I’ve an early start. A very early start. I’m taking the train to Seattle and it leaves at 6.30 am.
But, as it’s an international train, I need to be at the station an hour before departure. I ask for a 4.15 am wake-up call.
I buy myself a sandwich, drink and bag of crisps. That’ll do as breakfast. I get a Canadian history magazine for Andrew as well.
Once through US immigration, I settle into my assigned seat. It’s still dark when we pull out of the station. It takes longer than I anticipated – about two hours – until we reach the US border. Just before we get there, I spot two bald eagles sitting in a tree by the trackside.
At the border, we’re told to remain in our seats while border guards come around the train to check passports and collect our customs declaration forms. It doesn’t take long – not more than 15 minutes.
The train mostly hugs the coast, a vista of wooded hills and mirror-calm water slowly unfolding beyond the window. Occasionally the tracks dart inland, across flat, fertile plains of farmland. Its one of the most scenic train rides I’ve had in a while.
We get to King Street station on time and Jim Jamison is there to collect me. I’ve an event in his brewery, Foggy Noggin, in Bothell this evening.
“Do you want to get some lunch?” He asks.
My sandwich has long since worn off: “Sure.”
We go a place just around the corner, an Irish pub called Fado. I order a Lagunitas IPA and corned beef hash. Both are rather pleasant. Though the IPA comes in a jam jar. A Lagunitas-branded jam jar. Not quite sure why they serve beer in things like this. What’s wrong with a proper glass?
I ask Jim if we can stop by a supermarket. “I need to get cookie mix and Kool Aid for my son.” Jim is slightly bemused by Alexei’s request.
When we’re at the checkout the woman in front of us asks if we’re getting the Kool Aid to dye hair. “Four packets of the Dark Cherry in boiling water. That’s how I dyed this.” She says, pointed to a red highlight. Urm – should Alexei really be ingesting something that dyes hair like that?
Jim has one of the oddest breweries I’ve come across. Somehow he’s got permission to have a brewery and tasting room at his residential address. The fact that he has a 2.5 acre plot probably helps. But it’s still on a very quiet residential street.
The plan is for me to hang around the bar to chat and sign books for a few hours. Later, for the event itself, I’ll be talking about each of the eight recipes from my book Jim has brewed. I get stuck into his Dark Mild in the meantime.
There’s a steady enough stream of punters, quite a few of whom have my book and some of the self-published ones) for me to sign. It’s no hardship for me to scribble a few illegible lines and chat a while. I really do enjoy meeting my readers. I hope it’s mutual.
I have a fascinating chat with a geologist. “Geology is just as bad as beer for misinformation.” He informs me. And there I was thinking it was an objective science. He has some scary stories about exploring abandoned mines. Sounds like a good way of getting yourself killed. Or worse, buried alive.
Steve Nolan and his wife Marissa turn up. He’s an English expat who lives on the same street. In fact, that’s where I’ll be staying tonight as he’s kindly offered to put me up. They’ll also be providing some of the food – home-made pork pies and sausage rolls – for tonight’s event.
At four everyone is cleared out and the garage door closes. Which is a relief as I was starting to freeze my grillox off. It’s unseasonably cold. Bloody arctic vortex. At least it isn’t raining. That’s what it would usually be doing at this time of year, evidently.
The few books I have left are soon gone. At least I won't be carrying any home with me. But I regret not having brought more.
Kickoff is 6 pm. It’s a relatively small crowd – the size of the room dictates that – but an enthusiastic and knowledgeable one. Jim has brewed four pairs of beers – two beers in the same of similar styles from different periods – which we sample together.
1933 Younger No. 3 Pale
1879 Younger No. 3
1950 Whitbread Best Ale
1868 Tetley XX
1886 Barclay Perkins Hhd
1821 Barclay PerkinsTT
1941 Barclay Perkins IBS
1924 Barclay Perkins IBS Ex
I explain what the differences are between the beers and why the style changed over time. And lots of other random beer history stuff. It’s more tangent than arc this time.
In all, I‘m on for around two hours, which is knackering. Even I get fed up of listening to myself talk eventually. I think I’ve educated and entertained the audience a little.
Jim and his family, me and the Nolans stay on after kicking everyone out for more beer and more talking. After a while I forget how exhausted I am. Maybe because I’ve finally time to drink some beer.
It ends up being very late. I stay up talking to Steve and drinking Lapghroaig until after 3 am. By which time I’ve been up almost 24 hours. I honestly don’t know how I do it. I just know it’s been a really fun day. One of the best of the trip.
Fado Irish Pub
801 1st Ave,
Seattle, WA 98104.
Phone: +1 206-264-2700
Foggy Noggin Brewing
22329 53rd Ave SE,
Bothell, WA 98021.
Phone: +1 425-486-1070
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