The Glass—Or What's In It?

So here's a question that cuts to the heart of the beer experience: Is it all about the beer, or is presentation important, too? For global brewing giant InBev, presentation played a big part in its recent regional bartenders competition in Seattle at Salty's on Alki. Beer geeks who've done the beer-judging thing concentrated on what was in the glass, and rankings were based on style, aroma, flavor, and appearance. But the InBev competition, featuring flagship Stella Artois lager, Hoegaarden white ale, and Leffe abbey ale, focused on presentation and service: logoed glasses properly rinsed and readied (people who drink at Brouwer's in Fremont know what this means), beers expertly poured, and glasses presented on matching beer mats just so to the judging panel. The competitors were mostly of an age that suggested they were toddlersomethings when the first microbrews came out in the early 1980s, but they were up for the game, and despite a bit of nervousness, put on a good show. Oh, what's in that fancy logoware? A fairly conventional Euro-lager, a gently spiced wheat beer with light citrus notes, and a mildly fruity pale amber ale. No idea how they'd hold up in a competition against their peers, but that's for another judging. This being early fall, beer fans could be excused for paying more attention to the contents of their glasses, as autumn lagers and harvest ales make all-too-brief appearances. You'll find Oktoberfest beers from Germany alongside local copper-colored beers heralding fall's onset, and most will be served in plain ol' pint jars or half-liter Halbe glasses—maybe the occasional liter Masskrug for the hardier drinkers. Lots of local pubs are featuring autumnal handles, and Prost! (7311 Greenwood Ave. N., 206-706-5430) and die Bierstube (6106 Roosevelt Way N.E., 206-527-7019) will be probable destinations for people looking for classic Munich Oktoberfest lagers (the kind no longer actually served at Oktoberfest). In Madison Park, the Attic Ale House (4226 E. Madison St., 206-323-3131) is featuring a lineup of beery fall classics and serving Teutonic eats from Sept. 29 to Oct. 9. Drink 'em while you can—winter's on the way, and the winter warmers are coming soon.

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