Seattle Brewery Guide

Seattle Brewery Guide

Seattle is filled with unique neighborhoods and breweries.  I frequently hear people ask, “What is the best brewery in Seattle?”  To answer that question, I scoured every neighborhood in search of great beer, visiting over 30 breweries in Seattle and the surrounding metro area.  I hope this guide helps you discover Seattle’s great breweries and the tasty local brews they produce. Cheers!

Hale’s Ales Brewery & Pub Beer + food
Hale’s, founded in 1983 in an area between Fremont and Ballard, was the first craft brewery in the region to introduce seasonal, cask conditioned, and nitrogen conditioned ales.  Cool building and pub, but perhaps past their prime as I find most of their beers to be average.  Bright spots include their world-class Kölsch and tasty Cream Stout. 4301 Leary Way NW, Seattle

Hilliard’s Beer Beer only (+ food trucks Saturdays)
Hilliard’s Beer is a new brewery in Ballard that opened in October 2011.  This is one of the cooler brewery taprooms I have visited and is home to perhaps the most comfortable bar stool in Seattle.  Hilliard’s is filled with a nice, 5-seat bar, several smaller tables, concrete couches and 2 enormous wood spool tables that each seat 10.  Hilliard’s is currently canning 2 beers, Amber and Saison, in 16 oz. tallboys.  The Amber is very good, although extremely hoppy for the style.  The Saison is a great-looking and tasting brew that is spot-on for the style. They have some additional beers available on tap: Regimental Scottish Blonde, Cast Iron Stout, and Hils Pils.  Visit on a Saturday and you can get some grub from food trucks such as Skillet, Where Ya At Matt and Snout & Co. 1550 NW 49th Street, Seattle

Maritime Pacific Brewing Company Beer + food
Ballard’s Maritime Pacific, founded in 1990, opened the adjoining Jolly Roger Taproom in 1997. Cool taproom with plenty of bar seating.  In the hoppy Pacific NW, Maritime stands out with solid maltier beers including its Flagship Red Alt and Old Seattle Lager.  Make sure to try the Jolly Roger Christmas Ale, if you visit during the winter months, or one of the 3 cask ales on tap. 1111 N.W. Ballard Way, Seattle

Capitol Hill
Elysian Brewing Company Beer + food
If you feel like tasty food and beer in a great brewpub atmosphere, look no further than Elysian. Founded in 1995, The Elysian now boasts 3 locations: the original Capitol Hill brewery, TangleTown near Green Lake, and Elysian Fields, a gigantic venue (the oval bar alone seats 50) near the stadiums. Elysian Fields is far superior to Pyramid for pre or post-game libations. Their year-round beer lineup has no clear superstar, but all are very solid. Elysian is also known for its world-class pumpkin beers and hosts the Great Pumpkin Beer Festival annually in October. 1221 E Pike St, Seattle

Downtown Seattle
Elysian Fields Beer + food
See full listing under Capitol Hill.

Pike Pub and Brewery Beer + food
The Pike Pub and Brewery, founded in 1989, is located near the namesake Pike Place Public Market.  Founder Charles Finkel has created a microbrewery museum on the walls, and the cool, multi-leveled pub is worth visiting just to see the venue.  Beers are solid, but nothing spectacular.  Malt lovers must try the Kilt Lifter or Tandem.  If you like drier, bitter beers, most of their other lineup will surely satisfy. 1415 First Avenue, Seattle

Pyramid Brewery & Alehouse Beer + food
Located right next to Safeco and the Century Link, Pyramid is the most convenient option for a pre- or post-game meal and libations.  Their flagship Hefeweizen, an American wheat ale (no banana or clove flavors here), is refreshing but nothing special.  Perhaps more exciting is their new Ignition Series lineup: Super Snow Cap and Discord Dark IPA are nice options for those looking for something more complex.  Pyramid has also started brewing again at this downtown Seattle location, which should spice up the lineup. 1201 First Avenue South, Seattle

Fremont Brewing Beer only
It is hard to believe Fremont just began brewing in 2009.  Located in the self-proclaimed “Center of the Universe”, Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Fremont Brewing has skyrocketed to the top of the Seattle craft beer scene.  Their Urban Beer Garden consists of a huge picnic table built on beer kegs and cool old school couches with a view of their shiny fermenters.  It’s a great community atmosphere conducive to striking up a conversation with other thirsty revelers, many of whom are drinking a pint and getting a growler to go.  But what really makes the brewery is the beer:  The Interurban IPA is one of the top examples of the style in Seattle, and the Universal Pale and Summer (Solstice) Ale are both crisp, refreshing and very tasty.  Fremont has also mastered darker brews, including the delicious Kentucky Dark Star Imperial Oatmeal Stout and Abominable Winter Ale.  And Fremont can really kick things up at beer festivals with the likes of Kentucky Dark Star Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Oatmeal Stout and Bourbon Abominable (Bbomb).  You can now find Bourbon Abominable deliciousness in a bottle each winter.   Fremont can do no wrong. 3409 Woodland Park Avenue North, Seattle

