Friday, July 23, 2010

Seattle Part I: The Pike Brewing Company

I'd like to thank my cousin Erin for getting married in Seattle and giving me an excuse to revisit the Pacific Northwest.  Seattle is a town that is in the heart of the organic and sustainable food movements.  They also pride themselves on fresh, local seafood.  Oh, and don't forget about craft beer!  Yeah, I knew from the start that this was going to be a good trip.  My brother Eric, author of the BR Beer Scene, and I made sure to have a little extra time outside of the wedding festivities in order to check out the local scene.  Our Friday will be split into three separate blog posts, all chronicling our culinary and indulgent cultural experiences before we made it to the pre-wedding barbeque.  It was a long day, and you'll soon understand why I couldn't stomach a drink at the wedding reception the next day!

Our Friday started in downtown Seattle.  After a morning stroll down the hill we made it to the famous Pike Place Market.  The clock read 10 am, but the market already buzzed with fresh seafood, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and, of course, tourists.  One thing that sucks about tourism is all the tourists.  Especially knowing that in the grand scheme of things, I'm one of them.  Still, I make a conscious effort to not travel like a stereotypical tourist, but alas, there are some things you just have to see.  The Pike Place Market is probably one of them.

 The Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA
Fresh Seafood at the Pike Place Market
After a quick tour, avoiding some crowds, and eating a few samples of fresh fruits and cheeses, we made our way to the neighboring Pike Brewing Company.  After patiently awaiting the opening establishment at 11 am, we took our seats at the bar and placed a beer order.  We both started with beer samplers to get a taste of what The Pike had to offer.

The Pike Brewery and the Beer Sampler
The sampler featured six 4oz brews arranged from light to dark on a wooden tray.  It started with the Naughty Nellie Organic Golden Ale and then continued with the Pike Pale Heirloom Amber Ale, the Pike IPA, the Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale, the Tandem Double Ale and the XXXXX Extra Stout.  The Naughty Nellie had a good malt and hop balance for a light beer, but it still left me thirsty for more flavor.  I really thought that Pike's beers got better as I moved down the sampler.  The Pike Pale has been brewed since they opened in 1989 and was a pretty decent American Pale Ale.  The Pike IPA had an extra burst of hops and a more floral nose.  I found it to be considerably better than the APA, and I don't think I'm alone.  Author Roger Protz called this beer one of "300 Beers to Try Before You Die."  I don't know if I'd go that far since it wasn't my favorite at The Pike, but it was still a good Pacific Northwest hop-fest.  If you'd like to check out the book, you can get it from Amazon here:

My favorite beer from the sampler may have been then Pike Kilt Lifter.  This Scotch Ale wasn't shy about the peated whisky malt that blended with the other malts and hops to give the beer excellent character.  At 6.5% ABV, the brew had plenty of kick to match the peat flavors.  The Pike Tandem Double Ale also impressed me.  It had a few add-ons like coriander and candy sugar to give it a more complex flavor while still allowing the malt and hops to shine.  Finally, the sampler finished with the XXXXX Extra Stout.  The dark roasted grains were evident in the chocolaty tones of the stout.  I found the beer to be particularly well flavored and balanced; a fantastic stout which I don't get every day in Louisiana.

The Pike's Ploughman's Plate
Needing something to snack on, Eric and I ordered a charcuterie platter, the Ploughman's Plate.  The gorgeous spread came with an assortment of artisan cured meats from Seattle's Salumi (ran by the parents of celebrity chef Mario Batali) and from La Quercia Artisan Cured Meats in Iowa.  The pate also included three local cheeses all from Washington and a homemade olive tapenade with crostinis.  Salumi's meats are incredible.  The salty and savory coppa is cured in sugar and salt and the spiced with cayenne and chili peppers.  But as good as the coppa and salami were, the proscuitto blew me away.  The La Quercia proscuitto provided amazing flavor and bold textures that usually aren't present in store bought meats.  It is salted, dried, and aged with only sun-dried sea salt added.  Delicious!  The cheese and olive spread rounded out the platter nicely.  After polishing off the Ploughman's Plate, the time had come for one more brew, then off to the rest of our Seattle adventure.

Pike Monk's Uncle Tripel Ale
Eric and I finished our Pike experience with a tasting of the Monk's Uncle Tripel Ale.  This beauty of a brewsky has a 9.00% ABV.  It is made with Belgian yeast and organic malt to produce a sensational ale in the style of the Belgian Abbey ales.  The beer is crisp and fruity with that distinctive Belgian taste.  The monks would be proud.

After leaving The Pike, we headed to the stadiums to give the Pyramid Alehouse a try, but you can read about that in Seattle Part II.

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