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An Adventure To Cellar Dweller Brewing

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Join me as I roll up to Morrow, OH to Cellar Dweller Brewing. This adventure was mostly on separated trail!

CellarDwellerLogo

I have known about Cellar Dweller pretty much from the beginning of my living here in Cincinnati. It was, however, one of the two local breweries that I considered unbikeable (the other being the very nice Mt. Carmel Brewing). Then came the day I went to the Lunken Beerfest a couple months ago or so. I stopped by the Cellar Dweller booth for some tastes. The conversation turned to the fact that I had biked to the Fest. The man told me that they sometimes have cyclists visiting the brewery (well, I think he might have said “all the time” but I think that has to be an exaggeration). He said they’re located just a bit off the trail.

That’s pretty much true.

Cellar Dweller’s beers are good! I was impressed at the Beerfest and I was again at the brewery. The experience at Cellar Dweller was a bit of a departure from the norm. See, Cellar Dweller is a fairly young baby of the larger and far more prominent business, Valley Vineyards. Cellar Dweller’s beers, as their slogan suggests, come from the cellars of Valley Vineyards. The place is basically a big restaurant with a big patio. Now, I say restaurant, but I don’t think they really serve food. They have some sort of thing going where they sometimes offer cheese plates, and they have big grills on the front patio where guests can bring their own meat and cook it. I guess they offer salads, desserts, etc. to go along with it as well.

It was interesting for this guy who is simply out for local craft beer. I found myself in a restaurant-like atmosphere. As the hour progressed, I saw more and more people, mostly elderly and not appearing to be hurting for money, filter in and take their reserved seats. Well, it is a winery I guess, and not exactly Napa.

See my fellow patrons. I feel young and rowdy.

See my fellow patrons. I feel young and rowdy.

By the way, I love wine and wineries. My wife and I used to make the 5 hour trek from Seattle to Walla Walla for spring wine release. We had a handful of neat wineries on Bainbridge Island as well.

I rolled in after some confusion as to where exit the trail. I was drenched in sweat on this 90 degree humid day, having pedaled some 35 miles. My bike locked up to the bike rack out front (that’s right, a bike rack!), my soaked shirt draped over the rack and my backup shirt donned, I entered the air-conditioned building after observing the expansive front patio and the guy lighting up the big barbecue grills.

As mentioned, I kind of blew it on my directions. I had investigated the route a couple days prior, consulting Google Street View to get an idea what it looks like where I was supposed to leave the trail and ride on-street the fairly short distance to the brewery. I should have boned up the day of my trip. When I neared Morrow, I saw a cross street that I suspected was where I needed to exit the trail and turn. I doubted myself and proceeded just beyond the street. Stopping to see if my phone could help me, I encountered a nice guy who slowed to ask if everything was okay. I took the opportunity to ask if he knew where Valley Vineyards was and if the street just behind us was the one that led there. Well, I thank the guy who was very nice, but between him and my phone, I was encouraged to proceed on the trail which turned out to take me some three miles too far. Then, I got off the trail and onto a busy road that began to go steeply uphill. My legs and body were not excited. I pulled over, checked my phone and decided I needed to go the other way. After trekking that way for a while on the busy road, I again pulled over, deciding to place a call to Valley Vineyards. Talking to the woman and thinking things through, I got an idea where I had gone wrong.

Yes, I had gone too far on the trail then pedaled around Morrow in vain. This as I was about drained of sweat.

Cellar Dweller is located a bit before you get into Morrow on the trail (coming from Cincinnati). The road at which you exit the trail is named Stubbs Mill Road, people. Remember it. One of the women at the brewery told me they had a sign up on the trail for a while, but it kept getting removed. There is actually a small wooden sign across the road as you approach on the trail that bears the road’s name.

THIS is the road.

THIS is the road. Get off the trail here and turn right! Then turn left at the light.

As you approach your road.

As you approach your road.

