400 North 35th Street
Daily:11:00 am–2:00 am
Happy Hour:3:00 pm–6:00 pm
New to the realm of craft brewing,I was told by a friend,a beer aficionado,that he could not simply tell me the differences in a pale ale and a pilsner,I would have to taste it. And to do so,there was no better place than Brouwer’s in Fremont. Being a rather curious animal,I took his advice.
Arriving at Brouwer’s Cafe in Fremont,I first thought I was at the wrong place. The exterior is not your typical pub. The place looks as if it was lashed together from the scrap metal and wood of a derelict ocean-shipping vessel. But a happy hour sign revealed the daily specials,which occur daily from three to six,so I entered the large windowless subterranean space. Besides a few men at the bar,the place was a cavernous and barren cave. The stone walls and dark woodwork of this medieval establishment give a feeling of isolation from the world. Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon was lethargically erupting from un-located speakers and a portrait of an unhappy and sickly monk gave me the feeling I might be in for an unpleasant experience or a complete reappraisal of what a pub can be,but the friendly bartender invited me to sit down instead.
I found a seat on the wood stool at the bar and noticed the scent of a barbecue smoker and a slight haze enveloping the dark room. A sun beam pierced the ether from the giant round skylight window and revealed a fusillade of over sixty levers that expel one of the oldest intoxicants known to man,beer:an alcoholic drink made from yeast-fermenting malt and flavored with hops,simple right? Not quite,and Brouwer’s beer list is a tribute to the complexity of the brewing craft. The draught list was truly staggering. The beer comes from all over the world,but there is an emphasis for the Belgian and Washington varieties. Brouwer’s also has included the fine zymurgy products of California,New York,Missouri,and Germany,to name a few. Words like “stout” and “bruin” make a beer lover smile and with the average price for an exotic pint being around six dollars,Brouwer’s makes disciples of the bottle and other functioning alcoholics feel right at home.
I noticed there are not only many beers on draught,but also over two hundred different bottles and more than sixty varieties of another ancient elixir,Scotch. The scotch list is just as extensive as the beer,including a plethora of single malts and a short list of other whiskies—a good sign. Although I was eyeing the Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban 12 year,it was before noon,and me being a person of tremendous social discipline,opted for beer,ordering Chimay’s Tripel. I was impressed to see the proper glass and even more delighted to notice the beer being warmer than where I have ordered it in the past. Serving beer in traditional glassware and around 45 degrees to enhance the aromas is just another tactic the extremely astute staff take to showcase the complexity of beer.
The food on the menu is imbued with the flavors of medieval times. Do not be surprised to find wild boar,turkey,elk and other wild game used in the many Belgian styled cuisines,not to mention the typical fried beer food found at Brouwer’s. Try the lamb burger paired with the soup of the day and wash it down with a German pilsner or perhaps with one of the many Fremont Brewery ales. Another house favorite is the fried Great Lakes smelt,perfect with a tall glass of Washington’s own Walkingman Homo-Erectus IPA. To top it off with desert,try the “Bier Float,” consisting of Young’s Double Chocolate Stout and two scoops of vanilla ice cream.
I left Brouwer’s feeling more than just intoxicated;I left pleasantly full and with a new understanding of craft brewing. My friend was right.
Review by Shane Harms
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