Discovering Seattle’s Craft Beer Scene
Just back from a whistlestop visit to Seattle, Ben Williams shares his experiences of tasting craft beers in the brewing capital of the USA...
Not long after touching down in Seattle, it became clear to me as to why the Pacific Northwest has such a strong reputation for making some of the best craft beer in the USA. The evening I arrived coincided with a Seattle Sounders football game or, as the locals would say, soccer game. I don't think I saw a single person that wasn’t sporting a selection of Seattle merchandise, with a pint of craft lager in hand. There was an extremely friendly buzz about the place and it was clear to see the excitement and combined passion that the people of Seattle have for their city, sports teams and their beer. Seattle Seahawks fans have set Guinness World Records for the decibel levels of their enthusiastic team support, and they’re even more impassioned when fuelled by beer!
A brewery tour at the Pyramid Alehouse
We soon arrived at the Pyramid Alehouse, where were introduced to a Seattle beer tour expert named Dustin. We were invited on a tour to find a bit more about the beer-making process and to see where the magic happens. On the tour we learned some interesting tips and some fascinating facts. Did you know for example that the USA recently became the world's biggest hop-growing country by acreage, with the Pacific Northwest leading the way? The scale of the operation is quite incredible and the choice of beer on offer even more so. As well as beers that are commonly drunk all year round, Pyramid Alehouse also produces seasonal beers to suit every occasion. The flavours are pretty daring too; their winter warmers even have a hint of chocolate and caramel.
The brewing capital of the USA
Seattle boasts the most breweries of any city in the United States, with 175, giving it the nickname of 'the brewing capital of the USA'. As well as numerous breweries, Seattle also has many taprooms as well as several cool speakeasy bars where you can enjoy a wide selection of local crafted beers. If you’re feeling active and fancy a beer trek, then the neighbourhood of Ballard could be what you’re looking for! With 11 breweries in just five miles, set off on a brewery crawl and you’ll be rewarded with great pints and tasters. Be sure to check out Stoup, Lucky Envelope and Peddler Brewing, to name just a few.
Pike Place Market
The famous Pike Place Market is another place where you can take a break from watching fish being thrown across the market to enjoy a refreshing cold beer. I can highly recommend Old Stove Brewing and Pike Brewing here. If you’d rather get settled in and find one place to sample all the delights then the very aptly named Chuck's Hop Shop is a great one-hop shop with an extensive tap list, full of local beers with a couple of rare imports. There are always high-quality and great value food trucks nearby, so you can enjoy your beers with affordable and tasty food also.
If you'd prefer to keep it local and want somewhere that exclusively features beers and ciders from Washington State, then Seattle Beer Co is the place. Also situated in Pike Place Market, this cool taproom boasts a wide range of seasonal and popular year-round selections as well.
Ben going 'hopping mad' for not only the view but also a nice refreshing Space Needle IPA.
And it's not just the beer...
While beer lovers will clearly be in their element in Seattle, there are plenty of other tempting drinks to sample while you're here. The city is stuffed full of artisan bakeries and funky cafes, as well as colourful farmers markets, selling a wide varety of freshly-picked fruits and vegatables. As Seattle is the home of Starbucks (the first ever branch opened here in 1971) coffee afficionados will be well catered for too - head head for Caffe Vita for handpicked roasted beans, or Caffe Fiore for organic cappuccinos galore. And wine fans won't be left disappointed either - nearby California may steal all the attention but Washington State is home to around 800 wineries, producing some top quality merlots and syrahs - try the Colombia Winery in Puget Sound or simply hang out at a wine bar in town.
Try Seattle's beer for yourself. Speak to one of our Travel Experts about tailor-making a holiday to suit you.