already been a long day indeed when my cab finally deposited me at the Big
Time Brewery and Alehouse. I had already made stops at the Pike Pub and
Brewery, Pyramid Alehouse and Hale's Ales. I had saved Big Time for last because
I had heard so many great things about it.
Big Time touts itself as “Seattle’s Original Brewpub”, and is located in the heart of the university district. That makes it a slightly different animal, since it naturally tries to appeal to the local college crowd. Yet, the beers Big Time produces are magnificent. It’s the food that may not thrill you, since it is generally cheap in both price and preparation.
There’s no mistaking this place as a pub. Beer signs are everywhere, from breweries both modern and historic around the country. I was pleased to see beer trays on the walls from the likes of Cook’s, Rainer, and Western Brew, but delighted to see Rhode Island’s defunct Narragansett Brewery represented too.
Right next to the bar is a curious looking dinosaur mounted on the wall. He’s holding a beer, though, so I’m sure he’s happy. The bar itself is beautiful to behold. It dominates the room in all its mahogany splendor with soaring arches and mirrors. It reminded me of the bar at Great Lakes Brewing in Cleveland, Ohio, or Martha’s Exchange in Nashua, New Hampshire.
There are assorted tables set aside for dining and drinking. In the back is a game room with assorted amusements to entertain the college crowd. Several locals were playing something akin to air hockey when I visited.
This is why I was here, and I was not disappointed. There are usually a dozen house beers on draft at any time, and you can order a sampler of eight for $5.95. Additional samples are only 90 cents each, so I was able to try them all for about $9. One I tried was:
Prime Time Pale Ale: A very nice pale, soft and fruity, light hoppy finish compared to some of the other pales here.
From the Big Time website:
A three time
gold medal winner in previous Great American Beer Festivals, Prime Time's
delicate malt flavor and gently balanced hoppiness make it approachable to those
unfamiliar with microbrewed beers, yet still has a sophistication that pleases
seasoned drinkers of real ales. Prime Time Pale is brewed with Northwestern
2-row pale malt and just a touch each of English crystal and light dextrin
malts. It is hopped with Yakima Chinook and Mt Hood hops in addition to a touch
of Amarillo hops. OG 12.5 Plato (1.050), 4.5% alcohol by volume.
Wow, the beer sounds so great you say, so the food must be too, right? Well, that’s the rub. The food here is designed to be quick cheap eats for the local college kids. In fact, they don’t even serve you: you have to go to a kitchen window and get your own.
Pizza, nachos, sandwiches, soup and the like are available for just a few bucks. An 8 inch pizza pie will run you $5 to $7, a 12 inch $8 to $12. Don’t expect gourmet here because you won’t get it. But you can get something edible to snack on while you drink and play. I opted for a beer-steeped hot dog ($2.25) and got a spicy smoked sausage on a bun with tortilla chips on the side. But hey, the price was right.
Mostly college kids working here, so you know what to expect. The bartender didn’t seem to know much about the beer at all.
Big Time is not worth your time if you’re not a beer aficionado. The beer is the only reason to visit, I think. But if you do love beer, Big Time should not be missed. With so many wonderful brews rotating throughout the year, Big Time may well be the beer Mecca of Seattle.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.