With a pet population famously surpassing its kid population, Seattle's drinking landscape understandably features a healthy selection of dog-friendly bars. One of our favorites, Norm's in Fremont, even earned a spot on USA Today's list of America's 10 best pet-friendly venues. But while neighborhood options abound, West Seattle Brewing Co. has earned particular renown among dog-lovers, drawing huge crowds (of both canine and human varieties) to their second outpost, the Tap Shack on Alki, which itself transforms into a dog park on weekends.
That's not to say their hops aren't top-notch—they are. Just last November, the house pilsner snagged a people's choice–type award from Brew Seattle, beating out scores of other Washington State brewers. Nor are the beachfront digs any stranger to fame. According to first-customer-turned-operations-manager Chris Alatorre, the building itself earned a 1970s-era nod in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the site where the world's longest sandwich was produced. Over the years, it transitioned into a pizza kitchen called Slices.
West Seattle Brewing Co. opened up shop here during the summer of 2016. They got to work updating the space in keeping with their family- and dog-friendly ethos, all under the watchful eye of co-owner/founder Drew Locke's German shepherd mix, Jack. This involved updating the sprawling patio with water bowls and "signature seating"—essentially a slim sandbox area bearing Adirondack chairs with pint-sized cup holders near the sidewalk—and posting a repurposed dog-park sign on one wall.
Though popular with patrons of both species, the sandbox area holds particular appeal for dogs, who aren't technically allowed on Alki's sandy beach. On one recent visit, a dog owner had his hands full trying to drink beer while keeping his dog from gleefully digging. Other dogs clearly relish the opportunity this prime sidewalk location affords to mingle with canine passersby.
"We wanted to make it inviting and friendly, but we also wanted to keep that same luster of what used to be there," says Alatorre, describing how the Alki location—despite its primary focus on craft beer—decided to keep serving pizza, á la Slices, to preserve those community ties. Efficiency was another key consideration, he says, describing a pay-at-the-bar system, such that the line might stretch out the door (and it frequently does), but everybody can still get their beer, cider, or wine within five minutes.
"We're just simple, humble—nobody came from money," says Alatorre of his team's commitment to providing a quality community brewpub.
The beer is made at the brewery's flagship Fauntleroy location, nearer to the West Seattle Bridge, which encompasses a larger food and drink menu, including growlers. But the Tap Shack still offers a rotation of signature house favorites, including the smooth Avalon Amber, the stronger Sounders Stout, a crisp South Sound IPA, and the refreshing West Pale Ale, which is basically made for all-day drinking.
Along with enviable beachfront views, this boutique operation—which has been on winter hours lately but reopens full-time in mid-April—further prides itself on fresh beer, quality pours, and a relaxed vibe.
Which explains why beer-swilling dog- lovers flock here in the summer months.