Six years ago, Sean McDonald and another fellow opened the Cole Street Brewery, north of Battersby in the “mini-industrial park” on your right. Within a few months of its opening, his business partner moved on to other endeavors, leaving Sean as sole owner and manager of the operation.
Sean is a warm, sort of easy going, quick-witted gentleman, who’s keenly aware of the absurdity in the world around him. I’ve written about him in a previous column, and now have reason to do so again.
There are any number of reasons I’d recommend his bar. I’ve always been fond of the general atmosphere, especially in the summer when customers spill out into the parking lot and enjoy the sun and a splendid view of the mountain. Needless to say, his various beers are “thicker”, much more flavorful, and carry considerable more punch then national brands like Budweiser and Coors Light. Furthermore, just in case the beer, Sean’s hospitality, and the pleasant company of his customers isn’t enough to attract you, he also offers entertainment, like the staging of dramatic murder mysteries once a month. There are also regularly scheduled games of trivia, a few board games like checkers and chess, and a couple decks of cards for those who might enjoy a few hands of poker.
Yet, despite all these amenities, I very rarely stop by the place and I suspect you can guess why. Yeah, that’s correct; it’s the location. I mean, it sits out there, all by itself, out of the “downtown loop”.
But now I’m happy to report—in case you haven’t already noticed—the brewery’s product is available at a site that is much more convenient. Though the actual “cooking” operation will remain at the original location, Sean has opened or very shortly will open – depending on when this column is published – a new bar, modeled after a traditional English pub, in the old Courier-Herald office. (How delightful to imagine a newcomer walking into the newspaper office so brazenly promoted on the building’s facade and, instead, discovering a bar!)
Sean usually offers seven or eight types of beer at any given time and tries to offer a new brew every couple weeks. In the course or any particular year, he might produce a hundred different strengths and flavors.
So, if you find yourself sitting in a local lounge longing for something stronger than the washed-out beer you’re drinking, you’re only a few doors away from an Etown Original IPA, or a brown ale, or an Imperial Stout, which is Sean’s most potent brew. (Most of his beers are between 5.8 and 10.9 proof.) Or, if you feel like eating, you can order your food to go in the Rainier or Mint and carry it over to Sean’s place. In fact, Sean has made arrangements with various downtown restaurants whereby you can order a meal through him and your request will be delivered.
Somehow a Siciliano pizza and a Cole Street beer sounds like a splendid combination.