I am not in the business of reviewing new breweries. Not on this blog anyway. Clue me in to a new brewery and I’m there as soon as I can be, but I leave the buzz and reviewing business to others. As such, I hadn’t planned on doing anything on these two new(er) Seattle breweries. The route from Georgetown to the Central Business District, however, I found worthy of documenting.

I also was not in a hurry to visit Machine House Brewery because I read that they brew and serve only traditional English-style cask ales that are quite sessionable. I figured I’d get there next time I rode down to Georgetown, but I wasn’t in a hurry. My first visit to Machine House occurred as I participated in the 2013 Tour de Pints, put on by Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery. I was pleasantly surprised with my experience and decided I should share it with you sometime.

I succumbed to the charm of these windows.

A view from inside Machine House Brewery. I succumbed to the charm of these windows. Across the street there are some of Georgetown’s hip little shops and bars including the venerable 9lb Hammer.

Standard Brewing was a new brewery that I wanted to get to, but I didn’t get the opportunity until several weeks after they opened up shop.

Pretty Standard, eh? Actually pretty attractive.

Pretty Standard, eh? Actually pretty attractive.

Therefore after, on a recent adventure, visiting both I had what I needed (including pics – yay me!)

My visit to these two breweries was part of a larger adventure which saw me rolling down to Tukwila and Kent to visit BJ’s Brewhouse and Airways Brewing. You can read about that route at: https://twopedalsacouplepints.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/an-adventure-to-airways-brewing-trade-route-brewing-and-bjs-brewhouse/

Since the adventure to BJ’s and Airways takes me through Georgetown, I planned on hitting Machine House. Very interestingly, at Airways Brewing I talked to a guy who arrived by bicycle with a friend. Turned out he was also going to Machine House after Airways too. I said maybe I’d see them there. We left at slightly different times and took slightly different routes, but I saw them on the Interurban Trail ahead of me a couple times, and once again as I emerged onto Airport Way and began that straight blast back into Georgetown. This gentleman, interestingly, was someone heavily involved in Cascade Bicycle Club and mentioned that he organized Cascade’s recent inaugural Brews Cruise.

They did indeed stop in Machine House Brewery as I was enjoying my pint and I had more good conversation with this guy and his friend who, as it turns out, owns a Performance Bike shop in California. I’ll share my impressions of these breweries as well as the route I used to visit them next. Below is the link to this adventure’s map:

http://goo.gl/maps/Mybtq

Taken during Tour de Pints. Cool brick just across from front door.

Outside Machine House Brewery. Taken during Tour de Pints. Cool brick just outside front door. Well, the whole place is brick.

From the ferry terminal, head up Marion to 2nd where you make a right onto this one way street. There is a bike lane here on the left side of the road. Of course it’s busy and not all that safe a road, but it works. Take 2nd all the way south to Jackson where you make a left. On Jackson it’s a short stretch up to 5th where you turn right which takes you into the International District/China Town. At the very next street, in fact, a look to your left reveals one of those cool Chinese structures that stand over the roadway. Pretty cool.

Continue on 5th – a street with no bike facilities – about 1500 feet until you reach the intersection with Seattle Blvd. Before you reach it though, you go by the large, well known and liked, pretty cool Asian market called Uwajimaya. I love that name. And oh the stuff they have in there! Now at Seattle Blvd., I take a position in the right lane as I wait for the light. We will be turning left here onto the diagonally -running street (not the 90 degree left which would be Dearborn). Of course make sure the driver(s) behind you who are going straight don’t hit you.

It’s a short stretch until you take another diagonal turn, or veer you might say, onto Airport Way. It’s about two miles on Airport Way, a four-lane road with no bike facilities until you get to a nice brewery called Emerald City Brewery.

You know what? I should do a quick writeup of Emerald City Brewery here since we’re going right by it.

Pretty nice setup.

Pretty nice setup. On my first handfull of visits, the bar wasn’t there and the beer was dispensed from those igloo cooler setups.

Back when Emerald City Brewery opened about three years ago I was excited to check it out. It was a bit difficult to find a time that they were open that worked for me, and I remember trying to call them a couple times and ask if they were open only to get voicemail and leave a message that wasn’t returned. When I finally got there though, the two guys who own and started the place were pretty cordial. In fact on a few subsequent visits they remembered me even though it was months between visits.

