This adventure had me rolling up to Lake City to check out Elliott Bay Brewing’s newest location: Lake City on the north side of Seattle (12537 Lake City Way NE).

March 28 update: Now with MAPS! Below are links to a map of Route 1 and a map of Route 2.

The Lake City location from the sidewalk. Clean and neat, like the whole place.

The Lake City location from the sidewalk. Clean and neat, like the whole place.

I was tentative about investing my time in biking all the way up there, as my experiences at the original Elliott Bay Brewing in West Seattle have left me with no desire to go back there. With the opening of a nice place called Beer Junction – a bottle shop with numerous lovely beers on tap – a few blocks away, I will likely never step foot in Elliott Bay West Seattle again. Let’s not forget a decent place a mile or three up the road called Beveridge Place as well.

It is pretty widely acknowledged that the West Seattle location is rather cramped and busy. That’s problematic enough. But add in the fact that the majority of the customers, at least at the bar, seem to be from the neighborhood – proud West Seattleites – who are chummy with the beertenders, and a poor lone stranger like me has a lot of trouble getting decent service. Add in the fact that the staff, overall, sport that painfully annoying attitude you find at popular, widely-loved establishments. You know, everybody loves this place so I don’t have to try or be courteous.

A little harsh? Not after the maddening experiences and wasted time.

Now, I always try to be fair, so: There was a day that I was at the West Seattle location having a frustrating time and one of the problems was I needed more information about the beer selection. See, they have a nice big chalkboard display above the bar, but it really only lists the names of the beers. Beer places really ought to indicate what type of beer they’re listing, and more importantly, list the ABVs. Plenty of places list ABVs these days and I think it’s a nice thing for the customer; really, it is necessary to help the partaker know how much alcohol they are putting in their body that day. On this particular day, I finally got the attention of a guy behind the bar who appeared to be a manger or brewer or something other than a server. This guy was actually nice and friendly and provided me with a binder with descriptions of most of Elliott Bay’s beers (though not all of them included ABVs). This is not the only time I had taken a look at the beer binder there. The Elliot Bay beer binder will also make another appearance later in this post. But why not just take the three seconds to chalk in a 5.6 or a 7.1 next to the beer names? Never mind, I know. You’re Elliott Bay Brewing. You don’t have to.

So, as stated, I was hesitant to patronize the company by trying out the new Lake City location. But after a publication I was reading described the new location as “larger and less annoying” than the W. Seattle joint, and after considering how fun my adventure up to Lake City might be, I decided to take the plunge. I had a pretty good time! Here’s how it went:

I decided to get to Lake City (my first time up in that neighborhood) by riding up to Greenwood then cutting over to the east. I will briefly describe the route up to Greenwood, but you can get a detailed account of the route from Downtown to Greenwood in my post regarding a visit to Chuck’s on 85th (Chuck’s Hop Shop).

From the ferry terminal Downtown, it’s the climb up Marion to 4th (left turn), take 4th to the north and turn right onto Blanchard. Take Blanchard east to 7th (left turn). 7th curves to the right to become Dexter Ave N. Head north on Dexter, and go all the way through Fremont. At 50th, you’ll have to turn left to get around the zoo. The road then curves right and becomes Phinney Ave N. Continue north on Phinney. After a jut to the left, the road becomes Greenwood Ave N. Cruise up Greenwood to the north quite a ways. Today I chose to turn off of Greenwood Ave onto 90th St. (right turn). From here, the route is new.

This day was hot. It broke records. Still, I enjoyed my new adventure to Lake City.

Update: As part of my continuing effort to serve you, my loyal readers, I decided recently to embark on another trip to Elliot Bay Lake City. This time, I used a different route – a better and somewhat shorter route. First I will outline my original route (Route 1) then I will describe my newer route (Route 2).

Route 1 http://goo.gl/maps/EmdnV

It begins at Greenwood Ave N and 90th St as described above. If you’re heading north as we are, our journey having originated downtown, turn right (east) on 90th St. and be met with a steep climb. Soon you will pass some of Seattle’s traffic-calming circle medians at cross streets. Cross over Fremont Ave N. Before you reach the following cross street, the road changes to a descent. At Aurora Ave N (WA 99), there is a stop light which enables you to cross the busy road. After going past a school on your left, you come to Wallingford Ave N where you will turn left. At the next intersection, turn right onto 92nd St. Shortly, you will be rolling along by North Seattle Community College which will appear on your left. 92nd St takes you neatly over I-5. There is a sidewalk on this bridge, but I haven’t found the road to be busy enough to warrant using it to ride across. It may be busier when you ride it. I’m sure when college students are present, it’s more hectic. Proceed east to 5th Ave where you turn left.

