Updated Nov. 29: A Visit to Poulsbo’s Three Breweries (including Ferry Talk, strangely) (and now Bainbridge Talk!)

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As you know, this beer-by-bike fan currently resides on lovely Bainbridge Island, WA. Almost all of my adventures take place over on the Seattle side of Puget Sound – a 35 minute ferry ride away.

In case I haven’t mentioned it, taking the ferry by bike is the only way to fly. Remarkably, the ferry system decided years ago that bicycles get to board first, and disembark first (unless you don’t arrive until after they have started loading cars, in which case you are made to load last and disembark last. And sadly, the ferry folks seem to have leeway to vary how early before departure they begin to load cars. So I’ve found through some frustrating experiences that if one wishes to secure their loading first by bike privileges, they must arrive at least 15 minutes before departure. Which sucks). As I understand it, local bicycle advocates, including Squeaky Wheels, Bainbridge’s cycling advocacy group, worked hard to gain these cyclist rights. We owe them thanks for getting Washington State Ferries to take us seriously.

It shouldn’t be hard for the ferry system to realize they ought to care about cyclists. Many more fares can be collected per square foot from cyclists than from drivers. Though the fare one pays to drive a vehicle onto the boat is five or six times higher than the bicycle fare, so it’s not a slam dunk. But many more people can be served by allowing as many bikes on as show up, even when this means turning away a few cars.

As I mentioned, taking the ferry ride by bicycle is by far the best way to go. I’m speaking mostly from an enjoyability standpoint. What feels as good as being allowed first access, bypassing hundreds of people? I am not likely to ever be a celebrity or popular athlete, so my securing this type of privilege in any other situation in my lifetime is not likely. In addition to priority access, riding on is best in my opinion in terms of avoiding dealing with people – lots of people. I rank the three modes of ferry travel as follows – in ascending order of annoying: 1. Cycling on 2. Driving on 3. Walking on.

What? Driving on ranked higher than walking on? This is because when you ride the boat by car, you get to remain in the privacy of your own personal space the whole time if you wish. Yes you wait a long time for your turn to load and unload, but the most “dealing with” any people you have to do is interacting with the almost always discourteous toll booth operators and the at times outright aggressive folks who direct you where to drive and park on the boat. In contrast, walking on involves queuing up behind and among many people (one of my least favorite things in life) and – especially when disembarking – engaging in that maddeningly slow penguin walk, socked in by inexplicably listless, unmotivated people. Yes, there is apparently something about having just taken a boat ride that causes people to meander in a daze off the boat, always spreading out to occupy the entire walkway. This presents two choices: Head up to the front of the boat quite early and try to secure your spot at the front of the non-line well before the vessel nears the dock, or relax and wait the ten to fifteen minutes it takes for most of the people to filter off the boat once disembarking commences, and simply try to be last person in line. This is less than ideal, however, as the ferry workers give you nasty looks and wander near you, silently urging you to get off the boat. And even when you try this disembark last method, you almost always will still walk behind a slow-moving crowd of amblers.

Unfortunately, the try the be-first-in-line method requires you to be willing to get quietly rude, elbow jockeying to keep your spot. I have many times thought how much I would loathe a particular part of the ferry worker’s job: being the one to grab that green net that holds back the crowd of disembarkers and open it up, dragging it laterally across the front line of surging bodies and having them burst forth thanklessly the split second the net is out of their path. I am certain that I would no more be capable of tolerating this than I am capable of tolerating my dogs bursting through a doorway as soon as I crack it. NO! I would order the silly mass of eager amblers. BACK! STAY! Do not move your feet until I completely remove the net and fasten it to the siderail AND give you the release command.

Ride your bike if you can.

But today, no ferry required. Let’s set out for Poulsbo – off the other side of the island and over the bridge. Our entire journey into Poulsbo will be on Highway 305. It’s a simple journey that can be quite enjoyable, especially if you wish to really lay into the pedals, relax and “open it up” as I used to say back in my muscle car days.

