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November 1, 2013 at 9:28 PM
Sketched Oct. 17, 2013
In Seattle’s beer alphabet, “R” is for Rainier. But the beer hasn’t been brewed or owned locally since 1999.
Another ‘r’ – this one lower case – brands the new toast of the town: Reuben’s Brews.
In only three years, owner Adam Robbings has gone from concocting beer recipes in his garage to crafting and bottling ales that are winning gold medals in international tasting competitions and filling the shelves of more than 50 stores in Western Washington.
Robbings, a 39-year-old cheerful British accountant who quit his day job last April to brew full time, still seems surprised by the accolades. He’s been told that he has the best asset a brewer could have: a sophisticated palate that lets him play with multiple flavors until he finds the perfect recipe. He doesn’t even drink that much beer. “I just want to taste it and move on,” he said as I watched him sniff and sip his Imperial IPA. He described the taste as a mix of “dank citrus, passion fruit and a little pine.”
Jason Call, a Marysville homebrewer I met at the tap room in Ballard said Robbings’s path to success is an inspiration to local craft brewers. “He is showing us it can be done.”
Robbings said he was blown away by the variety of beers in the Pacific Northwest when he moved to Seattle a decade ago. He still remembers the first two brands he tried: Manny’s and Mack and Jack’s, and says the craft beer industry in Seattle is 20 years ahead of England.
Reuben’s operation is a family affair ran by Robbings, his wife, Grace, and his brother-in-law Mike Pfeiffer, who moved to Seattle from the Midwest to help them out — you can see him helping a customer in this sketch. The most important member of the team, however, hasn’t even reached drinking age yet. That would be the fellow the brewery is named after: Adam and Grace’s son, Reuben, who is 4 years old.
The microbrewery is located in the heart of the Ballard industrial district, a block away from the Bardahl Manufacturing Corporation. Just like Woodinville has seen wineries concentrate in its “warehouse district,” Ballard may be experiencing the same type of boom for breweries. Robbings said several have opened nearby since they leased space in this warehouse in August of 2012.
March 8, 2013 at 9:00 PM
I’m not as crazy about pizza as some, but I appreciate the art of making food, especially if you mix in a bit of spectacle.
The open kitchen at Ballard Pizza Company becomes a stage when the pizzaioli start tossing the dough into the air. The centrifugal force makes the pies perfectly round and spreads the dough evenly, explained Dan Eling, but much of the tossing is also for fun. If the restaurant is really busy, he may not have time to give each pizza a spin.
On Sunday, however, you are guaranteed to see Eling perform from noon to 3 p.m. during a competition billed as the first-ever dough-tossing contest in Seattle. For a suggested $20 donation, customers will get pizza, salad and a scorecard to rank Eling and 11 other local pizzaioli. Awards will be given for speed, style, best pie and high toss, and the proceeds will go to a charity chosen by the winner.
Eling, 26, said he’s been practicing for the competition, but he downplays his dough-spinning talent. “I’m all right,” he said at the start of his 10-hour shift. “I can get it 15 to 20 feet up in the air.”
October 19, 2012 at 7:10 PM
Sketched Oct. 16, 2012
The door of the gutted house was cracked open, but I didn’t see Edith Macefield’s ghost roaming around.
You may remember her story. When Macefield died at age 86 in 2008, a five-story retail and commercial center was being built around her little Ballard house. Despite a $1 million offer from developers, she refused to sell, reminding us with her defiance that some things in life are, well, priceless.
In her will, Macefield left the house to one of the workers she befriended during the construction of the center, the Ballard Blocks. He later sold it for $310,000 to Greg Pinneo, a real estate investor who announced plans to elevate it 30-feet off the ground and create a space below known as “Credo Square.”
Pinneo’s business partner Lois MacKenzie said the upgrade is about to begin, though the house won’t be elevated. The revised plan is to transform what remains of the tiny cottage into a cozy nightly rental with room for six people, and it may be called “Edith’s House at Credo Square.”