5th Ave, which takes you as far north as we are going today, is equipped with a combination of sharrows and bike lanes. It’s a busy road but I found it rideable. It’s a nice straight shot that provides the opportunity for some exercise. You will pass big shopping centers as well as Northgate Mall.

As you may have read in another of my posts, this first day that I visited Elliot Bay Lake City, I had the notion of going into Northgate Mall (which would have been another first) to visit The RAM – a brewery/restaurant that is part of a small WA-based chain. I have been to their Washington Husky-themed University Village location several times, almost always to take advantage of their Saturday special on growler fills. On that hot afternoon, as I headed back from my visit to Lake City, I managed to totally forget to stop into the mall. Instead, I kept blasting right along on my way to a flat tire which I would thankfully find a shady sidewalk on which to successfully perform the tube change – that is after pulling over on a hot blacktop parking lot to see if I could get away with simply pumping the tire back up and limping to my next destination – Chuck’s Hop Shop.

After you go past the mall, 5th begins to treat you to a long climb. For some reason, just before 115th St., the bike facilities end. The sharrows symbol you have going up this hill gives way to a little bike symbol on the pavement that suggests that bikes should turn left at 115th – that is if you want to continue to enjoy some sharrows. No problem. Just stay the course.

On this day I realized long about at 127th that I may have gone too far north. I decided it was a good time and place to pull over and have an Emergen-C and some bites of my sandwich as I saw what my phone could do for me in terms of directions. I found a nice low rock wall for bike leaning and rested as I watched the cars filter through an interesting little I-5 offramp directly across the street from me. I think the directions I had written on paper for myself probably told me to turn back at 125th, but my phone directed me to continue from my location north to Roosevelt Way, which was about 500 ft. ahead, and turn right. It turns out that the phone may have presented the preferable way, as there is an awkward little traffic-crossing jut to negotiate at 125th.

Allright, onward to Roosevelt Way where we make a right via a curve. This actually takes us diagonally a bit back in the direction from which we came. Yes, we wasted a few yards of travel, but it’s pretty smooth. Roosevelt simply takes us into 125th St. where we will travel east to Lake City Way. 125th has bike lanes! There are some fast descents and some climbs on your way to Lake City Way.

When you reach Lake City Way, turn left and Elliot Bay Public House and Brewery is located on your left.

You've arrived!

You’ve arrived!

Route 2 http://goo.gl/maps/hJgkN

This is shorter and probably better if your starting point is downtown, is the same as Route 1 from downtown until you are on Dexter Ave N and you see the cross street Thomas St., not long after you pass Denny Wy. You turn right onto Thomas and head east (my route to the University District). As you pedal east, and cross over 8th Ave, notice on the right the Mixed Martial Arts and Submission Wrestling gym of Ivan Salaverry, the former UFC fighter who even headlined a pay-per-view event. As a student of MMA and one who loosely follows the sport, I think it’s pretty neat to see this gym. I don’t know the man or whether his gym is good or bad; I just think it’s neat to see. For the unfamiliar: If you want to see an example of the power of submission wrestling, pull up Ivan Salaverry vs. Tony Fryklund. I was just now able to find it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuPIu1oyggk and watch at the 5:59 point in the video. Of course the submission was attained by first executing effective striking.

And now back to bikes and beer. We are heading east on Thomas St. At 9th St., I have always noticed bike lanes though I haven’t ridden 9th much and don’t really know of any useful place it could take me. At Westlake Ave., use caution after you get past the intersection, as the streetcar tracks cross your path. In case you don’t know, on a bike you should cross rail tracks at as close to a 90 degree angle as is practicable so that your tires don’t get caught and send you to the ground.

Between Terry and Boren is a steep climb. Lately I have been dismounting and running up the hill. I figure it will be about the same speed and it’s no wear and tear on the bike. What’s more, it gives my body a different type of work for a minute. There is a stop light at Fairview and you most likely will wait at it for a few minutes. Not my favorite light. Soon you pass by Paddy Coyne’s Irish Pub on your left. I was surprised a while ago to find they had opened a second location down on the waterfront. I was just on their website and I am surprised to find they have two more locations as well – Tacoma and Bellevue. Anyway, I have been to the Thomas St. location a few times. Kind of expensive and crowded.