It looks like this once you're on the road. Barely visible in this pic is the big gravel pit on the left – a major landmark.

It looks like this once you’re on the road. Barely visible in this pic is the big gravel pit on the left – a major landmark.

 

Looking the other direction you would see the giant wine barrel Valley Vineyards sign. I didn't photograph it but I'm pretty sure you can find a pic of it.

Looking the other direction you would see the giant wine barrel Valley Vineyards sign. I didn’t photograph it but I’m pretty sure you can find a pic of it. Notice the little market where the proprietors of this place sell their own fruit and vegetables. Neat!

Right away I saw the red tap handles behind the counter and on the right, though visually they play as significant a role as does Cellar Dweller to Valley Vineyards. I knew what I was there for and, for me, there was no missing those tap handles. Oh yes, I was getting my Cellar Dweller beer.

That's Cellar Dweller over there on the wall.

That’s Cellar Dweller over there on the wall.

I was greeted by a nice young woman in what appeared to be almost a uniform. Tasters were my poison of choice here. They offer a set of seven tasters for $8. The woman readily offered, though, that they offer individual tasters for $1. This suited me better, though I ordered tasters of six of their currently available seven beers. It was a good deal, Pedalpinters. The tasters were unusually large (though they appeared to intentionally fill them less than full). As you see in the menu, Cellar Dweller’s beers are essentially $5/pint save a couple which are of the feebler variety. Yes, this seems to be the law of the land at breweries and beer establishments: only the beers much lighter in gravity come at a more affordable price. Maybe this is a foregone conclusion to most, but I don’t remember it always being that way. Is it an Ohio thing? Is it a Midwest thing? I’d have to go back and visit the Pacific Northwest to find out. Sadly, I am actually glad to see they only charge $5 at a maximum. The price of beer just keeps going up my friends. $5 is the new $4.

CellarDwellerTasters

CellarDwellerTasters2

I took my paddle of tasters and – no, actually the woman offered to carry them for me – I found a table in the cool somewhat dim dining room. All the tables had cards displayed on them with names and the time of the reservations. I was prepared for this, as I had called a total of three times leading up to my adventure to get a feel for the atmosphere there. More importantly, I needed to confirm that they would be open before I blew a day of travel in vain. The deal is, comrades who are just out for a bit of beer and a bike ride, the place takes reservations and fills up with diners and winers at 4 o’clock. Prior to that, though, you are welcome to visit and enjoy the beer (and wine). Just make sure you are ready to vacate your table before the reservation time unless you want an uncomfortable moment.

Makes you want to settle in and have a nice dinner with friends or family eh? Nah. I think I'll ride 30 miles home now.

Makes you want to settle in and have a nice dinner with friends or family eh? Nah. I think I’ll ride 30 miles home now.

Of the six Cellar Dweller beers I had, I enjoyed Dead Dweller the least. Dead Dweller is good. This tells you how I feel about these beers. Standouts for me are the Ryno amber which tasted a lot more like an IPA or hoppy pale than an amber. It is listed at 27 IBU but has to be hopper than that. The Lookout Stout and the Hoppy Poppy IPA are very good as well. Shawsome black IPA is good but not, to me, quite as good as the aforementioned. Just a matter of taste, but all quality beers! I’d like to try their wines sometime.

CellarDwellerBeerMenu

At first I sat at a table for two not far from the gift shop/counter. Later, I moved to a big table diagonally across the room that was next to a front window, as I craved more light and a view outside. This table had a reservation time of 6:00 compared to the 5:00 at my first table. It was getting close to this hour because I had left home later than I wished, having had to deal with a flat tire before departing and of course getting a bit lost on the way.

When I saw a significant amount of people saunter in and fill the area around the counter I figured I’d better get up there and pay lest I be caught waiting behind a crowd of distinguished guests, my time ticking away. I joined the crowd and settled up with the responsive friendly staff. To my surprise, there was a lull in the action a bit later for which I should have waited. 

