Right now, South Lake Union is fucking surreal. I spent Saturday night wandering through Paul Allen's if-you-build-it-they-will-come real estate experiment. I watched a short film on the neighborhood, which predicted the future and told me who it was being built for (not me, apparently). I walked in the shadow of thousands of new, largely unoccupied, condos, and even snuck into an unlocked one for a self-guided tour. Hardly anyone was out and about, which was creepy. When the S.L.U.T. rolled by, it looked as lonely as Seattle Center on a winter day. I felt like I was in a petri dish, and such manipulation put me in a mood for strong drink. Stix Billiards & Brewery is one of the many SLU businesses that staked an early claim, enduring scant business until the customers move into those crisp dwelling units. On this Saturday night, the bar was only one-quarter full, but the service was exceptional, and so was the brew. The Cut Throat IPA was surprisingly balanced and smooth, with a bold hoppy nose, a fruitiness that touched the back of the throat, and a trace of warm bread. The Rack 'Em Red, being nutty and amber-colored, threw me off guard, but was no less excellent. Still, when it came time for a second round, I returned to the IPA. Considering its size, Stix, like SLU in general, is expecting far more patrons eventually. I know Paul Allen didn't picture me when he envisioned his ideal SLU resident. But like Hunter S. Thompson said: "Good people drink good beer....Bad people drink bad beer." With Stix firmly in place, SLU might not turn out so bad after all.