Soon, up comes REI in all its flagship glory on your right. It occupies the block between Yale and Eastlake Ave.

It’s a left turn on Eastlake Ave. which requires vigilance, as you’re crossing two directions of fast-moving traffic. You’ll usually find buses parked on the side of the road here on Eastlake so you have to get around them. From here, we will pedal on north all the way to the U District.

Before you get too far on Eastlake you can get a look at my favorite piece of grafitti in town. I don’t know who did it or why, or what it’s supposed to be. I call it Whacked Panda.

My favorite piece of grafitti. Credit to Google Maps for the image.

My favorite piece of grafitti. Credit to Google Maps for the image.

At Roy St., there is an overpass that heads up to the right. You will notice, however, that the bike lane takes you straight and gives you permission to go straight across the intersection. Do this. Don’t be like me early on in my tenure as a Seattle Cyclist and ride errantly up the overpass. While I see that there is now a bike lane going up the overpass, and sharrows on the downhill side, the lane is not wide enough to support a bike lane. You don’t want to be lumbering up the climb with impatient drivers behind you or passing you regardless of the lack of room.

Having stayed going straight on Eastlake, now enjoy a blast of a descent – fairly long and you get to take a nice right curve in its middle. This descent is an annoying climb on the way home of course. And there you have bike riding: for every downhill there’s an uphill. Just be thankful for that climbing hills is so good for you, and doesn’t cost you any gasoline money!

When you roll up to the intersection at Galer (with the large white piece of maritime-like equipment on display on the lawn on your left) you see that a road (Fairview Ave.) merges with Eastlake from your left. Remain heading straight. Note that on the return trip, this intersection is key, and used to mess me up. When returning, stay left at the intersection to remain on Eastlake Ave.

At about Blaine St. the road begins to be somewhat uphill. Carry on toward the U-District. A little after Hamlin St., the road begins to feel narrow, and I know at least on the return trip, there are parked cars on the right which really doesn’t leave room. This is one of the more dangerous parts of the ride to the U-District. You go under I-5 here. Next you are at Fuhrman Ave. I always remember that for a while there was a Ghost Bike at this corner on the right with a sign reading “a cyclist died here.” I understand the deceased was cut off by a right-turning driver. You can see the University Bridge ahead.

Awesomely, the bike lane leads you right onto a pedestrian/bike path – separated from traffic – that takes you enjoyably over the bridge. This is normally not too busy except for on nice sunny days and maybe some other times I’m not aware of.

Now that we are at the University District, don’t forget that we are heading up to Lake City. So keep on pedaling straight up Eastlake Ave which curves slightly and becomes 11th Ave. We will use 11th to take us up to 65th St. It’s useful to know that at 45th St., you are just a block or so away from Performance Bicycle (to your left), and just up from that is Trader Joe’s. You know, in case your bike or you need anything.

Speaking of needing anything, full disclosure requires that I reveal that on the day of this adventure using Route 2 up to Elliott Bay Brewing, Lake City, I knew that Big Time Brewing was offering their limited IPA known as Whiny the Complainer – their answer to Russian River’s Pliny the Younger. Not knowing just how limited this great big IPA was, I thought I’d better stop in and get my snifter of it before it was gone. So over to Big Time on University Way I went. It was good – one of the best imperial IPAs I have had. Well worth the slight detour and pit stop.

Back on 11th Ave heading north. It’s a one way street with a bike lane – a nice ride. Cross over Ravenna Blvd., the double street with a median, and 11th Ave becomes 12th Ave. Soon you arrive at 65th St. where you turn right. At this corner is the new establishment named Mutiny Hall, and a few doors down from it is Pies and Pints. One Sunday night recently I made the effort to get to Mutiny Hall as I wanted to check it out, having heard they have a nice selection of beers. Upon locking my bike to their little fence that houses outdoor seating, (no bike rack), I was pleased to find they were not too busy. I was also pleased at their beer selection. The pleasingness ended when I found out the bartender was also the person who was serving all the diners in the place. Despite my sitting at the bar, It took a long time to get my beer order taken, longer to receive said beer, and even longer to get my tab paid so I could leave and get away from the squealing children that were running around tables, their parents ignoring them and socializing. What’s more, their beer prices are, well, what one expects to find at a modern restaurant/pub. The bartender unabashedly told me that the price varies between something like $5 or $5.50 all the way up to $9 per pint. You read right. $9 per pint – actually something less than a pint. Interestingly, and disturbingly, at two different places that night I was told of a $9 beer – the other being Pike Brewing. Yes,I get it: rare, hard  to get, etc. But this is getting bad. Think about it, beer lovers. Once price barriers are broken, they are broken. $5 is the new $4 as you know. I got my schooner size for, I don’t know, five bucks or so and then left having found out what I wanted to know about Mutiny Hall.