From my window I was able to see my bike and the two other bikes locked to the rack that were there when I arrived. Yes, there were a couple other cyclists there, though I couldn’t tell who they were. I have the strong suspicion that most people that bike to Valley Vineyards do so from somewhere around Loveland (home of Cappy’s a place detailed in another of my posts), or maybe from some point to the North of the winery. I don’t know that the place sees many visitors from Cincinnati, a 65-70 mile round trip away.

After thoroughly enjoying my tasting experience, I finally used the restroom. Yes, I had downed about 1.75 liters of water since leaving home in addition to my beer and just now had to pee a little. That’s how much I sweat. It was time to take off and start the ride back home.

I exited on the gravel drive that runs parallel to the road, then joined the road. It’s not far until you reach the road where you turn right to reach the trail which is probably 1/3 mile away.

The ride on the trail this day was peaceful and pleasant but tiring and, frankly, boring. Two hours each way does get old. Of course there is also the ride to and from the trail from my neighborhood which you will see on the map.

I’m glad to have had this adventure and thus made it to the final Cincinnati brewery I had not visited. I’ll do it again, though maybe in the winter!

Thanks for joining me on this adventure.

Cheers, and keep spinning those spokes!

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Updated Aug 16 With Shortcut: A Jaunty Jaunt to the Whole Foods Beer Station

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Pedalpinters, please note the bold heading near the end of this post that reads: August 14 update: And please take a look at the updated map, as I have discovered a better way that takes you right to Whole Foods from Hyde Park.

Have I lost it?

Meaning 1: Am I crazy for seeking out a beer drinking experience at Whole Foods? Meaning 2: Have I lost my drive for adventure?

I appreciate the concise information provided here. The only things missing are the ABVs and the location of the breweries.

I appreciate the concise information provided here. The only things missing are the ABVs and the location of the breweries. Oh, and the type of beer.

I’ll let you decide.

Sure, I was the only one sitting there in Whole Foods drinking a beer. Sure, the trip to Whole Foods was a mile long.

The essential elements.

The essential elements.

This experience has something in common with my experiences at Chuck’s on 85th in that I’m in the middle of a store enjoying a beer. Its weirdness adds to the enjoyability.

No doubt my blissful little roll on over to Whole Foods bears almost no similarity to many of the epic adventures I’ve had such as those to Trade Route Brewing, or Snoqualmie Falls Brewing (both chronicled here at twopedalsacouplepints).

It was, however, a highly enjoyable craft beer by bike experience, and one I plan to repeat. Lest you doubt me, I proceeded from Whole Foods on to Bad Tom Brewing (formerly Double Barrel Brewing), then into the OTR neighborhood for Moerlein Brewing Taproom, then to the brand new HalfCut beer place, also in OTR.

Yes, you sit there drinking a beer and can watch everyone checking out with their groceries. Love it.

Yes, you sit there drinking a beer and can watch everyone checking out with their groceries.

Let me provide you with my route to Whole Foods for what it’s worth. I’m sitting pretty in my location in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Cincinnati. I cut through the back of the Rookwood Commons shopping center to where Whole Foods is found. This lets me avoid a bunch of busy parking lot navigation and delay. It is also pretty awesome that the beer station (nestled into the coffee bar) is located at that end of the building at which I arrive first, coming this way.

http://goo.gl/maps/JPTcL

They had some very good beers on that day, making this an even more essential experience.

May 20 Update follows:

You can see by looking at the chalkboard that Whole Foods’ prices on draft beer vary pretty widely. They want $4/pint and $3/pint for some, which is almost unheard of these days. Some others are $7 and up. Consider also their growler pricing which is wonky. For instance the Battle Axe is the same price per ounce in a pint as it is in half gallon growler. Finally, it’s important to know what I was told by the “beerista” (my term, what with this being a tiny beer bar inside a coffee bar): They plan to soon start serving beers in their “proper glassware.” What this means mostly is that a lot of their offerings are going to served in smaller sizes for the same price they currently charge. Yes, I understand proper glassware and serving higher alcohol beers in smaller pours. The point is that Whole Foods is currently offering beers in a full pint (and not a false pint glass – those thick-bottomed glasses which look just like a pint glass but only hold about 13 oz. – watch for them!) that are not available in that size just about anywhere else. Forgive me, the value hound in me takes note of this.

