offs on tap.

drink dr. lucky

Feeling lucky at Lucky Envelope Brewing — Seattle, WA

    Rob’s Picks

  • Schwarzbier Lager – 5% – Light on the tongue, with rich chocolate/coffee and roasty maltiness. Hint of spicy hops, and a bit of underlying lemon citrus edge. Goes right down.
  • Fog Dart Pale Ale – 5.4% – Mix of citrus, pine, earthy hops with underlying caramel. Nice lingering hop flavors.
  • ENIAC Mosaic IPA – 7.3% – Pretty smooth. Light citrus and tropical fruit hops, with light pine towards the finish. Underlying caramel sweetness.
  • Spanish Cedar ENIAC – 7.3% – Small batch. Pretty similar to the above ENIAC Mosaic, but with a bit more grapefruit and more of a rounder mouthfeel. Light woody finish, as well, and a touch of smoke.
  • British Stout – 4.4% – Chocolate/coffee and roasty maltiness with some underlying sweetness. Dry finish.
  • Two Pepper Pale Ale – 5.4% – Fog Dart infused with shisito and habanero peppers. Really nice pepper flavors but without too much heat, though it does build up. Malty backbone supports the peppers well.
    The Rest

  • Helles Lager – 5.3% – Herbal and spicy hops with light biscuity malt. Touch of lemon at the end. Fair amount of bitterness.
  • Thaiger Mom Tripel – 9% – Pretty sweet. Banana, bubblegum, some lemon, some lime. Some spiciness on the tongue. Too sweet for me.
  • Citra IPA – 7.2% – Floral, citrus, earthy hops with underlying caramel. Decent, but the hop mix just wasn’t my thing.

It seems like the ten Ballard breweries are doing pretty well — I guess the neighborhood hasn’t yet hit its brewery saturation point. Will be interesting to see how many more open there.

Chainline Brewing

One of three bicycle-themed breweries in the general Seattle area, Chainline Brewing opened in early 2015 along the Cross Kirkland Corridor rail-trail just north of the Google campus. Pretty sweet location, and the southern end of the CKC is just a few blocks from the new section of the 520 trail, so it’s a pretty easy bike ride, which will be even better when the new 520 bridge with its ped/bike trail opens. Nice interior, a great deck looking out onto the trail, room to grow, and periodic food trucks out front. Not sure if they let you ride the fat tire bike hanging on the wall, though.

links in the chainline

Sampler break at Chainline Brewing while biking the Cross Kirkland Corridor — Kirkland, WA

    Rob’s Picks

  • Bar Spin Brown Porter – 4.8% – Coffee, chocolate, caramel, with sweet brown sugar edge. Crisp and bright, with a hint of citrus.
  • Hardtail Pale Ale – 5.1% – Some honey sweetness, light biscuit, with a mix of earthy and floral hops. Touch of herbal, too. Light bitter zing on the end.
  • Trail Gnome IPA – 6.2% – Fairly sweet with honey and some caramel maltiness. Floral, herbal, and light earthy hops that blend well with the sweetness.
    The Rest

  • Cyclo – 6% – Oktoberfest/Märzen. Mix of banana, light clove, caramel, toffee, toast, and bit of brown sugar.
  • OTB White IPA – 4.8% – Over The Bars. Big floral hops, with some spiciness, light breadiness, bit of toast, and hint of lemon. Fairly bitter finish.
  • Big Wheel Session Brown – 3.6% – Sweet with roasty and brown sugar maltiness. Light citrus edge. Light smoke, as well, when it warms.
  • Recumbent Red Ale – 6.2% – Biscuit and caramel malts. Light floral and herbal hops toward the end. Decent lingering bitterness.

Gotta say, the Cross Kirkland Corridor trail just whets my appetite for the whole Eastside Rail Corridor that extends north to Woodinville and south through Bellevue and all the way down to Renton. Can’t come fast enough.