Hopefully it’s not raining on your journey. I have found that riding in any sort of wet conditions on the highways around here results in the lower portions of your bike and body being coated in a gritty petroleum-based grime with small black chunks. I discovered this one damp evening after riding from the island to Poulsbo and stopping at the Napa for oil change supplies for our car before continuing on to Tizley’s Europub for a brewers’ dinner with Pike Brewing. I noticed the guys at the auto parts store looking down at my legs and I was surprised at what I found when I took a look for myself.

Today let’s start our journey from the ferry terminal as always, only this time we’re coming off the boat onto the Bainbridge side. If you and your bike were at the front of the boat, you got let off first and given until you clear the ramp before the motorcycles were released to tear past you. A few seconds after the last motorcycle passes you, the first of the cars will go by as you make your way uphill away from the ferry. Fortunately for you, you don’t have to turn left at Winslow Way. If you did, you’d have to try to force your way across two lanes of charging disembarkers and prepare to make your turn. Or you could do what most locals do which is to ride their bike on the center yellow line before the cars reach them so they are already in position to make the left turn. This is no safer than it sounds. There is a grand plan in place to revamp this stretch of road running from the ferry to Winslow Way. I hope this issue is addressed. During the drier months, hundreds of people commute by bicycle on the ferry every day. This problem existing for so many years is amazing – unless you have lived on Bainbridge for a while, in which case it’s not surprising.

Just stay to the right and go straight at the Winslow Way intersection, remaining on Hwy 305. At High School Rd you find the largest and busiest commercial center on the island. Safeway, Ace Hardware, a couple gas stations, numerous other shops and businesses, and even a McDonald’s are found here. I understand that a contingent of islanders vehemently opposed these shopping centers and the McDonald’s especially. To a certain extent I get it. These folks want Bainbridge to remain rural and quaint. They also are opposed to things like sidewalks. I only have so much patience for these folks. The vast majority of the island is pretty darn rural, lacking sidewalks, and in most areas, road shoulders. Long dark gravel driveways lead to large lovely homes nestled in the woods beyond No Trespassing and No Turn Around signs. I say lose the elitism and the “I was here first” attitude and bring on the conveniences and the SIDEWALKS. There is a bumper sticker that I occasionally see that reads “Clear Cut Bainbridge.” I am not sure I really know the meaning behind it. I have assumed it is meant to take a nasty jab at islanders who value nature and preserving things. Well I say for the safety, health and well being of everyone, “Pave Bainbridge.” Make it permeable if you wish – I’m all for the health of the Sound. But this islander is quite tired of risking his life in order to go for a walk or ride a bike.

Continue straight at this intersection.

Before the Sportsman Club Rd intersection, a right turn lane begins and with it begins a bike lane that allows you to continue straight. It’s scary to be here with cars blowing past you on both sides, but I’m thankful for the bike lane. I’ve seen some cyclists choose to keep right, riding at the right hand margin of the right turn lane, then try to cut left near the intersection in order to go straight. Most expert cyclists would shun this, but I don’t dismiss the method out of hand, as I’m not sure which method is safer all told. I choose to use the bike lane at this point even though it’s entirely possible for a driver to be going straight, perhaps following the car in front of them too closely, then go to cut over into the right turn lane quickly, not realizing I am occupying the bike lane between the two lanes.

Day Rd. is another stop light intersection that has the same type of right turn lane and bike lane.

The ride off of the island on the highway has no particularly steep hills but there are some inclines and declines. After Hidden Cove Rd. the road curves right and as a result the fog line has been worn away despite its being repainted once a year. Thanks, drivers for cutting corners. Here, even if it’s sunny out I turn on my rear blinking lights. I should have mentioned that when I ride on this highway (or any of them around here) I wear a brightly colored jacket, If I don’t need a jacket, I don my florescent & reflective vest. On this inside curve, I don’t like knowing that drivers will be cutting the corner toward me and there is no white line left to possibly remind them that they are leaving their lane (as though drivers pay attention to lane markings).

Soon there will be a nice fast descent. It’s one of the rare places that present me the opportunity to put my bike in the highest gear. I don’t have a computer on the bike, but I’m sure I approach 40 miles per hour here. Perhaps there is a steep hill on the way off the island after all. We are nearing the bridge now.

