Curtis Cartier/Seattle Weekly
Dublin prefers Guinness
The Watering Hole : Norm's Eatery & Ale House, 460 N. 36th St., Seattle (Fremont) 547-1417.

The Atmosphere :


The Dog Days of Summer Bark for Beer at Norm's

Curtis Cartier/Seattle Weekly
Dublin prefers Guinness
The Watering Hole: Norm's Eatery & Ale House, 460 N. 36th St., Seattle (Fremont) 547-1417.

The Atmosphere: The first word of advice for walking into Norm's in downtown Fremont is to look down. Because as perhaps Seattle's most dog-friendly bar/restaurant, there's bound to be a leash or two, if not an entire canine, blocking one's path to their seat.

On this particular evening there are only about a half dozen dogs in attendance, split up among the 15 patrons posted up at either the bar or at one of the establishment's red-upholstered, pooch-knickknack-adorned booths and chairs.

Myself, my girlfriend and my golden retriever Dublin belly up to the counter near a Mariners fan who's splitting his time between cursing his team, nursing his beer and scratching the belly of his yorkie-poodle mix ("I prefer the term 'yoodle,'" he tells me).

"What'll it be?" asks a tattooed bartender with that most most classic of drinking-establishment greetings.

The Barkeep: That tattooed barman is named Brad Tunell. He's a five-year veteran of Norm's who loves good food, good beer and good people. He tells me that he enjoys working at Norm's for a three key reasons: The pay is decent, the owners care about the employees and the regulars are like family.

The Drink: Maritime Pacific Imperial Pale Ale.

Curtis Cartier/Seattle Weekly
Brad Tunell is a beer guy. Norm's is a beer bar.
Norm's has a full bar. And frankly, there is no reason that when I ask Brad to make me his favorite drink that he doesn't concoct some elaborate monstrosity that includes a half-dozen ingredients and is possibly aflame.

Instead, however, Brad brings me a beer--this is an ale house after all, he reminds me.

Brad doesn't bring me any beer though, he brings me a locally-brewed Imperial IPA made by Maritime Pacific Brewery in Ballard--in other words, a good beer.

"I could make you a cocktail," he says. "But I'd be lying if I said it was my favorite."

The beer is Brad's favorite, he says, because unlike a lot of IPAs, it doesn't go overboard on the hops and manages to execute a smooth, chugable or sipable, flavor and texture. And as someone who generally will never order an IPA for exactly that over-hopped reason, Brad proves right on the money and the beer is something I can see myself ordering several of.

The Verdict: Paired with Norm's battered fish and chips, any beer will probably taste good. Still, the hops in the IPA--though subtle--manages to open up the taste buds and enhance the flavor of the salty fish and chips enough that it would trump most other beer pairings, besides, say, a good stout or porter.

At the end of the day though, a good beer is still just a beer.

And if I was looking to impress someone other than my girlfriend and dog, I'd probably go to a place that willingly builds impressive cocktails.

Then again, why would I do that when I can just impress my girlfriend, my dog and myself by going to Norm's?

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