For me, the standout beers on the chalkboard were Fat Heads Battle Axe, a baltic porter, and Jackie O’s Matriarch, a big IPA. The beer list was almost unchanged on my subsequent visit which took place last Friday. This makes me wonder about how long it takes Whole Foods to go through a keg of beer.

I first got a pint of MadTree Brewing’s Galaxy High, an imperial IPA which weighs in at about 11.2%, and is delicious. I’ve enjoyed Galaxy High at the brewery taproom here in Cincinnati, but it’s $7/10 oz. pour. This is not the first time I’ve gotten a brewery’s beer offsite cheaper than at the brewery, which defies what at least used to be the logic that states that beer obtained directly from the source is cheaper. I consider it sweet revenge to avoid the overcharging that some brewery taprooms do these days. I love MadTree. It was my sort of home-base brewery when I lived in the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood. Their pricing is a beef I have with them, and they’re certainly not the only brewery doing it these days – I presume taking advantage of the growing popularity of consuming beer at a brewery taproom.

A bright beautiful day and bright, clean (expensive) scenery. A great spot to people watch.

A bright beautiful day and bright, clean (expensive) scenery. A great spot to people watch. You see my bike parking spot on the right.

Next, having asked the very helpful and courteous beerista what type of beers were the Matriarch and the Battle Axe, (and having gotten tastes) I decided I would like to have both. Not wishing to consume too much alcohol, and not having that much more time, I asked if they had a smaller pour size. The answer was no. This woman, however, was so willing to help and make things nice for the customer that she offered to go ask the manager what they could do. Upon returning, she offered to pour about 1/2 pint of each into smaller glasses and charge the price between the two beers. One beer was $7 and one was $5 so I was charged $6.

A lot of talk of price here, I know. What I wish to convey is that I have been quite pleasantly surprised by the good customer service I have been having at this Cincinnati Whole Foods location. I hadn’t paid Whole Foods much attention in the past, believing them to be overpriced and probably pretentious. They are in fact overpriced on some items, but reasonably priced on a lot of others. More importantly, it seems that Whole Foods management dictates that their employees measure up to a certain standard of customer care. I have seen it at the checkout counter, and when I ask questions. I also see it written on the wall as part of a huge display detailing their company mission. It says something like delight every customer. A pleasant surprise, and something that will keep me coming back with my dollars.

Back to beer: The Fat Head’s Battle Axe was a nice example of the baltic porter style – deep, rich and having a particular flavor I find hard to describe but yummy. Its ABV is up there around 10%. The Jackie O’s Matriarch is amazing. Rarely have I been wowed by a beer. This one is powerful good. Strong fruity-hoppiness and a backbone to support it. It, too, is quite strong – above 10%, I believe.

A couple notes on the experience of getting to Whole Foods via my route: If you choose to walk instead of ride a bike, know that there are not sidewalks taking you through the parking lot. Once you enter the shopping center from Madison, you are on a sidewalk that seems to belong to the Valvoline oil change center. After you leave that, you are on the ground sharing a fairly narrow area with parking lot drivers making time cutting through the back of a very busy lot. If you arrive by bicycle, a bike rack awaits you on the side of the building. It’s a shame they relegated bike parking to this obscure, out-of-sight location. I have always locked up to a light post right in front of the coffee bar. Another practical note: On my most recent visit, I found the convenient entrance I mentioned earlier to be closed, and a sign telling you to use the main entrance. Much less convenient. By the time I left, however, the sign was gone and the door usable. Not sure why.

Whole Foods offers self-serve water, which is always a big plus!

