Last night, I was fortunate to attend a sneak peek preview party for media and industry friends at Lagunitas Brewing Company‘s newest location in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. As you’ve probably heard, they took over the space formerly occupied by Hilliard’s Brewing, which was purchased last year by Odin Brewing. Lagunitas treated us to food, live music, acrobatic and sideshow performers mingling among the crowd and, of course, great craft beer from one of my favorite California craft breweries.
Lagunitas has made some small but significant changes to the space, including a new, spacious island bar in the middle of the taproom, large, sturdy beer hall style tables with bench seating and brand new, restaurant-quality bathrooms. They want to open to the public as soon as possible and, from what I saw last night, they’re just about ready. You should be enjoying your favorite Lagunitas beers there before the end of this month.
The taproom will have an initial capacity of 250 inside, plus they’ve erected a heated tent outside with enough space for 100 more. The heated outdoor tent will stick around through Winter, of course, but even more space will be available on the outdoor patio once Spring arrives and the tent comes down. Lagunitas does have plans to expand the available taproom space inside to an eventual capacity of around 400, so it’s really a good sized space.
Upon opening, the taproom kitchen won’t be completed but Lagunitas hopes to have it finished by the beginning of the 2nd quarter of 2017 (around May or June). According to Lagunitas’ Director of Communications, Karen Hamilton, we can expect a menu somewhat similar to the menu for their Chicago location with a few local tweaks and additions, of course. Until the kitchen is finished, Lagunitas will follow the lead of many other Seattle breweries and have local food trucks on site on weekends.
Taproom hours will be from 2 pm to 9 pm, Wednesday through Sunday, but that doesn’t mean the space will be sitting idle on Mondays and Tuesdays. Lagunitas has a great program where they’ll open the space on those days to Seattle area non-profit organizations to hold fundraisers to help their great causes. Non-profits will be able to use the space 100% free of charge and all beer sales will be donated back as well. It’s a great idea and a real boon to local non-profits. Currently, Lagunitas has enough space to host just one non-profit event at a time but, after they finish expanding the indoor taproom space, they should be able to host two good-sized non-profit events at a time.
You may have heard some rumors that Lagunitas wanted to use this new location to create some experimental brews that will only be served in Seattle. Well, I’m very pleased to tell you that those rumors are absolutely true. The brewhouse is still under construction but they hope to have it completed by April or May. Brewing on a 15 barrel system, Lagunitas plans to produce about 15,000 barrels per year and they say every beer they brew on site will only be served at the Seattle taproom (although I’m hoping a few kegs might also make it to some of my favorite local craft beer bars). They’re planning to bring in some wooden barrels as well for some barrel aged beers and, as they put it: “We expect to be doing some fun, cool and unique beers here!” I’m really looking forward to seeing what new beers they’ll be producing here.
I actually used to live in Petaluma California, where Lagunitas was founded, but I moved from Petaluma here to Seattle just a few short years after they first opened their taproom and I never did get a chance to visit. I tried a few years ago during a trip down to California but unforeseen circumstances caused me to cut my trip short and, once again, I missed the opportunity to visit. I still want to visit the original Petaluma location at some point but, for now, I’m just glad Lagunitas has arrived in Seattle.
Keep an eye on my Facebook page and I will keep you posted on the exact opening date for the taproom as soon as it’s announced by Lagunitas. The address for the brewery and taproom is 1550 49th Street NW. You can also see a few more photos from this evening HERE.
Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.