The Pine Box has arrived on Capitol Hill, transforming a portion of a former funeral home into a destination-worthy beer bar that opens softly on Thursday and officially on Monday. I don’t make a habit out of hanging out at historic funeral homes, so to me the soaring space felt more like drinking in a church, or a centuries-old prep school. Think Hogwarts, but with 33 beer taps.
The bar has two plasma screens displaying the current beer list, and a Randall tap, a contraption that can be filled with hops (or smoked wood chips, cocoa nibs, beef jerky or whatever suits your fancy). Run a beer through the Randall, and it imparts an extra blast of flavor based on what’s inside. This process can make for some sensory-scrambling combinations like the Hopworks Noggin Floggin Barleywine so aromatic from a Randall session with some hops that Washington Beer Blog’s Kendall Jones likened its aroma to a fruit salad.
While most Randalls look somewhat like a bong (that description comes courtesy of Jones’s wife Kim), the Pine Box’s version has the rare distinction of being wired into the bar’s tap system. I wasn’t familiar with the Randall before my visit to the Pine Box, but judging by awe with which arriving beer aficionados greeted the sight of this tap, it’s kind of a big deal.
Between its proximity to Pine Street and its funereal background, this establishment deserves big ups for its name. The bar and table tops are made from wood reclaimed from the building’s century-old urn vaults—relax, they were basically just giant cabinets—and the upper balcony is a great place for people watching, tulip glass firmly in hand. The Pine Box’s food offerings include pizza, salads, and steaks.
The beer brains behind this new go-to drinking establishment, which took over in the wake of the Chapel bar, is Ian Roberts, one of the bar’s three owners, a former Brouwer’s Cafe manager, and an organizer of Seattle Beer Week. Be forewarned, fans of light beer, the Pine Box has no bottle list, but there is an ample supply of hard liquor, mostly of the brown persuasion. Capitol Hill Seattle blog has more photos if you are so inclined.