Craft Beer Monger’s Picks For The Best Local Craft Beer Bars

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Each week on Twitter I take part in what’s known as Follow Friday.  If you follow me (or anyone else) on Twitter then I’m sure you’re familiar with the concept.  In my Follow Friday (#FF) tweets, I always give a shout out to a few of my favorite local craft beer bars including: The Beer Junction, Beveridge Place Pub, The Pine Box, Toronado, Brouwer’s Cafe (and Burgundian), The Noble Fir, Stogies N Hops (CBM Sponsor) and The Red Hot and Parkway Tavern down in Tacoma.

I don’t always get to each of these places as often as I’d like, which is unfortunate.  The two I tend to make it to the most often are The Beer Junction and Beveridge Place Pub, both in West Seattle.  With only a minor detour, both places are basically on my way home from work.  Don’t get me wrong though.  Convenience is not, by any means, the only reason I frequent these two places.  In fact, Beveridge Place is regularly named one of Seattle’s best pubs on many ‘Best Of’ lists and The Beer Junction was just awarded Best Bottle Shop In Washington for the 4th year in a row from Rate Beer.

I love visiting breweries, both locally and when I travel.  I love getting to know their beers, their philosophy and their process.  I love how each one is somehow unique in their own special way.  Sometimes, however, visiting a great craft beer bar rather than a brewery can provide a more diverse experience for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that you’ll have a wider selection than if you just visit an individual brewery.

Some of the qualities that I believe are essential for a great craft beer bar include a clean, well-maintained establishment with an inviting atmosphere, a great tap selection and the one component that makes a craft beer bar a truly great one: friendly (or even, sometimes, appropriately surly once they get to know you), competent and knowledgeable staff.  Having the right people behind the bar is one thing that I believe can truly make or break a great craft beer bar.  Let me share with you why these places are some of my favorites.

Here is a look at of some of my favorite craft beer bars in the Seattle area:

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The Beer Junction:

A combination bottle shop and craft beer bar, The Beer Junction is the place to go in West Seattle for the best selection of craft beer, cider and mead bottles (plus glassware, t-shirts, growlers of all styles, etc.).  They also have the largest tap selection in the area, with well over 65 rotating taps of beer, cider, wine and even mead.  Besides, where else can you walk around drinking a beer as you push (or carry) around a small shopping cart, shopping for beer?

Their live online tap list means you’ll always know what’s pouring and, now that the weather is getting nicer, the huge front windows are open more often, letting the sun and fresh air flow in.   They also have brewery tasting events, featuring a different brewery each Thursday, plus a whole host of annual events and festivals including: Hop Hysteria, Pumpkin Junction, Barrel Junction, Chocolate Beer Week, Belgian/Sour Beer Week and more.

The staff at The Beer Junction really know their stuff.  Whether it’s assistance with finding a particular bottle or help with deciding what to order from the staggeringly large and always impressive tap list, they have the style and industry knowledge to help you make the right choice. Just tell them what styles or flavors you enjoy, and they’ll offer helpful suggestions and even a splash or two to taste if you’re not sure.  The Beer Junction offers no food beyond snacks like nuts and popcorn, but you are welcome to bring in any outside food or order in from several local options (some of which will deliver to you right at the bar).

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Beveridge Place Pub:

Just a couple of miles down the street from The Beer Junction is Beveridge Place Pub.  With an extremely comfortable environment that almost feels like you’re hanging out in someone’s giant living room (with one of the most beautiful back-bars you’ve ever seen and a bar top made from an old bowling alley lane), Beveridge Place has layout that’s sort of split down the middle.

The left side has the bar itself with over 35+ taps, plus lots of tables and a few comfy couches and lounge chairs.  There’s a cabinet along the wall filled with different board games to enjoy and there are no TVs.  The right side, on the other hand, has 4 (or is it 5?) large screen TVs, a Foosball table, a dart board, a shuffleboard table and ample seating for when it’s game time.  There’s even a modest outdoor patio area, surrounded by hop vines and other flora.  Leashed, well-behaved pets are also welcome.  Happy hour  starts every day when their doors open and goes until 6 pm, and they have daily specials each weekday (Anglo Saxon Sunday, Micro Monday, Belgian & Free Pool Tuesday, Wine Bottle Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday).

As with The Beer Junction, Beveridge Place Pub hosts a different event each Thursday night (that’s what ‘Thirsty Thursdays’ are about).  Some of these events are brewer’s nights featuring one particular brewery, but many are other types of events including special tastings (one particular style – many breweries) or a series of events that’s become very popular called Iron Brewer.  For these events, Beveridge Place selects the special ingredients and breweries compete to make the best beer using those ingredients.  They also have a series of annual festivals including: Cask-O-Rama, the Barleywine Bacchanal, Hoptoberfest (which is also how Beveridge Place selects their ‘house’ IPA for each year), and more.

