The Ballard neighborhood in Seattle is now lousy with breweries. In the past two years, four breweries have opened in the 98107 and a fifth is scheduled to open sometime in the next two weeks. Even though I live within a couple miles of the neighborhood, I have yet to conduct due diligence and check these places out. This has become an official Mash Tun goal for Q1 2013.
Fortuitously, I found myself simultaneously thirsty and located in Ballard a few weekends ago and popped into Urban Family Public House home of the similarly named Urban Family Brewing Company. They opened their doors last January and focus on Belgian-American beers. The place is tiny, but in a cozy way with tall ceilings and that weird mirror trick that makes you think a room is wider than it actually is. It’s brick everywhere and there’s a cool though grossly underutilized map of Ballard hanging on the wall.
From our seat I could peek into the back where the brewery resides. It looked to be a one- or two-barrel system. The tap list had six UFB beers and about a dozen other most likely carefully curated selections. I was warned prior to coming here that the food is cooked on hot plates directly behind the bar. Considering their staple menu item is burgers, this leads to a very “beefy” smell to the place. My source even went so far as to suggest it had pervaded some of their beer. He seemed to think this was a drawback, but then he’s obviously never eaten in a greasy spoon. Yes, I could smell the charred flesh from the griddle, but it didn’t smell any different from any other diner or BBQ place.
As for the beef-injected beer, I wonder if he was referring to their Saison des Feux. According to my personal translator (costs me a fortune, thanks for asking), the name is French for Fire Season and it definitely tastes as though this thing was set ablaze. I thought it too much at first but after trying several of the other beers in my flight, I began to appreciate it for its originality.
The rest of the beers were inoffensive but I was kicking myself for not trying some of the non-UFB beers on the list. I can’t remember what they were at the time, but to give you some idea they currently have Noble Rot, La Fin du Monde, and Petrus on tap. Is it OK to have a brewpub where the guest taps are regularly better than your own? I vote “yes”.