Emerald City’s bread and butter is Dottie’s Lager. I guess that’s Dottie on the back wall. Yes, their theme artwork is the classic pinup girl. A large version of her is plastered on their artwork-wrapped delivery vehicle. This brewery is located in a space formerly occupied by the Rainier Brewery. Pretty cool place to put a new craft brewery. Dottie’s Lager is produced off-site in quantities far too large for their small experimental, or beer-lab system to accommodate. It’s on this very small, in-house system though that variations of Dottie’s and other beers are produced.

The small system on which new beers are created.

The small system on which new beers are created.

Emerald City at times caters to the younger crowd and the sports fans. They told me they want to be a go-to place for Mariners and Seahawks fans before and after games. Only one time has it been very busy in there when I’ve been there, and it was filled with younger, energetic folks. I’ve seen pictures of events they’ve held there that filled the parking lot out front with people.

One of the variations I’ve had there is Dottie’s Lager aged in whiskey barrels. Last time I was in Emerald I was very pleased to see that they now have an IPA. It comes in at a respectable ABV (despite a recent trend toward making IPAs more sessionable which harkens back to its British roots supposedly, I believe an IPA should be 6.5% or higher) and was nice and tasty.

A notable touch you’ll find at Emerald City is a urinal in the restroom that is made from a beer keg. A Miller Beer keg I believe. The owners told me that, yes, this is intended to make a statement. I had the privilege of peeing in another of these statements in Diamond Knot’s taproom in Mukilteo, WA – a Budweiser keg there if I recall.

A view from the back of the place.

A view from the back of the place.

Looking out the garage door. Note the light rail train across the street. Seems to be a big facility where these are based or serviced there.

Looking out the garage door. Note the light rail train across the street. Seems to be a big facility where these are based or serviced.

Allright, now on to the heart of Georgetown where we will visit Machine House Brewery.

It’s maybe 2 1/2 miles farther south on Airport Way from Emerald City Brewing to Machine House Brewery. All of it is without bike lanes or sharrows but it is typically not bad. In fact, only on my most recent trip down there did I find it overly busy. This was on a Friday. Maybe most of my prior trips there had been on the weekend and there is a lot of commuting traffic, perhaps to Boeing. Come to think of it, I believe in my prior post(s) I described the route down to Georgetown using 1st Ave all the way down to Lucille which takes you over to Georgetown. This was because the Airport Way bridge was out for what seemed like many months. I discovered a couple months ago that its replacement had finally been finished. So the route to Georgetown is as described on the map in this post. Unless you had somewhere else you wanted to go.

Speaking of the bridge, I am glad that as before, sidewalks adorn both sides. Sidewalks that are wide enough to ride. I’m not sure if they were designed with cyclists in mind or simply to accommodate pedestrians passing each other safely. But they are the only way I advise riding across the bridge. Now there is just one problem: At the end of the bridge it decidedly is not designed for cyclists. You are let off the bridge after you are made to curve a bit around to the right at the intersection which serves to hide you from drivers behind you who are turning right. Further, they are none too happy when you roll on across that part of the intersection, making them wait and doubtless become indignant that a cyclist just transitioned from the sidewalk to the roadway or is riding across a crosswalk. If memory serves, this intersection crossing is a two-parter – first the one I just described then from that concrete island across the street the rest of the way. So, really if you have ridden the sidewalk across the bridge, there is no viable way to continue riding on Airport Way unless you are willing to annoy drivers and risk being hit. Dismounting may be the best option. Oh well.

Once you get across the intersection, ride on for a bit more than 1500 feet to your destination. It’s hard to find unless they have a sandwich board out on the sidewalk which they are known to have. Machine House Brewery is in one of those big, old historic brick buildings on the east side of the street. The building used to house Georgetown Brewing which moved a ways to the north a while back. As I look at the map, I see that it’s actually across from where Doris St. goes to the right. Look between two buildings and you’ll see a tall brick smokestack back in the parking lot. If for any reason, that alley is blocked or if you miss it, don’t worry. Just proceed to the end of the buildings to a big open parking lot and turn in there and head back to it.

