Looking for a killer brewpub in your neighborhood? Our experts agree that you can’t go wrong, no matter where you live in the Pacific Northwest. But they will also argue till the tap runs dry that their state or province has the best.
OK, so your state has killer brewpubs that make IPAs with clever names and serve an awesome burger. But, sorry, you’re still no Oregon (and certainly no Portland), where pilsners and stouts and sour beers sudsily cover the map. According to the Oregon Brewers Guild, the state has 100 brewers operating 131
facilities in 54 cities, and Portland alone has 43 breweries, more than any city in the WORLD. Uh huh. Yep. That’s right. And frankly (buuurp), we couldn’t be hoppier. Following is a foursome of the Beaver State’s best brewpubs.—Jeff Wallach
BridgePort Brewpub and Ale House—Portland
1313 N. Marshall, (503) 241-3612 ||
3632 SE Hawthorne, (503) 233-6540 ||
Your toughest choice when it comes to BridgePort is which destination to visit: the modernly re-architected
brick, iron and aged timber Pearl District Brewpub, or the intimate, neighborhood-y east side Hawthorne
Ale House, with its Asian-inspired menu, including a burger with a wasabi salad on top. One of the famed ales here is the sparkling, effervescent double-fermented IPA, citrusy and floral enough to stand as a table centerpiece. And where else but Portland might you find a coffee-infused porter, called Café Negro, strong and energizing with flavors of roasted barley and chocolaty malt? If you’re visiting during one of Portland’s hot sunny days, check out the Summer Squeeze Bright Ale, infused with lemongrass and yuzu. It pairs well with grilled meat.
Widmer Gasthaus Pub—Portland
929 N. Russell || (503) 281-2437 || widmerbrothers.com
Oregon legalized homebrewing in 1979. Not long after, the Widmer brothers quit their day jobs and started crafting
Altbier and Weizenbier in an industrial wasteland in NW Portland that eventually evolved into the high-end Pearl
District. Their current brewpub on N. Russell anchors the currently en fuego Mississippi District. Launch your visit
with a fondue pretzel, seared ahi starter, or one of six salads followed by a meaty Reuben or half-pound burger.
But don’t forget the beer menu of 15 crafted hop artworks. The naturally cloudy Hefeweizen—made with
Pacific Northwest wheat—is a crisp, light, lemony place to begin. Widmer’s Drop Top amber is brewed with honey malt and just a touch of milk sugar, lending it a subtle and complex character. Work your way up through the Series 924 Nelson Imperial Ale, which employs Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand, a muscular brew with a sweet maltiness and enough strength to power an expedition. End your Widmer journey in the dark—with the roasty Nitro Porter that’s as delicious as a clear, starry night with foamy lights twinkling in the distance.
Barley Brown’s—Baker City
2190 Main St. || (541) 523-4266 |barleybrowns.com
Unless you migrated across the Oregon Trail in the 1850s, you’ve probably never heard of Barley Brown’s or Baker City. Unassuming from the outside, the pub is a warm warren of brick and oak and friendliness, serving a variety of pub food, Italian specialties and possibly the best portfolio of beer statewide. Favorite quaffs include the Tumble Off Pale Ale, which displays a hoppy character without overpowering, and the smoky Whiskey Malt Ale, which delivers such a strong hint of a peaty Speyside Scotch that you may hear bagpipes. The Double Cascadian Ale is as dark as a Tarantino film, with equal bits of surprise and delicacy. And don’t miss the Cerveza Negra Caliente, or hot black beer—actually a dark blond ale redolent of chocolate from the dark malt but brewed using fresh jalapeños; a beer that would be great with food, or as food. If you like chocolate with chile peppers, Negra Caliente is all that, plus it’s BEER!
Deschutes Brewery and Public House—Bend
1044 NW Bond St. || (541) 382-9242 || deschutesbrewery.com
The Deschutes brewpub is as fresh and outdoorsy as the surrounding peaks, ski runs, rivers and golf courses of Central Oregon. Everything on the menu—from sausage to bread to mustard—is made on-site, and even your burger originates with local beef raised on feed recycled from the brewing process. Deschutes presents a starting line-up of wellcrafted
beers, from the beloved hop-forward Mirror Pond Pale Ale to the dark flagship Black Butte Porter, with its creamy finish. Select and seasonal ales add more than a dozen additional stars; for example, a citrusy Red Chair NWPA named (and colored) after a local chairlift, and the dark, malty and festive holiday Jubelale, tasting of chicory, earth spice and fruit. 24 taps, including several pouring experimental beers, are found in the bustling pub. The creative food menu encompasses beer-inspired dishes such as elk meatballs with Black Butte Porter sauce and an Obsidian Stout apple pie.