Crossing the Agate Pass Bridge is probably the hairiest part of this journey. It’s thankfully a short span, but it was not designed with bicycles in mind. Cyclists have two options here: Ride in the roadway (there is a narrow shoulder on each side – maybe 1.5 – 2 feet wide – but riding in it would be unsafe for a couple reasons). Option two is to ride on the sidewalk, or what passes for one. It is narrow, so I slow way down when doing this. Crosswinds or just basic unsteadiness could send you into the guardrail or off the curb. It’s a tough choice, but if I have time, I ride on the sidewalk. I suppose a third option would be to dismount (if you could find a safe place to do so) and walk your bike, probably rolling the bike in the shoulder as you walk on the sidewalk. I’ve never tried this so I don’t know how feasible it would be.

After the bridge, you approach a stop light intersection with the casino on the left. Just before the intersection is another situation where a right turn lane branches off and you need to go straight. No bike lane here, so I signal to drivers that I am going to go straight ahead.

Soon begins the big ascent. It’s not all that steep, I guess, but it’s long. I am out of the saddle for most of it. Obviously, I’m traveling at a fairly low speed up this hill, so the 50 mph+ traffic feels more dangerous. Add to this the fact that we are no longer on Bainbridge Island. Yes, for all my complaints about the island, I must admit drivers there – overall – exhibit a higher level of courtesy and respect for cyclists. I believe it’s all about the prevailing state of mind in a given location. There are areas where it’s common knowledge that there will be cyclists on the road. Then there are places like most of Kitsap County, and well, most of the earth, where the mindset it different. You can just feel it. Experiences have also taught you what to expect in a given locale. Many areas of Seattle, for example, feel relatively safe for cyclists despite heavy traffic. Portland has provided me the warmest, safest feelings I’ve felt while pedaling. Never let your guard down though!

You will have folks pulling into and out of the Texaco station ahead. On your return trip, you will have the same at the Shell station across the street. These two gas stations, by the way, are the places to buy fuel if you’re an islander. Gas on the island is significantly more expensive. I try to plan fillups for when I happen to be driving to the north end of the island, or when I am driving to Poulsbo or beyond. Rarely have I had to give money to the island gas stations.

Not too far ahead is a road called Lemolo Shore. This is a way into Poulsbo if you are looking for a more relaxed ride, although parts of it are without shoulders. It is a bit curvy and rather nice, running along the water in spots. To turn onto it, however, is not worth the risk. I don’t want to have my body out there in the middle of the highway as I wait to make that turn. I recall the day my wife and I were making the ride to Poulsbo on a tandem. It must have been early on in our living here, as we had pulled over and were asking for directions. I believe we wanted to know if Lemolo Shore Rd. led into town. We saw a guy in a full sized 4×4 pickup coming out of the side street we were near and we asked him. He gruffly answered but finished with the admonition that we should not be out here on a bicycle. I believe there are many folks who think that cyclists are not allowed on this highway, despite there being D.O.T. signs on the highway that directly address cyclists and motorists regarding cyclists.

It’s just a couple miles or so more to Poulsbo where you will start to see shops and businesses. At a certain point the speed limit drops to 40, though it doesn’t much affect how fast cars are going. I have to hand it to Poulsbo here: There are actual bike lane marking on this stretch of Hwy 305. Yes, in some regards, “bike friendly” Bainbridge Island could learn from its neighbor. A point of failure, though, is that at two of the big intersections, Hostmark, and Lincoln, the curb juts out and is directly in the path of cyclists who are riding in the bike lane. They must veer out into the car traffic lane to get around them. When they widened this road (which was welcomed and long-awaited) they dropped the ball for cyclists here.

We get to leave the highway soon – at Bond Rd. Turn left and be welcomed by, that’s right, bike lanes! A 25mph speed limit here is also a treat. Actually, in order to make the turn onto Bond Rd., I usually pull over, dismount and become a pedestrian, using the crosswalks before remounting and continuing on. In, oh, a half mile or so this road comes to a T intersection where, if you look left, you will see the sandwich board for Valholl Brewing (when they’re open of course). Turning right would get you over toward Sound Brewing and Slippery Pig Brewing. Ah, a great thing has happened to little Poulsbo in the last couple years.

