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Big city, small beer: Seattle

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Noble Fir

Seven charming Emerald City spots that make Seattle’s booming beer community feel close-knit.

By Tyler Guthrie

Fremont Brewing

Adjacent to the “center of the universe” in Seattle’s funky Fremont neighborhood, this warehouse brewery and urban, kid-friendly beer garden has quickly become the nucleus for the area’s socially conscious residents. In the taproom, bleacher seats and a 16-foot-long communal table made from reclaimed barn wood by a local artisan bring strangers together. In the brewery, longtime environmentalist Matt Lincecum and his team use Washington-grown barley and hops to brew beers that directly support American troops in need, organic hop research and other worthy causes. But what keeps Seattleites in Fremont’s orbit are limited-release, barrel-aged bottles like The Bourbon Abominable winter ale and the Kentucky Dark Star imperial oatmeal stout, which sell out in days and rarely make it beyond city limits. With a warehouse soon to be stocked with more than 400 whiskey and wine barrels, these rarities may slowly start making their way beyond the taproom fridge.

Black Raven Brewery

When Beaux Bowman opened this small suburban watering hole in 2009, drinkers on the east side of Lake Washington finally got a beer destination to call their own. Now, its hard-to-find Wisdom Seeker double IPA (known ’round here to give Pliny the Elder a run for its money) and annual bourbon-barrel-aged beauty La Petite Mort make Black Raven one of the best reasons to cross the lake.

The Wurst Place

Local 360

Never the same place twice, this beer garden/sausage emporium rotates its menu of (mostly) locally made sausages fast, and its 23 taps even faster. Formerly an outdoors store, the wood-clad South Lake Union space just needed some gnome statuettes and elbow grease; now, it’s the perfect nook to cozy up with an elk-cheddar-jalapeño link and a fresh-from-Bavaria Maisel’s Weiss.

Schooner Exact Brewing

Since setting up shop in an industrial loft five and a half years ago, this onetime nanobrewery in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood has gone micro after developing an impressive reputation for brewing unique house IPAs for restaurateurs like Seattle icon Tom Douglas, plus its own Yakima-hopped delight, 3 Grid IPA. Head to Schooner’s tasting room to try the regulas, or dip into creations from the innovative sour barrel program.

Bluebird Microcreamery and Microbrewery

One of the city’s newest breweries is one of the easiest to overlook, being stuffed into the diminutive basement of a Greenwood ice cream shop. A two-barrel system turns out ice-cream-friendly beers that serve as fodder for floats (think smoked porter over scoops of maple) and bases for new ice creams like chocolate and coconut porter.

Local 360

You can’t walk an Emerald City block without spotting a “sustainable” eatery, but this Belltown farm-to-table restaurant takes the concept to new heights, sourcing 90 percent of its ingredients from within a 360-mile radius of the city. Naturally, the bottles, cans and drafts hail from close by, too, and the house Local 360 Lager is brewed by Alpine Brewing in Oroville, Wash. Occasional beer dinners showcase the delicious brew of regional favorites, including Odin Brewing and Hopworks Urban Brewery.

Noble Fir

Seattle’s thirsty explorers can take down a local pint and plot their next global adventure at this Ballard Avenue pub. Noble Fir pours an eclectic mix of regional drafts—think Snipes Mountain Vernita Brown and Tieton’s bourbon barrel-aged cider—and houses more than 300 local, regional and international travel books, laminated trail guides and atlases.


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