Pure, clean mountain water and fresh ocean-kissed air. A temperate growing climate for barley, hops, fruits and yeast. And a population of fervent locavores, thirsty for the craft of the brew. There are numerous reasons why British Columbia is a hotspot for brewpubs. More than 200 beers are crafted from
upwards of 50 breweries, stretching from Vancouver Island’s shores to the foot of the Rockies, satisfying and encouraging the market’s tastes for BC “native brew.” Plus, all the friendliness of Canada, eh? Top that, Oregon!—Treve Ring
Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub—Victoria
308 Catherine St. || (250) 386-2739 || spinnakers.com
“Let nobody thirst for the taste of real ale.” It would be impossible to talk about BC’s Brewpubs without heralding the founding father of the industry. Back in 1982, when architect and founder Paul Hadfield decided to build a brewpub with two of his mates, it was illegal to “brew, sell and consume” beer in the same building. In true entrepreneurial style, the trio began construction anyway, and after much government lobbying, the light-filled waterfront building on Victoria’s Inner Harbour debuted in the spring of 1984. The doors opened up not just to the local community, but for other brewpubs across BC to follow suit. A heralded seasonal food program dependent on local producers, an onsite craft vinegar brewery and beer-soaked artisan bakery, aquifer-fed mineral water, plus luxurious guesthouses make this an easy destination for locals and visitors. In addition to their rotating draught and bottled beer, they tap a cask at the bar every weekday at 4 pm, and they’ve just opened a growler-filling station on site, where you can fill your handled bottle to take home.
The Noble Pig Brewhouse—Kamloops
650 Victoria St. || (778) 471-5999 || thenoblepig.ca
“Inspired Brew. Unique Food.” The Noble Pig is a bit of a mashup. Inspired by family friendly pubs in Europe, the approachable environs of New York City’s The Spotted Pig, and his love of craft beer, Brewmaster David Beardsell and partners opened the brewpub in 2010. The title of nobility is born from the fact that they strive for the highest quality in their food and their brews, utilizing local producers in their Euro-styled pub fare (they’re known for their deep-fried pickles and stuffed Yorkies). They’ve quickly earned the adoration of the small Kamloops community, and put on all-out costumed events to celebrate new beers, Oktoberfest, Robbie Burns Day, and anything else that suits their fancy. Their first anniversary launched a new annual tradition: a special cask for Pig Palooza. Though able to laugh freely at themselves, their brews are no joke—seven classic beers on tap are buffered by rotating seasonal selections.
Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company—Squamish
37801 Cleveland Ave. || (604) 892-2603 || howesound.com
“Brew the beer you wish to see in the world.” The connection between Spinnakers and Howe Sound goes deeper than great beer. Founder and first Brewmaster John Mitchell (now a gregarious 80-year-old) was one of Hadfield’s founding partners in Spinnakers, and one of the key lobbyists in allowing brewpubs to exist in the province. Nestled in Squamish, at the foot of majestic Howe Sound and the halfway point between Vancouver and Whistler, the brewpub blends seamlessly with its sustainably minded neighbors. Spent grain from the brewing process is shared with other local producers, ending up in crackers and soaps, and the local harvest (like honey from Lillooet) is employed in Howe Sound’s beers. The brewpub menu stealthily incorporates many of the 26 brews making an annual appearance. Their smooth beers are also available bottled, in distinctive swing cap pot-stoppers. This re-sealable one-liter bottle, widely used in Europe and North America prior to the 1950s, is refillable—another one of Howe Sound’s green choices.
Yaletown Brewing Company—Vancouver
1111 Mainland St. || (604) 681-2739 || mjg.ca/yaletown.html
“Dream Big, Work Hard, Have a Beer.” It’s almost one hour’s drive from the quiet forests of Squamish to the urban bustle of Vancouver’s hipster Yaletown neighborhood, but it seems lightyears away. Founded in 1994 in the emerging warehouse district east of downtown Vancouver, Yaletown Brewing Company was one of the largest projects to invest in the undeveloped area at that time. Owned and operated by the Mark James Group, successful operators of other brewpubs, eateries and lounges in the lower mainland and Whistler, YBC is a well-oiled craft beer machine. The 160-seat space is divided between a lively and sporty DJ-spun pub, and a family-friendly restaurant. Fantastic people-watching patios and a packed entertainment schedule suit the big city atmosphere. With something for everyone (from stroller parking to ’60s rock ’n’ roll), this is “eatertainment” at its zenith—and it works. Their beers are only available onsite (seven flagship plus rotating seasonal), paired to a large global comfort food menu.