Let’s explore these three treasures. More soon!

My practice has been to hit Valholl first. One of the biggest challenges I find in beer tasting is dealing with places that are pretty busy, which of course makes it difficult for one person to get service. I recall my first visit there which was their opening day. It was standing room only with people pouring out the doors. There is no service line here, just a bar. So it was a real challenge. Further, this place tends to attract, in part, a younger, tattooed, pierced crowd. So especially if it’s a Friday or Saturday, I hit Valholl first in order to get out of there before the evening hours arrive. That said, I want to give credit to the Valholl staff. In my experience, they have actually been friendly and unpretentious. The past several times I have visited they have not been that full, so it’s been nice.

From the T intersection mentioned above (where Bond Rd. ends and the street in front of you is Lindvig Way if you turn right, and Front St. if you turn left), turn left. At the second driveway on the left, turn in. As I said, lately I haven’t found Valholl too busy, so I go ahead and pull into this driveway. The drive goes uphill and curves around to a sort of upper level where you will see the brewery/tasting room on the right. It’s a small parking lot. I lean my bike against a post by the sidewalk. My spot is always open.

No, that’s not true. On one occasion, to my great surprise, I saw a group of maybe half a dozen cyclists arrive. I had met one of the guys before. The group was part of Seattle’s Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery. It was great to see them in Poulsbo. I have done a ride organized by these folks called the “Tour de Pints.” Today a few of them had decided to informally have a little beer tasting adventure. They had done a different route than I had – something like the Seattle to Bremerton ferry, hitting Der Blokken Brewing in Bremerton (I will share a recent adventure to Bremerton of my own soon!) then on to Silverdale for Silver City, then here to Poulsbo and continuing on to Bainbridge Island to catch the boat back to Seattle. That’s a pretty impressive adventure, I must say. The guy I was talking to asked me about the route on 305 back to the ferry. I was glad to be able to provide some tips. I have ridden to Silverdale from Bainbridge a couple times, but choose not to again, as it’s not a very bike friendly route. I would do it with a group though, making sure I was not the last bike in line. By the way, Flying Bike is not really about cycling, it’s just the name they chose. One day I asked one of their members about the name. Turns out it points to an idea that folks say can’t be realized, like making a flying bike. Flying Bike’s members are enthusiastic and I’ve had a few of them evangelize to me, which I didn’t really mind. They have thus far produced a couple beers, which are brewed by members, voted upon and selected for production. Production is done in partnership with Northwest Brewing in Pacific, WA (formerly Trade Route Brewing). The plan is to, as soon as they get enough members and money, open a tasting room. Go, Flying Bike, go! If I lived on your side of the water, I would probably join up. But I look forward to going to your tasting room.

Valholl Brewing is quite a small operation. The system on which they produce all their beer is in plain view right inside this small space. This would probably be considered a nanobrewery. The place has been painted all black inside and a great big Valholl logo  in white greets you on the far wall as you enter. This is the color scheme of their identity system – black and white. The logo is a mean-looking head of a Viking. I like it. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Poulsbo, WA, I’ll mention that the town has a Nordic, Viking theme. Valholl’s logo and name give a nod to this. I am reminded of the owner, Jeff, when I see the logo, however. I don’t know if he has Viking heritage, but he’s a big tough, no-nonsense guy. He is, among other things, a Marine and an MMA fighter. Jeff is a pretty nice guy though. One thing worth noting is that Valholl is kid-friendly, and you often see at least one of his own kids in there. I asked him one time about kid-frienliness and he adamantly responded that Valholl will always be kid-friendly. You can tell he really is all about his kids. For the record, I believe the place is co-owned and operated by another guy, Jeff’s friend. I must say I don’t know his name, but I know he’s served me beers several times – also a nice guy.

The viking stares with blank eyes over the two cylinders of the nano-brewing system that produces all of Valholl’s beers.

