Full Throttle Bottles
Bottle shops have always played an important role in Seattle's craft beer revolution. Stores like Bottleworks (Wallingford), Stumbling Monk (Capitol Hill), and Chuck's Hop Shop (Ballard and Central District) have spent decades improving Seattle's collective beer palate by exposing drinkers to amazing beer. Georgetown's Full Throttle Bottles (5909 Airport Way S) is a relative newcomer to Seattle's bottle shop scene, but they haven't wasted any time bringing in an incredible selection of local and imported beers, both in bottles and on 12 taps.
This mix is what makes shops like Full Throttle beautiful: You get to taste the best local beers while seeing how they stand up against out-of-town breweries. Among the current noteworthy offerings are a hazy IPA from Seattle's Mirage Beer Company, a tart mixed culture beer from Portland's Culmination Brewing, and a dry saison from Quebec's Brasserie Dunham.
No traditional happy hour here, but the beer at Full Throttle tastes a little bit better between 11 am and noon, when the shop celebrates the German day-drinking tradition of frühschoppen (sharing a midday drink with friends), with $1 off every beer on tap.
College Inn Pub
The best college bar in the University District, the College Inn Pub (4006 University Way), need not be reserved for the undergrads. The low ceilings, plentiful booths and tables, and wraparound bar give it a comfortable ambience for people of any age.
Visiting this underground dive feels a bit like taking a trip back in time, as it's situated in the basement of the historic Ye College Inn, built in 1909 for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition taking place at the nearby, then-newly-built University of Washington campus. The English Tudor–style building is now one of the few on the Ave that remain from the era. And their happy hour deals are plentiful: $1 off drafts and $5 wells between 3 and 6 pm on weekdays, and all day Sunday. The College Inn has a solid tap list that regularly features Chuckanut Pilsner, giving you a nice hoppy lager bier reason to visit this landmark.
Though it looks unremarkable from the outside, pull open the big wooden door at Brouwer's Cafe (400 N 35th St) in Fremont, and you'll find yourself in the middle of a medieval dungeon of fucking amazing beer. The light is low, there's a second-floor cabaret-style balcony looking onto the entire first floor, and behind the bar sits 64 taps and refrigerators filled with that aforementioned beer.
Though it's only about 15 years old, Brouwer's feels like a beer monastery, likely because their amazing Belgian beers are served with such reverence, the whole place feels religious. They take their beer seriously here, and while sour and tart Belgians dominate the menu, Brouwer's also serves some of the best lager and IPA in the city.
Visit during their daily happy hour (3 to 6 pm), when all those expensive beers are $1 off and Brouwer's amazing pommes frites (crispy Belgian-style french fries) are only $3.
If Brouwer's is the stodgy parent of Seattle's beer scene, showing us how and where to drink and appreciate fantastic beer, then the Masonry is the irreverent, cheeky cousin slyly getting you to chug Solo cups full of rare lambic at your grandfather's funeral. The Masonry has fantastic beer, and they just don't give a fuck about anything else.
This pizza-and-beer place in Lower Queen Anne (20 Roy St) and Fremont (730 N 34th St) serves amazing wood-fired pies, natural wine, and show-stopping beer. The guy behind the Masonry, Matt Storm, has an unnatural ability to persuade the best breweries in the entire country to send him kegs of their exceptional beer. Brews by Monkish (Los Angeles), Half Acre (Chicago), Burial (North Carolina), Jester King (Texas), and E9 (Tacoma), to name a few, are regularly served up at both locations. Plus, the highly acclaimed Jolly Pumpkin makes the Masonry's house beer, the dry and earthy Turbo Bam.
Drinking all Masonry's world class beer doesn't come cheap, so hit up their daily happy hour (2 to 5 pm at the Lower Queen Anne location; 4 to 6 pm at the Fremont location), where you can get discounted pizzas and small plates, $5 on select beers, $9 wine, and 10 percent off bottles.
I'd never heard of Collins Pub (526 Second Ave) until I saw a tweet during last year's Seattle Beer Week that 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 its 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 draft beers between 4 and 6 pm Monday through Friday, and their happy hour also includes a selection of food, like a house hummus plate for $7 and pulled-pork sliders for $8.
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 between noon and 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 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, for good reason. There's its convenient location halfway up Capitol Hill, an easy climb up 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's 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, and a slightly tart finish. I could drink and think about this beer for hours.
Their happy hour is 3 to 6 pm weekdays, 11 am to 6 pm 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, it's out in West Seattle, which might explain why you've never heard of it. It's been the secret of beer nerds and the distant denizens 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 State 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 from their 35-plus taps.
Pike Brewing Company
Most of my favorite breweries in the city don't have happy hours—Seattleites don't seem to need an incentive to visit any of the city's multitude of breweries. But of the places on this list where beer is actually made, you might be surprised that Pike Brewing Company (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 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 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 Monday to Friday. 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 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 dude-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-game or just need to kill a few hours, Flatstick (240 Second Ave S.; 609 Westlake Ave N; and 15 Lake St., Suite 100, Kirkland) provides a great way to do it.
Their happy hour is solid, too. Pints are $1.50 off between 3 and 6 pm Monday through 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.