English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh and Belgian style ales are featured at The White Horse Trading Co. in Post Alley.

Happy Hour |

Tucked between a tea and a chocolate shop in Post Alley, its facade covered in ivy, The White Horse Trading Co. remains an enigma to passers-by after all these years.

Is it a bookstore? A pub?

There are old editions of Thomas Hardy and William Wordsworth on the shelves, above the leather couches and English and Scottish ale chilling behind the bar.

The answer? White Horse is both. The books, classics and early editions from London, are for sale. They also serve as great props, giving this England-themed pub a cozy, basement/den ambience.

White Horse celebrates its seventh anniversary this Saturday. It has built a cult following, mostly through word-of-mouth and passers-by curious enough to step inside.

It’s one of the most distinctive bars in Seattle, both in décor and in its beer selection (only English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh and Belgian-style ales).

The bar, about the size of a studio condo in Capitol Hill, looks rustic, with wooden beams and wine barrels that double as tables. It’s outfitted with cricket bats and other antique sports paraphernalia. There’s a horse saddle and lots of equestrian motifs.

It’s the kind of pub you would see if you ventured outside of tourist friendly London and headed north — Yorkshire maybe, and plop down for a Samuel Smith’s ale.

White Horse is an homage to “Olde England” and the classic pub, said owner Joe Gilmartin, 44, a former boxer from St. Louis. His mother is from London, but the other influences, he said, were, well, “when I was 24, what was in my head was my love for Pink Floyd and English beer.”

His best beer, the Stingo, an acclaimed English ale, is hard to find in Seattle. It has hints of raisin and caramel and is a bit oaky from being barrel aged.

White Horse Trading Co., 1908 Post Alley (between Stewart and Virginia streets, 206-441-7767). Serves bottled beer, mead and wine. Happy hour is Thursday 5-7 p.m. Open 4 p.m.-to around midnight. Closed Sundays.

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or tvinh@seattletimes.com