Dru Bru

Snoqualmie Pass is both an odd place and a smart place for a brewery. The population that lives there year-round is pretty small, but the pass sees a lot of traffic from the Summit at Snoqualmie ski area in winter and popular hiking trails the rest of the year (not too mention the literal traffic from I-90). So I was intrigued when I heard a new townhome development with a restaurant and a brewery was being built there. Dru Bru opened during the nonexistent 2014/2015 ski season, which was a little worrying, but they managed to stick around. After a spring camping trip in eastern Washington with some friends, we all stopped in before the last stretch of driving back home. You can order food from the restaurant next door, and they’ll walk it over to the taproom for you, conveniently enough.

dru bru tasters

Post-camping taster flight at Dru Bru — Snoqualmie Pass, WA

    Rob’s Picks

  • Hop Session – 4.7% – Earthy, citrus hops. Light body but not too light. Hint of honey.
  • Alt – 4.9% – Caramel, nutty malts. Light herbal hops.
  • Schwarzbier – 4.8% – Roasty and light chocolate/coffee malts. Light body. Dark chocolate bitterness on the finish.
  • Pacific Crest Ale – 6% – Citrus, earthy hops. Good caramel malt backbone.
    The Rest

  • Wit – 4.3% – Light. Some bubblegum, light banana and clove.
  • Kolsch – 4.8% – Light. Some honey, some caramel. Subtle egginess.
  • IPA – 6.4% – Earthy, floral, and touch of herbal hops with light malts. Okay, but not too interesting.
  • Pass Life Pale – 6.6% – Earthy hops with pretty big malts, mainly caramel. Bit of herbal and floral hops at end.

There’s a fun loop bike ride I did a few years ago that can incorporate a stop here. Start at the John Wayne Pioneer Trail / Iron Horse State Park parking lot at Exit 38, hop on the rail-trail and bike to Hyak (assuming the tunnel is open (don’t forget your lights)). Make a left and do another uphill to get to the pass. Stop at Dru Bru (or the restaurant or Red Mountain Coffee). Then pass under the freeway and do the fun, twisty downhill towards Denny Creek campground. From there take a dirt road that parallels I-90 for about five miles until you have to get on the freeway, but it’s only 2-3 miles to the next exit, which takes you back to the starting point. Yeah, I’m going to have to do this ride again one of these days.

Postdoc Brewing

There have been quite a few new breweries opening on the eastside the past couple of years. The latest Redmond spot is Postdoc Brewing, located just east of Marymoor Park and close to Mac and Jack’s. Postdoc’s taproom is pretty slick, and the adjoining warehouse where the brewing equipment resides has plenty of room for growth. The Doc Brown goggles logo is pretty cool, too.

postdoc research

Gathering experimental data at Postdoc Brewing — Redmond, WA

    Rob’s Picks

  • Goldilocks Belgian Blonde – 3.9% – Golden color. Clove and light banana aroma and flavor. Touch of alcohol, hint of breadiness, very subtle coriander, with a bit of honey on the finish.
  • Kilty MacSporran Scottish Ale – 5.7% – Smooth. Big caramel and biscuit malt. Some honey on the finish. Maybe a hint of herbal hops? Very drinkable.
  • Seamus O’Brien Irish Stout – 4.4% – On nitro. Big coffee aroma and flavor. Light chocolate. Pretty smooth to dark chocolate/coffee bitter zing on finish.
  • Herbert’s Legendary ESB – 6.1% – Caramel, some biscuit. Floral and herbal hops. Nice mix.
  • Prereq Pale Ale – 5.5% – Piney, resiny hops with solid caramel backbone. Touch of honey on the finish. Yum.
  • Alpha Factor IPA – 6.8% – Piney, citrus, resiny, light earthy hops with just enough caramel malt. Some honey on the finish.
  • Hogus Maximus – 11.1% – Triple IPA. Doesn’t have the usual big malty booziness of triple IPAs; sugar added instead to up the ABV. Sweet, big piney and citrus hops, caramel, and a touch of that malty booziness.
    The Rest

  • Homeroom Belgian Rye – 5% – Amber color. Very light clove with rye dryness and some astringency. Light spiciness. Hint of floral hops on finish.
  • Postdoc Porter – 5.1% – Smooth chocolate/coffee flavors with some brown sugar. Hint of herbal hops. Bit too sweet for me.
  • Grapefruit Goldilocks – 3.9% – Goldilocks with grapefruit extract. Really different from Goldilocks. Original flavors muted but there. Bit of saccharin, then grapefruit. Weird. As it warms, more flavors come out: caramel, clove and light banana, honey, grapefruit.

