Drew Cluley, longtime former brewer at Big Time and an elder statesman of Washington beer, ensures brews are on point at John Howie’s Bothell complex. They accompany a vast, mostly-all-day menu. Think pancakes and breakfast poutine for brunch, rib eyes and pretzels and salads aplenty later in the day—with John Howie–appropriate levels of quality and consistency.
Staples like the complex Scotch ale and textbook IPA have seen ever-wider release over the years, but the brewery’s home base pub was enormous right from the start, a meandering series of rooms that get extra packed when there’s a game on its huge projector screens. The menu of pub standards is equally as vast, many given careful tweaks, like jalapeño poppers wrapped in strips of bacon, or full-size chicken wings with a hint of smoke to them.
The oldest surviving brewpub in Washington state has served up English-style ales, like its Coal Creek Porter and Bhagwan’s Best IPA, in the University District since 1988. Its goal has always been to serve the cheapest pints of good beer on the Ave. Good might be an understatement: Big Time has won more Great American Beer Festival medals than any other brewery in Washington. Wash it all down with pizza and calzones.
Elliott Bay Brewing’s massive brewpub on Lake City Way has a little brother next door, though “little” is perhaps a funny term for this handsome beer hall, replete with enormous murals and industrial chandeliers. As the name suggests, this spinoff project is dedicated to barrel-aged beer. Some brews are Elliott Bay standards given new character in decommissioned whiskey, gin, or wine barrels (a straightforward Luna wheat saison across the hall becomes an approachable sour after a 28-month sojourn in the downstairs aging room). Others are spontaneously fermented, but everything is big, bold, or funky, and uniformly impressive. The kitchen dispatches meat, cheese, fish, and veggie boards, plus snacks and entrees with the same elegantly hearty vibe as their environs.
The brewpub owners have a knack for slaking the thirst of undertapped neighborhoods, first opening in West Seattle in 1997, then bringing beer and pub grub to Burien and, most recently, Lake City. Kid- and adult-size regulars slide into the wooden booths for burgers and fish-and-chips, but beer is hardly an afterthought at these comfy pubs; a dozen or so of Elliott Bay’s reliable, varied creations are on draft at each bar.
The Pike/Pine brewpub (now owned by AB InBev) that helped define Seattle’s first wave of craft beer is temporarily closed for a renovation that will add new equipment and refresh the interior. Meanwhile, Elysian Fields in SoDo and the location in Tangletown remain open, offering brews both classic and experimental, and reliable bar food. (And let’s not forget the brewery taproom on Airport Way, though it doesn’t serve food.)
Beer stripped of gluten’s heft usually has distinct flavor notes of “why bother.” But Ghostfish Brewing leans into the charms of malted rice, buckwheat, and especially millet to brew various IPAs, not to mention stouts, saisons, and gose. It’s all completely sans gluten, and yet tasty enough to please traditional beer drinkers. That’s probably why you’ll see Ghostfish beer all over town, even in stadiums, but the SoDo taproom serves limited releases (apricot sour, salted caramel–coconut brown ale…) plus a pub menu that is, of course, totally gluten free.
When the erstwhile Dexter Brewhouse launched a sibling on the grounds of the former naval air station in Magnuson Park, Seattle realized the perfect alfresco drinking destination was hiding in plain sight. Outside, terraced and tabled patios almost seem like an amphitheater for those vistas of bobbing sailboats and rippling lake. Inside: straightforward food (highlights include anything that involves fried chicken) and beer by Mollusk Brewing’s Cody Morris that vaults far beyond average.
In 2017, Old Stove traded its cozy quarters on First Ave for a sprawling space in the new MarketFront wing, complete with ample patio and stunning water views to backdrop the rotating cast of accessible beers—stouts, saisons, CDA, brown ale, and, yes, always an IPA. Even better, they added sustenance that’s equal parts pretzel-bite pub grub and unexpectedly high-end fare like osso bucco and cauliflower-mushroom hash.
“Adjuncts” is the beer term for nontraditional flavors brewers can add, and they’re the order of the day at this converted Fremont house: yam ale, guava IPA, and, perhaps most famously, the peanut butter stout. The compact bill of grilled sandwiches, sausage plates, and old-timey savory pies skews far more classic.
Beacon Hill’s neighborly brewery could lure people in on charm alone: the old brick storefront, the patio with its table-size firepits illuminated by a string of lights, even a basket of blankets. Then there’s the beer, everything from the lightest lager to more scholarly styles like braggot or roggenbier. And a counter-service menu with impressive reach, from roasted bone marrow to adobo wings.
One of the stalwarts of Seattle’s craft brewing community serves solid pub fare (don’t miss the pretzel) in a rambling space that wraps around brewery operations. On tap: a mix of Pike’s classic brews, like the Scotch-style Kilt Lifter and XXXXX Stout, and less-common pours, from small-batch IPAs to Belgian-style tripels. Don’t let the beer focus fool you. This place is very kid friendly.
Outfitted with softly glowing Edison lightbulbs and plenty of seating, Redhook’s small-batch brewpub on Pike/Pine dispenses inventive creations from beer scientist (aka head brewer) Nick Crandall. Like the hazy Two Up Imperial IPA, consisting of high doses of oats and wheat, plus southern hemisphere–sourced hops: a well-rounded drink that doesn’t kick you in the mouth like its double IPA brethren. The spirit of invention extends to the focused snack and entree lineup.
Why yes, an aging strip mall in the Newport Hills part of Bellevue is home to a legit pizzeria, where oblong Roman-style pies arrive at your booth or long table on a personal sheet pan. Crusts have admirable chew, and toppings update classic parlor combos with high quality meat. Even better, Resonate brews its own beer, an accessible spectrum from kolsch to imperial coffee stout, plus a gaggle of IPAs. Bring a laptop, a baby, or your work team to take advantage of the lunch specials.
An expansion transformed Standard Brewing from a minuscule brewery into one that’s merely small, but sour, funky dimensions loom large in its excellent beer. Drinkers who don’t dig these barnyard notes can lean into the light lagers, roasty stouts, and other impeccable ales. That expansion also turned the tiny Central District taproom into a brewpub, complete with cocktails, noodle bowls, fun food specials like char siu burritos, and unexpectedly refined sandwiches (thank goodness Standard retained the heated, covered patio).