Saturday 25th June 2011
Most of this day was spent on a train as steam locomotive 4449 operated an excursion from Tacoma up and over the Cascade range through the Stampede Pass to a place called Easton. When I mention the destination to an acquaintance who worked for Amtrak he described it as once being "a one-horse town where the horse has died". It did, at least, have a watering hole, the Easton Lounge, see photo.
The café car on the train was staffed by the volunteers who restored the locomotive to working order. One cannot be critical as this raises much-needed funds for the upkeep of the engine. But unlike Amtrak, they don't have a licence to sell alcoholic drinks so the Easton Lounge was a bit of a life-saver. And what's more there were four draught beers on offer.
Although all were from the large domestic manufacturers, an Amber Ale wasn't too bad but so gassy. I felt I was hosting Vesuvius as I walked back to the train.
After the loco had performed a speedy run-past for the photographers it set back to collect passengers for the journey back to Tacoma. This line is interesting inasmuch that on it's lower reaches it is the second most wettest line in the country with 90 inches p.a. and the pass itself is the second snowiest in the USA at 439 inches p.a. Really extreme weather!
On arrival I used the tram to get downtown and transferred on to the last no 13 bus of the day and alighted at Tacoma Old Town, a couple of miles north of the centre.
From here it was a short walk down to the waterfront. My destination was Ram Restaurant and Brewery at 3001 North Ruston Way. It's a branch of a large chain of brewpubs owned by RAM International.
I had a sampler tray of their six standard beers: Big Horn Blonde, Big Horn Hefeweizen, Big Red Ale (an IPA), 71 Pale Ale, Buttface Amber Ale, Total Disorder Porter. Of course, I liked the IPA best but I have to say that most were very average and some downright disappointing. There was also a seasonal, Maibock.
I stayed for a pint of Big Red and ordered a taxi take me back to the Harmon Brewery. The place was absolutely crowded and it seemed that the beer brewed there was of very secondary importance to the food. In fact I was interrogated by two separate members of the door police and only got in because I told them I was only there for a beer. I know it was the busiest time on a Saturday night but it's still a pity because it has a fabulous location overlooking Puget Sound, see photos, away from the docks and timber mills.
Ram Restaurant and Brewery, 3001 Ruston Way, Tacoma, WA. 98402. Tel: 253 756 7886
Note: Since my visit the pub has changed its name from Big Horn Brewing to that of its parent company, Ram Restaurant & Brewery.
Bus No 13 runs up to 18.00 and not at all on Sundays. It starts from Tacoma Dome station and serves the downtown area. You alight at Old Town. Cross the railroad and you are in Ruston Way. Turn left and some way along you will find the brew pub on the right on the shore of Commencement Bay. It is 2 to 3 miles north of the downtown so should there be no buses the only way to get there is by taxi, which I had to use on my return.