The staff at Beveridge Place will make you feel right at home.  They know quite a bit about many of the breweries and the beers they have on tap and will even sometimes conduct pre-event employee tastings for their larger events to ensure the quality of what’s going on tap for each event and to help educate the staff further – all to help you make a great selection.  Like The Beer Junction, Beveridge Place offers no food, but you are welcome to bring in any outside food or order in from several local options (some of which will deliver to you right at the bar).

 

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The Pine Box:

Nestled in the space that used to house the old Butterworth Funeral Home (and later the Chapel Bar), The Pine Box is Seattle’s premiere craft beer destination on Capitol Hill.  They’ve kept some of the funeral home feel to the style, with lots of wood and old church pews as the booth seating as well as a secluded balcony area upstairs.  They have well over 30 taps with a live online tap list, always with a great selection, as well as a full bar in case you’d like to enjoy a shot or cocktail with your beer.  There’s also always a Randalled beer on tap, since they have a permanent, built-in Randall at the bar and you’ll also usually find at least one cask beer available.

If you’re hungry, The Pine Box offers a full menu with some truly gourmet options, plus a happy hour menu from 3 – 6 pm every day of the week and brunch from 11 am – 3 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.  You can eat at the bar, at a table or booth, or outside on their covered patio (which is quite convenient since the patio can stay open even if it starts to rain), with full table service.

If you need help making a selection, the staff at The Pine Box will have no problem helping you out.  They’re extremely knowledgeable about their beer and food offerings.  Want a cocktail and can’t decide?  No problem.  Many times when I want a cocktail at The Pine Box I just tell the bartender I’d like something Bourbon based and to surprise me.  I have yet to be disappointed (my wife will do the same with vodka based drinks).  As with some of the other places I’ve listed here, The Pine Box holds regular events including brewer’s nights, special beer releases and a few larger annual events (especially during Seattle Beer Week).

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Toronado:

Toronado in San Francisco is one of the West Coast’s (and the nation’s) original craft beer bars and has earned an amazing reputation over the years as one of the best places to go for great craft beer in the nation.  Toronado’s Seattle location is just a couple of years old, but has already gained a reputation as one of the best places to go in the city for great craft beer.  Situated in an inviting, moderately-sized space with lots of windows and natural light, Toronado offers over 35+ taps with a live online tap list, plus a full bar with an extensive list of Bourbon, Whiskey, Scotch, Rum, Tequila and Mezcal.  Happy hour is 3 – 7 pm, 7 days a week.

Food at Toronado is a bit more on the gourmet side of pub fare and includes such offerings as charcuterie plates (charcuterie done in-house) and cheese platters,  steak and other sandwiches, salads, bratwurst, a 1/2 lb burger and much more, including a ‘Build Your Own Mac & Cheese’ with a few dozen options and add-ons.

Any questions you have at Toronado regarding their tap selections, liquors or food options will be quickly answered by the extremely competent, friendly and attentive staff.  As at The Pine Box, you can enjoy you visit at the bar, a table or a booth, with full table service.  Toronado also holds regular events, including many ‘Take The Pint’ nights, where you can take home your glass.  You can find a full listing of events on their events page.

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Brouwer’s Cafe:

Welcome to the dungeon. Brouwer’s Cafe is Seattle’s Belgian-themed craft beer mecca and, over the years, they have gained a well-earned reputation as one of the best.  They have an amazing tap list with over 57+ taps, a full liquor bar and great food.  The style of Brouwer’s is a bit on the darker side, with lots of dark wood, iron work and a bit of stone (my wife calls it ‘The Dungeon’).  Happy hour is every day from 3 – 6 pm.

Other than their large and always impressive tap list (and a ridiculously huge bottle list – just ask any server for it), Brouwer’s is probably best known for their lineup of annual craft beer festivals including: Hop Fest, the Back In Black Stout Fest, the Hard Liver Barlyewine Festival, the Big Wood – Wood Aged Beer Festival and what has probably become their most popular festival: Sour Fest.  I attend many of Brouwers’ festivals each year and I always have a great time.  Due to the popularity of most of their festivals, there is usually a line so getting there early is often a good idea.

In addition to their great regular menu and their happy hour menu, Brouwer’s usually has food specials during most festivals.  They also hold regular brewer’s nights, special releases and other events to keep you busy.

Yes, the staff at Brouwer’s definitely know their stuff and can answer just about any question you might have about any of the beers they have on tap (or can get you the answer fast).  The only complaint I ever hear about Brouwer’s is that table service can be a bit slow sometimes (they have a lot of tables and can get quite busy at times), but sitting at the bar will alleviate this issue if you experience any issues with service.

I’d like to also mention here Brouwer’s great ‘sister’ bar, Burgundian, which also has a great tap list with 20+ taps, a large bottle (and can) list, a full bar (with an incredibly huge list of Bourbon, Whiskey and Tequila options) and amazing food, including what may be Seattle’s best Chicken and Waffles.  The staff at Burgundian are also just as knowledgeable as the staff at Brouwer’s.

