The 15 Seattle Breweries You Need to Visit ASAP
Whenever the topic of Seattle vs. Portland comes up -- yeah, we know, it's not like there's even a debate about this -- people from the PDX constantly claim their city's better 'cause they've got most breweries in the county. But now, thanks to a semi-recent study, we can finally put an end to that nonsense.
At 174, Seattle has the most beer-makers of any city in America. What’s up now, Portland?! But this fact creates some issues: how can you keep track of ‘em all? Let alone decide which are the best? Well, why don't you just kick back and let us do that for you?
Scientifically crafting some of Seattle's best beer
Stoup's beautifully balanced beers have made it a local favorite, and a standout (even in a neighborhood bursting with breweries) since it was founded five years ago by a chemist and a former biology teacher -- with a lil’ help from a certified Cicerone -- whose science background can be seen throughout their no-frills taproom, including the beaker-style measurement systems on their glasses. You should probably fill said glasses with their Baltic Porter -- it's the 1,000th beer they’ve made and won a silver medal at this year's North American Beer Awards -- or really any of the dozen beers they've got on tap. Except the Citra IPA. It tastes like sunshine in a glass and we don't want to share it with anyone else.
Family run brewery just named one of the 10 best in the US... For the 3rd time.
Opened in a converted warehouse by a 2012 National Homebrew Competition/2013 US Open Beer Championship winner, this Kickstarter-funded taproom is serving some seriously delicious small-batch suds, all of which are posted on a stat board listing things like price, ABV, IBU, and OG, which is the likely culprit if IBU ends up in the ICU. OMG! If all of that sounds too complicated just take our advice and go for one of their awarding winning year-round offerings, like the American-style Crikey IPA, or the Robust Porter that harkens back to Reuben's homebrew roots.
Washington's best small brewery of 2018
The word "populuxe" is a portmanteau of the words "popular" and "deluxe", which are exactly what the homebrewers behind Populuxe Brewing want their nano-suds to be when they first opened in a tiny blue house over five years ago. Well, they certainly got their wish, moving into a 4000-sqft space next to the original one, and increasing production to the point they've gone from "nano" to just "small" -- a category for which they won 1st place at this year's Washington Beer Awards. Their beers rotate regularly, but look out for refreshing American Blonde, or the Beer Snob Brow, which they playfully named after one of the regulars at their taproom.
Offbeat beers from an off-the-beaten path brewery
I swear this relatively unheralded brewery didn’t make this list because it's like, a half-mile from my house. It made it 'cause they're serving interesting, often distinctly European-style beers with Northwest ingredients -- try The Lady, a juicy and floral sour, or if you're feeling really bold, the 11% abv Time Crises, a triple with notes of papaya and lemon -- all from a utilitarian taproom in an industrial park just South of the Ballard Locks.
Outdoorsy beers in a South Seattle industrial park
Opened after an argument settled over guess how many beers (hint: name of brewery), this SoDo brewer makes a selection of year-round beers and close to a dozen other seasonals on shelves/in bars throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, Vancouver, BC, and Michigan (sure ok cool), as well as from its rough-hewn taproom, The Woods. A room presumably named after a place you probably go wandering around after one... or two... beers -- starting with, if it's the right time of year, their Fresh Hop IPA, or their Ascension Triple IPA, which is pretty much the definition of a Northwest IPA.
Possibly the Northwest's most popular brewery
Ahhhhh, Fremont. Center of the universe. And arguably the center of Seattle's brewing universe, thanks to its series of small-batch artisan beers made with local ingredients by a long-time environmentalist/community organizer in a very sustainable way. Highlights include the Universale Pale Ale, a distinct Northwest twist on the classic pale ale, and the Interurban Pale, which is named after Fremont’s most famous outdoor sculpture. They also brew a slew of seasonal beers and make the occasional "wonderbeer" that they only sell at its Urban Beer Garden, or UBG.
Cult favorite with a constantly changing selection of craft beers
Located in a garage that backs up to a railbed, this pristinely white/comfortably modern brewery and taproom is one of the city’s most beloved brewers, despite doing things a bit differently than most of their Northwest counterparts. They have a special focus on yeast-driven beers including saisons and farmhouse ales, and most of their brews undergo secondary fermentation, which means they’re aged until the brewers think their ready, so you’ll just have to show up and take what you can get. Happily, of course.