Georgetown Brewing Company Samples + Growlers
Georgetown, which moved to a new location in 2010, blends into its namesake industrial neighborhood with a grand entrance made of rusted steel I-beams.  While there is no food or pints here, they will gladly offer you tasters (they’re free!) to help with your growler or keg purchase.  Their sweet retail taproom, which includes a massive bar counter and a glimpse of the brewery, merits a visit. But what really makes Georgetown special is they pump out huge volumes of stellar craft beer kegs to be enjoyed at your local watering hole.  The ubiquitous Manny’s Pale Ale is on tap virtually everywhere in Seattle, but keep an eye out for the equally delicious Lucille IPA and Georgetown Porter.  Donkey Deux Belgian Dubbel and Bob’s Brown Ale are two must-try seasonals. 5200 Denver Ave S., Seattle

Greenwood / Green Lake
Baron Brewing & Pillagers Pub Food + beer
Baron, founded in 2003, specializes in German-style beers, so you might guess their taproom location would feel like a German beer hall or beer garden.  You would be wrong.  Baron’s taproom, Pillagers Pub in Greenwood, features a pirate-themed atmosphere, perhaps to match sister brewery Three Skulls Ales.  Both Baron and Three Skulls Ales are on tap at Pillagers Pub.  Look for Baron’s bacon beer on tap, which tastes like a bacon cheeseburger in a glass.  The crowd at Pillagers is usually sparse, and for good reason: Naked City is across the street. 8551 Greenwood Ave N, Seattle

Elysian TangleTown Beer + food
See full listing under Capitol Hill.

Naked City Brewery & Taphouse Beer + food
Established in 2008 in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle, Naked City began as a tap house and then added their own beers to the mix in 2009.  The end result is 24 incredible taps including Naked City beers and rotating Washington and regional craft beers.  This is a unique place that manages to attract and impress beer geeks and families alike. 8564 Greenwood Ave N., Seattle

Epic Ales Beer + food
Founded in 2009, Epic’s Cody Morris brews the most unique beers in Seattle.  It’s possible you will either love or hate his beers, brewed with ingredients such as shitake mushrooms, peppercorns, and epazote.  A visit to the tiny tasting room in SoDo, which currently has 3 bar stools, provides an opportunity to sample 3 rotating beers and chat with the personable Morris.  The space was also recently expanding to house the Gastropod, a beer and food pairing collaboration with chef Travis Kukull.  Gastropod serves up 2 small plates on Saturdays paired with 2 Epic beers (currently on Saturdays 10-2). 3201 1st Ave S., Seattle

Emerald City Beer Company Beer only
Emerald City, located in the Old Rainier Brewery building, was founded in August 2010 by two UW alums. The Beer Lab, which features a nice long wood bar, leather couch and tables, has 6 beers on tap with a focus on American Lagers.  Flagship Dottie Seattle Lager, made from barley and hops grown right here in Washington State, is a solid, malty lager.  Whiskey Lager, Dottie aged for 2 months in Dry Fly whiskey barrels, has a cult following, and for good reason. Regular lineup also includes Betty Black Lager and Ivana Pale Lager (IPL).  The brewery takes a unique marketing approach by using a different pin-up girl on each of their beers, which are hand-drawn by an artist in Baltimore.  Definitely worth a stop on your SoDo brewery tour.  3100 Airport Way S., Seattle

Schooner EXACT Beer only
Founded in 2007, Schooner EXACT has quickly grown from nanobrewery to it’s much larger current operation in SoDo.  The family-friendly tasting room has plenty of seating at the bar, along with a nice outdoor seating area.  Their regular lineup, all very solid, is highlighted by 3-Grid IPA, an excellent choice for Hopheads seeking their citrus hop fix, and King Street Brown, bigger and bolder than your average brown ale.  I anticipate big things from these guys in the future, such as their new barrel-aged sour program.  I’ve had some sour samples straight from the barrel and they are tasting fantastic. 3901 1st Ave South, Seattle

