After I enjoyed a MAC & JACK’S AFRICAN AMBER in Bellevue, WA (which I posted about on Friday) and got in the car to head back to my hotel near the airport, I had a choice to make: Would I dart into one of the many, many Seattle beer establishments I’ve read about over the years in search of a new beer to slay, or would I wuss out and go back to the hotel & go to sleep? My brain and body were screaming for me to make the latter choice, so I chose what I like to call a “third way” – go to a Seattle pub off of the freeway, get in, and then get out. THEN go to sleep.
For years I’ve heard about THE COLLINS PUB, just outside of Pioneer Square, not far from the ballparks. It wasn’t around when I lived here, but then again, that was a decade ago. I decided to park myself there for 30 minutes, tops. Once inside, rather than being greeted with the typically sports pub/clinking classes/brew doggie type of place I was expecting, I found a moderately-upscale, dimly lit pub with zoned-out trance music playing in the background. They have an a-mazing beer selection, full of Northwest obscurities from the likes of Boundary Bay, Ninkasi, Roslyn, Big Al – and non-NW brewers like Avery, Left Hand, Oskar Blues and many more. They are generally weird rarities too, not just pale ales and stouts, but dopplebocks and tripels and whatnot. I had just read a copy of NORTHWEST BREWING NEWS on the plane earlier that day, so I was “hopped-up”, if you will, to try some unheard-of Northwest brew that I’d never see again.
I chose BIG AL ABBEY WHEAT. I had actually read about it earlier in the day. This is a new, small-scale Seattle brewer, and I’ve since learned that ABBEY WHEAT is BIG AL BREWING’s flagship ale. Their opinion is that this beer is “A hybrid ale combining the smooth, refreshing, drinkable characters of an Wheat beer with the fruit and spice flavors of Belgian ales. This beer is easy to drink, full of subtle flavors creating a sessionable beer that's never boring”. I guess I can hang with that description. It’s a dark amber ale with a medium head, with some faint spicy tripel characteristics. Very thin-bodied – if I close my eyes, it’s a thin tripel with not much yeast action, maybe just a straight-up hefeweizen. It sure goes down easy, and leaves a nice aftertaste. Nothing very distinctive – sort of like the sum being something less than its parts, but hey, serious big ups to BIG AL for giving this hybrid a go. 6/10.