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Seattle, hub of beer drinking diversity

 

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Pike Brewing founder Charles Finkel toasts life in the Emerald City.

By: Stephen Beaumont

 

In her book, Craft Beers of the Pacific Northwest (Timber Press, 2011), Lisa Morrison writes, “If Portland is the cradle of the brewpub, then Seattle is the home of the alehouse.” For travelers seeking to sample from as wide a range of beers as possible, this is very good news!

 

Indeed, the alehouse – a place that specializes in presenting a variety of craft beer, usually local and most often on tap – defines Seattle so that even modest neighbourhood bars often stock a dozen or more draft beers, to the point where it becomes tricky to separate the specialist beer joint from the average corner pub.


One place that definitely falls on the “specialist” side is Brouwer’s Cafe, a Belgian-themed bar-restaurant with 62 draft taps, hundreds of bottled brews and an attention to detail that is borderline obsessive. Glasses are meticulously cleaned, draft lines are kept spotless and server beer knowledge is among the best in the west. In fact, about the only difficulty you’re likely to have with the beer at Brouwer’s is deciding what to order!

(Brouwer’s Cafe, 400 N. 35th Street)

 

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In addition to its normal business, Brouwer’s Cafe also hosts several annual beer festivals, such as the Hard Liver Barley Wine Festival, seen here.

For sheer number of taps, however, even Brouwer’s can’t compete with the downtown Tap House Grill, a place of modern design and a stunning 160 different draft taps. They’re not all craft, but with such a selection it’s unlikely you’ll even notice the more mainstream brews, unless they are what you’re looking for, of course. Down the hill and closer to the water, the Collins Pub offers a less expansive selection of twenty draft beers and three times that number of bottles, in a comfortable and inviting building constructed more than a century ago. 

(Tap House Grill, 1506 Sixth Avenue; Collins Pub, 526 Second Avenue)

 

Seattle isn’t all multi-tap establishments, though. In fact, two of the northwest’s most storied brewpubs also call the city home, the Pike Brewing Company, located in Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market, and the Elysian Brewing Company, now with three city locations. Opened in 1989, “the Pike,” as it is popularly known, has evolved from a small production brewery located around the corner from its present location into a much-lauded and rambling brewery and brewpub, with a pub-like, locally-focused menu and an always-interesting selection of ales. The more recently-born Elysian might feel more bar-meets-coffee shop in its decor, especially the Capitol Hill location, but its commitment to fine beer and food is never wavering. 

(Pike Brewing Company, 1415 First Avenue; Elysian Brewing Company, 221 E Pike Street and 542 1st Ave South and 2106 N 55th Street)

 

 

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