Anyone venturing out to one of the 12 brewpubs that took part in the just-concluded Great Seattle Pub Quest knows that there's some damn fine eating matched with great beer around this town. I'm good with hanging with the crew at the Hilltop Alehouse, Barking Dog, or Hale's for beer and vittles, but there are some other great venues where what's on for supper matches well with what's on tap. I used to live just across the bridge and down the street from the Jolly Roger Taproom at Maritime Pacific Brewing in Ballard (1514 N.W. Leary Way, 206-782-6181). The entire range of Maritime Pacific beers are on tap, including one or two cask-conditioned handles, a couple of nitro-pours, and a bunch of keg taps. The entrées change on a periodic basis but are reliably good; other, more down-to-earth pub-grub goodies are available always, like the Po' Li'l Oysters, or the Li'l Jollys, which reinvent the White Castle slider in ways folks from Eastern states never imagined. This is also the place to go for the best damn onion rings in the known universe. The onions are smoked, cut into rings that are coated in house batter and deep-fried, and served with remoulade on the side. They go crunch in an absurdly satisfying way. Going downtown and a bit more up-market, the bistro meals at Gordon Biersch in Pacific Place (600 Pine St., 206-405-4205) are not to be ignored. There are those who complain that the lagers aren't very adventurous, but seasonal beers, like summertime Hefeweizen or chilly-season Winter Bock, put paid to those complaints. The menu complements the selection of house-brewed beers quite well. The beers are Germanic, but the food spans the globe. Then there are places doing brewers' dinners. The downtown McCormick & Schmick's (1103 First Ave., 206-623-5500) mounts one nearly every month, and my experience with them has been uniformly good. Maritime Pacific, Hale's, Leavenworth, Redhook, and most recently, Pyramid beers have been paired with well- executed prix-fixe menus. The Collins Pub in Pioneer Square (526 Second Ave., 206-623-1016) has also done some exemplary brewers' dinners, featuring the likes of Mendocino Brewing, Snoqualmie Falls Brewing, and Alaska Brewing. Their dinners aren't as regularly scheduled, but subscribing to the e-mail list assures timely notice of upcoming events (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be added to the list). And don't overlook Bellevue's Taphouse Grill (550 106th Ave. N.E., 425-467-1730), which has also done some brewing dinners featuring the likes of North Coast Brewing and Elysian Brewing. For more purveyors of fine food and beer, see www.washingtonbrewfest.com/spring/pubquest.php.
Beer Issue • Mountain Fresh: First, a word from our founder, Gordon Bowker. • 20 Years of Beers: The Northwest leads the micro-brew charge. By Don Scheidt • Highs and Lows: A chronology of Northwest brewing. • The Future: It's Belgium. Really. • Belgian-Style, Northwest Brewed. • Food: Some favorite brewpubs. • Calendar: Where to go, what to drink.