Sketched Oct. 9, 2012
What has drawn your attention around Seattle lately? Send me your suggestions of interesting places and people to sketch via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Have a great weekend!
September 6, 2012 at 10:29 AM
Sketched Sept. 2, 2012
Not many Seattle locations are as visually stimulating as the Ballard Locks. Just think of everything you can see there: fine engineering in action, boats of all shapes and sizes, a bascule bridge, trains, the cycle of salmon life, public art, people, gardens, you name it.
During my most recent visit, I filled a sketchbook spread with a little collection of small drawings in an attempt to capture as much of the scene as I could. You can see some of them enlarged below:
More drawings of the Locks from the Seattle Sketcher archives:
Lively days at the Ballard Locks
A room with a view of fish
June 9, 2011 at 1:17 PM
I was sad to find out that Bertha Davis, the longtime Ballard school teacher and neighborhood advocate I sketched for my Saturday column back in March, passed away several days ago. Bertha, 97, had recently rallied the community to make the Ballard Tower bell toll again. An obituary written by my colleague Jack Broom ran in today’s paper.
I spent a little more than an hour sketching and talking with Bertha at her Sunset West condo in Shilshole Bay. She was full of vitality. As soon as I arrived she quickly turned to the kitchen to offer me some cookies. I first sat next to her and did a quick pencil profile sketch that I never published or even showed her. Rereading my notes next to it, I think she was telling me about her family: three daughters, five grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, the youngest in preschool and the oldest in high school.
Then I changed positions and sat on the carpet leaning my sketchpad against the coffee table to draw the sketch I used in the column. After I finished it, I told her I hoped she liked it and handed her my sketchbook. She looked at it and immediately replied with a big smile: “I like it because you did it.”
Ballard writer Peggy Sturdivant, who helped me get in touch with Bertha, also took this photo that has been in my iPhone all this time.
Rest in peace Bertha. I’ll treasure the memory of talking to you and doing these sketches. You were inspiring!
March 3, 2011 at 5:31 PM
Sketched March 1, 11:46 a.m., 3:08 p.m.
The bell inside the Ballard Centennial Bell Tower has been silent for almost 20 years, but 97-year-old advocate Bertha Davis is clamoring for it to toll again.
The 1,600-pound bell hung above Ballard’s City Hall when the neighborhood was an independent city at the turn of the 20th century. Back then, it rang at 6 o’clock every evening when the shingle-mill workers left their jobs, said Davis, a retired schoolteacher and Ballard resident since 1945.
Davis is part of the bell’s storied past. In the 1980s, she was part of a committee that helped get the bell’s current tower built at the site of the former city hall. The bell rang there until the mechanism was dismantled following some acts of vandalism.
Now, Davis wants to take care of unfinished business by installing an automated ringing system. A committee has been formed and a “Bring the Ring Back” campaign has been the buzz of the neighborhood since Davis celebrated her birthday with a party by the bell last month.
The sound of a bell ringing does something to your spirit, said Davis. “Bells make you feel alive.”
Drawn to Seattle. Where should I take my sketchbook next? Do you know of a good story waiting to be drawn? I’d love to hear about it. You can send me your suggestions to email@example.com or via Facebook or Twitter. Have an awesome weekend!
June 18, 2010 at 11:45 PM
June 16, 11:01 a.m. [Click sketch to view larger]
Unless he’ll already be on a boat, consider taking dad to the Ballard Locks on Father’s Day.
From kayaks to luxury yachts and fishing boats, the steady flow of vessels between Lake Union and Puget Sound is enough to keep a guy like me entertained. They go by so close you can even strike up a conversation. “We are going out for a month,” said a boater on her way to the Sound.
Another spectacle is found below the water level at the fish ladder. While we watched a number of fish swim by, Pat Martinez, a local fisherman, said the best time to see sockeye swimming upstream will be in two or three weeks (see Wednesday’s post.)
