Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery
With its website tallying its multitude of owners (1,723, currently), Flying Bike is Washington’s first co-op brewery. Members buy in for $200 and can then submit home recipes and vote on others’ submissions—this is taplist by committee. The selection, then, becomes a greatest-hits compilation from Seattle’s garage and basement brewers. Stop by to try a strawberry vanilla cream ale or a Little Brown Jug brown ale, or join up and add another ballot to your voting life—this duty more flavorsome than civic.
Ravenna Brewing Co.
Is this another place, along with much-hyped Salare and Wataru, that’s making Ravenna a good destination neighborhood? Ravenna Brewing Co. is squeezed between Carl’s Foreign Car Services and someone’s house, and its picnic-tabled patio and warm, varnished-wood interior make it a charming spot for a happy hour, or a sleepy Sunday pint. Beers strike a balance between Seattle’s aleing usual suspects and fairly adventurous fare like a jalapeno kolsch.
Floating Bridge Brewing
This prototypical Seattle brewery—think exposed tanks, concrete floors, no kitchen, though not quite as many dogs and toddlers—opened quietly in July beside literary dive bar mecca The Blue Moon Tavern. Floating Bridge's beer is approachable, yet playful—with offerings like a spicy juniper bitter and a chai pale ale. And the industrial austerity is balanced with relaxed neighborhood touches: grab a board game to play at a table, or slide through a shuffleboard game.
Oh what do you do with a Belgian sailor? Figurehead is a brand new (opened September 2) brewery nestled in Interbay’s industrial sprawl, along with other harbingers of hipness—the occasional ecocondo jutting up between junk heaps. Everything about Figurehead is small—a few tables, a little patio, a six-beer list—and despite its name, it has only the vaguest suggestion of seafaring flavor. A life preserver graces the otherwise tabula-rasa walls; a barrel pedestals the pretzel bowl. The taplist is a bit English, more Belgian, with a dubbel and a Belgian IPA, but come for the patersbier—a light, sparklingly yeasty style that’s uncommon in the area, even at other Belgian-focused joints, like neighboring Urban Family.
Mollusk is the bigger, shinier, Amazon-ier reincarnation of Gastropod. The food has quieted down since chef Travis Kukull ceded the reigns in June—goodbye Nachos Picasso, hello Tillamook cheddar grilled cheese with fries. But Cody Morris’s taplist still has its eccentric élan, and newfound sprawl. Safe standards like a tavern lager and a pale ale share taps with Despair, a botanical black farmhouse ale, and Funky Roots, a parsnip sour. Seattle beer doesn't get more aggressive than this.
Cloudburst may well be the barest of our barebones breweries: visiting is like walking into a buddy’s garage, perching yourself on inhospitably small lawn furniture, and sipping his labors of love. (Cloudburst is literally a garage). But it’s well worth it, because Steve Luke’s Pike Place Market–adjacent brewery—clearly a child of Elysian, where Luke was formerly the experimental brewer—is all about play: the gleefully punning and allusive beers like Totally Oatally and Aw Shucks Oyster Stout rotate frequently on scrolls of butcher paper.
To say that, in a certain sense, Optimism is a by-the-numbers brewery probably wouldn’t come as a slight against its owners. Here you could easily talk about the Optimism interface, because owners Troy Hakala and Gay Gilmore come from software careers and they use sales data to curate their taplist—itself displayed on screens. This vast beer showroom on the corner of Broadway and E Union is a new spin on the populist brewery: eschewing even common monikers like pale ale for simple, coded names like “One” and “Check,” photos, and flavor descriptions (because “tasting notes” sounds elitist). It’s a place for those who want a brewery like a Mac store: sleek, spacious, user-friendly.
Add another to city’s growing list of Belgian-focused breweries. Sure, Perihelion has an IPA, a blonde, a cold-brew coffee ale, but they’re nestled in a nuanced list of saisons, tripels, and sours. And they actually have a kitchen, where Belgian-tinged fare—roasted bone marrow, truffle-liver mousse—shares the menu with pub go-tos like a BBQ brisket sandwich. Even if you don’t live in Beacon Hill, hop the light rail (the station is nearly across the street), sip a sour cherry black saison, and feel like a citizen of city that’s progressing handsomely beyond its downtown borders.
Four Generals Brewing
Aside from a couple nano-outfits, Renton hasn’t had its own brewery since Cedar River Brewery closed 15 years ago. But Four Generals, which opened in July, has changed that. Located in the Old City Hall and run by head brewer Ross Hudspeth and his parents Mary and Mike, the taproom is an ode to its city, with a maple bar, cedar log tables, the original 1924 brick, and even the women’s jail holding cell door, which blocks off the grain holding area. Hudspeth’s beers— like a Bavarian-style hefeweizen, a couple IPAs, and a fledgling sour program—aim at balanced quaffability.