In October of 2020, having successfully maneuvered to pull off having one of our annual get togethers—our BroGo (Brothers Going on a trip together) as we call them, we were confident we could have another one this year. For these trips, the two of us travel to some location of interest, often where there is also a high concentration of craft breweries. We are both beer lovers and enjoy trying unique beers that we cannot obtain in our hometowns.
Living more than 1,000 miles apart, we Zoom with each other fairly regularly, often enjoying a new beer together that we have not had. In 2018, our BroGo had taken us to Portland, Oregon, where we enjoyed exploring the immense craft beer industry there trying countless different beers over the five days we were there. With memories of this beer loving trip in my mind, I suggested we travel to Seattle this year—not only because there is a significant craft brewery segment there as well, but also because my daughter and her family live there.
Since I had been to Seattle 10 times and could suggest a number of fun activities to do there besides savoring a new beer, my brother who had never been to Seattle, was sold on the idea. In preparation, he did a great job reviewing multiple beer recommendation lists and compiling the top ones we should try to hit over our stay, ranked by the number of times each appeared on one of the recommended lists. To ensure we had plenty of time to accomplish all that we wanted to do, we planned to spend a week there, longer than our previous trips.
On the first of September, we met in the airport and immediately drove to our first destination, a craft brewery not far from the airport. Here we enjoyed lunch and our first beer flight after our airline flights.
It was too early to check into our accommodations and so we drove over to my daughter’s house to surprise my two grandsons for a short visit. With my grandsons not being eligible for a vaccination yet, we safely limited our visit to outdoors on their porch and backyard. Then it was off to check into our condo.
We had booked a 2-bedroom condo in the Queen Anne neighborhood as it was convenient to many of the places we wanted to go. As a bonus, it had a great rooftop deck with a view of Puget Sound.
After stowing our things, it was off to our second craft brewery for dinner and another good beer.
The next day, we had planned to visit the Space Needle, that globally recognized iconic structure from the 1962 World’s Fair, and the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum which is right next to it. Walking over, my brother got his first up-close view of the Space Needle.
I had visited the Chihuly museum in 2013, the year after it opened, when my wife and I met our daughter there while she still lived in Pasadena, so I knew my brother was in for a treat. I love Chihuly glass having seen it for the first time many years ago so if you are unfamiliar with his work, you should check out his website. As we walked through the exhibits, my brother framed and snapped off photo after photo as I happily recognized for the second time, many of my favorite pieces.
But my really surprising treat was when we went outdoors to walk through the garden. Here, I was amazed to see how the garden had gracefully aged over the eight years since my first visit. At one point, I pulled up one of my original photos and framed the exact same shot to highlight what amazing vision the landscape architect had had planning for the future growth.
Inside the gift shop, I was once again tempted to purchase a real Chihuly glass, my favorite being these named Macchia. Surely, I could justify a $9,000 purchase to replace what I refer to as my fake Chihuly.
… to walk to Pike’s Place Market, another popular tourist spot.
Here my brother wanted to visit the original Starbucks location. Walking over, we envisioned getting a coffee from this store but when we saw the line just to get inside, we gave up on the idea.
Our lunch was at another craft brewery, one my wife and I had visited on our very first trip to Seattle in 2011. Pulling up those old photos, I realized that it was almost the same table my wife and I had sat at 10 years ago. It was like Deja vu all over again.
Then it was back onto the Monorail for our ride back to the Space Needle for our 2:00 PM timed entry. This is another must-see site in Seattle for its incredible views but given the frequent rain and cloudy skies, you never know what you will be able to see. But August and September are the best weather months and so our view was spectacular.
If you are brave before your exit on the floor below, you can lay down on the glass floor of what was originally a rotating restaurant for a breath-taking selfie. It is 630 feet down, so it took all of our courage just to get halfway out onto the glass floor.
The next day was our road trip to Yakima Valley, where about 75% of all hops used in the US are grown. If you are not familiar with hops, this is one of four essential ingredients in beer that acts as a natural preservative but also imparts a bitter taste. But beyond the bitter, depending on the variety used, when they are added, and at what temperature, they can infuse many different aromas and flavors.
With hops providing such a diversity, a game we played while sampling our beers was to guess what aromas we smelled and then what flavors we tasted. Checking the brewer’s description, we found some we nailed both in aroma and flavor and others we missed terribly. But it was a fun game we developed, one that no doubt Milton Bradley will want to license from us.
After our 150-mile trek, we stopped in the town of Yakima for lunch and our first taste of Yakima hopped beer. Then it was off to a craft brewery that grows their own hops.
Here we were able to sample a selection of six delicious Pale Ales and IPAs (India Pale Ales) while sitting among the hop fields.
Afterwards, we wandered into the fields to get an up-close look at the crop that was just days away from harvest. Depending on the weather, the crop typically comes in late August or early September. This year, their field to table fresh hop beer tasting dinner was scheduled for the 27th of September so we just missed it by a few weeks.
Later that day, we made our way over to another craft brewery set upon a hilltop with a huge outdoor sitting area and a great view.
Here we enjoyed another great Yakima beer accompanying our dinner while watching the sun set.
Our long drive back got us home rather late Friday night, but we felt a sense of accomplishment in our mission having tried 20 different beers (some in flights of only four ounces each) in just two and a half days.
To be Continued…