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The Noble Fir:

This is one of the places on this list that I wish I got to a bit more often.  In general, I just don’t seem to get to Ballard as often as I’d like and, when I do, I’m usually visiting breweries I don’t get to often enough either.  That’s a shame, because The Noble Fir is a big, bright, comfortable neighborhood tavern with a great tap and bottle list, as well as a few small but tasty food selections; not a full menu but a nice list of meats, cheeses and other snacks (including vegan & vegetarian options) that can pair nicely with the myriad of options on tap.  Happy hour is every day from 4 – 6:30 pm.

The Noble Fir has a slightly smaller tap selection than many of the other places I’ve listed here (15+ taps), but they always make sure the tap list is diverse with some great options.  A smaller tap list also means that the staff at The Noble Fir know a lot about each selection on tap should you have any questions.

They hold events as well, including brewer’s nights, but they seem to space out there events a bit more.  You can check their events page for more information on what events are coming up.

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Stogies N Hops:

Some people know the history behind Stogies N Hops, but many don’t.  Opened by the same man who used to operate the very popular Super Deli Mart in West Seattle (the original ‘Convenience Store With More’), Stogies N Hops is a convenience store on steroids.  Where else can you find 20 craft beers and ciders on tap, wines by the glass, a huge (over 1000+) bottle selection, a giant, walk-in cigar humidor, plus chips, sodas, bottled water, cigarettes, beef jerky, candy bars, lotto tickets, etc. all in one place?

Stogies N Hops doesn’t have a happy hour, but they do have lots of rotating specials, an always amazing tap list and good prices on lots of different and highly sought after bottled beers (usually with no bottle limits like some other places).  Be sure to follow them on Facebook or Twitter to see what new beers are going on tap and what new bottles have arrived.  Also, if you’re hungry, Stogies N Hops offers sandwiches and is partnered with Aca las Tortas Mexican food, which shares the same building with Stogies N Hops and can serve you right at the bar (including $1 taco specials on Tuesdays from 5 – 7 pm).

You’ll find Stogies N Hops’ owner, Min Chung, manning the bar much of the time and he, along with his staff, are quite friendly and knowledgeable should you have any questions about any of the beers on tap or bottles for sale.  The next time you’re in the Lynnwood area, do yourself a favor and check them out.

Weekend Breakfast At The Red Hot

Weekend Breakfast At The Red Hot

The Red Hot:

Hot dogs and beer; it’s such a simple premise on which to build a craft beer bar but, in this case, it works wonderfully.  I won’t get into the debate over which is the better pairing: beer & hot dogs vs. beer and pizza (to each their own!)  I will tell you though that, at The Red Hot, you’ll find a great selection of craft beers and ciders on 30 taps, a modest bottle/can list and some delicious hot dogs and house-made sausages, some of them pretty over the top.  They have daily specials every day of the week and even serve breakfast/brunch on Saturdays and Sundays starting at 9 am.

About a year ago, The Red Hot moved from their old location right next door into a larger space with a few big TV’s and lots of seating.  Their friendly and helpful staff can assist you in making a selection from the diverse tap list and answer any questions you may have about their hot dogs, house-made sausages, ‘Slamwiches’, vegan options or their ‘Sidekicks’ (side dishes, including Frito Pie and vegan Beer-B-Q Baked Beans).

Depending on your beer/cider selection, you have lots of hot dog/sausage pairing choices.  I really enjoy the Hound Dog (with peanut butter and bacon) and the Rainier Reuben (with 1000 Island dressing, spicy brown mustard, Swiss cheese, and topped with sauerkraut) but their most over-the-top dog is the Tideflats: Two all beef dogs, yellow mustard, ketchup, onions, sweet relish, sport peppers, jalapenos, sauerkraut, all meat chili, coleslaw, nacho cheese sauce, pickle spear, & TRH spice blend.  You’re going to need a fork and knife for this one.  Be sure to follow The Red Hot on Facebook or Twitter to stay in the know about their specials and new beers/ciders on tap.

 

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Parkway Tavern:

Recently named one of the 51 best beer bars in America by CraftBeer.com, the Parkway is an extremely inviting and comfortable beer bar that’s been around since 1935 (craft beer came a bit later…)  They’re also one of the places on this list that I don’t get to nearly as often as I’d like, simply because I don’t often have many other reasons to head down to Tacoma, but they’re worth the trip.

With a well rounded tap of over 20+ taps of beer and cider, the Parkway is a great neighborhood bar with friendly staff and a good sized menu of salads, sandwiches, burgers and more.  The Parkway has  a quiet, casual atmosphere and I love sitting on the patio out front when the sun is shining.  Pets are allowed on the outside patio only.

In addition to the favorites I’ve listed above, I’d also like to give a quick shout out to a couple of other great places to drink craft beer in Seattle: Uber Tavern, Duck Island Alehouse and The Stumbling Monk.  These places also have a great tap selection and friendly, knowledgeable staff.  So, the next time you’re trying to decide on a place to go enjoy some great craft beers, be sure to keep all of these places in mind.  I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.

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One thought on “Craft Beer Monger’s Picks For The Best Local Craft Beer Bars

  1. Pingback: The Eleventh Annual IPA Cask-O-Rama Starts This Thursday | Craft Beer Monger

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