While I’m happy there are more breweries on the eastside, it means more rides on the Burke-Gilman. It’s a nice trail and all, but it’s pretty crowded and I’ve ridden it countless times. Can’t wait for the new 520 bridge to open with its pedestrian/bike trail. It’ll make for some good new Seattle/eastside loop rides.

Outer Planet Brewing

For a long time, the Capitol Hill neighborhood was home to only two breweries, Elysian’s original brewpub and McMenamins Six Arms (which I always seem to forget about). So I was happy to hear that two new ones were planning to open in 2015. The smaller of the two, Outer Planet Brewing, opened first, and holds the distinction of being the closest brewery to where I live. It’s an eight minute walk uphill from my place to Outer Planet. Not bad. The brewer’s been making a few Brett beers, which is cool, but since he has a small system in a small space, is a bit risky. Hopefully he has the quality control all dialed in.


Sampler flight at Capitol Hill’s Outer Planet Brewing — Seattle, WA

    Rob’s Picks

  • IPA – 7% – Fairly big piney and citrus hops, caramel malt. Light earthiness.
  • Utopia Planitia – 6.5% – Farmhouse ale. Bubblegum, clove, some spiciness, with decent body. Bit of underlying caramel and coriander.
  • The Brett Pumpkin – 6% – Pumpkin spice aroma. Somewhat muted nutmeg, cinnamon, clove flavors. Bit of funk balances it out. Good solid body. Brewer said he might bottle a little of it to see how it develops.
  • Ghost of Jupiter – 7.5% – Wet hop ale. Citrusy, fruity aroma and flavor. Pretty juicy. Some piney hops, as well. Underlying caramel.
  • Oats and Rye Saison – 5.5% – Some sweetness, some rye, some straw, some spiciness, some coriander. Nice balance.
    The Rest

  • The Bohemian – 4.5% – I liked this when I first had it but on my October 2015 visit something was off. Light, bit of honey, hint of lemon. Light biscuit on the finish, as well as a bit of oxidation or cross-contamination Brett funk.
  • ESB – 6% – Light floral aroma. Caramel, biscuit malts. Strong bubblegum-like sweetness. Light floral hop flavor.
  • American Pale Ale – 6% – Some caramel, light honey, light herbal hops. Medium body. Some bitterness on the finish.
  • Oatmeal Brown – 6% – Chocolate, coffee aroma and flavor. Brown sugar. Some citrus and floral hops lurking about. Medium-light body.
  • Clementine Wit – 4% – Light, a bit watery. Light orange, light coriander, a touch spicy/peppery, hint of floral.

With Outer Planet’s convenient location, I’m sure I’ll be dropping in on a fairly regular basis to see what they’re up to.

Odd Otter Brewing

A few days after returning from my January 2015 Bay Area trip, I went to Tacoma to visit a couple cousins, and we decided to do some of our familial bonding at one of the new breweries in town. The cousin who lives there had been to Odd Otter Brewing a few days before and enjoyed it, so that’s where we went. The name “Odd Otter” made me a little nervous, and they go a little overboard with otter names for their beers, but they’re located in a cool space on the north end of Pacific Ave and the woman working there was pretty nice. So it all kind of balanced out.