Nice going!

Self-serve water. Nice going!

Last time I was there, I noticed, on the other end of the counter, to my left, someone getting water from a bottled water cooler. It appeared to be self-serve for the customer as well. Weird. I’ll have to check out that option.

I will note it’s surprising that the counter here is kind of less than clean looking. I see newspapers have left remnants, and I’m not sure what else is going on. Plenty of plug-ins for your electronics though (haven’t confirmed that they are live).

III

IIIXXX

A couple of interesting things were observed as I Wholly enjoyed my beer. The first was perplexing, the second pretty cool. 1.) I observed three middle-aged/old men gather at the front of the parking lot and light up various smoking articles. Right there they stood, smoked and seemed to have planned to meet for an organized old-guy parking lot smoke. A Meetup Group?

Perhaps: "

2.) I saw a couple of guys in the store sporting UFC shirts and clothing. They were obviously into MMA fighting, but I assumed they were just fans that worked out and possibly trained. A bit later I saw a white Ford van in the parking lot. My first thought was this looks like the sort of van you see on TV that transports UFC fighters on the show “The Ultimate Fighter.” I then saw a few of these UFC decked-out guys go out and get into the van. Turns out, later that week I just happened to find a UFC event on TV – on the lowly cable package we have. Watching it, I saw them show a Cincinnati Bengals player in the audience. It clicked. The guys and the van I saw at Whole Foods were with the UFC and some of them were probably fighters participating in the event that I found out was taking place at US Bank Arena. As a fan of, and student of MMA, I find this pretty neat!

xxxxxx

Don’t confront.

Ending on a couple of random notes, I’ll sign off this account of an odd, awesome beer enjoying opportunity. I hope you experience it sometime.

August 16 update follows:

Neat! I’ve discovered a better route from Hyde Park to Whole Foods. Even if you’re not coming from Hyde Park – for instance If you’re coming in on Madison from either direction – it’s your ticket to avoiding the parking lot blues. Yes, this route features one of my very favorite things: A pedestrian/non-motorized cut-through!

Right this way.

Right this way.

Now, this route is useful whether on foot or on bike. If on foot, follow the route on the (updated!) map and you’ll have stop light intersections to get you across roads. The new route avoids that major flaw in the original route if you’re on foot: your having to navigate the parking lot without the benefit of sidewalks (seems the Rookwood Commons shopping center was not designed with pedestrians in mind – at least not those who would be stupid enough to try to arrive in a manner other than by motor vehicle).

This new route puts you right at the back of Whole Foods! See, at the end of Burch Ave (a dead-end street) there is a chain link fence with a gate that is open. You can see that people use this route, as there are crude stepping stones in place and steps dug into the hill to help you down and up the dirt/grass hill! Neat!

See the railroad tracks that you cross. Hopefully one day soon there will be the Wasson Way trail in place of these tracks!

See the railroad tracks that you cross. Hopefully one day soon there will be the Wasson Way trail in place of these tracks!

Looking from the other direction (leaving Rookwood) you see that folks have put down stepping stones of various types. Power to the people!

Looking from the other direction (leaving Rookwood) you see that folks have put down stepping stones of various types. Power to the people!

Looking from the parking lot. The hill is steeper than it looks here. If Whole Foods wants to appear "earthy" they should advertise this path.

Looking from the parking lot. The hill is steeper than it looks here. If Whole Foods wants to appear “earthy” they should advertise this path.

An update on the Whole Foods beer station: They have started pouring some beers in smaller glasses for the same price – as I said they would.
Another discovery: I’d reported that there was a water cooler, that appears to have nice purified water, on one end of the long counter, and a different kind of cooler on the beer station side that I assumed contained tap water. I was told recently that both contain the same water: reverse osmosis good stuff from the filling station they have where it’s available for purchase. In fact, since both coolers were empty on a recent visit, an employee told me I could just take my bike bottle back and fill it at the station – like it was no big deal. That’s cool, and something I would have considered shoplifting before being given permission.