Two Beers Brewing Co. Beer only
SoDo’s Two Beers has the philosophy that life’s a little more honest after two beers.  They have grown considerably and recently doubled the size of their production brewery and tasting room. The tasting room is especially good to hit during nice weather, when tables line the sunny loading dock.  I’m going to be honest here:  My palate finds all of their beers very average.  Cool website though.  Not a destination, but worth a stop if you’re in the area. 4700 Ohio Ave S., Seattle

South Park
Odin Brewing Company Appointment only
Odin Brewing Company’s tagline is “The Most Adventurous Brewery in America”.  They are certainly well on their way, having avoided the typical Pale Ale/IPA/Amber/Stout lineup of a Pac NW brewery.  They even released a “bacon beer”, Smoky Bacon Ale, which made some waves in 2010.  Established in 2009, Odin is a lean operation currently focused on pumping out kegs for distribution to bars and restaurants throughout Washington.  They will still fill growlers, but the tasting room is technically open by appointment only.  Their core lineup of Freya’s Gold Kolsch, Odin’s Gift, an ale brewed with juniper berries, and Odin’s Pearl, a Belgian Witbier, are all quite tasty.  I was blown away by their Thor’s Equinox, a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, which was arguably best in show at the Seattle Craft Beer + Food event.  It was complex and a very impressive Belgian-style from a Washington brewery.  Looking forward to more gems from Dan Lee and the Odin team. 9130 15th Pl. S. Suite F, Seattle

University District
Big Time Brewery & Alehouse Beer + food
This University District brewpub has been crafting fine beer and serving tasty food since 1988.  Prime Time Pale Ale (2011 bronze medal winner at GABF) is their best year-round beer, but always some interesting specialty brews on tap.  Do not miss Old Sol Wheatwine in the summertime or Old Wooly Barleywine, released each winter on December 1. 4133 University Way NE, Seattle

West Seattle
Big Al Brewery Beer only
Big Al is located in White Center, in the south end of Seattle just north of Burien.  Beers can be enjoyed in the small tap room or the concrete patio out front, which regularly features bands on stage.  Or head upstairs to play darts and hang out on comfy couches.  Year-round lineup is solid, but middle of the road.  However, Big Al puts out some very interesting seasonal and one-off beers.  LÖWMAN BRÄU, which was on tap throughout West Seattle in summer 2011, was a very tasty and refreshing Kölsch.  I have also really enjoyed Hop Villain Black IPA, Sourlicious, and Ume Goma Supai (Flanders Red).  In the winter, they make a mean barleywine, Ol’ No. 1. 9832 14th Ave SW, Seattle

Elliott Bay Brewing Co. Beer + food
Elliott Bay has locations in West Seattle (since 1997) and Burien (since 2007) and opened a new location in Lake City in 2012. Great atmosphere to chill out at the bar or a dark wood booth.  Fantastic food, especially the burgers, outshines the beer, but still a solid list of taps.  Standouts include B-Town Brown, Demolition Ale and their Coffee Stout on nitro.  Family-friendly. 4720 California Ave SW, Seattle (plus 2 additional locations)

The Eastside
Black Raven Brewing Co. Beer only
The Eastside’s Black Raven, brewing since 2009, has been the rockstar of Washington breweries the last couple years.  Located 15 miles East of Seattle in Redmond, Black Raven has a slightly bizarre location in a suburban office park.  But don’t judge, all is good inside.  Thirsty Redmond office workers and regulars munch on complimentary peanuts and pretzels while relaxing at sturdy wood tables.  Black Raven brews some of the best and most interesting beers in Washington.  Highlights of their year-round lineup include Trickster IPA and Second Sight Strong Scotch Ale.  Their Wisdom Seeker Imperial IPA, occasionally on tap, is phenomenal.  Black Raven also excels at brewing up special treats for their taproom and festivals, so don’t hesitate to try any casks or seasonal taps. 14679 NE 95th ST, Redmond

Issaquah Brewhouse Beer + food
Located in historic downtown Issaquah, the Issaquah Brewhouse opened in 1994 and was acquired by Rogue Ales of Newport, OR in 2000.  The 36 taps feature Issaquah, Rogue, and Guest beers, and you will have no trouble finding something you like.  If you enjoy sweeter Belgians, make sure to try the Menage A Frog (Belgian Tripel) or White Frog (Belgian Wit). Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown Nectar and Shakespeare Stout are also extremely good. 35 W. Sunset Way, Issaquah

Mac & Jack’s Brewing Company Samples + Growlers
Redmond’s Mac & Jack’s, brewing since 1993, is purely a draft beer operation, with their retail store offering up kegs, growlers and merchandise.  Not a destination, but certainly a fine place to get your growler filled. When I first moved to Seattle years ago, I considered Mac & Jack’s African Amber a top example of Seattle craft beer.  My palate has since moved on to other things, but Mac & Jack’s remains a draft staple in restaurants and bars throughout Seattle.  I’ve had mixed results with some of their other beers. 17825 NE 65th St., Redmond

