It’s easy to see Ballard—much like Capitol Hill, and really all the city’s other neighborhoods—as a place increasingly unmoored from its heritage. Tech money comes in, condos go up… and you've heard the rest. But plenty in Ballard still wave the flags of Nordic heritage proudly.
The latest development is the planned “Viking-inspired” Skål Beer Hall, which will fill the space left vacant by People’s Pub, likely sometime this summer. After seven years in the beer industry—working at places like Harpoon Brewery in Boston—owner Adam McQueen thought it fitting to combine his craft beer knowledge and his Norwegian and Swedish heritage (and Ballard residence).
His hope is that Skål becomes a community gathering place like traditional Viking mead halls. So expect long communal tables, a huge fireplace in the back, a horseshoe bar, and rustic vibes—lots of “chunky woods that are reminiscent of what a Viking living room would feel like.” An open kitchen, run by chef/business partner Lexi of Old Ballard Liquor Co, will issue plenty of updated, approachable takes on Nordic eats. Venison, rabbit, lamb, duck, charcuterie, smoked herring, sausages from Scandinavian Specialties—you get it: lots and lots of meat. But perhaps a touch less intimidating than Viking cuisine intimates. “It’s not meant to be your grandmother’s traditional scary lutefisk type stuff,” McQueen says.
Being a beer hall Skål will offer drinks aplenty. McQueen aims to showcase brews from his Ballard neighbors, with some excursions to breweries outside of the Seattle area and hopes to collaborate with places like Populuxe and Lucky Envelope, who’ve already brewed Nordic influenced beers. Expect beers in the northern European style—lots of malt-forward lagers. There will also be some harder to find Norwegian and Danish beers—Nøgne Ø, Haandbryggeriet—on tap or by the bottle. A small house cocktail list will focus heavily on aquavits from Northwest distillers, such as Old Ballard Liquor Co. and The Hardware Distilling Co.
And since Vikings like mead, it will flow from local meaderies like Everett’s Æsir, Redmond’s Sky River, along with some Oregon producers. Will this mead be served in Viking ale horns? Yes, yes it will.