The Kenmore Oasis
There’s a little-known pitstop on the Burke Gilman. When you are making a loop around Lake Washington, right on the northern tip is little ol’ Kenmore. To its east and west are vast stretches where no brewery can be found, but right in the middle are three tightly grouped breweries that form the Kenmore Oasis. Once you are there, it’s an easy walk to each one. The hard part is getting there. It’s too far to Uber - from Seattle, you’d have to spend $30 or more to make it there. You could find a DD and convince them to brave the always heinous traffic on Bothell Way, but I think you’ll agree the best way is to get your pedals in today and ride that sweet and slender bike of yours.
The Route: Kenmore Oasis
This is a route a lot like the one from last week, the Everett Breweries. It’s just a triangle of breweries in impressive proximity to each other. It’s not hard getting from one to the others, that is easy enough. Just a short walk you can do in any order. It’s easier to park your bike at Cairn or 192 Brewing and just walk the loop since the round trip is barely over 1000 feet. No, getting there is the problem. Kenmore is basically out in the middle of nowhere except that it’s on the Route 66 of Seattle: The Burke Gilman. If you are starting from Fremont (we gotta face it, it’s the center of the Universe), then you are looking at a nice little 14-mile ride. There and back again, that’s around 2 hours of riding and, if this online calorie calculator I found can be trusted, a whopping 7 beers worth of calories burned.
Highlights: food trucks, cornhole, brightank beer, bikes
This brewery’s beer makes the strongest showing in the triad. They are new on the block (who isn’t?) but despite that, they still manage to make beer that is a cut above 192 and 9 Yard. They are a great place to start out the loop. Some of their beer is served straight out of the bright tanks and they are the only brewery in Seattle I can name that does that. As they say, it’s the freshest beer you can possibly have. I supposed you can’t argue with that, though I tend to think that you’ll have the beer before it’s ready and probably a little too fresh. Not much of a bar to speak of, but if you can snag one of the two little chairs off to the side of the bar then you can get some cheat chatting in with the lovable goofs who run the place. If not, then grab one of the big picnic tables and hang out. Grab some cornhole if it’s sunny (sorry, too late for that now).
192 Brewing Company
Highlights: huge patio, food, music, firepits, bikes
192 is the OG Burke brewery. Positioned right on the side of the trail so you cannot possibly miss its enormous patio. You ride past a fence packed tight with the bikes of people drinking inside. With live music, firepits, and its slightly janky handyman’s homemade vibe, this place is THE bike destination brewery. Their beer is fairly average, but they have real food and great guest taps to bolster their showing. Their Lucky Envelope Grapefruit IPA is a must try ;). This place is a staple of the area and absolutely worth checking out.
Highlights: arcade games, randals, old school metal, food trucks, no IPAs
9 yard is known for 3 things: randals, no IPAs, and old school metal. For whatever reason, this place has decided to, as they say, “ not participate in the hop war.” They have a huge array of fun beers, but when you are craving an IPA, this is not your place. They do serve a dry hopped pale ale, which I think gets you pretty close to an IPA, but the bartenders and brewers obviously disagree. They have something like four randals on tap at all times. A randal, if you don’t know, is basically a steeping chamber in the beer tap line that can be filled with anything, coffee, fruit, tea, so that the beer gets a chance to pick up a last-minute flavor. It’s pretty dope and lets this place serve a staggering array of flavors while brewing an average number of beers. Last, and most peculiarly, the bartenders at this place all have long hair and beards like they were plucked straight from the ZZ Top audition room. They also love to blast Metallica. It’s dope AF in there. They take the top 5 most interesting brewery in Seattle prize, no problem.
You probably never noticed Cairn or 9 Yard off the side of the Burke. As close to the trail as they are, they are eclipsed by the glory of 192 Brewing. Next time you are on the trail and craving a beer, dismount and walk two steps to pop into this hidden triad.
If these three arent enough beer for you, here's the bonus round. Pop right down the path a few more miles to Bothell to find The Hop and Hound. It's owner and chief beer guy Eric and his dog Charlie are just plain awesome. Best described as the Chuck's Hop Shop of Bothell, this place is full of heart and has a fanatic beer loving following and a patio great for hanging out all day. If you need another brewery on the agenda, then you passed Ravenna Brewing on your way here from Fremont and McMennamins is just a bit further down. Ravenna is on my Top 10 Breweries of Seattle list. McMenamins Anderson School is built in its namesake, an old middle school called Anderson. While it is a chain brewpub, is worthy of a stop if you need just one more place to drink.
Thanks for reading. #KenmoreOasis