Redhook Brewery and Forecasters Pub Beer + food
Redhook, which celebrated its 33th birthday in 2014, moved to Woodinville in 1994, having outgrown previous locations in Ballard and Fremont.  Beer geeks may turn up their nose at Craft Brewers Alliance-owned Redhook, but they still offer the best deal in town: daily tours for $1; and that includes 5 tasters!  They also offer casino-night private events in the upstairs banquet rooms, which make for kickass corporate outings.   The Forecasters Pub, a large, lodge-like setting, is perfect for having a pint.  The beers may not be inspiring, but all are solid and have a wide appeal.  Best beers are their flagship ESB and Long Hammer IPA, a 44 IBU IPA on training-wheels. 14300 NE 145th Street, Woodinville

Snoqualmie Brewery & Taproom Beer + food
Heading East for skiing, hiking or wine country?  Or just looking for some good beer?  The new and improved Snoqualmie Brewery & Taproom is worth a visit.  The 2011 expansion added a mezzanine level and doubled the seating capacity.  The Steam Train Porter is best in class.  Black Frog Stout (on nitro) and Wildcat IPA also deserve your attention. 8032 Falls Ave, Snoqualmie

Kitsap Peninsula
Silver City Brewery Beer + food
Located on the Kitsap Peninsula in Silverdale, Silver City Brewery was established as a brewpub in 1996.  You can either drive around the water via Tacoma or take your car on the Bainbridge ferry and continue driving to Silverdale (which conveniently takes you through the brewery mecca of Poulsbo on your way).  Both ways take about an hour and a quarter from Seattle.  Located next to a mall, Silver City Flagship Restaurant is more of a gathering place for elderly folks and families than beer geek central.  The food is very good, so the old people may be onto something.  They do some fantastic big malty beers such as Copper Mountain Bock, Ridgetop Red and the must-have Fat Scotch Ale.  Silver City really brings their A-game to festivals with gems such as Fat Woody Bourbon Oak Aged Scotch Ale, Whoop Pass Double IPA, Le Fat and Punk Rauchen.  You can now taste beers and avoid the old people by heading to the newly-opened taproom in Bremerton. 2799 NW Myhre Road, Silverdale

Sound Brewery Beer only
Take your car on the 30-minute ferry to Bainbridge and continue another 20 minutes by car to Sound Brewery, one of 4 breweries that have sprung up in Poulsbo during 2011.  The taproom area includes 3 round cherry-wood tables and some additional seating at a long bar on the side.  When I visited on a Tuesday, the tasting room was a bit of a sideshow for the workers, who were busy with their brewing duties, but the service was fine.  I love what Sound is doing because they are making completely different beers than most other Washington breweries.  Sound sets itself apart by making some big, 9-10% Belgian-inspired beers.  Be on the lookout for stellar Sound brews on tap such as Monk’s Indiscretion, Dubbel Entendre and Humulo Nimbus.  I’m fully expecting these guys to skyrocket to the top of the local beer scene very soon, if they’re not already there. 650 NW Bovela Ln, Suite #3, Poulsbo

North Seattle
American Brewing Co. Beer only
American, located 17 miles north of Seattle in Edmonds, just opened in 2011.  I wasn’t sure what I was getting into walking into their unassuming entrance in the rear of the building, but the inside was a pleasant surprise with a nice big L-shaped bar with sports on 2 large flat screens.  There is no kitchen, but snacks are available for purchase or you can order in a Garlic Jim’s pizza.  Breakaway IPA, Caboose Oatmeal Stout and Ed’s Red are all very solid beers. With longtime brewer Skip Madsen at the helm, I’m looking forward to trying more beer from these guys. 180 West Dayton Street, Edmonds

Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro Beer + food
Located 90-miles north of Seattle in Bellingham, Boundary Bay is well outside the Seattle metro, but is worth a visit.  Boundary Bay, in business since 1995, operates a 17 barrel brewery in a restored historic 1922 warehouse in downtown Bellingham, across from the Saturday Farmers Market.  Multiple rooms are filled with mismatched wood tables and chairs and there is often some live music being playing.  Great service and extremely good food.  Their IPA and Imperial IPA are top-notch, but you also can’t miss with their Scotch Ale, Old Bounder Barley Wine or Dry Stout. 1107 Railroad Avenue, Bellingham