otter pups

Sampler flight at Odd Otter Brewing — Tacoma, WA

    Rob’s Picks

  • Blind Otter – 14+% – Barleywine. Raisin and plum aroma and flavors. Some maple sweetness and bit of alcohol edge. Very warming.
  • Jolly Otter ESB – 5.7% – Caramel with a bit of floral hops. Touch of breadiness and hint of spiciness.
  • Otter Nonsense – 7.4% – IPA. There were calling this “Notteronsense” that day, but, yeah, that’s just too silly. Anyway. Creamy smooth. Caramel malt with citrus, resiny, earthy hops. Maltier than the usual NW IPA.
  • Screeching Otter – 9.2% – Double IPA. Bigger caramel, citrus, resiny, earthy flavors. Lingering bitterness that blends back in well.
  • Luck o’ the Otter – 5% – Irish Stout. Nice and dry. Light coffee and chocolate with a citrus edge. Goes right down.
  • Winterface Holiday Ale – 8% – Made with cucumber, lavender, juniper, and orange zest. Fun botanical flavors with sweet caramel base.
    The Rest

  • Comrade Otter’s Russian Imperial Chocolate Stout – 11.7% – Chocolate and coffee, fairly dry, with a touch of molasses. Medium body.
  • Momma Otter’s Pancake Porter – 8% – Sweet maple syrup. Hard to pick up other flavors other than a little bit of honey. Thought there’s be breadiness but nope. Pretty light body.
  • Ottzel Quatzel – 5.6% – Peruvian purple corn pale ale. Some floral hops, some caramel malt, a bit of honey sweetness, and lots of bitterness. Not much corn flavor.
  • Coconut Chai Porter – 7.2% – Chai aroma and flavor. Underlying chocolate and coffee, with a bit of coconut on the finish. Some honey sweetness, too. Fun, but a 5oz taster was enough.

This reminds me that I haven’t visited Tacoma in quite a while. There are at least three breweries down there I have not yet been to, and of course it’d be good to get in some more cousin-time. Gotta make that happen sooner rather than later.

Bartlett Hall

On the last day of my January 2015 Bay Area trip, I had lunch at Bartlett Hall, a new brewpub near Union Square in downtown SF. From their web site, I got the feeling that it was started by some business types to see if it would make a good franchise, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. There are no other locations yet, and I decided that made it qualify for a blog post. Anyway, I went in and sat down at the bar. The menu was the usual pub food, nothing too interesting, and when the bartender said they weren’t serving any of their beers in order to make sure they had enough for the upcoming SF beer week, I almost left. But he was kind enough to keep me there by pouring a couple ounces of the two they had on tap. So I got lunch, which was okay, and a full pour of some other beer. The on-site brewery is cooped up behind glass in a small corner of the restaurant space. I could see why they were saving up for the beer week events – pretty small production capacity. Not sure the business types thought this whole thing through too thoroughly.

    Rob’s Picks

  • Turbulent ESB – 5.1% – Fruity, melon hops, bit of spiciness, to bready finish. Interesting mix.
  • From A to Z IPA – 6% – Tannic herbal hops, touch of spiciness. Light on the tongue. Very light malt that blends in with the herbal flavors. Some tannic bitterness on the finish.

So yeah, the two beers were all right, but the ambiance was a little too corporate for my tastes, and the food didn’t make up for it. I think the main reason I’d go back is to get a picture for this post. The little tastes I got didn’t really lend themselves to an interesting photo.

Triple Voodoo Brewery

On Day 4 of my January 2015 Bay Area trip I visited Triple Voodoo Brewery in the trendy, up-and-coming Dogpatch neighborhood. I also visited them on Day 5 because ten beers (even small-ish samplers) were just too much to try in one afternoon. I assumed Triple Voodoo was a new place, but found out they’d been around for about five years as a gypsy brewing outfit until they recently settled down into this slick new space and got their own brewhouse. They also have cool-looking logo tulip glasses for sale.

quadruple voodoo

Sampler flight at Triple Voodoo — San Francisco, CA

    Rob’s Picks

  • Inception – 8% – Belgian tripel. Caramel, banana/clove, herbal hops. Bit of tannic finish. Light creaminess.
  • Samurai Saison – 6.5% – Dry hopped with Simcoe and Sorachi Ace. Fun tropical fruit hop flavors with pretty solid saison base. Light lemon, spiciness, touch of funk. Great mix.
  • Working Vacation – 6.9% – IPA. Big citrus aroma and flavor. Mainly grapefruit, but some tropical fruit, too. Supposedly some toasty malt but too subtle for me.
  • EF YEA! – 9.5% – Imperial IPA. Big and dank. Piney, tropical, touch of earthy hops, with solid caramel base. Yum!
  • Outlaw’s Gold – 5.5% – Blonde ale. Light malt, some honey. Grassy, herbal hops, with a hint of bitterness on the finish.
  • Ultra Violet – 6.9% – Dubbel. Big malts. Caramel and fruity. Plum, raisin, bit of apple. Light underlying funk. Would go well with a dessert.
    The Rest

