The Watering Hole: Porterhouse, 2329 California Ave. S., 932-2575, WEST SEATTLE
The Atmosphere: First, Porterhouse is not a steakhouse; the porter of the house is the strong, dark beer that is this establishment’s specialty. Open a little more than a year, Porterhouse prides itself especially on its West Coast beer selection, with more than 20 offerings, including 15 Washington state microbrews. Notable seasonal beers on tap include Big Al’s Winter Warmer (brewed a few short miles south in White Center). It’s a upper-crust alehouse that feels new, matching the moderately posh Admiral neighborhood vibe. On a late afternoon, the bar has a steady stream of locals perched at tall tables for happy hour, watching a basketball game on a pair of TV screens.
The Barkeep: Sarah Humeston moved to Seattle two years ago from Minnesota “for the mountains,” she says. A West Seattle resident herself, she is a student at Seattle Central, a Taurus, and an avid mountain climber and REI loyalist. Before starting at Porterhouse six months ago, she worked at the Athenian Inn at Pike Place Market, which she greatly enjoyed. Chipper and conversational, Sarah graciously walks me through the laundry list of beers and breweries.
The Drink: It takes Sarah awhile to choose from her vast selection, but she finally arrives with a 12-ounce glass of Vertical Epic by Stone Brewing Co. in California. “It’s got hints of chamomile and Sauvignon,” she says.
The beer is light, sweet, and tasty, and Sarah launches into a lengthy and enrapturing tale about scaling the 12,000-foot summit of Mount Adams this past August with her roommate. It involves garbage bags, jet boilers, and losing and then finding her roommate’s false tooth among the rocks on their descent. It’s a great story, and by the end, to my surprise, I’m kind of drunk. I’m among the lighter of weights when it comes to alcohol, but I’m startled and a bit embarrassed that a petite glass of beer—particularly one that tastes so flowery and delicate—is making my sight wobble.
“I may not be able to finish this,” I tell her.
“Oh, yeah, it’s like 9.2% alcohol,” she replies. “That’s why we serve it in the small glass.”
The Verdict: Porterhouse has the premium top-shelf regional-beer game on lock, and drinks are reasonably priced compared to the food menu. It’s a bit out of the way for anyone who’s not already at the top of West Seattle, but for the serious microbrew enthusiast, it’s fairly unmatched. Don’t be fooled by the light brews, though. They’ll get you.