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Originally published June 13, 2012 at 5:32 AM | Page modified June 13, 2012 at 6:13 AM

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LCD screens announce the multitude of brews at The Pine Box on Capitol Hill

The Pine Box on Capitol Hill offers 33 taps of lagers, ambers, porters, IPAs and Belgian-style ales, lining the bar wall for all the beer geeks to gawk at.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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When your new bar was once a funeral home in another life, you can either go cable TV-extreme style-makeover or you can have fun with it. By the bar's name, The Pine Box, it was obvious the owners opted for the latter.

The name is a play on its location (corner of Pine Street and Melrose Avenue). The bar top and furniture are made from cabinets that were used to store urns. Booths are made from church pews.

"We were brainstorming, and we didn't want it to be macabre ... but it's so easy to run wild with" the funeral-home theme, said Ian Roberts, one of the owners of The Pine Box. Roberts is the former general manager of the stellar Brouwer's Cafe, and the influence of that Fremont beer mecca can be seen here — 33 taps of lagers, ambers, porters, IPAs and Belgian-style ales, lining the bar wall for all the beer geeks to gawk at.

Capitol Hill has some beercentric joints such as Stumbling Monk and Elysian Brewery, but none on the scale of The Pine Box, which rotates tap handles at a dizzying pace. The printed bar menu? The waitress looked at me like that was so 2010.

There are LCD screens above the bar with a posted beer list. I was also informed that if I couldn't read the screen, I could search The Pine Box's webpage on my smartphone for the updated tap list. (There's a printed beer menu, but it's not current because the bar goes through so many kegs every day.)

There are up to five IPAs on tap, along with two dozen other brews from around the West Coast and from Germany, England and Belgium to satisfy finicky patrons. Looking for a creamy brew with toffee notes? You've come to the right place. A sour beer? You've also come to the right place.

The happy-hour food — pizzas and simple appetizers such as an antipasto plate — are solid but not noteworthy. It's all about the beer.

The Pine Box wasn't the first bar to occupy this former funeral home. The previous tenant was a cocktail den called The Chapel, which Roberts categorizes as "the closest thing to a German disco this side of the Rhine."

So maybe a funeral-home theme bar doesn't sound that bad after all.

The Pine Box, 1600 Melrose Ave., offers happy hour daily from 3-6 p.m. with $8 pizzas and $1 off on appetizers and draft beer (206-588-0375 or www.pineboxbar.com).

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

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