Diamond Knot Brewery & Alehouse Beer + food
Diamond Knot’s Flagship location, located near the waterfront in Mukilteo, has a bit of a scary external appearance, but don’t be afraid.  The nautical-themed interior has high ceilings, plenty of character and is filled with over a dozen red barstools, several tables and peanut shells on the floor.  Sure, there are several beer styles on tap, but you must go for the IPA and the kicked-up Industrial IPA, their specialties. 621A Front Street, Mukilteo (plus 3 additional locations I know of)

Foggy Noggin Brewing Beer only (+ an occasional food truck)
Jim Jamison has been serving up Foggy Noggin beers out of his garage in Bothell since 2010, and now has a loyal following of Fog Noggers who love their Fn beer.  The nanobrewery is in a residential neighborhood, but it’s a spacious lot and there are plenty of tables and chairs in the driveway to relax.  Foggy Noggin’s cool because, in addition to being an incredibly small operation, they are doing something different than every other brewery in the Pac NW.  Fn specializes in English style ales that are produced on a very small ½ barrel system.  Their flagship beer, Bit O’Beaver, at 3.4% ABV is the ultimate session beer.  You may recall Bit O’Beaver making an impressive run to the WA Beer March Madness Final Four in 2012.  You’ll always find Bit O’Beaver on tap here, along with Christmas Duck, a nice porter, and rotating seasonals such as Diablo del Sol and Kastrated Dawg.  Be on the lookout for the delicious Anniversary English Old Ale, released annually in March. 22329 53rd Ave SE, Bothell

Scuttlebutt Brewing Company Beer + food
Scuttlebutt’s new location, opened near the Everett marina in April 2011, is bright and modern with plenty of booths and a large outdoor seating area.  Not sure why, but taster tray was pulled off menu, although bartenders will give you a free 2oz taster.  If you like sweeter beers, you will be pleased with their nice Tripel 7, Belgian Winter and Porter. 1205 Craftsman Way, Everett

Airways Brewing Company Food + beer
The next time your wife sends you to IKEA, make a 5 minute detour South to Airways Brewing.  Airways was founded in Kent in 2010 and recently added a second location, Airways Brewing Beer & Bistro in downtown Kent.  Their standard lineup includes T-Tail Blonde Ale, Jet City ESB, First Class IPA, Starliner Stout, and Sky Hag Imperial IPA.  Of the 3 I’ve tried, the ESB and First Class are very good and the Sky Hag is phenomenal, perhaps one of the better Imperial IPAs in the state.  The newer Beer & Bistro also boasts 8-10 interesting guest taps from other Washington breweries.  I would consider their standard lineup a bit too standard for a new brewery, but looking forward to trying some special beers from these guys in the future. 6644 S 196th St., Kent

Fish Brewing Company Beer + food
Located 60 miles south of Seattle in Olympia, Fish is a lively brewpub filled with plenty of locals.  The “Fishbowl” is a bit dated, but comfortable.  Standard lineup can be a bit light on flavor, but seasonals such as Mudshark Porter, Starfish Imperial Red, Winterfish and 10 Squared Barleywine are pretty good.  Overall, an average brewpub. 515 Jefferson Street SE, Olympia

Harmon Brewing Co. Beer + food
Located next to the University of Washington Tacoma campus, Harmon’s wait staff and clientele are on the younger side.  Due to the university location, parking is hit and miss.  The low-lit brewpub is filled with exposed brick, numerous wood tables and a long 15-seat bar.  Great atmosphere and a nice place to have  a beer.  The Puget Sound Porter is roasty, chocolatey and very good.  The Brown’s Point ESB and Point Defiance IPA are also quite solid. 1938 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma

Trade Route Brewing Company
I first became acquainted with Trade Route at the Washington Brewers Festival in 2008 when they were known as Laughing Buddha Brewery.  They changed their name in response to a trademark dispute and also moved the brewery from Seattle to Pacific, WA in 2009.  The taproom is located off of 167 south of Auburn in an industrial area filled with parked semi trucks.  It’s pretty nice inside, with a large L-shaped bar and a few flat screen TV’s filled with sports.  Their original beers were Asian-inspired, but they seem to be all over the board now, with a lineup that includes an IPA and a rauchbier.  The Ginger Pale Ale, one of their original flagship beers, is their best and goes perfectly with spicy pad thai.  Their Mango Weizen is a perfect in summer if you like fruit beers.  The rest of their lineup is pretty average, including Hoppy Bitch IPA, which doesn’t quite live up to the great name. 1091 Valentine Ave, Pacific

Having lived in the Pacific Northwest his entire life, Jeff understands and delivers a different perspective about politics. Even though many may disagree with his language and writing style, you can't debate his passion for the Seattle area and his committment to a better society.

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