Every October, thirsty travelers make the pilgrimage to Napa and Sonoma and other wine-centric locales to experience the magic of crush season. Now there’s a trail, which stays open year-round, for the hopheads among us. This is the first of occasional looks inside some of the country’s beer tourism hotspots — what to drink and where to stay. Here’s to the sound of frothy glasses clinking.
Washington, second to California in total number of craft beer breweries, is abuzz with beer tourism, especially in Seattle where brewery tours are nearly as popular as strolls through Pike Place Market and trips to the Space Needle. Well, not exactly, but beyond a strong regional interest in local suds there is an increasing international presence on the in-fashion tours. Though after the first few stops, after the IBU, ABV, ester production and gravity level talk has lost its edge, everyone speaks the same language.
What to drink
Pike Brewing Company opened under Pike Place Market in 1989 with a modest four-barrel custom-made copper kettle. The seasoned crew at Pike now boasts a thirty-barrel brew house that’s open for touring Tuesday – Saturday.
Beer picks: Scotch-style Kilt Lifter, Naughty Nellie Golden Artisan Ale.
Fremont Brewing Company‘s motto: Because Beer Matters. This family-owned craft brewery started brewing in 2009 — in the midst of the recession, a real passion project — and has since become what we talk about when we talk about nouveau Seattle beer.
Beer picks: Interurban IPA (year-round), whatever seasonal they’ve got on tap when you’re in town, and their barrel-aged selections are always choice.
Rueben’s Brews‘ snug taproom offers seriously artisanal beer. After winning a number of homebrewing competition awards, the owners opened Rueben’s in 2012 to ply their obsession publicly.
Beer picks: Crikey IPA, Robust Porter.
Holy Mountain Brewing is now one year old. The hottest brewery in town’s ultra small-batch releases hit fever pitch this past summer, selling out in minutes. The brewery has brought in another twenty-barrel tank to keep up with demand.
Beer picks: Whatever you can get your hands on.
Where to stay
With the city skyline behind and the Puget Sound below, The Edgewater Hotel, practically floating on the water, offers a classic Pacific Northwest experience. Aluminum exteriors and natural wood interiors with river-stone fireplaces punctuate this landmark hotel’s lodge-y aesthetic. And its downtown location makes it a great springboard for the area breweries that now challenge in number the ubiquity of Starbucks.
The sophisticated and sleek Hotel Andra sets their guests up for success — discounted tickets to the city’s finest performance arts venues, handsome suites and guestrooms, and a high profile on-site restaurant called Lola (which offers a WA-heavy beer list of course). Hotel Andra, located in the swank Belltown neighborhood, is the ideal starting line for your Seattle beer run. And its cushy accommodations make for an even better finish line.
Of the 297 breweries in Washington, 80 call Seattle and King County home. Of those 80, we’ve subjectively selected 4. What did we miss? Cheers!