Black Raven Brewery
14679 NE 95th St
Visited on January 17, 2013
It’d been a while since I found myself in the Pacific Northwest, and I was delighted to find that the more things change, the more they stay the same. That is to say, there are a ton more breweries around than the last time I was in Seattle, but they’ve all maintained that quality I’ve come to associate with the Emerald City.
My first stop on my return visit was a place that had just unfolded its wings when I left for Michigan, a place called Black Raven Brewing Company. Technically it’s not in Seattle; it’s across Lake Washington in Redmond. And it doesn’t serve food, which is part of the reason I never made it out when it was first starting off.
That was a mistake.
The beers here are quite impressive. The constant lineup is solid, with the best offerings coming in the form of IPA, Stout and a Strong Scotch Ale. The one disappointment was a brown ale that I found thin and slightly metallic in the finish. Outside of these regulars comes a fantastic barrel aging program that had produced three outstanding beers when I visited. The first was a bourbon stout that was lighter on the bourbon than most others I’ve had. The second was a dry blonde ale that tasted almost like champagne, with a rich depth of flavors that lingered on the tongue. The last was a version of their Scotch ale that had been aged in wine barrels. It created quite a unique combination of flavors, which I found both extremely interesting and extremely delicious.
The drawbacks of the establishment are its size and the fact that it doesn’t serve food. It’s rather small, and finding a seat or table or anything to set your glass down on can be challenging. But given that issue, it’s a pretty clean and warm environment, though nothing special. As for the food issue, they do have pizza menus for a nearby company that will deliver straight to your table. And it’s fantastic. So I guess the food really isn’t an issue.
As for the service, it also is pretty stellar. Though you have to go to the counter to order, rather than make you wait if there’s a backup in pouring, they’ll deliver to your table and give you a detailed overview of each style. When it calms down a bit, someone will check in on you now and then and offer more libations.
Overall, I rather liked the place and would be back many times if I lived in the area.