Enjoy the new route, my friends! It’s a sweet thing.

Join me on my next adventure. Cheers and keep spinning those spokes!

An Adventure to Mayday and Northside Tavern

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Join me as I roll over to the Northside neighborhood of Cincinnati to visit Mayday Northside and Northside Tavern. Both these places feature local craft beer (as thankfully just about every drinking and eating establishment does these days!). They also feature craft beers from other regions. The point is: good beer available and thus worth visiting.

For me, the craft beer is just about the only reason to visit Northside Tavern. That and its decent prices, especially during happy hour.

I discovered Mayday Northside more recently and narrowly decided to give it a try. Turns out I like it better than Northside Tavern. This opinion may change with future visits however. It happens that on my maiden visit to Mayday, there was a good bartender there who was professional and nice. He and I, in fact, wound up talking a fair bit. It was an indicator that he’s a either a genuinely open, friendly guy or understands the true meaning of customer service. He made me feel welcome despite the fact I didn’t visually fit the place’s vibe (as I rarely do anywhere). As I’ve talked about before, I certainly don’t expect or want my beertender to make conversation with me. I simply expect prompt, courteous service.

On that topic, I will mention that there is a bartender at Northside Tavern that has done a good job as well. Her name I remember as Billy. She’s a nice lady and makes the difference between my wanting to return and not bothering. One night springs to mind. I had made the ride to Northside Tavern from Pleasant Ridge using the longest route shown on the map (10 miles). It was this past winter and the temperature was about 20 degrees, not counting the wind chill, when I embarked on the adventure. Temperatures dropped as I rode, I believe. Snow also began to fall. I was using my mountain bike and riding on sidewalks for part of the journey. The ride took about an hour. By the time I was a few miles away, I was not having any fun. My hands were numb and I felt frostbite setting in on parts of my legs (wearing shorts as always). Billy was so sweet as she offered a bunch of concern – concern  I didn’t need, but appreciated. She gave me a mug of hot water to sip. She also all but insisted that I call a cab for a ride home rather than attempting to ride home. See, the weather was expected to deteriorate soon. She wrote down the number of three cab companies for me. What a sweet lady.  Turns out the ride home (who am I kidding – to MadTree Brewing) was much more enjoyable than the ride there. I think the wind was at my back a lot more.

Check out my map from Pleasant Ridge to Northside. It includes three routes. My preferred route is the one that includes the information pins.

http://goo.gl/maps/fqIId

I don’t have any pics of my visits to these two spots, and I don’t know if I’ll invest time in any updates to this post. The story’s pretty much told. Northside Tavern and Mayday Northside fit that description of several of the taverns I’ve experienced in Cincinnati. Gritty. Dirty in some cases. Offering a bit of relief from the silly-high prices many places charge for beer around here.

Next time I roll over to Northside, I’ll likely try Mayday first. If it goes like last time, it’ll be my only stop in the neighborhood.

I look forward to our next adventure together.

Cheers, and keep spinning those spokes!

A Visit To Rhinegeist Brewery

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It’s time to run on over to Cincinnati’s Rhinegeist Brewery. I apologize, but I don’t have any pics for this post. Read on and you’ll see at least one of the reasons.

Yes, loyal readers, my first visit to a Cincy brewery after moving here was not only human powered as always, but the only equipment I employed to help get me there was a pair of shoes.

Coincidentally, those shoes have something in common with my bikes: They were obtained at a very low cost. How fitting that, due to my slip up, they were the only shoes I had upon moving here (I let the movers pack up all my other shoes). Yes, these Nike Air athletic/trail-running shoes were bought at a yard sale in almost new condition for $1. I tried to offer the seller at least $5 but he didn’t want it. Here you see one of the perks of living in an affluent community as I did.

