Why a ‘Beercation’ Isn’t Just About Beer

mountain trees-webStanding on the side of a mountain at 4,400 feet, the smell of pine was unmistakable.

What began as a slow ascent along dirt paths transitioned into loose, jagged rocks, constantly shifting underneath my feet. The white stone, broken and smoothed by years of Pacific Northwest weather, heeded a constant eye, but my attention was drawn upward to trees all around me, standing about 100 feet tall.

Was it the setting or the simply hop-like smell?

Five times I’ve traveled to Seattle, and every visit helps me feel more connected to the space, from the touristy Pike Place Market (for better or worse) to the mountains jutting out of the earth overlooking the Puget Sound and elsewhere. Like many cities I’ve come to know, what started as a place to find great beer has moved beyond its singular purpose. It’s become a destination to seek experiences and meet people.

It’s an important transition that we should feel lucky to have, even if it’s necessary to actively remind yourself the need to step away from a glass of beer and turn attention to what’s around you … like the shimmering water of the Snow Lake basin.

snow lake basin-seattle-webOr a happy dog.

kopi in water-web

Beer is inherently social, grown from historic drinking halls and pubs to our local taprooms of today. But sometimes I fear I overlook that. While in some new locale I become stuck within myself, focusing on a beer or a book or – heaven forbid – my smartphone without looking at what’s around me.

But sometimes it’s better to ignore the beer (gasp!) and focus on everything else.

Like the atmosphere of Elysian Brewery’s Great Pumpkin Beer Festival, which served nearly 100 different pumpkin beers, but offered another slice of the personality of Seattle, even if that’s represented by a roughly 10-person marching band with lots of denim, sweat and a touch of body odor.

full band-webLike Zack, a Seattle native who’s lived in or around the city for all 27 years of his life. It’s easy to tell, with his friendly demeanor and authentic Seattle Seahawks jersey, complete with a patch indicating the team’s 2013 Super Bowl win. It’s a perk only allotted to those willing to fork out the extra money, charging an extra $150 just to show off one’s pride for a historic moment in the city’s sports memory.

“So when are you moving to Seattle?” he asked multiple times, in spite of confirmation I’m only there for a visit.

Or like Ashley, Zack’s friend who’s lived in the city for just one month by way of Washington, D.C. and Boston before that. It’s the first place she’s felt truly comfortable, she tells me.

“There’s just something about it being a city without it feeling that way,” she said.

band bw-webWe met while sipping Dark o’ the Moon pumpkin stout at the pumpkin beer event. Our conversation lasted about 10 minutes, but is somewhat indicative of what you’ll realize by experiencing the city.

People want you to enjoy Seattle, which means they also want you to enjoy their beer. From four-ounce samples at festivals to flights at a local brewery or customizable collections at Chuck’s Capital District Hop Shop, which I’m told is the newest, premiere spot for drinking Washington beer. This suggestion rings true at 5 p.m. on a Saturday, when the 3,100-square-feet space is packed with people at every table, sharing bottles or clinking glasses in celebration of their time together.

chucks flight-webI stood there in Chuck’s, like I did on the side of that mountain, reveling in everything in front of me. A combination of place and people proving a point.

A beer is made all the better by company, but more complex when paired with a setting.

space needle-seattle

+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac


24 thoughts on “Why a ‘Beercation’ Isn’t Just About Beer

  1. ::Begins slow clap::

    Some beautiful photography here, Bryan. I guess the words are pretty good too 🙂

    1. Thanks, Oliver! My phone will do the trick when necessary … which is most of the time.

  2. “A beer is made all the better by company, but more complex when paired with a setting.” – I wouldn’t be surprised to see that as the tag line to someone’s blog down the road. That’s the kind of line that when someone reads it, is going to say, “PERFECT!”

  3. Great pictures and a good message. I’m visiting Oregon right now, enjoying the beer and also the setting and the people. I’ve got a few days left and I’ll do my best to take your words to heart.

    1. I was hoping to do an overnight to Portland, but just didn’t have the time. Someday!

      Enjoy it! I’ve heard wonderful things about the coast.

      1. I’ll end up doing a pretty good sampling of most parts of Oregon except Portland. Last weekend I was in bend. Yesterday the coast. This weekend Hood River, and the Willamette Valley in between. I’ve been taking notes and pictures and hope to do some posts. It’s a fantastic beer scene and the weather has been gorgeous.

      2. Wonderful! I look forward to seeing your pics, too!

  4. Fantastic work Bryan! As the rest of The Crew has said, beautiful words AND photos! Cheers!

  5. Beautifully written. Would love to visit Seattle one day.

    1. Thank you!

      It’s a great city, made better by it’s easy walkability. That’s especially important when balancing the sights and the suds.

  6. Love this, Bryan. Beautifully written and told. Making me miss Seattle already!

  7. Love the pictures. And I love Seattle, great town, good food, tasty beer — win, win, win! Never been to Chuck’s before but next time I go up, I’ll check it out. Sounds like my kind of place.

    1. I’ve been to both Chuck’s locations – the Capitol District store is new but my favorite of the two. Closer to downtown so you can walk elsewhere and 20 more taps. One of the staff told me about how busy it gets and I kind of laughed thinking “it’s a bottle shop, it can’t get overwhelmed, right?”

      It can get overwhelmed. But they also have food trucks!

  8. Over the weekend we just visited the other Portland… Maine. We hiked, traveled to remote breweries, hit up the best beer pubs, visited unique sites and vacationed. It was a fun weekend get away. Went to special pour of a wet hop IPA that compared a Portland OR hop vs the same hop produced in Portland ME. We liked the OR hop better!

    1. Very cool! Do you recall what the hop was? It’s amazing how the soil and geography can change that aspect.

      1. I believe it was wet Sterling, Willamette and Nugget hops. Yes, it was amazing to see (color and clarity) and taste the difference.

  9. Good stuff here, I visit Seattle a lot and it is a fun city with lots to offer. I always find something new to enjoy there and if you venture outside the city there are a million more things to do beyond the tourist spots, cool trails like the Centennial Trail, lots of neat stuff on Olympic Peninsula and many neat parks to visit in places like Tacoma and surroundings. Oh and some nice beer too, I tend to visit the Taphouse Grill downtown for a decent sampling experience. Chucks sounds like a place to check out next.

    1. Thanks, Terry! I highly recommend Chucks if you have the time. Of the two locations, the newest one in Capitol District has more taps, but I’d say both are about the same for bottle/can selection.

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