After leaving Puget Sound-sited Harmon Pub, took the two-mile journey up the hill to former fire station, ENGINE HOUSE NO. 9 BREWERY & RESTAURANT. A historic Tacoma landmark visited December ’09, brewer Shane Johns keeps patrons comin’ with his healthy selection of barleywines, Belgian-inspired brews, and archetypal American ales.
A red-black courtyard with chairs and tables fronts the red-bricked antique wood-furnished restaurant (with archaic garage doors next to side entrance). Behind the dining area lies the crown jewel, a rustic 10-seat back bar with beautiful wood mural serving Johns’ surefire creations. A private banquet area upstairs adds to the charm. Windowed brew tanks on the attached right side maroon-bricked space served eleven libations this fortuitous autumn afternoon.
Best selections included sweet whiskey-wafted ’04 Barleywine, with its pureed banana-cherry creaminess illuminating candied apple, cotton candy, and coconut oil undertones. Rum-soaked medicinal-strength ’06 Oak-Aged Barleywine gathered butterscotch, almond paste, and bruised cherry illusions. Saison-styled Flemish Sour revealed oaken cherry dryness, white grape tannins, Granny Smith apple tartness, and lime-y cranberry pucker.
Another favorite, simply called Tacoma Brew, saturated grassy Saaz-hopped lemon-seeded orange-peeled bitterness with honey malt glaze. Equally impressive, Ecuadorian chocolate sweetened hop-roasted black cherry fruiting and dry cappuccino finish of mild Chocolate Stout. Coffee-roasted espresso-milked black chocolate-y Porter sufficed.
Onward, subtly fruited Rowdy Dick Amber allowed buttery crystal malts to sweeten lemon custard, green grape, red apple, and tangerine nuances. Both red apple-whiffed soft-watered crystal-malted Scottish Ale and hop-bitten wood-lacquered yellow-red-fruited India Pale Ale hit the stylistic mark.
Lemon-candied souring, subtle orange peel bittering, and grassy-hopped coriander spicing branded Belgian White. Hop-sharpened dried fruits inundated nutty tea-like cocoa malting of Engine House staple, Fire Engine Red.