Same thing with the bike that we had delivered to our temporary apartment days later: Got it for free. It’s a Fuji Grand SE, probably from the 80s or earlier, in what seems to me to be near new condition. It had a destroyed rear wheel due to its being accidentally dragged behind a car when it slipped most of the way off a bike rack. I just needed to add a new (used) rear wheel – that I got for free from a nice little Seattle bike shop because the owner wouldn’t officially sell it as it had a flaw he considered to be dangerous – and a new (used) tire and I had myself a great, sturdy bike with lots of life left in it.

As alluded to, I was in my new city with no bike for a few days. When I got a little piece of free time, I hatched a plan to run from our Covington, KY apartment to Rhinegeist – a trip of some 2 miles or so.

It’s interesting that this post has thus far focused on saving money (well all my posts have that focus when you consider how much money riding a bike saves). Money is one of my biggest complaints about Rhinegeist Brewery. Their beers start at $6 per pint. I’d like to hear their justification for this. Do they believe their beers are 50% better than those of one of their Cincinnati counterparts, Rivertown Brewing who charges $4 per pint? Yes, I know $5 is the new $4. But a brewery going ahead and setting their base price at $6 sucks and should be taken very seriously by all beer lovers. Listen to me, people, this cracks further open the door for beer prices to continue to rise.

My take on the reason? They feel they can get away with it. Sadly, they’re right. It seems to me that what Rhinegeist is selling is not beer but an image. Yes, this is hippest of Cincinnati’s breweries. Beer made by hipsters for hipsters. The brewery is located in the gritty, gritty Over The Rhine neighborhood. It is in, I guess, a historic old brewery building. It’s industrial with historical cred. Rhinegeist’s Facebook presence, which of course is more important these days even than a website presence is, let’s just say, too cool for this aging beer lover. Their beer names are catchy and cryptic. Spikelet, Uncle, Truth, Fiction, Cougar. I know there must be meanings behind these names but I’m pretty sure I just wouldn’t get it.

Enter Saber Tooth Tiger, their imperial IPA. Yes, this beer is so awesome that a release party complete with early sign-up and admission charge was held. A release party for a beer from a brewery that is barely a year old? It must have been some good beer.

Let’s step back and take a look at the simple route I used to run to Rhinegeist.

After running across the Roebling Bridge on the awesome separated pedestrian/bicycle lanes, I went left at the roundabout then followed the curve to the right onto Rosa Parks St. which quickly becomes Vine St. From there it’s maybe 1.5 miles of running through downtown and waiting at the stoplights (or as is customary here, jaywalking as soon as there is a break in traffic) to where you take a left onto W Liberty St. From there, the next major street you cross is Race St., then the next major one is Elm St. where you turn right. Maybe 1/4 mile up Elm St. is Rhinegeist on the right. I have since discovered a better (less congested, safer) route into Over The Rhine that I will discuss in an upcoming post.

I first saw the parking lot they use on the left, and thought the next doorway into an old building (they’re all old) might be the entrance. I heard some loud talking behind that door but thankfully I chose not to try to open it. I thought I’d check things out and make sure I knew where I was first. So along I walked – in fear. Let’s shoot straight here: I’m a fit, man near somewhere near his prime with mixed martial arts and self-defense training and a nasty mean streak but I was afraid as a lone white person in this neighborhood. What? I don’t think we should be talking about this you say.

Allright, back to my assessment of Rhinegeist, which I realize will also draw plenty of ire. Oh well. In case you haven’t learned by now, I’ve got to call it as i see it. You deserve nothing less.

There I was walking up and down the sidewalk waiting for, I think it was, 4:00 when they were scheduled to open. I had found what looked most like their front door on the east side of the street. I would have taken a picture of it for you but I didn’t think it would have been smart to display my phone. To my relief, after a while a car pulled up and parked directly in front of the front door. From it emerged two folks who adjusted the odds slightly in my favor. I did go ahead and step up the concrete steps and try both glass doors at one point, but they were locked.