  • Phantom Empire – 5% – Grisette. Very light. Dry, fairly crisp, grainy. Light citrus, herbal, and grassy hops, with a hint of honey. Light bitterness on the finish.
  • Stag Hop #4 – 6.4% – Single hop (Motueka) extra pale ale. Floral with some grassiness and tropical fruit. Light underlying breadiness. Bitter floral finish.
  • Breaka’ Dawn – 5.7% – Belgian pale ale. Fairly crisp. Light citrus at the start. Funk, herbal hops, tannic, with a dry finish. Lingering funk.
  • Symmetry Saison – 7% – Smooth, a little spicy. Some citrus, some bubblegum, some herbal hops, bit of funk. Touch of creaminess.

Dogpatch is shaping up to be a good neighborhood for a day of brewery hopping. Triple Voodoo is about two blocks from Magnolia Smokestack and about six blocks from the very new Harmonic Brewing. If you need some exercise, there’s a bouldering gym there, too. What more could you want? Oh yeah, Almanac to open a taproom.

Anchor Brewing

2015 is the 50th anniversary of Fritz Maytag buying Anchor Brewing and giving a handy start date for the US craft beer movement. Thinking about it, it might seem a bit odd that I’d never visited Anchor before. I lived in the Bay Area for about seven years, but I wasn’t so much into beer way back then. On my periodic visits to SF after moving to Seattle I never planned far enough in advance for a spot on one of their tours – they were free and booked solid for several months out. But with this most recent visit, I figured I’d take a look and see if there was any possibility of getting myself on a tour. And lo and behold, Anchor had switched from self-booked free tours to a third-party, $15 tour-booking site. While a small part of me was bummed that tours were no longer free, I was much more happy that I could actually reserve a spot two weeks before my trip. And yeah, it was a great tour, with a healthy amount of beer sampling.

full steam ahead. well, half-full.

Sampling beer in the Anchor Brewing tasting room — San Francisco, CA

    Rob’s Picks

  • Double Liberty IPA – 8.2% – Caramel with light citrus, floral mix, touch of earthiness, and nice lingering flavors.
  • Zymaster No. 7 – 7% – Portrero Hill Sour-Mash IPA. Sweet caramel and light honey with herbal and light floral and spicy hops. Bit of sour mash tang in aroma, very light in flavor at end. Quite drinkable.
  • Zymaster No. 6 – 6% – Saaremaa Island Ale. “Estonian-style pale ale.” Something unique about the taste but hard to pinpoint. Herbal, tea-like, spicy, light caramel and toffee, hint of floral. Pretty fun. (After recently visiting Estonia (and Finland), I’m guessing the “hard to pinpoint” flavor was juniper, but I would need to have some more No. 6 to confirm…)
  • Summer Wheat – 4.5% – Good balance of banana, light breadiness, touch of lemon and hint of herbal hops. Light bitterness on finish.
  • Steam – 4.9% – Caramel and alcohol aroma and flavor. Touch of honey. As flavors fade, bitterness becomes more prominent. Very easy drinking.
  • California Lager – 4.9% – Crisp and light, caramel, to a touch of honey on finish, with light underlying bitterness. Nice balance. Also easy drinking.
  • Liberty Ale – 5.9% – Sweet floral aroma. Honey, caramel, floral, citrus. Sweet zing at end. Light underlying bitterness. Great balance.
  • Brotherhood Steam – 5.6% – Dry-hopped Steam. Tour beer for Chris Robinson’s Brotherhood. Fruity, melon notes to the steam beer. Adds a good extra level to it. Smooth, a touch creamy, fairly sweet but with just enough bitterness.
  • Porter – 5.6% – Lots of malt but not a big beer. Quite crisp and fairly light on the tongue. Honey, caramel, with coffee/chocolate on finish. Bit of dark choc bitterness. Very easy drinking.
  • Christmas 2014 – 5.5% – Smooth caramel malts with nice spices. Nutmeg? Bit of spruce/birch/pine on finish. Pretty fun.
  • Christmas 2013 – 5.5% – Big caramel malts with nutmeg. Touch of spiciness on the tongue. Very drinkable.
  • Winter Wheat – 7% – Crisp liquid caramel with touches of chocolate and honey. Very subtle floral hops. Pretty big body.
    The Rest

  • BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red – 6% – Biscuit, light caramel malt and floral hops, with a little bit of herbal. A fair amount of bitterness on the finish, along with a bit of maple syrup.
  • Saison Spring Ale – 7.2% – Made with lemongrass, lemon peel, and ginger. Lemony clove aroma. Light, with bready malt base and big clove, bitter lemon, pepper, and a touch of bubblegum and funk. Ginger is either too subtle for me or just blends in with the other flavors. Bitter finish.
  • IPA – 6.5% – Caramel and honey, herbal and citrus, bit of melon. Little more lingering bitterness than Steam, Liberty, California Lager. Pretty good but not my favorite.

I sampled eight different Anchor beers on the tour, and in the eight months since then I managed to try seven more. It’s great to see they keep doing new beers in addition to their regular line-up, and while they’re not pushing too many boundaries these days, they’re still independent and making solid beer. And they really pushed the boundaries for US beer back in the 60s and 70s, so respect.

Sante Adairius Rustic Ales

On Day 2 of my January 2015 Bay Area trip, three of us took a road trip to Santa Cruz to check out the town and then visit Sante Adairius Rustic Ales in neighboring Capitola. We’d all been to the boardwalk and the beach before, so we wandered around Santa Cruz’s town center, had a really nice lunch, and then took a very scenic but excruciatingly slow drive to SARA. The other two didn’t seem to mind the leisurely pace, almost like they weren’t nearly as fanatical about visiting breweries as I am. Weird. But we finally did arrive, and, contrary to its pastoral name, the brewery’s located in a low-rise business park.

challenging note-taking at SARA

Bit of a challenge to take notes like this at Sante Adairius Rustic Ales — Capitola, CA

    Rob’s Picks

  • Anais – 6.5% – House saison. Lemongrass and coriander, with light funk. Lightly spicy on the tongue. Light bitter finish.
  • Luxury of Youth – 5.7% – Belgian pale ale. Light caramel, big herbal hops, bit of clove and spiciness. Dry, tannic finish with some bitterness.
  • 831 IPA – 7.2% – Citrus and tropical fruit flavors. Some rye astringency and spiciness. Nice lingering hop flavors and bitterness.
  • I See a Darkness (Batch 2) – 8.2% – Collaboration with Tired Hands Brewing. Imperial porter with honey and Verve coffee. Sweet coffee aroma. Very smooth. big coffee and chocolate flavors with light honey sweetness.
  • A Door Ajar – 5.9% – Stout. Chewy with chocolate, coffee, and touch of molasses. Underlying dark chocolate bitterness. Smooth, creamy goodness.
    The Rest

  • Simpleton – 6.5% – IPA with Simcoe and Galaxy hops. Grapefruit and other citrus aroma and flavor. Some tropical fruit flavor, too. Light underlying caramel. A bit too much lingering bitterness for me.
  • Zuur Cafe #3 – 8.2% – Barrel-aged dark sour with Verve coffee. Coffee aroma. Coffee and sour start, then coffee fades to sour finish. Bit of vinegar in the sour profile. Odd mix.

Didn’t get to try as many as I would’ve liked. The friend driving bought his own beer and nursed it throughout the whole visit, and my other friend was a little picky and only helped drink two of the seven half-pours. Ah well. Will just have to make it down there again on my next Bay Area trip.

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