5316 Ballard Ave NW, 206-420-7425
The Noble Fir is a beacon of chill amongst the crazy mass of bars in Ballard. Yeah, it can get busy just like the rest of them, but its simple interior—with shelves of books to borrow and big windows to gaze out at the scene on Ballard Avenue—makes it one of my favorites in the area.
And with $1 off drafts during their happy hour (4–6:30 p.m. Tuesday–Sunday), it can be a slightly more affordable place to drink craft beer in the heart of Ballard. I tried Holy Mountain Brewing's Kiln & Cone on a recent visit, a hazy orange pale ale bursting with aromas of juicy hops and then a much more subdued piney flavor. Its bitterness was balanced and made it an extremely drinkable.
415 Cedar St, 206-448-9991
The city would riot like it's 1999 if the 5 Point Cafe in Belltown ever went out of business (or, more likely, if a developer came in and bulldozed the building). Our love for the 5 Point is not just because it supposedly has been serving alcohol since Prohibition. This divey diner is open 24 hours, it's centrally located in the shadow of the Space Needle, and it's ridiculously cheap during its two happy hours.
The Five Point has a breakfast happy hour from 6 to 9 a.m. on weekdays, with six breakfast combos under $5.25, and an afternoon special from 4 to 6 p.m., with six dishes for less than $4. Combine those food prices with their alcohol specials—craft beers are only $3, shitty macro beer is only $2, and well drinks are $3.50—and you suddenly have a reason to get drunk at 6 a.m. on a Wednesday.
Five Point's tap list looks like a greatest-hits playlist of Seattle and Northwest craft beers. Georgetown Brewing's Manny's Pale Ale and Roger's Pilsner are always on, and a rotating cast of other Seattle beers makes it easy to please discerning craft-beer drinkers.
1415 First Ave, 206-622-6044
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 60 breweries. But there's one place on this list where beer is actually made on-site, and it's Pike Brewing. 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 their weekday happy hour, 4–6 p.m. Monday through Friday, where pitchers are $14 and pints are $5. 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.
310 Terry Ave N, 206-971-0717
Tom Douglas's beer hall in South Lake Union has all the things you would expect: exposed-brick interiors set against large windows and a skylight, food served in cast-iron skillets, various bar games, and a 30-beer tap list that showcases some of the best breweries in Seattle. The price range is geared toward the techies working in all of the new glassy buildings surrounding it, but there are a couple ways to enjoy the place on a budget. During happy hour (Monday–Saturday 4–6 p.m. and Sunday–Thursday 9 p.m.–midnight), one beer is chosen every day for the "kill the keg" deal. That means its price drops down to $5 for a 20-ounce imperial pint.
"We randomly pick one beer off our list that we are looking to get rid of, either one that's seasonal or just one that we're transitioning out of," a manager told me. The tavern's beer club is also a great deal: A onetime $10 fee gets you one free pretzel, and your first pint costs only $2 every day you visit. If you frequent South Lake Union with any regularity, this will quickly pay for itself.
6413 California Ave SW, 206-932-9906
Even though Beveridge Place Pub has been on almost every "best beer bars in America" list since 2010, it's all the way 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 citizens of West Seattle 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. All draft beers from Washington are $1 off pints and $2 off pitchers every weekday from 2–6 p.m. and from noon to 6 p.m. on the weekends. On Mondays, the deal gets better, with a select group of Washington beers priced at $3.50 a pint and $14 a pitcher all day. If you're weary of making the trip without knowing what's on tap, just go to their website, where a list updated live tells you what's pouring on their 35+ taps.
8313 Greenwood Ave N, 206-588-1746
A visit to the Yard Cafe in Greenwood 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 beers in the country. On a recent visit, their tap list and next-up list 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.
Happy hour at the Yard is every day, from 4 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight. It's far from a steal: It'll only get you $1 off the regular beer price, 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. 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.
4915 Rainier Ave S, 206-858-6328
Back in the 19th century, oysters were a cheap, working-class food. They were stacked in huge piles along the New York City waterfront and the poorest of the poor could afford them. Overproduction and increasing demand brought us to where we are today, when one oyster (a somewhat insignificant amount of food) can run you $6.
At least until Salted Sea opened in Columbia City last year, bringing the world's greatest oyster happy hour to Seattle (3–5 p.m. every day and 10 p.m.–midnight Thursday–Saturday). Each bivalve will run you just $1 during the restaurant's two happy hours, provided you purchase a beverage. With four to five local drafts that cost only $4 during happy hour, this is truly an amazing deal. It's never been easier to act like Don Draper and casually say, "Should we get another dozen?"
I stopped by during their late-night happy hour on a Thursday and ordered the Rat City Roller Girl IPA by Burdick Brewing. It's a chewy, orange, easy-drinking IPA, and proceeds from the sale of it go to RCRG's youth programs. I ordered a dozen oysters (Minter Sweet Selects from Gig Harbor) and they were small but plump and meaty. After finishing the IPA, I switched to a Reuben's Brews Porter and ordered another dozen.
507 15th Ave E, 206-328-3120
Hopvine is a pub in the true sense of the word. It's not just a place with a few booths where you can get beer; it's a drinking establishment connected to its community. Grab a seat at the bar, and you'll hear bartenders having real conversations with people, and regulars on their way out visiting three different tables to say good-bye. I am not a regular at Hopvine—no one knows my name here—but I still get those warm familial feelings when I stop by. And with a well-curated tap list, there are plenty of great craft beers from around the region to get excited about.
Hopvine's happy hour gets you $4 pints and $5 small plates, and it runs every day from 5–7 p.m. On my last visit, I opted for pFriem Family Brewers Pilsner, a delicious lager from the popular brewery in Hood River, Oregon. It had the perfect balance of mellow sweetness and cleaning bitterness, with hints of honey and lemon.