Now heading east on 65th, you’re entering the Ravenna neighborhood and will see a number of shops and restaurants on this fairly busy road that does not have bike facilities. At about 26th Ave., an incline begins. It gets significant at 28th so this, with no bike lane, is a less than ideal part of the adventure. The hill’s crest is at about 32nd Ave. You then get to descend toward 35th Ave. where you will make a left.

35th Ave. takes us all the way north to where we will stop in Fiddler’s Inn. Did I mention we would stop at Fiddler’s? We’re going right past it, we can’t not stop. 35th Ave. is a busy thoroughfare leading into the Wedgwood neighborhood. Sharrows symbols accompany you. I haven’t found the ride on this stretch to be problematic.

At 70th St. you will see Grateful Bread on your left. This is a neat bread baking store and, if I recall, cafe. If you like good, quality bread and you have the time (which I usually don’t) stop in and pick up a loaf.

Just before 94th St., you will find Fiddler’s Inn on your left. The fire station is across the street to the north. I locked up at the bike rack out front and picked up a copy of Northwest Brewing News, always found just inside the door.

Fiddler's neon fiddle sign. Across the street you see the fire station.

Fiddler’s great neon fiddle sign. Across the street you see the fire station.

I found a couple open seats at the small bar, sat down and began scanning the small chalkboard beer menu on the left. As listed on the beer chalkboard (and I appreciate that it’s advertised) Fiddler’s offers a three-taster set for a decent price. This is ideal for me – especially when this is just a pit stop on the way to my goal. It was funny that one of the beers on tap that day was Whiny the Complainer for which I had stopped at Big Time earlier. Fiddler’s is a quaint, comfy little place that I have found to be frequented by, overall, a fairly mature set. On one visit, I sat next to what I figured out was a college instructor grading papers on the bar. He and his friend were nice guys and were happy enough to help me with directions that day. Of course, Fiddler’s is also a restaurant, but as always, I don’t order food. A notable feature at Fiddler’s is their outdoor seating area. I don’t know how the house next door likes it, but it’s a nice feature. I appreciate that they have a sign that says dogs must be well-behaved and smokers can’t smoke out there (though the second rule is of course broken with some frequency). One cute little touch I noticed on this most recent visit was the little fiddle that is to the right of the bar hanging from the ceiling by a string and connected all the way to the front door. It raises and lowers as the front door is opened and closed. I suppose my not knowing about this makes me a non-regular. Guilty. Proud. In life as in pub visits, I am used to, and quite like, being an outsider. I know – there is probably something wrong with me.

The law out front of Fiddler's Inn. No, there aren't normally this many bikes there. This was taken on the Tour de Pints which is put on by Flying Bike Co-op Brewery.

The lawn out front of Fiddler’s Inn. No, there aren’t normally this many bikes there. This was taken as I did the Tour de Pints which is put on by Flying Bike Co-op Brewery.

Thanks, Fiddler’s for the use of your bathroom sink which I used to get the black coating off my hands that was acquired from changing a flat on my way there. It’s weird: both times I have adventured up to Lake City, I have gotten a flat.

Allright, back on the road to Lake City. Get back out onto 35th Ave. and keep heading north. I found the trip from Fiddler’s to Elliott Bay Brewing pretty enjoyable and without problems. I had never been past Fiddler’s on 35th before and I’m pleased with what I found. You’ve got a combination of bike lanes and sharrows. Pedal yourself on up to 125th St. and turn left. On this day, I didn’t know which way to turn on 125th St., but thanks to God-given keen eyesight, I was just able to make out the street sign that looked like it could contain the words “Lake City Way” to the left. So it’s a left on 125th St. From there, it’s just a right turn on Lake City Way and a several more yards up the road is our destination: Elliott Bay Brewing, Lake City! I will describe my experiences there next.

