Food & Drink

Chow Bio

Ellen Kelly and Rick Weersing of the Noble Fir

Ellen Kelly and Rick Weersing
Owners of the Noble Fir
5316 Ballard Ave NW, 420-7425

So you're the owners of the Noble Fir, Ballard's new wilderness-themed bar. What made you choose opening a bar as a way of expressing your love of hiking?

EK: It's more about sharing our love of the wilderness than expressing it. We used to hike and go for beer afterward. It's a good way of sharing the things we love: beer, wine, cider, and hiking.

Your "Maps and Taps" happy hour is designed to facilitate hiking trip planning. Besides providing thrifty beer, how does the bar assist?

EK: It's useful to have several different descriptions of the same hike, and we have over 200 laminated maps and 300 hiking books. We see them utilized every day. People come in and plan hikes with their friends while enjoying a beer or a glass of wine.

When I order a pint and get a stupid tiny plastic cup, I feel like punching someone. When I get a 20-ounce imperial pint, like you have here, I feel like making out with everyone. Which one of you do I have to thank for this choice of glassware?

RW: We make all the decisions about the bar together, based on what we like as bar-goers. Imperial pints make it easier to smell the beer, which is important. We also don't serve hot food because cooking smells can overpower the smell of the beer.

Rick, you used to work at REI—are there any skills you learned at your previous job that are particularly applicable to running a bar?

RW: I learned how to stay on my feet for 10 hours and I furthered my knowledge of the outdoors. My favorite thing about working at REI was exchanging stories about hiking with customers.

Speaking of which, what's your next hiking destination?

EK: When is a better question. We're here every day right now. But we knew we'd be sacrificing this year to get the bar running.

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Comments (7) RSS

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This place is wonderful. I'm so happy its in my neighborhood!
Posted by Maps at happy hour are a godsend on September 22, 2010 at 11:52 AM · Report this
gcm 2
I like a nice imperial pint glass over a crappy little plastic cup too. But sometimes it is handy to offer half pints in addition to full imperials - drinking 2 pints of Ninkasi's Believer is going to knock you on your ass about the same as a 40 oz of Olde English. Anywho I've had the pleasure of stopping by the Noble Fir and I'll do so again; it is a welcome addition to Ballard Ave.
Posted by gcm on September 22, 2010 at 1:31 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 3

every hike i took was on a cloudy day. and i went east, too.
Posted by Max Solomon on September 22, 2010 at 2:33 PM · Report this
I wrote earlier about how terrible the Market Arms is. Well, desperately needing an actually good bar, this is the place we went directly to after leaving the Arms. The Noble Fir is a great place, Ellen and Rick are very nice people, and I look forward to many pints there in the future. If I have a gripe, it's that they don't serve schooners, which as mentioned above, means 20 oz of one of their often solely high octane brews on tap. Not great when, for whatever silly reason, I don't feel like getting totally smashed but would like more than one pint.
Posted by Beerdrunk in Ballard on September 22, 2010 at 10:09 PM · Report this
Not a hiker, but visited from Phoenix and found "The Noble Fir" to be welcoming and friendly. And I found some great ciders!
Posted by Joey Gooch on September 23, 2010 at 5:55 PM · Report this
I'm saving up miles to fly from Chicago to Seattle just to check out the Noble Fir. Looking forward to at least 2 pints of that Ninkasa brew and a sample of other Pac NW pints. Mmmm...Ninkasa.
Posted by George Clooney on September 23, 2010 at 7:43 PM · Report this
Love the Noble Fir--Rick and Ellen have great taste in beer. Not so hot on the writing though..."I feel like making out with everyone." Not only is that unprofessionally cheesy, but it's the second time in a week I've read "making out" adjectivized as synonymous for "good" in the Stranger. It's like every other artificially twee Yelp review turned into a real life newspaper nightmare! Isn't there an editor for this paper? It so often reads like a hipster clique's chatroom log.
Posted by Basic Journalism Standards on September 23, 2010 at 8:43 PM · Report this

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