While 17 taps sounds small compared with giant beer halls, the selection at No Anchor in Belltown is one of the best.
Last Friday afternoon, the calm before the so-called storm, a dozen patrons huddled around No Anchor, the hot new beer bar in Belltown. They were having a merry time, oblivious to the whooshing and the fliers blowing in the wind on the other side of the glass wall.
One bristly patron popped in from the cold with his visiting mother and her Irish terrier. Asked if he really came here straight from the airport, that patron, John Nugent, gave an incredulous look, as if to say, “doesn’t every son take his mom to a bar at 2 p.m.?”
Bundled-up patrons were cheering to Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize, getting psyched for the Seahawks showdown and, all in all, just focusing on the minutiae of ales and hops.
Goodness knows this is the bar to geek out on beer. No Anchor boasts cult and unusual brews, each served at varying temperatures with tasting notes that sound like they’re scribed by Jack Black. The Boneyard Notorious Triple IPA gets chilled at 42 degrees and is described on the menu as a “face-melting guitar solo of a triple IPA.” A grid chart, like New York Magazine’s approval matrix, is posted to help first timers decipher each’s beer level of approachability.
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The food, by a former Spur Gastropub chef, goes beyond pretzels and burgers, showcasing lamb sweetbread and smoked mussels to pair with the artisanal brews.
A certified cicerone, co-owner Chris Elford also helped start the great beer joint Proletariat in New York’s East Village. He makes the case that beer, like bourbon or Bordeaux, is fit for contemplative drinking.
His other half, wife and co-owner Anu Apte, runs the acclaimed cocktail den Rob Roy two blocks down the street. They’re opening a Tiki bar early next year.
The adorable couple are much loved in the business, with an endless stream of bartenders, line cooks and brewers popping in pre and post shifts to schmooze with them.
This 17-tap bar is minuscule by today’s beer-hall standards, but it’s a well-curated list with acclaimed gems from Evil Twin Brewing and the “De Molen Bourbon Barrel Aged Cease and Desist,” along with an enviable local roster from Standard Brewing and Holy Mountain Brewing.
Speaking of which, the Holy Mountain brewer was sitting at the end of the bar, sipping a pilsner and an altbier. Nearby, a patron was studiously scribbling in his Field Notes in between sips.
By 4:30 p.m., autumn leaves were swirling like a tornado out front, and the bartender made a public-service announcement of sorts: “Storm is coming.” Patrons either didn’t hear her or didn’t care. All were hoisting beers or deep into their chatter.
No Anchor, 2505 Second Ave., Seattle. Happy hour will be added soon. Open 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday (noanchorbar.com).