The bar.

The bar. Cask handles on left. That’s a 1/2 pint in front of me.

In relatively nice weather you’ll find the doors open. There’s no official place to lock up your bike, but you can usually find something to throw a lock around. I haven’t yet mentioned that Machine House pours beers in Imperial Pint glasses (20 oz and shaped in that traditional British style). The glass pictured above is a 1/2 pint and shares the same shape. I believe buying a 1/2 pint here is a pretty good deal unlike at many places. Now, I’m not sure if the 1/2 pint is 1/2 the size of the 20 oz glass or if it’s literally a 1/2 pint which would make it a worse deal.

The casks that hold the specialty beers you might say. Note the sign for stinging nettle beer and "beer ginger."

The casks that hold the specialty beers you might say. Note the sign for stinging nettle beer and “beer ginger.” Soccer, of course, on the tele.

Along with the aforementioned 20 oz pours for the good price of $4 (no tax on that), here’s what made me decide I would make Machine House one of my options in the future: I enjoyed drinking the beer. Sounds like a “duh” I know. As I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t thrilled with the sound of their beers. I like carbonation in my beer and for it to be somewhat colder than cask ale. I also like my beer to be more potent than something in the 4.x ABV range. So I wan’t expecting to enjoy the beer that much. On that first visit, however, they had a stinging nettle beer and I found drinking it pretty pleasant. I also had their “beer ginger.” It is indeed beer, not ginger beer, hence the arrangement of the words. I found myself really drinking the stuff instead of something more akin to sipping as I do with more powerful brews. It was a refreshing experience. I must say though that I was considerably less pleased with their other beers which did hit my pallet like I expected them to. Still, I like the place. There is a pseudo European feel there (not that I’ve ever been to Europe).

A view of the brewing operation back there past some art.

A view of the brewing operation back there past some art.

Some pretty art.

Some pretty art.

Machine House Brewery is pretty okay with me now. It really represents the only brewery tasting room in Georgetown and come to think of it, is thus far free from that extremely annoying attitude you find in hip neighborhoods in terms of service. In times past my go-to places in Georgetown were Julie Mae’s Saloon and 9lb Hammer, both of which come complete with said attitude. Machine House satisfies an important need in its neighborhood.

Next we’ll use a route to get back toward Seattle proper that I only somewhat recently disovered. It’s always neat when you don’t have to retrace your route and can instead make a loop. It’s on to Standard Brewing next.

Exit the Machine House parking lot and turn right onto Airport Way. Proceed to the first stop light and turn right up the onramp-looking thing. This takes you nicely over railroad tracks onto Lucille St. At first you see a sharrows symbol on the pavement and soon it turns into a bike lane to help you ascend the ramp in safety. It’s pretty steep but not too long. There is a perfectly viable alternative to riding on the road here, and it’s riding on the separated sidewalk (or walking if you choose). Once you get up the hill, the sidewalk is no longer separated by a nice concrete wall and metal railing, but it’s still a sidewalk and still pretty wide. Whichever way you choose to go up this ramp, your next turn is near.

Take a left on 12th Ave. After about 3500 feet on this street, you get to Snoqualmie St. where you make a little jut over to the right and then turn left onto 13th Ave. Shortly you get to Nevada St. where you make another quick jut over to the right in order to get to 15th Ave, a busy road where you need to go left. It’s a stop sign intersection here and you just have to wait until it’s safe to turn left. It is heavily traveled but has a speed limit of 30 mph. At first you have no bicycle facilities then sharrows appear. Between Spokane St. and Hinds St. a bike lane appears going this direction (it’s still sharrows the other direction). You are now climbing. At about Lander St. the environment becomes more business and less residential. At the intersection with Beacon Ave you lose your bike lane and are left with sharrows. Keep going straight on 15th Ave. Soon it’s back to residential.

After a while the road changes names to Golf Dr. as you are going through a park though it’s not easy to tell. Your next major landmark is the bridge you curve down. It’s called the Dr. Jose P. Rizal Bridge. I don’t know who this guy is/was, but signage makes sure you know his name. It’s a pretty good decline here and riding out on the street is feasible due to your speed. Once off the bridge it’s sharrows on a busy street in or near the International District as you make your way to your next turn, Jackson St. Turn right on Jackson.

