Monday 20th June 2011
I had nothing to do till 15.00 on this particular day so I visited a brewpub I'd not been to previously. The Harmon Brewery is well known in Tacoma but they have just opened another branch.
It's the Harmon Tap Room at 204 St Helens Avenue, so it would have been wrong not to pay a visit.
I walked from the downtown area, uphill all the way. Only the 13 and 16 buses pass the pub and there wasn't one when I wanted it. There was no doubt that I needed a drink when I entered. On my right was a small shop offering take-away beer and merchandise. To my left was the bar.
There were six regular beers and three specials so I took a sampler and picked my own selection. From the regular range the following were offered: Pinnacle Peak Pale Ale (4.4%), Puget Sound Porter (5.3%), Point Defiance IPA (6.1%) (70 IBUs!), Browns Point ESB (5.3%), Mount Takhoma Blonde (4.1%).
There were also three seasonals: Belgian Summer Saison, T-Town Blonde IPA, Floridian IPA.
Confusingly, although they may have been available over the preceding weekend, there were also taps for the following beers that were not on: Vanilla Porter, Triple Play Ale, Summer Solstice Saison, Creamsicles (!?). The best of my tastings was Point Defiance IPA, a fantastic example of the style, so I had a pint.
The brewery is immediately behind the bar area and the aromas of brewing wafted into the bar-room. I knew that there was another bar on the floor above, the HARMON HUB, and I thought that this was an evening bar as it has a lot of live music. Well I was wrong, as it is open all day.
The entrance is at 203 Tacoma Avenue S, which is one block west, up the hill that extends in from Tacoma Bay. In the upstairs bar the beer is not supplied by the brewery downstairs but comes from the original site. This means that, on the same property, it is possible to have beers from both Harmon breweries, some with the same name!
It was soon time to catch the bus back to downtown to meet up for a visit to the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad, about a one hour journey on a charter bus down the massively overcrowded Interstate 5. The train, runs from Chehalis to a place called Ruth, in the middle of nowhere and back, with absolutely no drinking opportunities whatsoever.
However it is pulled by a lovely locomotive, No 15, which is completely indigenous to this railroad, being built to haul trains of logs for onwards shipment to the main line interchange. It emerged from the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia in September 1926 and has been in the area ever since. After a bus journey back to Tacoma there was time to visit the original Harmon Brewery, see separate article.
Harmon Tap Room, 204 St Helens Avenue, Tacoma, WA. 98402. Tel: 253 212 2725
Open: Sunday to Thursday 11.00-23.00; Friday and Saturday 11.00-02.00
The Tap Room is about 1 km (3/4 mile) north of downtown. Two bus routes pass the door. No 13 runs about hourly to 18.00, not Sundays. No 16 also runs about hourly Monday to Sunday. However the last buses are quite early: Monday to Friday 19.45; Saturday 19.30; Sunday 16.30. Otherwise it's a walk or taxi.