Bicycling, beer in Seattle

Elysian's Peste, a 7.5 percent chocolate chili ale, their fourth in the Beers of the Apocalypse series.

Going into REI can be dangerous for me. Something about all the outdoorsy gear and the cheerful, fit people gives me the dangerous fantasy I could ever be even remotely athletic. Why, with the right pair of shoes I might even spend my weekends outdoor-recreating instead of drinking and knitting!

But last week I succumbed, and bought a pair of cycling leggings. The goofy Lycra leggings with padding in the “chamois,” fancy bike-speak for “crotch.”

Combined with beaten-up Converse, a pink skirt and a black KBGA v-neck, I probably look pretty silly, but I do not care, because I am too busy suffering.

See, my new mission, which nicely coincides with spring, is to become a proper bicycle commuter.  It’s an uphill battle. Literally.

Much like when I collected a few of my mom’s records and the casual notion to get a turntable became an expensive 9-month pursuit full of angst and derisive music store clerks, trying to get equipped and in better shape is a pain in various muscle groups.

“Bicycling to work was so fun in Los Angeles! I saved so much money!” I think to myself.

Ha. The hills of Kitsap County and Seattle make even the mile to the grocery store an epic travail, a goddamn scene of mountain trekking in Lord of the Rings.

It seems like there’s two kinds of bicyclists: the casual people tooling around their neighborhood or park, and Uber Cyclists, with their $2,000 touring bikes, spandex outfits and panniers. These people always whiz past me as I slowly creak up a hill on my pink Schwinn cruiser (with the white wicker basket my dad put on it, for extra humiliation), giving me only a few seconds glimpse of their rock-hard thighs and tiny asses before they disappear from view.

What bicycling needs is an Intermediate level, dammit. Did the Uber Cyclists come out of the womb in yellow jerseys and bike shorts?

All I want is to be fit enough to comfortably get around Bremerton and Seattle’s finest watering holes, and practice makes perfect, so yesterday I took my bike on the ferry to Seattle and followed bike routes up to Fremont, through downtown and up to Capitol Hill (and goddamn does it ever put the ‘hill’ in Capitol Hill.)

Anyway, you probably came here to read about beer.

I wasn’t even trying to find Elysian Brewing on Pike Street, but I can’t resist a brewpub if I’m walking by. I first tried their Raconteur, a dark lager that is fabulous. I love dark lagers, like Bayern’s Doppelbock, because they’re smooth and malty, without being overly hoppy or heavy like dark ales. The Raconteur was a good choice. Next, I got a pint of the just-released Peste, a chocolate chili ale that’s the fourth in their Mayan-inspired Beers of the Apocalypse series. I can’t resist a beer gimmick, though I really should, because it was spicy and rich and delicious, but way too heavy for a hot day of exercise. I drank it all, though, because Kate Whittle is not a quitter.

After refreshing glasses of water and a couple stops at record stores, I wandered into a bar on Olive Way solely because I’d seen a poster with the Montana state outline on it and their address. It turns out the bar is called Montana, and it’s operated by gals from there and they serve Black Star and Big Sky’s Trout Slayer. The license plates, fishing tackle and presumably stolen Glacier Bank sign decorating the walls got me a little teary-eyed. And yet, a bar in Capitol Hill serving $5 pints to hipsters who find it ironically kitschy is absolutely nothing like home, so I got even a little more weepy.

So my goal for the next weekend is to quit blowing money in pricey Seattle joints and stay in with my cat and my record player and a pack of Shift, the new pale lager from New Belgium. The company is marketing it like crazy, and I hope it does well. It’s like PBR, if PBR was good. I reckon I’ll go bicycle a few miserable miles and treat myself to a Shift.


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