I suppose it’s like a sibling rivalry. While many Oregon beer lovers concern themselves with the question of which state produces better beer, Washington’s beer lovers just like to drink good beer and harbor no jealousy or ill will for our beer-loving brethren to the south. It is a matter of irrefutable fact that the first post-Prohibition brewpub opened in Washington in 1981 and started the whole craft beer revolution. In other words, Washington invented the modern American brewpub. I guess it’s true: Mom always did like us best.—Kendall Jones
Elliott Bay Brewery
Pub—Seattle (West Seattle)
1415 1st Ave. || (206) 622-6044
Since 1997 the Elliott Bay Brewery Pub has been serving great beer and food to the people of West Seattle. It is a quintessential neighborhood pub and eatery, the kind of place where everyone knows each other by name, and the bartender often knows what you’ll order before you say it. The staff extends the same warm welcome to newcomers as well. While the food menu is certain to make you drool, don’t overlook the award-winning beers. The ahi tacos and Luna Weizen is a favorite pairing. Locals will point you to the Alembic Pale Ale, the No Doubt Stout or one of the brewery’s seasonal creations. What’s more, the beer is USDA Certified Organic. The company opened a second location in nearby Burien a few years ago, and more recently opened a third location in north Seattle, but the West Seattle pub is our top pick.
Everybody’s Brewing—White Salmon
151 East Jewett Blvd. || (509) 637-2774 || everybodysbrewing.com
Located in the little town of White Salmon overlooking the Columbia River, this brewery and pub is just a stone’s throw from Hood River, Ore. Everybody’s Brewing opened in 2009 and is a relative newcomer to the scene. In its previous life, the old building housed a sporting goods store, an Odd Fellows hall, and who knows what else. The space offers tons of natural light and beautifully aged wooden posts and beams. Try your hand at some shuffleboard or step outside onto the deck to behold the breathtaking view of Mount Hood. To accompany the world-class view, consider a Country Boy IPA or a Daily Bread Common Ale. Order a burger “XXX Style,” and they’ll add peanut butter and pickles to it (recommended). Friday nights typically feature live music and an energetic crowd.
Pike Pub and Brewery— Seattle (downtown)
1415 1st Ave. || (206) 622-6044 || pikebrewing.com
A few steps away from the Pike Place Market, one of the Northwest’s most recognizable tourist destinations, you’ll find the Pike Pub and Brewery. For many out-of-state visitors, this is all they will see of our local craft beer culture. Charles and Rose Ann Finkel, owners of the venerable brewpub, gladly accept this responsibility. In addition to great beer and food, the pub is home to one of the most complete collections of beer and brewing memorabilia in the country. You can spend hours gazing at the walls, exploring the history of beer as told through placards, tin signs and other museum pieces. Although Pike Pub welcomes thousands of tourists every year, local beer geeks appreciate its atmosphere, its beer, and its important place in the history of the Seattle beer scene.
Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro—Bellingham
1107 Railroad Ave. || (360) 647-5593
In Bellingham, when the locals say they are going to “the pub,” there is a very high likelihood that they’re talking about Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro. Located in heart of the city, just down the street from Western Washington University, this large brewpub opened in 1996 and quickly endeared itself to the local community. Boundary Bay is a favorite amongst families, college students, outdoor adventurers and everyone else. The award-winning beer speaks for itself: the IPA is legendary, the Scotch Ale remarkable. For years, regulars have been recommending the Yam Alechiladas paired with the Extra Special Bitter. The pub (21 and over) and restaurant are as inviting and comfortable as the beer garden is enchanting. On your way to or from Canada, or after a wintry day at nearby Mount Baker, a
stop at Boundary Bay always satisfies.
Elysian Brewing Company—Seattle (Capitol Hill)
1221 East Pike St. || (206) 860-1920 || elysianbrewing.com
Located in one of Seattle’s most colorful neighborhoods, the Elysian Brewing Company’s flagship brewpub is one of the best places in Seattle for peoplewatching. Did I mention they have beer there? Large, exposed timbers and high ceilings give this pub a rustic ambience in a metropolitan environment. Having recently opened a large production facility across town, Elysian now uses this brewhouse solely to create seasonal and smaller batch beers. Still, the Capitol Hill pub remains the best place to sample Elysian’s amazing array of beers. (There are two other Elysian pubs around Seattle.) Don’t be afraid to try one of Brewmaster Dick Cantwell’s more daring creations. The food menu is large and diverse; the beer menu is longer than your arm. Children of all ages are welcome (though I am not sure I have ever seen anyone under legal drinking age at this hip
and urban pub).