Tuesday, December 29, 2009

San Juan Brewing - Friday Harbor, WA

San Juan Brewing is a brewery not many will ever go to, or have a chance to try their beer. Besides the $50 ferry ride (car plus one passenger), San Juan Brewing only serves from their brew pub located in Friday Harbor. We happened to go during my trip up north, and decided to spend one night in Friday Harbor.
If first impressions are anything, I should have jumped into the water and swam back to the mainland. The brewery area, easy to see for anyone walking by, was either where they made the beer, or a scale model of what would happen to a brewery after a bomb attack. It was disgusting beyond belief, and I find it hard to make good beer from a dirty brewery. I do not know if it was in the middle of a renovation, but it appeared to have not been cleaned or used in a very long time.

We enter.
What I did like, and wish more brew pubs would learn from, is their beer menu. It included the brew date, batch number, ABV, IBU’s, and original gravity. Great. And, it stayed at the table and was not whisked away by an over caffeinated waitress. Unfortunately a few of their beers were unavailable. My guess? Rat stuck in hose.
I started with the Oktoberfest Lager. It was very grape-fruity on the mouth, and finished with a mix of lemon ice tea and dishwater. It was thin, and lightly carbonated. It was anti any other Oktoberfest I have ever had. I know it is a broad category, but this was like a bad IPA with an identity crisis.
The other beer we did not care for was the Starboard Porter. Clever name aside, the porter was puny, and tasted of cheap chocolate. The nose gave nothing, and at 4.2%, it was something that couldn't even keep a fire warm on a winter’s day.
We have only up to go from here.
A beer that was truly pleasant was their Raging Man Ale. It was their big winter ale. It had a complex taste that hinted at brown sugar, cherry, and a bit of grapefruit. It was not thin, was 6.6%, and something I could easily of had more of. If more of their beer had the quality of this one, it would be an amazing little brewery.
SJB is located very close to the ferry terminal, and other great restaurants. They also have a full bar, and offer a few of their beers for take home in 22oz bottles. The waitress we had was very pleasant, helpful, and I have no complaints about her at all.
All in all, if you find yourself in Friday Harbor, what the hell, stop by and see what you think. I was just hoping the beer would match the amazing views and natural beauty of the island. It didn't. But hey, that is some stiff competition that would be hard to beat.

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