Well, sometimes one of my “Death March” hikes goes according to plan. And sometimes, you’ve got to adjust the plan. In the case of Seattle, our initial plan was to hike through the SoDo neighborhood and cross over to Alki Beach, potentially ending at Sunfish. But like a lot of plans (especially those put together by folks not completely familiar with a metropolitan area), a few hitches arose: first, we got behind schedule. Looking at our watches, it was obvious that even if we hustled, we’d probably get to Alki beach right as most places were closing up shop. Second, most of the Marchers were getting tired, enough so that “hustle” wasn’t really in the vocabulary anymore. Third, the SoDo neighborhood, aside from having the rather cool ORB (Old Rainier Brewery) isn’t the most exciting neighbor. So, as we started to thread our way over to the bridge to Alki (which also isn’t the most pedestrian-friendly), a short stop at Burger King to use the restroom turned into more-or-less of an insurrection. A quick check of the map and Yelp indicated that SoDo isn’t exactly a food mecca, either. But then we noticed one place on the list that had a lot of good reviews: Schooner Exact Brewing. And the single mention of “beer” made it official, Schooner Exact, at approximately 21 miles into the route, became our new, official destination.
First of all, I’ll explain the name. The first ship of first ship of non-indigenous settlers to arrive in Seattle arrived on Alki back in the 1850s. The name of that schooner? The “Exact”. Not a bad name, actually. The brewery has been around for about a decade, having expanded and opened the current location in 2012. Inside, it’s your basic brew pub setup: a bunch of fermenters, a bar for tasting and drinking beer, and a reasonably sized dining room. The focus at Schooner Exact is definitely more on the beer than the food (and in general, that’s a good thing; I’ve been to entirely too many nominally good brewpubs where they tried to do both really elaborate food and good beers, and usually one suffers. The place doing both often, but not always, suffers), with more than a dozen different beers available at our visit, including several Belgian sours and a good selection of IPAs. Indeed, each of the beers I had there was well enjoyed, and, quite frankly, the perfect refreshment after a long day of hiking through a good chunk of Seattle.
But while the food isn’t the focus of Schooner Exact, I’ll have to say, they do a decent job at trying to have a pleasant, well-rounded menu. Most of it is pub fare, with a selection of burgers, sandwiches, and salads, with a few rather interesting appetizers such as a steak tataki or an ahi salad, and they seem to be doing a good job of things. Seeing that I had had food at a good half dozen places already that day, I opted for a smaller dinner, getting their orecchiette. It wasn’t much to photograph, but it was a rather nice pasta, al dente, served up in a light cream sauce with some pancetta and wilted greens. I’d happily get that again, and everyone else was also pleased with their dinners.
For a group of tired, sweaty, and slightly grouchy hikers coming in unexpected and looking for a group table for 16 people, I’ll have to say, Schooner Exact was quite welcoming. We got a nice table just off the bar, and our friendly server efficiently served up pitchers of water and made beer recommendations for everyone. While it’s not a neighborhood of Seattle I expect to revisit anytime soon, it was quite a pleasant beer destination, and one I wouldn’t mind visiting again (perhaps on the way too or from Seatac).