River Brew Review: Pike Kilt Lifter

Pike Kilt Lifter

Beer: Pike Kilt Lifter (The Pike Brewing Co. in Seattle)

Location: Portage Bay and Bitter Lake, Seattle, WA

I recently took a quick weekend trip up to Seattle, WA. Unfortunately, more adventurous fishing trips in the area were out since I am nursing a broken bone in my foot. Fortunately, my companion on this journey reminded me that I own a canoe – a perfect way to get out and fish with a busted foot! (Actually a bass boat or sled would have been nicer, but since I haven’t made my first mil yet a canoe was the boat of the weekend.)

Once we had arrived in Seattle important decisions needed to be made: First, where were we going to fish; and second, what were we going to drink? Both decisions were of equal import, especially since it is too early for warm water fish to really be moving about and you can’t really get a downrigger on a canoe very well. In other words, the chances of us actually catching fish were pretty slim so the beer had better be good!

The first day we set out on Portage Bay between Union Lake and Lake Washington. For those of you who know the area you are probably thinking to yourselves, “what were we smoking?” Well, the honest answer was that we didn’t talk to any tackle stores, we read a couple fishing reviews online and looked at a map. My recommendation to others would be to make sure you bring a motor when fishing this body of water. The water is huge and the other boats are huger. We were passed by several yachts in the 100 foot range. I liked using the canoe to surf the wake of a big boat just as much as the next guy, but after a while it just got ridiculous.

We persevered and made it through the half mile canal between Portage Bay and Union Bay on Lake Washington. Our destination was the Arboretum on Lake Washington, a shallow, hopefully warmer refuge from both the driving wind and relentless barrage of wake. The Arboretum was nice, in an urban underpass sort of way. There were a lot of birds, a badass great blue heron that was a better fisherman than either of us, and a beaver lodge. I will tell you what we didn’t find: any fish! We had been hoping that maybe the water had warmed enough to draw some bass into the shallows, but no dice. Luckily we had made a stellar beer choice: we were drinking Pike Kilt Lifter, a Scotch Style Ruby Ale from The Pike Brewing Co. in Seattle.

Pike Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale

When choosing the beer for our fishing trip we only had two requirements: that it be a local beer and… well, I guess that is just one requirement. Out on the water I used my handy dandy Tie-One-On Nail Knot Tool to open the beers and presto whammo! Let the good times roll! The Kilt Lifter has the smooth caramelly taste that you expect from all Scotch Style ales, but to that it adds a slightly fruity flavor. The beer is fairly sweet and has a very nice finish with a slight nutty aftertaste. The Kilt Lifter packs a stronger than average punch since it is 6.5% Alc/Vol. and all that kick was needed as we battled defeat and rogue waves to get back to the put in. The thing that I liked best about the Kilt Lifter was its smoothness. You think you have just started your bottle of beer and you find that it is gone – very easy drinking for what I think of as a heavy Scotch Style ale.


On Sunday we set out to show that not only does the Kilt Lifter comfort you in defeat it would also help you celebrate a victory on the water. In an attempt to catch the first fish of the year from the canoe we headed to Bitter Lake, a small urban lake in northwest Seattle. The lake was much, much smaller than where we had been the day before and it had the added bonus of recently being planted with 2,000 rainbows. Sounds like a recipe for success, eh?

We parked at the Bitter Lake Community Center and carried the canoe through the softball field to launch – luckily no one was playing at the time. First, we probed the shoreline, hoping again that maybe some of the resident largemouth and rock bass had started making their way up to the shallows. After circumnavigating the lake with no luck we changed tactics and cast spoons and grubs while drifting around in the center of the lake. Since we didn’t have a depth finder and the water was murky enough that we couldn’t see more than 3 ft, we just drifted where the wind took us and blind casted our hearts out. Eventually it paid off. We managed to wrangle one of those planted rainbows to the canoe for a quick picture before releasing it unharmed.

Pike Kilt Lifter with Rainbow Trout

It was time for a Kilt Lifter!! The beer proved to be just as smooth celebrating as it was the day before drowning our sorrows. I would definitely recommend the Kilt Lifter for any cold early season trips.


On this weekend trip we learned that the Kilt Lifter doesn’t just lift kilts, it also buoys your spirits after a wet unsuccessful paddle. Since it only come in bottles it might not be what you are looking for if a long hike is part of your trip, but for canoeing it was just the ticket.

The Kilt Lifter has a brown/amber color, not too dark and very clear.

The Kilt Lifter has a sweet, nutty slightly caramelly smell

The beer hits all the right parts of my tongue, being fairly sweet, but having a deep, thick flavor. The carbonation is minimal and really allows the flavor to blossom as you drink.

I like scotch ales in general and the Kilt Lifter in specific. It is heavy and smooth like most scotch ales, but to me seems a bit crisper and not quite as creamy as the ones I have had before. I like the slight fruityness of the beer and the slightly sweet clean finish.

Beer Stats:
Original Gravity: 1.064
Alc/Vol: 6.5%
IBU: 27
Brewery Location: Seattle, WA

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