March 11 update follows:

I locked up to the bike rack out front and went on in to find the place at about the same level of busy-ness as last time – just about right. I took a seat at the bar in pretty much the same spot as last time and saw that the beertender was the same guy as last time. As with my first visit, I had to wait a bit before the guy came over to me and asked what I wanted. Seems he was the only guy pulling beers for the whole place, which of course includes the sizeable restaurant. He was friendly enough. I knew I wanted to get a few tasters and had pretty much decided on which beers to taste by the time I got the chance to order.

If I recall correctly, I was even presented with a printed beer menu – without asking! Of course, not all the beers had their ABVs listed, but I was pretty satisfied with the way things were going. Soon, set down before me was my rack of tasters which included Alki Ale (imperial IPA), Demolition Ale, Hellmouth imperial IPA, Riot Ale imperial IPA, and their Chocolate Porter.

My set of tasters. Though I always feel beertenders are annoyed by pouring tastsers, there is something quite nice about bouncing around between them.

My set of tasters. Though I always feel beertenders are annoyed by pouring tastsers, there is something quite nice about bouncing around between them. On the left you can see the piece of receipt paper on which the beertender identified my beers. Behind the rack you can see the beer menu.

You may have noticed that they have a good amount if IPAs – something of which I surely took note. Here’s something you may not know if you aren’t familiar with Elliott Bay Brewing: They are into making organic beers. Almost all of their year-round beers, and a good amount of their seasonal beers are organic. Many of their seasonal beers are not, which is of course understandable. It does feel good to know I’m drinking organic beer, though. That is when I actually think about it. Speaking of how the sausage is made: I guess many craft beers (I’d estimate the majority of them, though I’m not sure) are made using a certain substance that “fines” the beer (helps the waste matter – trub is it called? – fall to the bottom of the tank so the beer will be nice and clear). This substance I am told is made of something like fish bellies. I assume organic beer does not use this substance. Vegetarian and Vegan folks probably wish they hadn’t read this. I was talking with Adam Robbings, co-founder and head brewer at Reuben’s Brews in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, and he revealed to me that he does not use this substance. I imagine a good amount of breweries also make this choice. I’d like to know which ones.

The Lake City location is nice and spacious and neatly constructed in that modern industrial style. The bar is long and sports a couple flat screens to help you zone out. In the center above the bar, of course, is the big black board with beer names.

The Elliott Bay Blackboard, and the beertender that did a decent job of helping ensure I'll come back (to this location).

The Elliott Bay Blackboard, and the beertender that did a decent job of helping ensure I’ll come back (to this location). He even offered to fill my Nalgene bottle with water. Brownie points! And a nice tip.

Out the window to my right beyond some dining patrons, I observed traffic outside – something I enjoy doing. I get the impression this area of Lake City has undergone a certain extent of revival, and I’m sure Elliott Bay hasn’t hurt the effort. On my first visit to Lake City, I ran into, and had to navigate around, some sort of Old West-themed parade that was going to run up or down Lake City Way. I think I got out of there before it started, but the lawn chairs were lining the street. Something I observed on this second visit were the little white oval stickers on the rear of cars – you know the ones that usually have two capital letters inside a black oval. I saw three or more of these, reading “LC” on the back of cars zooming around Lake City. Ah, neighborhood pride. Something I have seen a lot of in Seattle.

After savoring my selections and relaxing, I made my way to the back of the restaurant to use the restroom so I could start my return trip on an empty tank.

Looking toward the rear of the restaurant from the bar (target: bathroom).

Looking toward the rear of the restaurant from the bar (target: bathroom).

Back out to the bike for a few quick bites of sandwich, and I was off. Today I actually used Route 2 to get up to Lake City, and I used   Route 1 for my return trip. I did this because it was my intention to wind up over in Greenwood so I could swing by Chuck’s Hop Shop to see how busy it was (it was – again! – too busy and packed in there for me to waste my time), and then head south on 8th down to Ballard to visit Reuben’s Brews. So it was a pretty neat route overall!

I had a good time at Elliott Bay Lake City and as mentioned above, will return in the future. Heck, I might even try out their Burien location. I have a route mapped out that would (hopefully) get me to the Burien location from Tukwila, you know, where we find BJ’s Brewhouse.

Thanks for joining me on this adventure. I will post a map of the route soon. Keep those comments coming.

Cheers, and keep spinning those spokes!

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