Brewy Ballard Booty

A suds-loving scalawag goes in search of hidden treasure at Maritime Pacific Brewing Company.

Nothing about the Maritime Pacific Brewing Company's location suggests that its walls contain a homey taproom with high-end comfort food and a satisfyingly comprehensive 13-handle bar. The Jolly Roger Taproom sits snugly next to the brewery's facilities and warehouse, themselves part of a gray concrete-and-steel expanse just off 15th Avenue West on Leary Way. That winter is closing in on our corner of the country makes this warm discovery in the industrial center of Ballard all the more pleasing. A look inside reveals pirate-homage decor, hinting that booty—of one kind or another—isn't far away. At lunch, yard workers and harbor fisherfolk converse with the wait staff like old friends, and half-jokingly browbeat each other into buying one last round. It all takes on the feeling of some old-time pub, where the beer is brewed on-site and the patrons wouldn't go elsewhere if you paid them. At sunset, the pub fills with rowdy voices and the dinner menu materializes. It's notable that said menu lists things like sole amandine ($12.95), served on a bed of seasoned pasta and pan-seared with a light lemon-wine-butter sauce, rather than just the usual barfly-friendly fare. The dish is well complemented by a glass of lean, sweet Old Seattle Lager. A friend ordered the Berliner mixed grill ($11.95), a set of smoked bratwurst, bockwurst, and kartoffelwurst accompanied by a mild roasted-pepper aïoli that sent him into pre-microbrew bliss. A subsequent visit offered a rousing opportunity to sample more food and several more ales. The Nightwatch Dark Ale, with its smooth but powerful finish, proved an apt companion to a plate of rich, rye flour-dusted seared veal ($15.50) tossed with tender bits of Black Forest ham. Smothered with a lightly seasoned butter sauce and served with pasta, the veal made as serious a case for eating meat as the brews did for getting tipsy. Sautéed red and yellow peppers accompanied all the entrées we sampled, none of which disappointed. The ales and lagers, whose variety and strength could dizzy up even the most intrepid drinker, come in all shapes and sizes, from the 20-ounce imperial pint ($3.75) to the set of six 5-ounce samplers ($7, recommended for the uninitiated; just don't order four at the same time when it's busy, for chrissakes). On his second visit, your faithful reviewer lost track of which ales he had tried after misplacing the sampler cups on the provided sampler key. Meanwhile, his drinking associate stubbornly nursed her sweet and thickish Clipper Gold Hefeweizen, despite several attempts to convince her to try something—anything—else. Afterward, we stumbled out into the brisk fall air, having mined what brewy booty was to be had, and turned contentedly, beerily, toward home. Maritime Pacific Brewing Company and the Jolly Roger Taproom, 1514 N.W. Leary Way, 206-782-6181, BALLARD. 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Mon.–Thurs.; 11 a.m.–midnight Fri.–Sat.

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