8 Hottest Craft Brewery Taprooms in Seattle

By Leslie Kelly  |  May 27, 2014

There's never been a better time to be a craft-beer lover in Seattle. In the past year, at least six new artisanal breweries have joined dozens of more established beer makers around the city. Their taprooms have become the coolest kind of family- and dog-friendly clubhouses: all walks of life show up regularly to sip the latest creations and get their growlers filled. The venues often throw benefit events, and some even collaborate with other brewers to come up with customized beers. On weekends, food trucks roll in to feed the hungry masses. It's a buzzy scene that feels like the best party in town. Here are 8 of the best craft brewery taprooms where you can experience it all. 

  • Peddler Brewing Company

    Lofty ceilings, oversized windows and white-washed walls, this bright Ballard spot is a huge hit with cyclists, who can park their bikes out front or hang them from hooks inside. Brewer Dave Keller rides a Cyclo-cross and often delivers beer orders to the neighborhood on two wheels. 

    Drink this: There are 10 taps from which to choose. Warm temps cry out for the Tangerine Wheat, a light, refreshing beer with a touch of sweetness the staff suggests as a good introduction to their lineup, while the robust Coffee Saison is a must-try for those looking for something more complex.

    Eat this: Pretzels are free, and there's a limited selection of Rae's Bakery sandwiches available, with a DIY panini press at the end of the bar. 

    Where else can you find it: Peddler beers are currently on tap at Chippy's and BalMar, among others.

    1514 NW Leary Way; 360-362-0002

  • Populuxe Brewing

    Started by two couples who were seriously into home brewing, this teeny, no-frills Volvo shop-cum-taproom feels like a man cave, with cinderblock walls and a lone window that looks into the working brewery. Head out back, where there's a lively beer garden filled with picnic tables.

    Drink this: There are usually nine taps flowing. Brewer Peter Charbonnier steers those looking for something lighter toward the American Blonde Ale for its crisp, easy-drinking quality, while the Beer Snob Brown will appeal to purists looking for a chocolate-y yet dry sipper that's a tribute to the Northern English-style brews.

    Eat this: There's usually a food truck like the Grilled Cheese Experience parked out front on weekends.

    Where else can you find it: Only at the brewery right now, but Populuxe is expanding production later this summer and will likely begin showing up elsewhere.

    826B NW 49th St.; 206-706-3400

  • Credit: Claire Nelson

    Reuben's Brews

    Adam Robbings, head brewer at this award-winning, family-run brewery, grew up in England, so it's not surprising the tank-filled tasting room has a casual pub vibe. Strangers at the tightly configured tables are bound to strike up a conversation.

    Drink this: A dozen choices can make ordering a challenge, so try the sampler to discover a favorite. The Belgian Imperial Rye IPA is smooth with hints of citrus; a balanced ale that took gold at the World Beer Championship. The Imperial Oatmeal Stout has a hint of coffee flavor.  

    Eat this: There's a bottomless bowl of pretzels, but regulars know it's fine to bring in take-out food and Veraci Pizza, which is a short five-minute drive away.

    Where else can you find it: Available in bottles at more than 50 stores around the region, Reuben's is also featured on tap at Delancey and Some Random Bar in Belltown. 

    1406 NW 53rd St.; 206-784-2859

  • Fremont Brewing Company

    This family-run operation has been around since 2009 and has a massive following. Its urban beer garden has a peek-a-boo view of Lake Union and it's one of the few tasting rooms open daily, from 11 AM to 9 PM.

    Drink this: Of the some dozen options on tap, the signature Universale is a pale ale that plays around with the lighter Northwest style by adding old world malt. It's got a bit of spice from the hops and a richness from the two kinds of malt. 

    Eat this: Free pretzels and the occasional appearance of a food truck. Uneeda Burger served up a spectacular free "My Liver Hurts" barbecue during Seattle Beer Week and is angling for a permanent presence there. 

    Where you can find it: Widely available in stores and on tap at bars and restaurants including Tap House Grill in Downtown Seattle and The Burgundian.

    1050 N. 34th St.; 206-420-2407

  • Stoup Brewing

    A stoup is a Scottish word for drinking vessel, but it's also a Norse word for beaker, which explains the clever glasses in which the beer is poured. Brewer Robyn Schumacher used to be a high school biology teacher. Together with head brewer Brad Benson and his wife, Lara Zahaba, the three partners created a gorgeous space that looks as if it belongs on the pages of Architectural Digest - especially when the door is rolled open and the sun is streaming in on the massive 10-ft. bar made from a reclaimed walnut tree. An outdoor beer garden is in the works and should open some time in June.

    Drink this: The Robust Porter is rich in color and character, conjuring memories of decadent chocolate treats dipped in coffee. Hints of dark chocolate, roasted coffee and light malty sweetness are the result of a complex malt profile including chocolate malt, roasted barley, roasted wheat and roasted rye. It won a silver medal at the World Beer Cup. Give it a sip, even if you think you hate dark beer. 

    Eat this: Food trucks are a regular presence in this industrial/residential section of the neighborhood that Stoup has dubbed "Ballard's Brewing District." Reuben's Brews and Populuxe are within easy walking distance.

    Where you can find it: Stoup is poured in more than 100 restaurants including Pine Box and Serious Pie Westlake.

    1108 NW 52nd St.; 206-457-5524

  • NW Peaks Brewery

    This sweet, self-dubbed nanobrewery is housed in a small house in Ballard. You can drink beers named for Northwest's most impressive peaks at a few picnic tables set up in the front yard.  

    Drink this: Eight to 10 on tap, including the exotic Vanilla Stout aged on rum-soaked vanilla beans. A portion of the proceeds from each pint benefits Washington Wild, an environmental conservation group.  

    Eat this: Feel free to bring your own food. Zayda Buddy's Pizza is just down the road.

    Where you can drink it: Lots of spots in the neighborhood including Kickin' Boot Whiskey Kitchen and Shelter.

    4912 17th Ave. NW; 206-853-0525

  • Hilliard's Beer

    Ryan Hilliard and Adam Merkl opened the spacious place in 2011 in an old garage and it quickly became a new kind of sports bar. The owners created the now legendary 12th Can as a tribute to the Seahawks' notoriously loud fans.

    Drink this: The Blonde is the biggest seller in the taproom with its light touch on the hops and crisp, refreshing finish. The Murdered Out Stout has a deep, malted bitterness beer geeks crave. 

    Eat this: Bring your own snacks. Food trucks are typically parked on the street on weekends. 

    Where you can drink it: Widely available at area supermarkets in cans and is featured on tap this season at Safeco Field during Seattle Mariners home games.

    1550 NW 49th St.; 206-257-4486

  • Bad Jimmy's

    Named for the co-owner's beer belly ("Bad Jimmy, stop growing"), this place feels warm and welcoming, which is kind of surprising considering it's in a lofty pole building. The brewing happens just steps away from the busy bar. Jimmy's draws the late crowds: it's open until 2 AM on weekends and until midnight Sunday through Thursday. An outdoor deck is in the works. 

    Drink this: There are usually six or seven beers on tap, but sometimes when demand exceeds supply, it can be down to four options. The Blood Orange Honey Wheat is bright with a citrus-y kick, while the Habanero Ale is a must for those who like it hot. 

    Eat this: There's free popcorn. Neighboring Bourbon & Bones and The Traveler will deliver.

    Where you can find it: Ray's Boathouse, Bloom, Naked City and more.

    4358 Leary Way NW; 206-789-1548