beer seattle

Keeping it Local in Seattle’s Microbreweries

beer seattle

By Erica Jordan

Seattle, Washington is well known for its coffee culture, thanks to coffee giant Starbucks. However, coffee is not the only beverage embraced by Seattleites. With 48 microbreweries in Seattle and over 170 in all of Washington State, microbrew culture also has an undeniable role in Seattle.

Microbrewery culture tends to have a more community-oriented approach, engaging consumers through six annual festivals organized by the Washington Beer Commission’s (WABL) tours, and tasting rooms, which provide a casual atmosphere in which to spend the afternoon surrounded by brew kettles.


Beer has been a part of Seattle’s culture since 1883, when Hemrich & Kopp started their brewery, which was to later become the Rainier brand. Even during state and nation wide prohibition from 1914 to 1933, Western Washington, with Seattle at its center, was considered to be “politically wet,” anxious to bring back its beer culture.

The craft brew type of choice in Seattle tends to be the IPA, which is not surprising when you consider that Washington State is the second largest hop-growing region in the world. Festivals such as the HopScotch Beer & Scotch Festival as well as Brouwer’s Cafe’s Hop Fest celebrate this crop as well as its aficionados, deemed “hop heads.” The quest for hops isn’t a race to use the most hops, but to find a beer with their ideal balance of aromatic and bitter hops. Stouts and porters also see quite a bit of popularity as brewers team up with local chocolatiers and coffee roasters to create a local pint that is truly one-of-a-kind.

Rainier Beer Old AdMost breweries start when the founders decide to take their home-brewing hobby to a new level. It’s common for brewers to set up their breweries near their homes as most want to create a place for their community to gather and bond over good brews.

Likewise, the charm of these microbreweries is in the way that the creators show their personalities through their beer. For example, the first taps used at Airways Brewing were Boeing 747 exit door handles. In fact, pretty much everything has an airplane theme at this pilot turned brewer establishment. Fremont Brewing, on the other hand, was started by a lawyer turned brewer who now exercises activism toward the sustainability of the environment and of the community through their beer.

The new trend in Seattle’s microbreweries seems to lean toward having a taproom in lieu of an attached restaurant or pub. Some of these breweries include Fremont Brewing, Hilliards, Northwest Peaks and Reuben’s Brews in Ballard. This is not only a highly efficient use of space, but it also allows for a more casual and communal atmosphere. Due to the lack of food at their establishments, food trucks are encouraged to park nearby and customers are permitted to bring in their own food (take out menus from local restaurants are also available for those who come empty handed). This not only encourages customers to support other local establishments, but also allows people to bring their families and pets. It’s a truly enjoyable experience and the perfect “Seattleite” way to spend a relaxed afternoon interacting with brewers and trying out seasonal brews amongst the company of your neighbors.


Erica Jordan obtained a degree in biology and worked in the pharmaceutical industry before getting addicted to travel. She has since traveled extensively while teaching English in Japan, written a grammar textbook and sailed around the world as an interpreter and translator. Some of her interests include sustainability, modern art and hunting down cozy cafes. You can read about her adventures on Kizzling Around or connect with her on twitter @Kizzling Around.
Featured photo by chrisdevaraj

Rainier Beer Photo by leiris202

  1. Seattle microbrews are good, but Portland’s are better and more numerable. Third largest in the nation.

    1. You’re right. Portlandia has some great microbrews as well. Sadly I haven’t been able to make it down there as often as I’d like- which ones are your favorite?

  2. Love this article so much! Us Pacific Northwesters have a lot of local pride. And after the grey winters and dark days, there’s no better way to celebrate the sunshine and gorgeous Seattle lifestyle than with our delicious microbrews!

    1. Thank you so much, Nikki! Yes, yes we do and I love being able to immediately connect with people outside the PNW from that alone! I hear it’s absolutely lovely in Seattle right now- hope you’re enjoying that pint right about now!

  3. Seattle has a great microbrew culture and one of the best is Georgetown Brewing Company – It’s hard NOT to find the iconic Manny’s Pale Ale at pubs, bars and even upscale restaurants in town. Give it a try or visit the brewery on your next visit! Best, Stephanie at 30-something Travel

    1. Hi Stephanie! Thank you so much for your recommendation. I actually absolutely LOVE Georgetown brewing (I just wasn’t able to include all of my favorites in this post). Manny’s is one of the first microbrews that I tried and is such a great go-to beer to pair with a backyard BBQ, and just in general. I’ve only made it to the brewery once, but I definitely remember it was being made by some awesome & dedicated people 🙂 I’d love to hear any other recommendations you might have!

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