With a few exceptions, I would describe Valholl’s beer also as big and tough. In fact, all three of Poulsbo’s current breweries tend to specialize in higher gravity ales. I wonder why this is, but I’m not complaining. I would get into which Valholl’s beers I’ve tried, but thinking of their names would be as hard as pronouncing them. Apparently the beers sport Viking/Nordic names. Ordering them is a bit uncomfortable for me, as I don’t like saying words I don’t know how to say. I know I like most of what I have tried there. Their double IPA, called Anise Nystagmus, has a licorice flavor and is, surprisingly, quite good. The licorice flavor is not overwhelming at all. Their regular IPA, called Yggdrasil is solid. I just looked at their website and now I recall that not all of their beer names are Vikingy. Their stout is called Stouty Oatmeal Stout. It’s bigger cousin is Stouty Stouterson and is made with sweet potatoes, cinnamon, raisins and brown sugar. So definitely a lot of creativity going on here at Valholl. I have also enjoyed their Monster IPA, which was something like 10% ABV before, and 9% the most recent time I enjoyed it.

Well, time to think about the next stop. Sound Brewing will be next. Sound can get quite busy and though they do have a service line, which ensures that one will get service if they wait in line, it is quite hectic, loud and annoying when it’s busy in their rather small tasting room. So let’s try to get there as soon as possible!

Exiting the parking lot of Valholl, turn right onto Front St. The road changes names to Lindvig Wy. at the stop light. Go straight. You’re riding on the roadway at this point with no bike lane. It generally feels unfriendly here and I’ve had a few bad experiences with drivers, but thankfully the trip is brief. At the next intersection, Viking Wy., (listen up here) I go ahead and stay along the curb at the right hand edge of the right turn lane. Then I roll up onto the sidewalk, dismount and hit the button in order to essentially make a left turn onto Viking Wy. I run my bike across when I get the walk signal, then remount once I get up onto the sidewalk. It’s sidewalk riding all the way to our left turn onto Bovela Ln, where there is a permanent sign for Sound Brewery, and some other businesses. Of course, be very vigilant riding the wrong way on the sidewalk here. If there were to be a collision, you would probably be found at fault. I’ve had some fool moves pulled on me here by indignant drivers. Still, I am safer here than out on the busy road here in Poulsbo. On Bovela, proceed until you get past the auto repair shop, and you’ll see Sound on the left.

Unless it’s warm, dry weather, the big warehouse door will be closed, and your only indication of how busy it is inside, aside from seeing how many cars & trucks are in the lot, is hearing the din as you open the door. You will likely have several sets of eyes fall upon you as the locals check out who just walked into their place. Sound Brewing, to me, is the brewery in Poulsbo that has been most latched onto by the locals. It wasn’t long after they opened for business that groups of Kitsapers claimed their territory. Not wishing to be too critical, I will say that I’ve had several good interactions with the people who frequent Sound. They’re generally good-natured folks. There is just a certain vibe I get here, especially being a lone guy who shows up on a bicycle. Well, actually I get the same vibe at all three Poulsbo breweries to varying extents. It’s not unlike my experiences in small town Minnesota.

So nice to try a variety. And Sound has a variety. This is at the little wall that separates the tasting room from the brewery.

The funny thing is, however, that Sound Brewing is the Poulsbo brewery that is the biggest and most sophisticated in terms of its brewing operation. Beyond the low wall that defines the tasting room can be seen the working brewery – something for which breweryphiles like me are suckers. As for the beer, it too is sophisticated, so to speak. This really is a first-rate operation. Sound’s beer quickly gained recognition and renown as high-level stuff. Early on, Sound focused on distributing across to Seattle which helped greatly in getting the word out. It is apparent to me that the guys who brew these beers are accomplished craftsmen.

They have done right by themselves in terms of their identity system. The first time I say their logo, I was quite pleasantly surprised. It’s well-done and classy. Their slogan: “Tradition Liberated” is solid, and describes well their array of beers. Sound bottles some of its beers (I’m not sure if this takes place on site or not). The labels are beautiful and consistent with their identity. They even have a sticker that goes over the cap, which doesn’t sound impressive as I write it. Go buy a bottle for yourself and you’ll see what I mean.

You can see their logo on this, one of the three glass styles they have. This was a stronger beer, and is hence smaller than a pint. I suppose it’s the correct type of glass for the beer as well. 13 oz Goblet, is it? They also have 11 oz tulips.