Through Labor Day, the Locks get even livelier with free weekend concerts. This Saturday at 2 p.m., see Scandinavian dances, and on Sunday, the Elliott Bay Pipe Band performs. For full schedule visit blog.friendsoftheballardlocks.org.
Happy Father’s Day!
June 16, 2010 at 2:48 PM
Even on a gray day, a visit to the Ballard Locks never disappoints.
Taking cover from the early morning rain, I started my exploration at the fish ladder, where you can see the salmon swimming upstream to their spawning grounds.
I would have never been able to tell what type of salmon I was looking at, but it was my luck to run into Pat Martinez, a local fisherman who makes a quick stop every day to check the activity on the ladder.
Martinez said these were all sockeye, except for a few king salmon, which looked much larger. “Sockeyes can be from 3 to 10 pounds,” he said. “King salmon can go up to 45 pounds.”
The best time to come see the salmon will be in two or three weeks, said Martinez. “The window will be full of sockeye.”
November 19, 2009 at 3:36 PM
Nov. 18, 11:40 a.m. [Click on the sketch to view larger]
After dropping my food donation at the Brenden Foster Food Drive in Bothell, I stopped by the Ballard Food Bank, one of the organizations that will be putting the food in the hands of the people who need it. This food bank alone served more than 4,000 people in September, said executive director Nancy McKinney as she showed me around.
It was almost time to open and the line of people waiting outside wrapped around the block at the corner of 24th Avenue and 70th St. In addition to food, the nonprofit organization also offers financial advice, a mail box service, clothing and a hygiene bar where people can get shampoo and toiletries.
Over in the food area Ken Cluckey was handing out cartons of eggs and fresh fruit. “I have had such a good life myself, I should be doing payback,” he said about his 16 years volunteering here after he retired. Next to him was Deb Stewart, helping people get what they needed from the meat freezer. “You can have two of these sweetheart,” she told a customer as she pointed to a tray of frozen meat. There’s a limit of items per person or family, but that’s the only restriction. Everything else here looks just like a supermarket; only the cash registers are missing.
“We give food to everybody who comes,” said McKinney. “If we can help people with food, then they don’t fall behind paying their rent or their utilities. The food bill doesn’t come in the mail but everybody needs to eat.”
This time of the year McKinney is especially happy if they have turkeys to give out. “Last week a woman drove by and dropped six frozen turkeys,” she said. “Most everyone around here grew up having turkey on Thanksgiving. It’s one of those things that makes people sad if they can’t keep that tradition”.
• For information about how to donate visit the Ballard Food Bank’s website.
July 25, 2009 at 9:31 PM
Fin the Migrating Salmon welcomes visitors to the Ballard SeafoodFest this weekend. It’s obviously not the type of salmon you eat. It’s made of fiberglass. But you can go inside — only three people at a time. Or you can have your photo taken in front of it, like Sherianne Caldwell was doing when I arrived Saturday morning. As you would expect, she was here for the food and the entertainment. “I love seafood, especially any kind of shellfish,” she said.
The real salmon could be found at Ballard Brothers, where Sharmin Hawley was cooking their signature Cajun blackened-salmon fillets. “The key is the secret seasoning. It has 14 herbs and spices,” she said.
The kitchen was sizzling as I drew her and chef John Ennis, and talked to owner Drew Greer, who’s been a vendor at the festival for 22 years. “I am a tradition here,” he said.
Here are more drawings from the event:
12:26 p.m. The line of people waiting to order food at Ballard Brothers Seafood and Burgers was 30 people long early afternoon.
10:59 a.m. Non-seafood eaters could get Swedish Meatballs on this booth decorated with Viking hats and Scandinavian flags.
11:59 a.m. A nice surprise I found when I went up 22nd Avenue was this 19th century Viking ship from the Nordic Heritage Museum. They are trying to restore it and put it on the water again and are accepting donations.
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