The Roanoke Inn on Mercer Island is an institution, a casual dining place and popular watering hole.

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Happy Hour |

In all the discussions I’ve had about historic watering holes — I know, I have a lot of free time on my hands — I’ve never heard any barfly utter Roanoke Inn on Mercer Island.

It’s the one that seems to escape everyone’s list despite being one of the oldest running businesses in the area. Roanoke Inn opened in 1914.

But the neighborhood bar now draws patrons from as far as Everett.

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Roanoke Inn is one of only 20 bars in the state to carry the cult beer Pliny the Younger every February, the most sought after beer in America.

That distinction has given this old bar some serious cred. It’s now a popular meet-up for the craft-beer community.

There are 12 beers on tap. And you can count on at least two good IPAs, though it’s fruitless to single any out since the bar goes through their IPA kegs so fast.

I’ve had a refreshing Belgian witbier, Blanche de Chambly, with hints of banana, cloves and spices and a smooth, clean finish. That was followed by a stellar dry Belgian Pale Ale, The Lost Abbey Devotion.

The historic bar used to serve folks who waited for the old ferry a block away. It even served them during Prohibition — booze in coffee mugs. The Roanoke Inn doesn’t take in overnight guests anymore, though the owners did live upstairs during the 1980s and 1990s.

It’s a cross between a road house and clubhouse, with the dimly lit bar lined with beer antiques and memorabilia like the iconic Hamm’s sign and Spuds MacKenzie statue.

The bar staples — nachos, sliders and chicken strips — are serviceable, with the standout being the hot chicken wings. The sandwiches and the signature Whiskey Barbecue burger are better options.

Roanoke Inn, 1825 72nd Ave. S.E., Mercer Island, offers happy hour weekdays, 4-6 p.m. when all craft beers are $3.75, domestic beer $2.75 and house wines $4.25 (206-232-0800).

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or On Twitter @tanvinhseattle.

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