A Belgian theme runs through Sound’s brewing program. The most obvious examples of such are their two big Belgians: Dubbel Entendre and Trippel Entendre. I am not a big fan of Belgians, but these two are so well-balanced that the Belgian flavor is not excessive. Very nice. And potent – the Trippel weighs in at 9.9% ABV. (Example two of Poulsbo’s strong beers) Another smooth heavyweight is the Monk’s Indiscretion, which comes in at 10%. Another beauty is Humulo Nimbus, their double IPA. They have a standard IPA called Reluctant. I think I recall being told that the name comes from the fact that they really didn’t want to make a Northwest IPA, but did anyway. They do have a Belgian IPA called Bevridger (I have it spelled wrong. It’s pronounced “Bevrider”).

When they first opened, they didn’t have a stout on the menu, so I would start out with an O’Reagan’s Revenge Red (which I soon decided to stop having – not a fan of reds), and follow with their Poundage Porter. Now, they offer a tasty stout called Ursus Americanus (black bear). Yes, Sound is good at naming the beers. I’ve always imagined that’s the fun part of brewing. On my most recent visit, I found Ursus Spelaeus on the menu – their Russian Imperial Stout (10%). Oh my, scrumptious.

Another funny thing is that where Valholl’s and Sippery Pig’s beers are $5/pint, Sound’s beers are $4/pint. Perhaps this is due to their larger-scale production? I sure appreciate it though. Sound’s bigger beers sell for more money, though, and come as smaller pours – the double whammy that is the convention today at establishments that pour craft beer. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that a particularly strong beer ought to come in a smaller size. But to also charge more for it? Come on, guys.

Sound Brewery has their act together. Well, done, guys. But then you and everyone else knows that.

Next stop: Slippery Pig Brewing.

From Sound’s parking lot, head back out the way you came in, and reverse your path (again, on the sidewalk is my choice here) back to the stop light intersection where if you were to turn right, it would be named Lindvid Way, and if you turn left, it’s Finn Hill Rd. We’re turning left. Stay on the near (south) side of the intersection, and simply dismount and walk/run across the crosswalk. Once safely over, I mount up and ride on the sidewalk (yes, against traffic, so be especially vigilant). A short climb awaits, hence the road name. Before you crest the  hill, you pass a big new church, just beyond which is the road we want. Not very long ago, the road became named Slippery Pig Way! This road turns to gravel right away, and is actually better suited to a mountain bike. But I’ve never had any problem on it with my 700 x 25 tires. I definitely turn on my blinking headlight here, and the taillight would be a good idea too. Drivers are not expecting a bike on this road. I am always ready to veer off the roadway in case someone comes barreling down this essentially one-lane driveway. It is maybe 1000 feet until you see a sign for the farm on which Slippery Pig Brewing is located. Pass the sign and turn right at the old trailer emblazoned with the nice pig logo. Often, this gravel/grass/dirt lot is full of customers’ cars and trucks and it’s hard to find a spot if driving.  Since you’re not, roll on up, passing the two porta potties on the right, and take the best parking spot in the place up against the little fence, or if it’s raining, bring it on under the big roof structure.

The roof structure is something they didn’t have at first. With this addition, business can feasibly be conducted in the rain. I was surprised at how elaborate the structure is. It has no walls, in keeping with Slippery Pig’s outdoor farm-like atmosphere, but it is a high, sturdy permanent roof over the tasting area and bar. A great addition. Before this was built, I was always unsure if they would be open in anything but dry weather.

Note: Pictures coming soon.

Walking in to the tasting area, you will see a number of tables, creatively decorated with repurposed materials. In fact, one or more of the tables that I recall is actually a door. Moving up toward the bar, you see their chalk board on a stand to your left. I always begin to study what’s on tap so I’m prepared to order when the friendly person is ready for me.  (This person is sometimes Dave, the co-owner and brewer, or his wife, Shawna). The bar is understandably small, seating maybe five or six. On the right side of the bar is a rustic water container which is there for customers. Bonus points! Behind the bar are the taps which are simply mounted in the outside wall of a small red barn. Yes folks, this is one of the most unique breweries you will find – in  more ways than one.

