tapping a cask.jpg
Lordy, that's sexy.
The Place: Hopvine Pub, 507 15th Ave. E., 328-3120.

The Hours: 5-7 p.m. every day.

The Digs: As one Seattle Weekly contributor

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Hopvine Pub Taps a Mean Cask, But Needs More Food to Wash It Down

tapping a cask.jpg
Lordy, that's sexy.
The Place: Hopvine Pub, 507 15th Ave. E., 328-3120.

The Hours: 5-7 p.m. every day.

The Digs: As one Seattle Weekly contributor described it, Hopvine is "Capitol Hill's own version of Cheers." That everyone-knows-your-name ambience, of course, depends entirely on whether or not you're a regular. But even if you don't spend every night talking Red Sox with your alcoholic mailman, you can see what said contributor meant: Hopvine is homey. So homey it makes an Elks lodge built with untreated lumber look like an operating room.

This wasn't my first rodeo. I've been to Hopvine for lunch. I've been there for dinner. I've been there for (other) happy hour(s). What brought me to Hopvine this time was Cask 'n' Comfort, its weekly feature wherein the barkeeps tap (you guessed it) a different cask every Monday night. (A cask is a beer that continues its fermentation in the keg. Want to know more? Go ask the Food Geek.)

The Deal: Hopvine's strengths lie in its taps. Whoever does the suds curation here is a genius, as there's always a variety of Rogue available for sampling. Not just that, but scientifically speaking there are a crap-ton of other local beer selections--like Boundary Bay IPA, Victory Prima Pils, and Three Skull Dark Lager--all of which are only $3 a pint during happy hour.

On the night I visited, the cherry-popped cask held liters of frothy Rogue Contraband IPA. If you Google "Rogue Contraband IPA," the first thing you'll notice is that there are so few matching results that it looks as if that particular brew might not even exist. The second thing you'll notice is this Facebook review, where some guy describes it as "quite grassy," "w/hint of biscuit malt," and "too yeasty."

There's no doubt that any man who can drop a biscuit malt comparison is more beer snob than I. But you know what? Nuts to that guy. All I got from Contraband was a little grapefruit flavor and a heavy, pleasant aftertaste that sat on my tongue for far longer than you'd expect of a beer that costs just a little more than a one-way trip on the #7. Too yeasty my ass.

So that's the good news: more good, reasonably-priced beer than you can toss a biscuit malt at. The bad news is that Hopvine's happy-hour food menu can be boiled down into one word: pita.

Whether you order the artichoke dip, hummus, tapenade, garlic knots, or bruschetta, what you're most likely going to get is some variation of bread. And lots of it. For $5 a plate, it's really not a bad deal. Especially since the nutmeg-seasoned artichoke dip (with shallots!) is delicious.

The problem is that Hopvine has so many other delicious menu items that the happy-hour menu just makes you mad that there aren't more options. Like, "Oooh, potstickers!" Followed by a dissatisfied realization that they're still listed at full price. (If you're really not too bright, like I'm not, this effect will repeat itself until you've read through the entire menu, and are angry enough to untwist a whole plate fill of garlic knots.)

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This is you after discovering that Hopvine's pastrami grinder is still full price even during happy hour.

The Verdict: Beer good! Food . . . also good! But not enough! GARRR!

 
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