We just came back from a birthday celebration. It was held at a brewpub called Hellbent Brewery. Now, I’m not sure I ‘love’ brewpubs. They’re utilitarian, there’s no hard alcohol, and there’s no food on site (although most offer a food truck). The problem is, food trucks are incredibly hit or miss, and generally focus on one thing – not at all like a full service kitchen. Plus, I don’t really like beer. I know, I know. Everyone loves beer, especially in the microbrew capital of Seattle. Well, not me. I’ll drink cider if I have to, in fact I quite enjoy a nice cider. But beer? Never really been for me. And that was a problem for a great many years. Despite Seattle being a ‘progressive’ liberal city, our liquor laws were still stuck in just-after Prohibition era regulatory leanings (most of the state is highly conservative). Hard liquor licenses were expensive, and despite the profits you could achieve by having real booze behind the bar, a lot of bartenders were happy not to have to mix some fruity drinks with ten different ingredients, when it was much easier to pull a tap handle. In addition, if a bar were to obtain a liquor license, they would need to serve food – not from a food truck (and Seattle has only had food trucks for less than a decade now) – but from an actual, on-site kitchen. So yeah, renovations to a building site might be required, all for the pleasure of mixing some sorority girl her cosmo on a Friday night.
Back to the brewpub. What I like about a lot of brewpubs is that they’re dog friendly. There’s just something nice about having a ton of dogs around you when you’re drinking. For someone who likes animals more than people, this is a benefit. Also, not having an on-site kitchen makes it easier to allow four-legged friends, as you get to skirt tons of health code regulations. The downside to a lot of brewpubs are their family-friendly atmosphere. Beer or booze, I don’t think kids should be running around where adults are drinking. Back to the deterrents, anything more than one beer and I start to feel weighted down – add in my growing hunger and you’ve got a bad combination for that ‘too full’ feeling – which is definitely a detriment to sticking around and consuming more of the stuff these establishments make their money selling.
Hellbent strikes a nice balance. Two levels, with pool and video games upstairs, 5 ciders on offer, food trucks and GrubHub food delivery options, plus dog-friendly but not kid-friendly. It’s not the place I would have chosen to have my birthday, but they were extremely accommodating, friendly, and the dogs were (and always are) a hoot. I give them high marks and if anyone’s in the Lake City area of Seattle for any reason, I recommend you check them out. Plus the owner’s dog, Steven, a yellow lab, is great. He just wanders around the brewery, welcoming everyone in that way that only awesome dogs can.