Ya. Ya. It’s a “Best Of” list. If you follow the Best Of lists by DRAFT magazine, Real Beer, Beer Advocate, Yelp or the nearly endless list of lists by bloggers and food critics out there, here is one more to which you can take exception.
These breweries are “the best” because, well, we say they are. Lots of non-scientific rationale went into this choosing. Sometimes it is because we like the logo or the shirt. Usually it is because we like more than one of their beers. Other times it is because we had a fun time thanks to the people who were there and the employees we talked to.
It was an “if you could only go to one of these breweries in the region, which one would you take a friend to?” kind of selection process. And isn’t that really the measure of being “the best” at something like food or entertainment – the way it makes you feel afterward? Here goes!
Best Brewery in Seattle
We picked Pike Brewing as the best brewery in Seattle. Great beers. Unique location. Great food. Variety. Consistency. Once upon a time, we liked Elysian and Pyramid, but times change.
Best Brewery in SODO/Georgetown
Counterbalance Brewing wins this with Seapine an up and coming favorite. Crazy you say? Maybe. Sure, Two Beers, Schooner EXACT, Machine House are great breweries. But the people who created them are nowhere to be found. HTBN likes the “meet the brewer/owner” concept of nano breweries. Georgetown Brewing makes good beer, but if you can’t sit down with a friend and enjoy a pint at a place, it just doesn’t make our “best of” cut. South Park has good breweries too with Tin Dog, LOWERCASE, and Burdick building a strong local following.
Best Brewery in Ballard, Fremont
This Seattle neighborhood has more craft breweries than many states. Reuben’s is our favorite. But success has it drawbacks. There are too many people going there. So we tend to go to places where we can park and the beer is good. Lucky Envelope is a great alternative and is right around the corner (sic). Not enough choice? Fine, there are nine other breweries within five miles of these two. Try Fremont Brewing or Hale’s Ales. Or Stoup.
Best Brewery in Lake City
There are several breweries in this area that are worth the experience. HTBN awards 9 Yards the best of in this region, although Hellbent was very impressive as well. Why 9 Yards? Dog friendly and a randall heaven.
Best Brewery Out West
The Olympic peninsula is awash with great breweries, each with a unique take on their contribution to the craft beer experience. We picked Sound Brewing and Port Townsend Brewing out of these places. We also really like Bainbridge Brewing, Slaughter County, Valholl, Slippery Pig, 7 Seas and Hood Canal.
Best Brewery in Snohomish and/or Skagit Counties
Truthfully, we do not get up that way very often. Too many distractions between here and there. But for the record, we liked Skookum Brewing from all the places we tried up that way. Honorable mention to Big E, Scuttlebutt and Diamond Knot.
Best Brewery in Bellingham
Take your pick. Boundary Bay gets our vote. Chuckanut is very close. Wander and Aslan are creeping up there.
Best Woodinville Area Brewery
This is a tough one. Triplehorn gets the nod, primarily because of NeMeSis (N3m3Sis). Dirty Bucket makes some nice beer as does Brickyard. Foggy Noggin is a great home-based brewery, but they are only open for a few hours on Saturdays. You can find their offerings at local pubs. Red Hook (soon to be Rainier?) is brewed in Oregon (CBA) and that is enough to fail our cut.
Best Brewery in Redmond
Postdoc Brewing wins this hands down. Black Raven makes some great beer, but I do not think I have ever been treated as rudely at a brewery as I was by more than one person there, on more than one occasion. Bushnell Brewing is an interesting place, but I found the quality of the offerings a bit hit and miss over time. Mac & Jacks lacks a tasting room. Still, many people like their beer.
Best Brewery in Kirkland, Bellevue, Issaquah
The Rogue-owned Issaquah Brewhouse takes the award here. Geaux Brewing, Flycaster and Chainline are all worthy alternatives. Bellevue Brewing still makes a great Stout and Scottish Ale. Head further east and the Snoqualmie Brewing Company will have a Black Frog Stout cascading for you.
Best Brewery in Renton, Kent, Auburn
We like Odin Brewing in Tukwila as a destination brewery. Airways is a great place too (both the brewhouse and the bistro locations) especially if you like hoppy beers. We like their stout, but it is sometimes hard to find it there. If you are looking further south Elk Head Brewing in Buckley is a fantastic place for great beer.
Best Brewery in Tacoma
Odd Otter wins the best Tacoma destination brewery. Wingman is a close second. Our visits to Harmon and Engine House #9 have been diminished by inconsistent food quality and odd serving policies like not being able to choose your own beers for a sample tray. Narrows Brewing was good, but is a bit out of the way.
Best Brewery in Olympia
We picked Top Rung as the best brewery in Olympia. Fish Brewing is the big brewer on the block, but the Jenga competitions are extreme at Top Rung.
Best Brewery in Southwest Washington
It’s gotta be Dick’s Brewing – hands down. There are several other good ones coming along (especially in the Vancouver area), but none of the have the variety and history of Dick’s.
So, that is our list. At least for now. What is your favorite brewery to go to? Why? Maybe next we will do a list of pubs and taverns with dedicated craft beer taps. Some are like going to a beer festival – so many choices from so many good craft brewers. So much good beer. So little time.