This month, the deviants of Masters of Brewtality are deviating yet again, but this time it’s only from our standard format. We’re packing up our books of spells, graveyard dirt and shrunken heads and heading to Seattle for a whirlwind bender; hitting five breweries in two days, all the while waging total war on all things Christmas. After pounding some of that blasphemous Starbucks coffee everyone gets so up in arms about, throwing some Black Sabbath in the stereo and donning our darkest rain jackets, we were ready to rock.
Stop 1: Seven Seas Brewing, Tacoma
We visited their largest taproom, located in the shell of the iconic Heidelberg Brewery which closed in 1979. The old train tracks that used to deliver beer to the parched workers of the area for close to a century are still visible on the side of building, but beyond that, everything is brand new and spotless. We sampled their Rude Parrot Single IPA, 253 Pilsner, Life Jacket Citrus IPA, Water Chopper Gose, Balls Deep Double IPA, Export Stout and NW Amber. Picking a favorite is impossible, but the Citrus IPA jumped out as extremely refreshing, mostly because that was one of the first we had and the details got hazy from there.
Beers drank: 14
Stop 2: Fremont Brewing Company, Fremont (Duh)
Considered one of the best breweries in Seattle, Masters of Brewtality needed this spot to work through a massive hangover and their Pilsner was the proper medicine. Also started in 2009, Fremont has the distinction of being a near zero-waste production facility, boasting extremely efficient energy conservation and an award-winning focus on sustainably-harvested ingredients. The ambience of the taproom was intimate and they had a propane fire pit inside, which was a pleasant reminder of the torchlight that illuminates the dank crypt where we write these wicked features. We sampled their Experimental IPA #4 and hazy IPA. The New England style IPAs are all the rage these days and a pleasant departure from the standard West Coast varieties.
Beers drank: 10
Stop 3: Holy Mountain, Lower Queen Anne
There is nothing, nothing, better in heaven or hell than a metal-themed craft brewery. TRVE and Black Sky in Colorado jump to the front of the pack, but Holy Mountain is coming up fast. The merch is witchy and esoteric. The tunes are crushing, the names are grim and the beer is blasphemously good. We had the Black Beer Ale, Heavenless IPA, Crystal Ship Aged Saison and the Ships Passing Oak Fermented Hoppy Brett. Unlike their Denver counterparts who embraced the metal/punk venue vibe of black walls, skulls and stickers covering everything, Holy Mountain opted for a stark white tiled look with absolutely no decorations, giving it the feeling that if a massacre broke out it could be hosed down with premeditated ease.
Beers drank: 6
Stop 4: Urban Family Brewing Company, Magnolia
Pulling up, we were concerned our driver was making a pit stop to buy crack, but nestled behind some shanties and lean-tos was one of the quaintest little breweries we’ve ever seen--cozy, simple décor, a projector playing Christmas movies and a massive barrel aging program in full view of the customers. We offered the staff five bucks to change the holiday tunes to Black Sabbath, but they politely declined the money in favor of any respite from Holly Jolly Christmas. The beertender just quietly whispered, “Thank you, we can’t change it unless someone asks…” before blaring Children of the Grave. We sampled the Survival Kit IPA and a flight of saison, coconut, cider and a wild strawberry rhubarb concoction. Fantastic all around.
Beers drank: 7
Stop 5: Black Raven Brewing, Redmond
Hands down, the best brewery visited. We tried everything. EVERYTHING! And it was all amazing. The standouts were a catnip-infused blueberry ale called Kitty Kat Blues and their Second Sight Strong Scotch Ale. We’ve struggled for years to find a scotch ale with a flavor that isn’t completely overwhelmed by the liquor flavors (ahem, Kiltlifter, ahem) and Black Raven accomplished the impossible. Smooth, drinkable and thankfully subtle. Incredible. Beautiful taproom, great staff and one of those places that brewers from around the county justifiably make a destination when in the Seattle area.
Beers drank: 10
A huge thanks to Kevin Sullivan of Picobrew for the insider tour of the city. If you’re a homebrewer or a brewer looking for the best pilot system on the market, this little robot is must. Masters of Brewtality will be back to its regular format in January 2018, just in time for the bombs to start dropping.