Earlier this summer, our team mulled and waded over this suds-y debate: what is Seattle’s favorite brewery?
We opened the request line to get your input. You flooded us with almost 2,000 submissions. Opinions, you had quite a few — more than 100 breweries were nominated.
To settle this, we pitted the most nominated breweries in a bracket-style throw down.
Now, after three rounds of voting, you’ve narrowed the field to a final four: Georgetown Brewing Company vs. Holy Mountain Brewing; Reuben’s Brews vs. Stoup Brewing.
That’s a murderers’ row.
Go online to vote for your favorite. Operators are standing by. You have until Thursday, Oct. 3, to decide on the final two breweries who will compete for the Seattle’s-favorite-brewery-throne. Then after the championship round, we can hoist a cold one when the winner is announced Sunday, Oct. 13.
We will crown the winner in person Friday, Oct. 18, at the Pacific Science Center’s Brewology beer-tasting event, where we will bestow upon them a championship certificate and prize.
Maybe your favorite brewhouse didn’t make the cut, but don’t kill the messenger. Heck, one of my favorites, Floodland Brewing, didn’t even garner enough votes to merit a spot in the beer bracket. Ouch.
But this august list is solid. If you have to host in-laws or wanted to reminisce about the glory days with your former college roommate in town, you would be satisfied with this beer crawl. Maybe hop on a Lime bike to Holy Mountain in Interbay to sip on that stellar brett saison “The Goat,” then tool around some and peddle north to Ballard to Stoup and Reuben’s.
Or take your out-of-town guest to another beer haven, the industrial ’hood of Georgetown. The brewery that gave us Manny’s Pale Ale doesn’t have a tasting room — they’re working on it — but you can tour the brewery and buy a souvenir T-shirt to commemorate this iconic beer.
Before we delve deeper into the top four, a shout-out to two breweries that came close to making the cut. Fremont Brewing, which boasts an extraordinary roster of ambitious beers from its barrel-aged series to its fresh hops; and Cloudburst Brewing, which under rising star brewer Steve Luke, crafts arguably the most interesting IPAs in our region. You really should check out those two A-listers.
On to the final four.
To some, Manny’s is synonymous with Seattle beer. Quiz even a hermit or a teetotaler, and most of them would recognize this iconic ale from Georgetown Brewing. About 20 years ago, at a time when Sierra Nevada and Deschutes Brewing Co. were the big dogs in the pale-ale scene, brewer Manny Chao came along and showed that our beer game could rival anyone in the country when he debuted his hoppy, namesake ale. Even if you hit a bar with a crappy drink list, you can be assured there is usually one good beer on tap — Manny’s. The beer is carried in nearly 1,000 bars and restaurants around the Seattle area. At a time when everybody is chasing the shiny and the new, Manny’s is that old faithful that Seattleites still order at watering holes.
5200 Denver Ave. S. georgetownbeer.com
Holy Mountain Brewing
This Interbay brewery is one of the game-changing businesses that have debuted in the food-and-drink scene in recent years. Owners Colin Lenfesty and Mike Murphy didn’t follow the usual brewery blueprint. Their yeast-forward brews have the barnyard funk often associated with European ciders, and in a city that revels in IPAs, Holy Mountain features few of them on tap. I remember when Holy Mountain debuted in 2014, skeptics wondered if this microbrew could survive catering to such a niche market. Now they’re the envy of the industry, experimenting with different and exotic hops, yeasts and oaks in their brews and drawing large crowds doing it. It’s consistently one of the busiest tasting rooms in the city.
1421 Elliott Ave. W. holymountainbrewing.com
In February, Adam Robbings doubled down on the burgeoning brewery scene in Ballard by opening a second tasting room that sits just five blocks away from his flagship brewery. The tasting room features some rare bottles, though beer geeks prefer lounging around his flagship brewery, where many experimental brews go on tap. Reuben’s boasts an eclectic portfolio that showcases the range and talent of Robbings, a former home brewer who puts 30 different beers on tap at his two taprooms. Check out his stellar sour gose and Crikey IPA. Also just released, the seasonal sour, Razzmatazz, a Berliner Weisse raspberry bomb that’s astonishingly easy-drinking for a tart beer. And expect long lines when Reuben’s releases three barrel-aged beers in the coming weeks.
The flagship brewery is at 5010 14th Ave. N.W. The new brewtap is at 800 N.W. 46th St. reubensbrews.com
When hop haters say they despise IPAs, they’re referring to the bitterness. But not all hoppy beers taste like that; many explode with bright, floral and fruity notes, and some are so well crafted you don’t taste that bitter sting or feel the heat. It’s true, some hoppy ales are bitter by choice, but others are just bitter because they’re poorly made. Stoup might convert hop haters. The Ballard brewery captures the nuances of Yakima hops in all of their glory. Order a “Sunshine in a Glass,” an aromatic IPA with tropical notes from all the citra hops. For a limited time, the brewery, run by owners Brad Benson, Lara Zahaba and Robyn Schumacher, also showcases two citra fresh hops on tap.
1108 N.W. 52nd St. stoupbrewing.com