Jackson is a busy major road in Seattle but it’s pretty common to see bikes here. I’ve never had much trouble on it. When the road begins to climb you get a bike lane. There are indeed some climbs on this stretch as we head toward our destination. See the map for a bit of detail. Your Jackson St. travel is maybe a 1.25 miles. At 25th Ave. you can see Standard Brewing across the street. If you are inclined, make a left here, or if it’s busy you may want to dismount, get over onto the sidewalk and use the crosswalk.

We made it to Standard Brewing. Let’s check it out.

The sight of the place from across the street as I rode up was pretty striking. This place needs no sandwich board out front. The name is painted nice and large in white on the front of the grey wall. It was refreshing to have such a clear signal I’d found the place I sought. I don’t recall any official bike parking but I locked up around the side to something like a gas meter or tree.

Was very nice to have fellow cyclists there.  This shot was taken from up by the front door. You can see the squeeze it takes to get in.

Was very nice to have fellow cyclists there. This shot was taken from up by the front door. You can see the squeeze it takes to get in.

Heading toward the entrance means squeezing through a fairly narrow walkway. At least it is narrow when you have people standing there drinking their beers. To the right is some outdoor seating as you head toward the door. Once inside you see a very minimal space with flat black walls with some art on them. To the left is the counter and beyond that the brewhouse with its small system.

The hand of the nice beertender wiping up. Beyond, see the brew system.

The hand of the nice beertender wiping up. Beyond, see the brew system.

Above and to the right of the counter is the menu board which is of a distinctive type. It seems to fit here.

Don't know that I've seen a beer menu board of this type before. It works nicely!

Don’t know that I’ve seen a beer menu board of this type before. It works nicely!

The beertender was nice and cheerfully dispensed me my set of tasters. I believe I saw it listed somewhere that a taster set of all the taps was available. I opted for that, but had to specify that I didn’t want the last two offerings, ginger beer and pineapple beer. While I am intrigued by them, I didn’t have room in my belly or day for them.

I took my rack of little glasses outside where I found a spot at the nice railing they attached to the wall. A great idea that makes room for more customers, but at the same time it makes things crowded along the walk. I enjoyed standing there with a view of the intersection and all the traffic as I explored my beers.

Here are your cross streets. And your cross walk. And a couple bikes locked to a do-it-yourself bike rack.

Here are your cross streets. And your cross walk. And a couple bikes locked to a do-it-yourself bike rack.

Standard Brewing’s beer was good. I remember enjoying most if not all of them. I don’t recall if I liked the red or not, but I don’t like many reds. I am impressed by the fact that Standard’s beers come in at respectable ABVs. This is clearly a conscious decision. Even their pale is over 6%, and their West Coast IPA is 7.3 which for me is about the magic number for an IPA. I’ve had many lower ABV IPAs that tasted perfectly fine, but for me and IPA should be serious. It seems to me Standard is bucking the trend of leaning toward the sessionable. I would comment more on the taste of their beers, but it’s been a few weeks since my visit and I don’t remember much more than I did find them nice and tasty.

I like this wall rail.

I like this wall rail.

I don’t know what is behind the name Standard Brewing. For me it fits. They’ve got a plain little building in a non-fancy location. Their color scheme is black, grey and white. Their beers are solid. I would like to make it one of my standard places.

The ride back to downtown is mostly a straight, mostly downhill, shot down Jackson then simply using the appropriate streets to get where you need to be. My map shows, as always, directions back to the ferry terminal. So after flying cautiously down Jackson, turn right on 4th. At Yesler Way, the road takes a slight curve left as you go under a bridge. After the bridge, a bike lane appears on the left side of the road. 4th is a one-way street and I always ride in the bike lane on the left side of the street, but coming from Jackson, there is no bike lane and as such I feel a bit funnier about being on the left. I suppose after enough jockeying with buses, I might take to using the left side all the way from Jackson.

At Columbia St. turn left and follow it down to Alaskan Way where you turn left and find the ferry terminal entrance ahead on the right.

Thanks for joining me on another adventure! I look forward to our next one.

Cheers, and keep spinning those spokes!

 

 

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