I'd never heard of Collins Pub (526 Second Ave) until I saw a tweet during this year's Seattle Beer Week that it was the beer world's equivalent of a mic drop. The Pioneer Square bar announced they'd be tapping kegs of Cascade Brewing's 2010 Spiced Apricot Sour and Russian River's 2010 Supplication Sour, incredible beers that are hard enough to find in a bottle from this year's vintage. Collins Pub getting eight-year-old kegs of both is like Indiana Jones finding the Sankara Stones in the Temple of Doom. I don't know what the Collins Pub owners had to do to get those beers, but I'm thankful they decided to share them with Seattle.
And even when it's not Seattle Beer Week, the pub keeps great beer flowing through their 20 taps. On a recent visit, I had a Herdsman Apricot Farmhouse from Dirty Couch Brewing that had sharp tartness like a Flander's Red Ale, and a Punch IPA from Skookum Brewing that was hazy and soft on the palate with notes of white grape and citrus.
Collins takes $1 off their draft beers between 4 and 6 pm Monday through Thursday, and their happy hour includes a selection of food, like a house hummus plate for $7 and pulled pork sliders for $8.
This expansive beer hall in White Center (9801 16th Ave SW) has quickly become the go-to spot for craft beer fans on the southern edge of the city. Beer Star not only has 48 taps of amazing beer, but it's also home to Southside Pizza, which sells whole pies or pizza by the slice, and Lil Woody's, a casual burger joint.
Beer Star's extensive tap list covers a whole gamut of styles and local breweries, including frequent appearances from Holy Mountain Brewing, Urban Family Brewing, and Breakside Brewing. Between 2 and 4 pm Monday to Friday, full pints are $1 off.
There's plenty of room to hang out under the beer hall's gabled ceilings and watch one of the flat-screen TVs spread around the room; there's also a side deck filled with picnic tables. Or if you're just looking to get a quick happy hour pint before heading on your way, Beer Star's coolers offer a spread of six packs and bottles that rival any beer market in town.
Ballard Beer Company
Naming your bar "Ballard Beer Company" takes some guts—no mediocre bar would suffice as THE beer bar of Seattle's greatest beer neighborhood, but this Market Street watering hole (2050 NW Market St) meets its name's high expectations. The cleanly designed space has ample tables and seating—including a little patio where you can watch Ballard's endless parade of dog walkers—plus there's a huge projector screen for watching sports and, most importantly, the tap list leans heavily on beer actually made in the Ballard neighborhood.
Oh, and they have a great happy hour. Any of their 17 beers on tap cost only $4 for a pint before 4 pm, which is a steal given how good their tap list is. On my last visit, I tried Lucky Envelope's Grapefruit IPA, a crisp beer that tasted like breakfast in Hawaii and burst with grapefruit flavor. For my second pint, I got a Passionfruit Sour made by Breakside Brewing down in Portland. It was pleasantly tart, juicy, and full of tropical fruit flavors, perfect for the 85-degree day I was experiencing at the time.
If you're looking for a way to sample from a variety of Ballard breweries without marching up and down Leary Way, head to Ballard Beer Company, get there before 4 pm, and you'll save some money on the beer, too.
The Pine Box
The Pine Box (1600 Melrose Ave) is a mainstay of Seattle's beer scene, and for good reason. There's its convenient location halfway up Capitol Hill, an easy climb from downtown, or an easy descent from Volunteer Park. There's the historic charm of it being in an old funeral home, which hosted Bruce Lee's funeral in 1973. There are comfortable booths and plenty of other seating. And there's one of the best curated beer lists in the city. Their 30-plus taps always feature some of Seattle's finest breweries, consistently including hard-to-get kegs like Holy Mountain, Cloudburst, and Machine House, as well as a smattering of great out-of-state and even international beer. Plus, for whatever reason, a lot of beer from California's Firestone Walker Brewery.
Once they even had the famous Rodenbach Grand Cru on tap, a Flanders Red Ale made in Belgium that consistently ranks as one of the best beers in the world. On my last visit, I opted for Holy Mountain's Remnant Saison, bright yellow with hints of lemon, oak, and mustiness with a slightly tart finish. I could drink and think about that beer for hours.
Their happy hour is 3 to 6 pm weekdays (and 11 am to 6 pm on Saturday and Sunday), and includes $1 off every draft, pints of Firestone Walker's DBA for $4 each ($14 pitchers), and bites for $4 to $9.
Beveridge Place Pub
Even though Beveridge Place Pub (6413 California Ave SW) has been on almost every "best beer bars in America" list since 2010, because it is out in West Seattle, it's been the secret of beer nerds and the citizens of the area for too long—but let me just tell you, it's well worth the trip!
Unlike Chuck's Hop Shop, this mega beer bar has some serious specials: $1 off pints of drafts from Washington and $2 off pitchers every weekday from 2 to 6 pm (noon to 6 pm weekends). On Mondays, the deal gets better with a select group of Washington beers priced at $4 a pint and $16 a pitcher all day. If you're wary of making the trip without knowing what's on tap, just go to their website, where a list that's updated live tells you what's pouring on their 35-plus taps.
Most of my favorite Seattle breweries don't have happy hours—Seattleites don't seem to need an incentive to visit any of the city's 60 breweries. But of the two places on this list where beer is actually made, you might be surprised that Pike Brewing (1415 First Ave) made the cut. That's because despite the swarms of tourists encircling its Pike Place Market location and the mountains of beer kitsch inside their bar, locals should be visiting this landmark brewery.
