10 Neighborhood Breweries to Try This Weekend - Seattle and Beyond
There’s an insane number of breweries in Seattle and in any given neighborhood, it can be hard to know which one to try first. In my world it’s not a matter of only having time or attention for one brewery, it’s just a matter of prioritization, you see. Having been to all of them, I feel qualified to tell you what’s what. This is a continuation of last weeks post where I cataloged the densest neighborhoods in Seattle. This week, we expand the search a little bit to hit some of the areas that must begrudgingly refer to themselves as suburbs of Seattle as well as some of the surrounding cities. Perhaps not surprisingly, breweries exist outside of Ballard! Here we go.
The blowout victory in this region is Flying Bike. It’s bike-themed for one, so it gets major points from me on that. What makes it stand out is that it is a co-op brewery. They decide their beer recipes by hosting internal homebrew competitions where members of the brewery submit their experimental recipes. Members vote on major decisions and then their head brewer, the beer industry vet Kevin Forhan drives them home. The result is a brewery with huge community involvement and a wildly varying beer menu that has been crowdsourced for better or for worse. They will be serving a couple of these beers at the Gigantic Bicycle Fest in a couple weeks! They also have a podcast episode on Washington Beer Talk here. Oh, and you can still join in and become a member of the co-op.
Wallingford is a beer desert, so you have to expand it widely to the east to get a few samples of breweries. It doesn't take long until you crash into Floating Bridge. A young brewery that combines that delightful brewery Smell by sitting among the fermentors with consistent brews and shuffleboard. It’s not the easiest to reach via bike sitting firmly on top of a hill, but it’s not the worst either since that hill is pretty close to the Burke.
Hellbent Brewery is home to a wide open tap room. Tons of games upstairs and tons of big, comfy living room style seating downstairs. They boast a strong number of guest taps from local breweries in addition to their own delectable selection. Their patio game is strong too with tons of seating for when the weather is perfect. Usually, a food truck joins the scene, which is my preferred way to eat when out drinking. This place beats out nearby Elliot Bay but only because I am biased against brewpubs. If you can rely on your food to make you money, then your beer must not have to be that good.
Giving just a single prize to Woodinville is almost a crime. It’s got a ton of breweries and the competition here is fierce, so it maybe deserves two. I think I gotta give it to Sumerian, though with 3 new breweries opening in the area since I started this post it may have to give up that top spot soon. Sumerian is a pretty big brewery and their taproom shows that off. Set in the industrial playgrounds of Woodinville, it’s got space for a parking lot patio and cornhole. Their Narcissist IPA is my favorite IPA in the city, though it’s hard to know if it is really that good when my body is raging with thirst and endorphins from the long bike ride along the Burke and Sammamish River Trails to reach the place.
Kenmore is home to brewers row, three breweries within a single block. Of these three, the cream of the crop is Cairn. It’s the newest to the scene and already has the best beer by a long shot. Something about the place has a very comfortable vibe. While the other spots on the block have an endearing divey quality to them, this place seems to be cultivating the beer garden persona. Long tables, lots of light, tons of bike parking, and a parking lot patio pull this place together. Plus it’s where I met the Washington Bikers and Beer Drinkers for the first time. A possibly life changing moment!
Edmonds - Kingston
These two areas are connected by that ferry so I’m counting them together. There are a ton of breweries in this region and my favorite among them is American. Something about the front door to the place makes it feel like you are sneaking in backstage. The place is pretty small, so tables, fermentors, and shuffleboard are all jammed in there as tight as possible. Stare enviously at the mug club wall, where the contributions of founders are flaunted in front of you in the form of their oversized pours.
Black Raven. There is a ton of competition in this area but Black Raven takes it. They brew tons of top-tier beers many of which you can actually buy in stores which is a rare feat for breweries these days. Their enormous taproom has a whole forest worth of wood in it. Maybe it’s my memories of skipping work to hang out here back in the day that makes this place so special, but I’d be willing to put money on the good beer too. Insane IPAs like the Trickster are a go to when I encounter them in the wild. You can’t go wrong.
This one is an easy one. Chainline Brewery is another bike-themed brewery so they would also get a default victory in my biased mind, but no! They also have the sickest Pilsners in the land. They feature an old world copper brew house that they say is ideally suited for pilsners. I’d give a little more credit to their amazing brewers, but in any case, they must have some secret sauce for making the most refreshing beer. While this brewery blows out the Kirkland neighborhood competition, it would also be a solid contender for best in the whole Seattle-ish region and is possibly my favorite on this whole list. They are easy to reach via bike too, just a hop off the 520 bridge trail and the Cross Kirkland Corridor trail. And guess what? They are also serving their beer at the Gigantic Bicycle Fest and they have a podcast episode on Washington Beer Talk.
Everett is an insanely tough call! Lots of breweries up there and the race is close, but I have to give it to the one with the little doggy tap handle - Middleton. Their dog just lives in the wall and has his own little tap handle and it’s just so cute I could die. Of course, their beer is good too and they blend them together like it’s no one's business. Blending beer is an art form that I think is very underdeveloped so someone should get on that. Consolation prize to my friends at Lazy Boy and Crucible who both also manage to foster fantastic vibes at their respective breweries and make the South Everett Beer Triangle a bike and brew destination via the Interurban trail.
I know we are getting a little far from Seattle now, but it would be absurd of me not to mention Snohomish. The beer scene here is going insane with 6 breweries in this tiny town, that is almost one brewery per person living there. Of those 6, my fave is Scrappy Punk. It’s tiny and as scrappy as its name implies. Likely the smallest brewery in the state, it features seating for 8 in, what, like 400 square feet? You can’t even get studios apartments in Seattle that small. This place serves up about as much attitude as it does beer and I can’t get enough of it. They also happen to have a podcast on Washington Beer talk which you can hear here!
10 neighborhoods, 10 breweries to try next. There is so much to drink and so little time. Next time you are out on the town visiting a friend in a distant hood of Seattle, now you know the place to go. Do you agree with my assessment? Did I forget your neighborhood? Weigh in in the comments here or on Facebook.