seattle breweries

Eat + Drink

Booze and Beer Have History in Seattle. Do Your Research at These Bars and Breweries

Get a history lesson in beer and cocktails while you sip at Seattle breweries and bars. (Photo: EHStock)

The craft brewing culture was stirring things up in Seattle long before the rest of the country caught on. But enough about coffee. What’s percolating now is a hopping Seattle beer scene. Not to be outdone, local distilleries are also spinning grain into fermented gold to the delight of local bartenders and their patrons alike. But the love for imbibing is nothing new in Seattle. Here’s how the party got started:

Back during Prohibition, Seattle remained wet, and not just from the ubiquitous rain.

Speakeasies popped up to the consternation of the local constables, who regularly dumped boxcar loads of booze down the drains. When Prohibition was repealed on December 5, 1933, the city celebrated. In fact, it still does – every December 5th is a reason to party like its 1933.

Stirred, not shaken

Today’s Seattle offers a generous pour of speakeasies, brewpubs and distilleries.

Locals in the know who crave an expertly crafted cocktail head to Bathtub Gin & Co, tucked behind a nondescript wooden door in an alleyway. Here, where the bar arts are alive, well and partial to gin, guests just might forgo the juniper berry in favor of in-season cocktails like the “Hammock between the Sugar Cane,” which contains Zaya 12-year Reserve Rum, Barbancourt 9-year Rum, falernum, coconut and lime.

If you must have your daily java fix, we suggest ordering the Spanish coffee, as much for the drink as the show.

Tap into Local Suds

Seattle is home to a vast swath of outstanding small-batch breweries, with over 90 calling the Emerald City home.

One of the oldest, Rainier Beer, was born back in 1878, and earned renewed street cred when it was regularly featured on the Netflix western crime drama “Longmire.” Although Rainier is no longer made locally, a replica of the big red “R” once again stands proud atop the old brick brewery, now home to the Museum of History and Industry.

Nicknamed “Vitamin R” by locals, this old-school Seattle beer may not be as complex as those from local breweries, but it remains firmly lodged in Seattle history.

For those who prefer to tap into some of the city’s more recent additions, Elysian Brewing, located in a 1919 Packard storage building, is famous for its seasonal ales.

Garnering the title of Seattle’s top brewpub, the company now serves more than 20 different beers between its three locations. If you’re headed to a game at either Qwest or Safeco fields, you’ll want to stop in at Elysian Fields to sample the 18 different house-brewed pours as you nosh on something from their kitchen.

The family-owned Pike Brewing Company started out small with a four-barrel copper kettle, when they opened in 1989 in the La Salle Hotel.

Today, a fixture adjoining Seattle’s Pike Public Market, the brewery offers about a dozen brews, with labels created by its founder, Charles Finkel.

We recommend sampling one of the IPAs, named as among the best in the world in 2007 by All About Beer magazine. Book a tour of the brewery then settle in for a lunch of sustainable and seasonal pub fare at the on-site Pike Pub which is also home to the world-famous Micro-Brewery Museum, illustrating 9,000 years of beer history.