When it comes to beer, Seattle is in the middle of a Golden Age. New breweries and taphouses are opening faster than we can finish our growler from the last one, sours are everywhere, and people are suddenly shoving fruit and herbs and random sh*t in their brewing processes - and the results are actually great. You don’t have to go far to find good beer in Seattle, but locating the best places to drink it is harder (unless you don’t mind ending up in a windowless basement). This is your guide for all beer-drinking scenarios, whether you’re looking for something low-key or a night of boots and bocce ball.
Say what you want about it becoming too crowded and mainstream, but Fremont Brewing Company is the classic spot to grab a pint for a reason. The long tables inside and out on the massive patio and extremely good beers (especially the rotating infused Randalls like mango/ginger/lime leaf) make for awesome spontaneous group hangs with some BYO takeout, solo beers with your dog, or sunset pregames before a night out. We’ve also seen lots of strollers here - it’s never too early to introduce your child to Fremont Brewing.
The Dray is a beer bar that just f*cking gets it. t. The whole place has maybe two dozen seats, it’s made entirely out of reclaimed wood, there’s always a soccer game on, and amidst the taps, rogue bottles of wine, and little baggies of Tim’s chips is also an espresso machine. It’s the closest thing you’ll get to drinking in a treehouse, and you could just as easily hang out with your laptop and a cappuccino as you could catch up with your crew over IPAs during happy hour. The draught picks are a great mix of familiarity and “huh, what’s that?,” and they also have a tiny oven for making flatbread pizzas and mini grilled cheeses.
Perihelion is a place that feels designed for fall - with an outdoor fire pit, barrels everywhere, an open kitchen that makes the tasting room nice and warm, and an overall woodsy vibe. But it’s also pretty great any time of the year. They have a solid menu of bar snacks, great music, and beers that range from apricot sour and roasted pepper IPA to classics like scotch ale and oatmeal stout.
The Pine Box is in an old mortuary, and that’s your cue to live it up here with all of the beer. They have the original funeral home pews to sit in, an impressive selection of taps, and reasonable prices. Even if you don’t get the peanut butter brownie stout, you’re going to need the big ass chocolate chip cookie.
Slow Boat Tavern is a beer bar that seems like it was opened by someone who knows their sht but left the decor to someone who doesn’t - and that’s fine by us. There are peanut shells on the floor, dollar bills thumbtacked to the ceiling, and a neon sign that says “Fck Yelp,” that tints the whole bar dark pink. The tables are made from repurposed arcade games, and the beers range from a $3 Rainier to ones whose names look like what happens when you press a bunch of keys on the keyboard (such as “Hofbrouwerijke,” which yes, we know is also Dutch). Slow Boat is calm even on a Friday night, so it’s a prime location for more conversational evenings. And peanut-eating.
The Yard Cafe, from the same guys as The Dray, is a bar with three different seating situations - making it a very versatile spot for beer-drinking and Mexican food eating. There’s a yard full of picnic tables, a bar with indoor seats, and a big back room with booths. No matter where you decide to sit, it’s great for a first date or group hang over something interesting on tap and some tacos or tortas.
Altstadt is the German beer hall fit that doesn’t feel like a frat party. You can post up at a stretched-out wooden table, drink a liter of lager in a glass boot, and split a couple of brats and spaetzle mac and cheese - you just won’t have to keep saying “what??” to your friends across the table. The beers on draught are primarily German, and though it might sound blasphemous if you’re a purist to “make it a Berliner weiss” by adding their housemade raspberry syrup, it tastes pretty great. And even better with a homemade pretzel.
Lucky Envelope is one of the newer breweries in Ballard, and it’s best for posting up at one of the picnic tables when it’s nice out. You can bring in food from home, but we suggest taking advantage of the rotating food trucks. We also suggest ruining your friendships over a couple rounds of cornhole. Get the blood orange IPA.
No Anchor is a place that’s serious about beer. So serious that the on-tap menu is laid out on a coordinate plane with an XY axis that has “traditional,” “modern,” “approachable,” and “esoteric” in the place of North, South, East, and West. Come in with some friends or a date, use the plot points on the graph to choose your perfect draught pour, and eat an excellent Dungeness crab roll on a pretzel bun with homemade ketchup-seasoned chips. If this isn’t already clear: No Anchor is our favorite place to drink beer in Seattle.
Chuck’s is a beautiful union of a convenience store with every kind of gummy candy available in the US and the makeshift basement hangout of your friend who used to be in a band and never left your hometown. That means there are a lot of ways to do Chuck’s Hop Shop right, and very few ways to do it wrong. Pick something on tap from the great list, or have the staff pop open a six pack from the holy grail of beer fridges that stretches across the entire back wall. Every time you open it, you can almost hear a gospel chorus.
Down a nondescript alley near some newly-constructed townhomes in Columbia City is Backyard - a bar/barbecue joint and overall enjoyable place to spend a few hours. In addition to the tap selection, we like the neighborhood vibes, jukebox, and board game options. Head in with a few friends when you don’t want to worry about being too loud or not getting a table. And when you get hungry after a few rounds of Big Buck Hunter, get the smoked brisket poutine.
Brouwer’s looks like it could host a Medieval jousting tournament, which automatically makes it a good place for a lot of drinking. But we wouldn’t tell you to come here just because of the random gargoyle above the bar - the menu has everything from Belgian beer to Austrian beer to English beer to German beer to American beer. Also, the pomme frites are really f*cking good.
Despite its non-central location, Stoup is a Ballard standby that never gets old. Drinking here feels like having a beer made by your friend who brews his own in a garage, only it’s actually good. There’s a wall covered completely in bumper stickers, the bar shares a room with the massive beer-making tanks, and a rotating food truck is always parked outside. You won’t find anything too sour or fruity here, just really well-done classics like pilsner, IPA, and saison. The best part about Stoup is that it’s good in all types of weather - during winter, the main tasting room has plenty of seats, and when the sun comes out, the garage doors swing open and you can sit outside on a patio table. Plus, there’s a bonus beer garden around the corner with a firepit and second bar.
Rhein Haus is the Seattle beer bar perfect for reliving your college years. A night here done correctly will be a very fun sh*tshow, thanks to cheap boots of beer, pretzels the size of your head, children celebrating their 21st birthdays, and long lines for the bathroom. We’d advise chugging an energy drink before your visit, and then fully embracing the spirit of Rhein Haus by tearing up the indoor bocce ball court.
Bad Jimmy’s is the perfect place to take the crew (and the puppies of the crew) after or before a dinner at The Leary Traveler. Come here for a low-key night tasting flights of infused beers like strawberry-mango hefeweizen and peach gose. Some are brilliant (the cherry kiwi needs to come back on rotation) and some are straight-up weird, like the coconut-caramel-chocolate ale that’s supposed to taste like a girl scout cookie. We’ll just take the girl scout cookie.