Pike Brewing opened in 1989 and it is still locally owned (unlike some of the city's other craft pioneers—cough, Elysian, cough). Send some cash to the local guys by hitting up "hoppy hour"—4 to 6 pm Monday through Friday at the original downstairs restaurant and bar, the Pike Pub, where you get $1 off pints and $4 off pitchers, and 3 to 6 pm every day (and 9 pm to close every night) at Pike Brewing's fancy upstairs gastropub, Tankard & Tun. You can get deeply discounted eats at both, too.
Even if Pike Brewing isn't the hippest brewery, they nail the classic craft styles. Their Pike Stout has big roasted malt and chocolate flavors, a balanced bitterness, and the smoothness that all stouts should have. Even at 7 percent alcohol, it's still not too heavy to split a pitcher of it.
The Yard Cafe
A visit to the Yard Cafe in Greenwood (8313 Greenwood Ave N) means some difficult decisions for a beer geek. They don't have the biggest tap list in town, but their 18 rotating beers usually include some of the hardest to find in the country. A recent visit yielded a tap list and next-up list that included Tillamook's De Garde Brewing, Italy's Birrificio del Ducato, and local favorites Cloudburst Brewing and Holy Mountain Brewing. I have literally never seen De Garde on tap anywhere. I didn't even think that was a thing.
I opted for the De Garde Pale Rye Tart Saison and the Cloudburst Sorachi Not Sorry IPA. The De Garde was wonderfully juicy and tart. The Cloudburst was an amazing display of Sorachi Ace, a hop originally developed in Japan that gives this beer flavors of lemon and lemongrass and a snappy clean finish.
Happy hour at the Yard is 4 to 6 pm and 10 pm to midnight daily. It's far from a steal: You only get $1 off regular beer prices, which can be as high as $8. But when the beers are this good, a small discount becomes a great deal. And it includes some Tex-Mex small plates.
Flatstick Pub (Pioneer Square, 240 Second Ave S; South Lake Union, 609 Westlake Ave N; Kirkland, 15 Lake St, Suite 100) has all the ingredients of a bar that should not be featured on a Stranger listicle: It's a chain, it's touristy, it's cheesy, and it has a high concentration of bros. But here's Flatstick's saving grace: They sell great beer, and a lot of it.
The Pioneer Square location's basement bar has well over 30 taps of Washington-brewed beer, and all three Flatsticks feature a mini-golf course and plenty of table games. If you're looking for a fun way to pregame your next ball-sport event or just need to kill a few hours, Flatstick is a great way to do it.
Their happy hour is pretty solid, too. Pints are $1.50 off between 3 and 6 pm Monday through Friday, and you get $1 off if you bring your dog during "Yappy Hour," anytime on Sunday or between 6 and 7 pm Monday to Friday.
I drank a Hoppy Tart Saison from Rueben's Brews on my last visit. It's a collaboration between the Ballard brewery and Funkwerks, a famous sour brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado. It was dry, tart, and tasted like late summer sunshine.
Full disclosure: I used to work at Humble Pie (525 Rainier Ave S), so I am not impartial, but even if I had never been paid a dime by this wood-fired pizza spot, I would still put it on this list because it is simply one of the best happy hours in the city.
What makes this little pizza place with only a few taps such a big deal? Let me explain: First, beer and pizza is the best combination in the world. Beer cuts through the greasy cheese of pizza, and eating pizza lets you keep drinking more beer. Back and forth, back and forth.
Second, Humble Pie's happy hour allows you to have both of these things for absurdly low prices. Seattle's rent is too damn high, but Humble Pie's happy hour almost makes it okay. Between 3 and 6 pm, Tuesday through Sunday, pints are only $3.50 and an entire 14-inch margherita pizza costs a mere $6—that's less than $10 for a beer and more pizza than one person can comfortably eat in a sitting.
And while they only have four taps, they keep their beer lines filled with some of the best kegs in the city. The last time I visited, I had a pint of Seapine's Mosaic Pale Ale. It was fruity and herbal, one of the best hoppy beers made in Seattle. My friend had Stoup's Berliner Weisse, a clean and tart wheat ale that's both simple and delicious.
Bad Jimmy's Brewing
One of the greatest things about beer in Seattle is how down-to-earth craft beer is here. Craft beer on the East Coast is viewed as a specialty product, often served with an air of exclusivity and geared directly to affluent 25- to 35-year-olds. In the Emerald City, people of almost every age and economic group know and appreciate craft beer, and the best beer is often served in the least pretentious environment.
Which is exactly what Bad Jimmy's Brewing is—the least pretentious and most unrefined place to get great beer in Seattle. The warehouse brewery (4358B Leary Way NW) looks like it used to be a CrossFit gym because it used to be a CrossFit gym, and occasionally it still smells like a CrossFit gym. There are only four employees, so the guy pouring your beer is also likely the owner, brewmaster, and accountant, and the beer they pour is wonderfully unique and filled with their distinct point of view.
Most of Bad Jimmy's beers showcase additional ingredients beyond beer's basic four ingredients, with ales like the Strawberry-Mango Hefeweizen or an IPA brewed with passion fruit showing how adjunct ingredients, when used thoughtfully, can make great beer.
Their styles run the gamut with something to make everyone happy. Hit them up during their happy hour—they call it a "sad hour"—after 10 pm Monday through Thursday to get $4 pints, a great deal for handmade, unpretentious beer.