Something about cool, grey, misty climates makes people crave beer. Or maybe it’s that the nearby Yakima Valley produces 73% of the United States’ hops. Yeah, that’s probably it.
There are a ton of breweries all around Washington State, hell the entire Pacific Northwest for that matter. And though Seattle might not quite get the buzz like our sister to the south, Portland, the beer up here is just as good. And as a Portland native living in Seattle, I’ll give myself some authority on the topic.
When it comes to Seattle breweries, there are two main areas where most breweries set up shop: Ballard and Georgetown/SODO. Both neighborhoods have an industrial feel, making them ideal for breweries to set up shop. Ballard is more established, and Georgetown is more on the up-and-coming (gentrifying?) side.
Both of these neighborhoods have the best breweries in Seattle proper, so your best bet is to pick one of those areas and do a bit of a beer crawl.
Below are some of the best breweries in Seattle I’ve come across thus far, but consider it a running list as I continue to drink my way through Seattle. It’s hard work, but someone must do it.
I’m going to start off the list by cheating a little. Technically Great Notion is from Portland, BUT they have two locations here in Seattle, one in Ballard and one in Georgetown. They started off as predominantly making sour beers. Still, nowadays, they are serving up some of the most inventive and wild beers you’ll ever have. Great Notion has smoothie-style beers that essentially taste like a boozy Jamba Juice, stouts that taste like pancakes, maple syrup, and coffee, and sour beers that taste like blueberry muffins. If you’re more of a traditional beer enthusiast, their hazy IPAs are incredible as well.
Regardless if they are originally from Portland, Great Notion is one of the best breweries in Seattle.
Juice=Juice – IPA, Imperial / Double New England / Hazy
This Ballard brewery is seriously cool. They are predominantly farmhouse/Saison style, using locally foraged ingredients in their beer. They also use some creative techniques, like aging the beer in amaro or whiskey casks.
Their taproom in Ballard feels like a modern farmhouse, with a rotating selection of food trucks and events, so be sure to check out their calendar. Oh, and their label artwork is beautiful as well.
Adelaide with Cherries – an oak-aged adambier with cherries
One of the most well-known Seattle beer makers, Reuben’s Brews, is a famous Ballard brewery that always has great things on tap. They have some mainstays, such as the famous Hazelicious, and the taproom has a rotating selection that will keep you on your toes.
The brewery has ample outdoor space, but it is pretty popular and often requires a wait.
Hazealicious IPA – Tropical fruit notes, in particular passion fruit, sit on a soft & pillowy body. The stars of the show are the big, bright hops with restrained bitterness providing balance.
Fremont brewery is a destination, probably one of the most well-known Seattle breweries and neighborhoods nationwide. Their taproom has a great inside/outside space, perfect in warmer weather and large groups. If you’re checking out the Fremont troll or just wandering the neighborhood, Fremont Brewery is worth a pit stop.
Pro tip: get some fish and chips from the nearby Pacific Inn Pub; you won’t regret it.
Disco Wolf – Hazy double IPA
Right around the corner from Rueben’s Brews is Lucky Envelope. Serving up “culturally inspired beer,” this Ballard brewery has some wild seasonal beers. Come here to find brews such as the Cinnamon-Orange Black Tea Sour or a Peanut Butter Cream Stout.
Peanut Butter Cream Stout – Real peanut butter infused with cocoa, coffee, and light roast flavors of our cream stout. Lactose and flaked oats add a smooth creaminess to balance out bold dark malts creating a perfect beer to enjoy year-round.
Up there with Great Notion, Cloudburst makes some of the most inventive beer you’ll find. Located next to Pike Place Market, it’s a great respite from the tourist madness. They are always dreaming up new stuff there, so the tap list is changing.
Also, their can artwork and beer names are just fantastic.
Nom Nom For Us – Mmm David! This Imperial Stout is just…YUMMO. It was first aged in a Buffalo Trace oak barrel! AND THEN, it was aged on whole Marionberries from Sidhu Farms (Puyallup) and Madagascar Vanilla Beans
The tagline is “The art and science of beer,” which certainly fits Stoup. Another Ballard brewery, close to some of those already mentioned, Stoup, is an excellent stop on a Ballard beer crawl. They offer a range of beer varieties but probably lean more Northwest IPA-centric.
NW Red – Our Northwest Red Ale provides a distinctly Northwest hop character balanced with a restrained malt sweetness. We use 2 Row barley along with Best Maltz Red X to create a rich, red color and a smooth, satisfying taste. A hint of chocolate seals the deal.
Located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, Optimism has one of the best ambiances on the list. The space is massive, honestly. So it’s good for large groups and you probably won’t need a reservation. Their beer runs the gamut from farmhouse style to hazy to some nitro stouts, so you can please any type of beer drinker. They also have crowlers to go, which is pretty fun.
B.E. Juicy – Notoriously hazy, this New England style IPA has explosive fruit flavor without the bitterness. If you don’t know, now you know. 6.5%
Conveniently located next to the Georgetown Great Notion outpost, Lowercase shouldn’t be missed. They have a couple of fantastic staples and a rotating seasonal selection.
Mexican Lager – Modeled after its cousins south of the border… a lighter brew with loads of taste.
There might not be a beer more ubiquitous in Seattle than the great, Bodhizafa. This is THE classic West Coast style IPA that you can find in virtually any bar in Seattle and for a good reason.
Aside from the Bodhizafa, they have legends like Manny’s Pale Ale or the Lucille IPA and really something for everyone.
Bodhizafa – Darn tasty IPA
There you have it, the best breweries in Seattle. If you’re looking for something a bit boozier, I got you covered there too.