Slippery Pig’s beers, in keeping with what seems to be the Poulsbo thing, tend toward the high gravity. It’s not uncommon to see 11 or 12 percent ABV brews here. Not all of Slippery Pig’s brews are this strong by any means, but they all share a couple things in common: They are unique and they are made using unusual ingredients. Most, if not all, of these unusual ingredients come either from local sources, or from right there on the farm. What’s so unusual? Well, have you ever had a dandelion beer? A Douglas Fir beer? A rhubarb, or even a stinging nettle beer? I may be wrong, but it seems to me that drinking Slippery Pig beer actually gives you a dose of vitamins and minerals – maybe even some antioxidants! At least I will keep telling myself this. I can say that there was a guy there one evening who claimed that since he had been drinking their stinging nettle beer, his stomach problems disappeared.

Dave is a busy man, I think. He works full time in addition to running this popular brewery. I’ve found Dave to be a very cordial guy – down to earth, and always sporting the beard/goatee and the kilt. In my conversations with him, it’s clear he has a passion not only for the awesome beers he produces, but for life here on his Pacific Northwest farm. I always wonder about the water used in brewing beer. When I have the chance to chat with a brewer, I try to get this question in. It’s Dave’s opinion that they have great water there on the farm. Dave appreciates the creativity of the folks around here, and it’s clear he is creative and resourceful himself. Portions of the bar are made of repurposed materials, most notably, a couple of the bar seats which are those metal seats seen on the farm (on tractors? asked this city boy), and the foot rail of the bar is attached using several connecting rods from an engine.

Some of Pig’s beers include Rhubarb IPA, Blueberry Blonde, Hog Thai’d, and of course that Doug Fir beer and the stinging nettle beer. I forget what type these beers are, technically. They’re just good! They also have at least one guest tap usually. I almost always get their 4 or 5 ounce size pours here, which allows me to taste a wider variety of brews.

After a visit to one of the porta potties, it’s time to cruise back out that bumpy gravel road onto Finn Hill Rd, where you take a right. It’s downhill here, so getting out on the roadway might be okay, but then again at the intersection, it gets hairy as drivers are racing up behind you. I usually do the sidewalk and crosswalk thing. At the light, go straight. You’ll be turning left at the next light, Bond Road. Once I get myself onto Bond, I mount up and head toward Hwy 305. At 305, turn right and head back toward Bainbridge Island.

After enjoying “opening it up” again on your way back toward the ferry, you will finally – the ride can feel kind of long and boring – arrive at Winslow Way. Here, there is a sign and a line on the road that indicate that folks waiting for the ferry ought to stop there – well short of the intersection. The purpose of this is to allow drivers to turn right and not be blocked by the sometimes long line of cars waiting for their chance to drive onto the ferry. The sign is normally ignored, and I find myself uncomfortable here, as I want to obey the law, but I just wind up losing out, maybe even missing the light. On the other hand, when I advance to the intersection and wait, I feel like I am viewed as a typical cyclist scofflaw. Oh well, not a big deal – just one of the confusing situations on Hwy 305.

Once through the intersection, proceed toward the ferry toll booths, watching for pedestrians. The toll booths, however, do not apply to you traveling this direction! You’re on a bike. Simply find the bike lane on the far right and roll on down toward the boat. Watch for dog walkers, smokers and motorcyclists all of whom may be occupying the bike lane here. Hopefully you’ve timed your arrival fairly well and will get to – let’s say it together now – load first!

Thanks for joining me on this visit to Poulsbo’s three neat breweries. Join me again soon!

Cheers, and keep spinning those spokes!


Coming Soon: My adventure to Poulsbo’s three great breweries

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Yes, soon I share my adventures to Poulsbo, the next town over on this side of the pond. Visiting Sound Brewing, Valholl Brewing and Slippery Pig Brewing is worth putting my body out on highway 305 with the ferry traffic, the big rigs, the 4×4 tough guys, the buses, the casino shuttles and all the other folks who don’t feel a bicycle belongs on the highway.

Focus on the nice wide shoulder (sorry, I mean break-down lane) and the scrumptious beer ahead.


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