One of Seattle's best rooftop bars with some of its best beers
Opened in 2015, this rooftop patio-equipped space down the street from their tiny, rooftop patio-lacking original features 10 taps pouring a rotating selection seriously good brews, including a pair of IPAs, a coffee-infused porter on nitro, and an impressive variety of other styles, all of which taste just a little better each time you catch a glimpse of Salmon Bay and the Fremont Cut between the buildings, across the way from the 49-seat deck in the shadow of the Ballard Bridge.
A totally approachable place with wildly eclectic beers
Brewer Cody Morris moved on up to this sprawling space, now called Mollusk Brewing at Dexter Brewhouse. This more polished project allows you to stuff yourself with inventive versions of pub food like vodka battered fish 'n chips, or baked macaroni and cheese with a creamy three-cheese béchamel. Wash it all down with Mollusk's whimsically named beers like the Partytime!!! sour blonde ale, or the "dank" and herbal Hop Frog IPA.
Buzz-worthy beers from an experimental brewer
This zero-frills operation in a former bike shop is helmed by a former Elysian brewer who cares way more about beer than anything else (like comfortable chairs), but it's totally cool, since the result is a collection of impressively inventive small-batch beers often inspired by seasonal ingredients sourced from Pike Place Market down the street. Current highlights include a "bastardized" German pilsner called Happy Little Clouds or the EEE! IPA made with four different kinds of hops that all start with guess what letter of the alphabet...
A burgeoning beer operation with a full bar
The standard brewery has the capacity to brew hundreds of barrels, a large marketing budget, and, to be honest, a pretty generic product. Luckily for you, Standard Brewing's never had any of those things, but it does have some excellent beer. So good, that in just a few years, it's gone from a tasting room just barely big enough to a hold half-dozen customers, and making suds the same way you beat Donkey Kong (hint: one barrel at a time), to taking over the entire building and serving both cocktails and selection of sandwiches, to go with it's constantly rotating list of beers that may or may not include a summer saison fermented in oak and aged for three months, or the fruity Soft Power pale ales.
An old school brewery turning out one of Seattle's most popular beers
What would we do without our beloved Manny’s? This incredibly popular pale made for "normal people", and all Georgetown's other beers, are crafted in an industrial 'hood south of town, where they haven't opened a brewpub quite yet (or maybe ever?), but where you can drop by the brewery six afternoon's a week for all the samples you need to decide which one you’d like to take home in a growler. Now listen here, this is a pretty good move since you won’t find bottles/cans of this stuff anywhere.
Traditional English ales in the original Rainier Brewery
Machine House may have just opened a 2nd location in the CD, but it's named after a specific portion of an industrial space in Georgetown that housed Rainier way back in the day. Now they're using it to turn out cask-conditioned ales in the traditional English-style, including a surprising light Dark Mild, a Best Bitter brewed with British Crystal malts and First Gold hops, and several seasonal brews, all crafted on site by a guy who learned his trade in the Norfolk that's definitely not in Virginia. What makes these beers different is that a secondary fermentation happens in the barrels/kegs, which are stored in a cold room... like the one anyone making Norfolk jokes invariably has to face.
Quite possibly the next big thing in Seattle beer
Until a few years ago, who knew that a relatively unknown dive in this working class 'hood was turning out one of America's best burgers? Well, we did, obviously. And who knew a relatively unknown brewery in the same 'hood was turning out some of the city's best beers? Clearly, that question is rhetorical, so we'll just skip to telling you about their boundary pushing brews, like the barrel-aged Melange Deux, which just won a gold medal at the Washington Brewers Choice Awards, or their flagship farmhouse style Saison. Just don't count on finding 'em at your favorite bar -- their taproom is basically the only place to get their beers.
Seattle's perfect summer beer destination
WSB started just three years ago, and almost immediately opened a second location -- the Tapshack -- in the shingled beachside space that used to be Slices. It only has a half-dozen or so seats inside, but boasts a sprawling patio overlooking the Sound outside, featuring a deck and even its own "beach" with a row of red lounge chairs. Oh, and the best part? It still serves pizza, only this time you can pair it with the solid lineup of craft cold ones, like the smooth Avalon Way Amber with just a hint of hop, or the full-bodied Sounders Stout, though if you're watching the Sounders this season you might want to go with the Triangle Tripel (clocking in at a relaxing 8.2% ABV).
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