There When You Need Them

Took herself to the Collins Pub the other night. (It was the eve of her birthday, and that was her choice of dining venue.) On the way in, met friends who were celebrating good fortune: One in their group found out that day he was going to the Super Bowl in grand style. Owner Seth Howard provided happy birthday greetings, a nice table in back, and a good selection of beer on tap, and the friends provided splendid company and conversation with dinner. Walked up to the Elliott Bay Brewing Co. about a week and a half before that, and joined a happy, laughing crowd upstairs, sipping a special batch of beer brewed for a special occasion. Owner Todd Carden was escorted up the stairs to loud happy birthday cheers. The special beer was Bière de Todd, a Belgian-style honey-amber ale of distinction concocted by brewer Doug Hindman. Delicious. Good beer, good company, cheers to Todd. Joined a rather more solemn gathering at the Beveridge Place Pub a couple of weekends before that. Lorraine Jensen, one of the staff, had become well known to the pub's regulars, and we'd followed her progress last year after she and partner Michael Gay learned that she was pregnant, giving birth in November to baby girl Meena Cecelia, the apple of her parents' eye. Meena fell victim to SIDS, regarded as the worst tragedy parents can face. If one whose life was so brief could leave any kind of legacy, Meena's was the love and support of more friends than Lorraine and Michael probably ever thought they could count on, and so owners Gary Sink and Terri Griffith opened their pub—that would be the one voted by readers of Northwest Brewing News as the best alehouse in Washington—to a postfuneral gathering of friends and family. A pub is doing well if it serves as a place of friendly warmth and comfort, where friends can gather and enjoy a beer in surroundings that are akin to a second home. It is only natural to expect a good selection of drink on offer, and in Seattle's continuously developing pub culture, it is only natural that the drink should be well-crafted beer. But pubs are, after all, public houses, and can also serve as places of celebration or reaffirmation, to count the passage of another year or offer comfort and sympathy to friends in need. In the Old World pub cultures of Europe and the British Isles, pubs like this have been an integral part of their communities since memory began. Here in Seattle, too, alehouses and brewpubs of this sort can transcend their everyday roles as places to enjoy a good beer and become public places where life events like sudden good fortune, birthdays, or an outpouring of sympathetic support are celebrated as they should be. And may they always be.

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