Seattle is great for a weekend getaway. For the sports enthusiast, the city has the Seahawks and Mariners. For music fans, Seattle has a vibrant music scene and is the birthplace of the scrappy grunge genre and has tons of music venues and record stores. This port town percolated the counter coffee culture and is key in fermenting America’s craft beer culture. This city has an almost endless array of historic and celebrated brewpubs, taprooms and beer cafes. There’s a lot to drink in Seattle, so let’s get started.
The logical place to begin is where it all started: The Pike Brewery and Pub. Pike’s owner Charles Finkle, besides being a proud wearer of the bow tie, is a respected writer, brewery owner and founder of America’s Craft Beer Revolution. The man has even spoken at the Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum. The Pike Brewery glows in the copper gleam of its classic steam-run gravity brewhouse that is visible throughout the pub. For those who would like to learn a little about beer, Pike has a museum that traces beer’s 8,000-year history from Mesopotamia to Seattle. Can’t make it to Seattle? Don’t fret — Pike’s beers are also available in Alberta.
Brouwer’s Café’s building looks like a boring warehouse from the outside, but the griffin wall mural, an emblem borrowed from the flag of Flanders, hints you are in for a transatlantic treat. The inside of this café has the best elements of iron, wood and glass stolen from Antwerp, Belgium art nouveau architect Victor Horta. From its beautiful wooden bars to eye-catching glass coolers to its giant horseshoe railing of handcrafted wrought iron that graces the upper balcony, this café is stunning. The establishment specializes in “Cuisine a la Biere,” but it is the beer menu here that will take your breath away. If its 62 different beers on draft aren’t enough liquid entertainment, ask for the bottle menu. You’ll read about 400 assorted beers, 80 different single malts and a growing selection of bourbon. You may find it hard to leave this place.
A beer trip to Seattle is not complete without at least one stop at Big Time Brewing Company for pints. This well-worn brewpub is within spitting distance of Washington State University. Its eight draft lines are dominated by some of the biggest India Pale Ales. University students have been hanging out here since 1988 as it is one of Seattle’s oldest brewpubs. My first visit about 10 years ago could be best described as “big buxom babes with big buckets of beer.” Now that is an adult film title if I’ve ever heard one. My wife and I were awestruck during that visit. Sadly, a lot has changed since then — you’re not allowed to drink from jugs anymore and they removed the shuffleboard table that I loved so much.
If the Beveridge Place Pub was in Calgary, it would be my dogs’ and my local hotspot. This dog-friendly west Seattle pub offers it all: board games, foosball, pool, darts and, most importantly, shuffleboard. This pub has 32 taps of the Pacific Northwest’s best brews, a homey atmosphere and an expansive bottle list for more than enough liquid entertainment. A beautiful hand-carved Brunswick bar is where you get a glimpse of liquid ecstasy. On our last trip we caught this place during their “Barleywine Bacchanal!” whereby the draft selection offered two dozen barley wines. This place is as memorable as its beer list.
For those travelling by air to Seattle, Horizon Air offers direct flights from Calgary with an added bonus. Each month, a different West Coast brewery is featured as part of the flight. On three different flights, I have tried three different brews. Seattle’s Sea-Tac airport also offers the best reason I have found to get to the airport extra early — it has a number of brewery taprooms and good beer bars allowing you to “fly well” before you fly.