422 Yale Ave N, 206-340-2528
The vast majority of Seattle's craft beers are ales, with lagers filling a tiny minority of taps across town. This is a shame—if you think of lagers as light and uninteresting, then you need an education in German beer. Traditional lagers can be as dark as a stout and as alcoholic as a barley wine, they can be as spicy as an IPA or as malty as an amber. Unfortunately, Seattle's craft brewers rarely make anything other than pale summertime lagers, so we need to look to imports to really explore German bottom fermentation.
Luckily for us, we have South Lake Union's Feierabend, a German pub and restaurant that imports 18 different German beers, most of them lagers. Try the Ayinger Doppelbock, a smooth and malty lager with notes of raisin and coffee, or the Grevensteiner, a hazy unfiltered lager with caramel and bready malt flavor and a snappy hop finish.
Discovering the world of lagers via imported beer at a South Lake Union locale can get pricey quick, so head to Feierabend between 3 and 6 p.m. every day for their happy hour. You'll get $1 off selected drafts—not an amazing happy hour but understandable given these kegs have been flown from Germany. You can also get a range of German plates for less than $7.
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 bulldozed the building). Our love for the 5 Point is not just because it has supposedly been serving alcohol since Prohibition: This divey diner is open 24 hours a day, it's centrally located in the shadow of the Space Needle, and it's ridiculously cheap during its two happy hours.
The 5 Point's breakfast happy hour (6 to 9 a.m. on weekdays) offers a half dozen breakfast combos under $5.50. There's also an afternoon special from 4 to 6 p.m. with six dishes for less than $4. Combine these prices with their alcohol specials—craft beers are $3, shitty macro beer is $2, and well drinks are $3.50—and you suddenly have a reason to get drunk at 6 a.m. on a Wednesday.
1415 First Ave, 206-622-6044
Most Seattleites avoid Pike Brewing like the plague, but don't let the mountains of beer kitsch and constant crowd of tourists streaming into the place fool you. There's no reason to leave this downtown gem to the out-of-towners. Their beer is well made and authentically Pacific Northwest. Drink their IPA or pale ale and you'll get a taste of what Seattle beer was like in an era when pale didn't mean aggressively hopped. Both beers have the pleasant spiciness of hops but are far less bitter than pale ales made in Ballard. Their pale even ends with a light sweetness instead of the palate-wrecking astringency you might be used to.
And Pike Brewing makes it easy for hardworking locals to hit up their First Avenue brewpub, with a happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. every weekday at both their original downstairs restaurant and bar as well as their fancy new upstairs gastropub, Tankard & Tun. Downstairs, happy hour gets you $1 off pints and $4 off pitchers, as well as access to a handful of pub food options under $10. Upstairs, at Tankard & Tun, happy hour gets you $1 off beers, $2 oysters, and entrees for $10.
2050 NW Market St, 206-783-0179
It takes some guts to declare that your bar is the beer company of Ballard, but this Market Street watering hole meets its name's high expectations. The space is cleanly designed and features ample seating, including a little patio where you can watch an endless parade of dog walkers. There's a huge projector screen for watching games, and, most importantly, the tap list is full of beer actually made in Ballard, Seattle's greatest beer neighborhood.
And they have an outstanding happy hour. Any of their 17 on tap beers cost only $4 for a pint before 4 p.m., a steal given the high quality of their tap list. On a recent 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 had a Passionfruit Sour made by Breakside Brewing in Portland. It was pleasantly tart, juicy, and full of tropical flavors. Perfect for an 85-degree day.
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 p.m. and you'll save some money, too.
6413 California Ave SW, 206-932-9906
Even though Beveridge Place Pub has been on almost every list of the best beer bars in America since 2010, it's all the way out in West Seattle, which explains why you've never heard of it. Let me tell you: It's worth the trip.
This mega beer bar has some serious specials. All draft beers from Washington State are $1 off pints and $2 off pitchers every weekday from 2 to 6 p.m. and from noon to 6 p.m. on weekends. On Mondays, the deal gets even 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, their website will always tell you what's pouring from their 35-plus taps.
1600 Melrose Ave, 206-588-0375
The Pine Box is a familiar staple of Seattle's beer scene, and for good reason. Located an easy climb from downtown or an easy descent from Volunteer Park, the Pine Box is housed in a building that was once a funeral home known for hosting Bruce Lee's funeral in 1973. With comfortable booths and plenty of room, the Pine Box has one of the best-curated beer lists in the city—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 beers. They recently 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.
Their happy hour happens daily from 3 to 6 p.m., and it gets you $1 off every draft or a pint of Firestone Walker's DBA for $4.
On my latest visit, I opted for Holy Mountain's Remnant Saison, a bright-yellow beer with hints of oak and a slightly tart finish.
240 Second Ave S, 206-682-0608; 15 Lake St, Suite 100, Kirkland, 425-242-1618
Flatstick Pub has none of the ingredients you might expect from a Stranger best-of listicle: It's a chain, it's touristy, it's cheesy as fuck, and it has a high concentration of bros. But they also sell great beer and a lot of it.
The basement bar in Pioneer Square has more than 30 taps serving Washington beer, plus a nine-hole mini golf course and plenty of table games. If you're looking for a fun way to pregame before kickoff, or you just have a few hours to kill, Flatstick is a great place to do it.
Their happy hour is pretty solid, too. Pints are $1.50 off from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and you get $1 off if you bring your dog 6 to 7 p.m. during the week or any time on Sunday.
I drank a Hoppy Tart Saison from Reuben'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.
525 Rainier Ave S, 206-329-5133
Full disclosure—I used to work at Humble Pie. 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 has one of the best happy hours in the city.
What makes this little pizza joint such a big deal? Humble Pie's happy hour gets you both beer and pizza at an absurdly low price. From 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, pints of beer are only $3.50, and an entire 14-inch margherita pizza is a mere $6. That's less than $10 for a beer and more pizza than one person can comfortably eat in a single sitting.
While they have only four taps, they keep their beer lines filled with some of the best kegs in the city. On a recent visit, I had a pint of Seapine's Mosaic Pale Ale, 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.
4358-B Leary Way NW, 206-789-1548
Bad Jimmy's Brewing Co. is the least pretentious place to get great beer in Seattle. This warehouse brewery along Leary Way looks like it used to be a CrossFit gym because it used to be a CrossFit gym (and occasionally still smells like it). There are only four employees, so the guy pouring your beer is also likely the owner, brewmaster, and accountant—and the beer he pours is wonderfully unique, with ales like the strawberry-mango Hefeweizen or an IPA brewed with passion fruit.
Their styles run the gamut and there's something to keep everyone happy. Hit them up during happy hour—they call it "sad hour"—after 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday to get $4 pints. It's a great deal on handmade, unpretentious beer.