If you’ve ever been stuck in traffic on Elliott Avenue West from the Ballard neighborhood to downtown Seattle, you know there isn’t much to look at besides warehouses, office buildings, strip malls and other frustrated drivers.
But don’t let Interbay’s industrial vibes fool you. The middle-child district is becoming a drinking destination as more and more local producers set up shop in the area’s warehouses.
So hop on the D bus line and explore this up-and-coming hood by taking a boozy crawl between these five spots.
Ward Johnson Winery
Booze: Wine | Best for: Full-bodied, dry reds
Ward Johnson Winery is one of the many Seattle urban wineries operating out of an unassuming building. It could be mistaken for a CPA office: you walk into a small waiting room with an office to the right.
But head through a doorway and you’ll be met with a cavernous room that has a small tasting bar and serious artist vibes. There are rows of tables for hosting paint nights and art lining the walls. If you sneak out back, you’ll see an impressive mural painted on the building by a family friend.
With an annual production of roughly 900 cases per year, this family operation has co-owner Tamara Ward Johnson working the tasting room, while her husband, Kurt, and his brother, Charlie, make the wines. They source grapes from friends they grew up with, who now own vineyards in eastern Washington’s Red Mountain AVA. The 329 Cabernet Sauvignon is named after their mom’s house number, where they made their first wines out of her garage.
Today all the wines in the back of their Interbay tasting room, where the team focuses on mostly blends and big, dry reds named after iconic Seattle landmarks like Myrtle Edwards Park and Pier 89.
Holy Mountain Brewing
Booze: Beer | Best for: Small batch, barrel-aged and fermented beers
Drive by too quickly and you might miss Holy Mountain Brewing. The working brewpub is set back from the street where you enter through an ordinary metal door. But once you’re in, the smell of hops and yeast promise you’re in for something good.
The well-lit, high ceilinged room rocks metal music through its speakers and, if it’s nice out, the huge garage door — originally meant for loading trucks — will be open. If you stay long enough, you’ll likely see a train pass by. You’ll also most likely see people playing board games and enjoying one of the incredibly satisfying Chicago-style pizzas from Windy City Pies next door.
A few things make Holy Mountain unique. First, it’s a 21-years-old and over establishment, which is uncommon for Seattle breweries. Second, it doesn’t offer any year-round beers. Instead the taps rotate every season.
Lastly, it doesn’t focus on IPAs like most Seattle breweries. Instead, most Holy Mountain beers are fermented or aged using oak barrels. Though there are also some hop-forward ales and lagers served, make sure to get one of their double-fermented saisons.
Batch 206 Distillery
Booze: Spirits | Best for: A nontraditional bourbon
Right next door to Holy Mountain Brewing is Batch 206, a distillery that shares a dining room with Windy City Pies. Two tasting options are offered here: a $7-per-person flight of four spirits that’s waived with purchase or a $20-25 per person tour that includes barrel tastings and a cocktail.
Founded by husband and wife duo Jeff and Daleen Steichen in 2012, Jeff is a self-described serial entrepreneur, growing up in the back of his dad’s bar and always working in the liquor industry. So when the distilling laws updated in the mid-2000s, he decided to open a distillery.
Batch 206 spirits are made by head distiller Whitney Meriwether. While they produce 3,000 cases per year of different spirits, Jeff Steichen says it’s the whiskeys he’s the most proud of — especially the flagship Old Log Cabin bourbon, made from from 51% corn and 49% rye.
Make sure to also try a spirit from the “barrel raiders series,” which features spirits curated from around the world. “We call it ‘barrel raider’ because we don’t pretend to make it,” Steichen adds. “We raid other people’s barrels, hoping to find some incredible spirit lurking in someone’s farmhouse or basement somewhere.”
Booze: Bar and restaurant | Best for: Cocktails and Korean-leaning pub food
Citizen Six is nestled in the same complex as Six Spirits Distillery and the offices for Number 6 Cider. It serves its neighbors’ spirits and ciders, as well as others from around the world. It also has a respectable beer list featuring a rotating tap of local brewers like Stoup and Lucky Envelope out of nearby Ballard.
With slightly moody, steampunk vibes, the restaurant-bar is dimly lit with Edison bulbs and has sketches of train-related inventions on black walls. But there’s also an upbeat outdoor patio overlooking the train tracks, corn hole and jumbo Jenga to show this place doesn’t take itself too seriously.
This is the only stop on an Interbay boozy crawl that has a dedicated in-house kitchen. It serves typical pub food with a Korean vibe, like kimchi fried rice, a bulgogi burrito and plenty of tofu dishes on the menu. Make sure to get the sweet and spicy double-fried chicken wings.
Since Number Six Cider uses Citizen Six as its tasting room, be sure to get this Washington cidery’s flight. And get the coffee cider if available — it’s off-dry and tastes like fresh-brewed coffee with an apple kick.
Six Spirits Distillery
Booze: Spirits | Best for: Brandies made using Number 6 Cider
Six Spirits Distillery is connected to Citizen Six by a lobby with a big sputnik light fixture, red leather couch and restrooms — this is a true working distillery. You’re immediately greeted by vast ceilings and machinery everywhere, and open to a tasting where $5 gets you four spirit pours or two custom cocktails.
Co-founder Clint Wallace says Six Spirits was started by three old friends who are interested in spirits and playing around. It began with brandies that had unique flavors, like coffee or jalapeño-pineapple.
Now Six Spirits produces gin, bourbon, rum and brandy, with an emphasis on gin and bourbon. All its spirits are made using local ingredients, like next door neighbor Number 6 cider for its brandy, herbs from Pike Place Market for its gin and whiskey/syrup barrels from Woodinville Whiskey Co. for its barrel-aged gin.
“We have some strange brandies you’ve never had,” Wallace says. “We use rosehip, black tea and other unique botanicals in our gin. You’re not going to find a gin like our gin or a brandy like our brandy.”
Adria Saracino is the founder of The Emerald Palate, a food and travel blog that offers self-guided Seattle food tours and tips for discovering the flavors, makers and adventures in the Pacific Northwest.