Finally on one of my saunters by the entrance I thought I heard some action at the door. The nice woman who had been standing by her car told me that she saw the front door being unlocked. I thanked her and again stepped up to the entrance where I found the open door. That was how Rhinegeist greeted its waiting customers: coming down, unlocking and opening the door and quickly disappearing into what I found was a somewhat confusing entrance. No signs welcoming you or courteously pointing the way to go. Just dark hallways and concrete flights of steps leading up. I get it. This is part of the appeal.

I went the way that seemed most logical. I kept ascending the flights of stairs. When I had gone as high as I could climb, a doorway opened up a view of an expansive warehouse area with no immediate view of anything indicating I was in a place customers ought to be. Finally my scan to the left revealed a bar in the distance. Okay, now I knew where to go.

Once I reached the mostly empty bar with its row of taps behind, I took a seat. Shortly the woman asked what I wanted. Now, I’ll give her a bit of credit – she did at least display some modicum of courtesy as she took my order, but that faded somewhat as my visit progressed and she became increasingly engrossed in whatever business she was conducting on her cel phone.

I inquired about tasters, which of course is the best way to experience the offerings of a new place. I agreed to the price and found the beers to be fine. Most of Rhinegeist’s beers are sessionable. Yes, it seems this is the new trend. So I enjoyed my 4.8% ABV Cougar and my 3.8% Uncle (Are you kidding me? This is pretty close to “3-2 beer” which I learned about during my extended stint in Minnesota) and my 5.5% Spikelet, etc. After, I ordered their other taster lineup that included a couple of beers from their “rarity” series. You know, what other breweries call seasonal or limited. I will mention the beer called Mosaic. This beer impressed me. Even at its somewhat diminutive ABV, it took my palate by surprise. Pretty tasty. This taster set included their beer named Truth. Surprisingly, Truth comes in at 7.2% and also happens to be pretty good.

Unfortunately, Truth costs more. Yes, Truth will cost you more than $6 per pint. It costs more in ingredients to make a stronger beer, you know.

I honestly don’t recall, but I do think I got to try, with great reverence, the Saber Tooth Tiger as well.

Two things give Rhinegeist any chance of seeing me there again: A while after I had been there, the beertender wheeled out a bucket of self-serve water. In addition to that, a stout, bearded young man who had been carrying out various tasks began to also man the taps. He and I actually struck up a conversation after a while and he turned out to be pretty cool and genuine. Rhinegeiest has no idea what a service that guy did their business that day.

After finishing my tastes, I went ahead and paid the, if I recall, $7 for a pint of “Truth” (amazing that it comes in a full pint, not a smaller pour). Hilariously, a couple weeks later I would purchase a pint of “Truth” at a rather historic, crummy bar called Fries Cafe for a dollar less. I proceeded to take a second walk around the place, observing the giant overhead fan that is actually pretty cool, and the cornhole games they have set up, I used the restroom and began my descent of the flights of stairs.

Once out onto the street, I ran toward the safety of downtown. It bears mentioning that downtown Cincinnati near the river is very nice. I certainly don’t require this, but the whole area down toward the river and by the stadiums looks pretty new and is clean. Witness the power of sports in our society. Yes, this area is a total contrast to the Over The Rhine area and is also a contrast to downtown Seattle. The only redeeming quality I have yet seen in OTR is the Findlay Market (think Pike Place Market) and the cool but mostly very overpriced Park and Vine store that peddles green home goods and food. I’d also like to note that I’ve seen far fewer panhandlers in Cincinnati than in Seattle. Cincinnati’s harsher climate partially explains this.

Rhinegeist, carry on. I’m at least glad you’re there having folks with the money to spend spending their money on a local product. If I’m ever in the neighborhood – at Findlay Market or at Christian Moerlein Brewery’s taproom – and I find myself needing a place to get a beer, I might pay another visit.

Updated March 28 w/MAPS: An Adventure to Elliott Bay Brewing, Lake City, Now including a Stop at Fiddler’s Inn

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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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