But are more taps necessarily better? We take a visit to Teku Tavern and Growler USA to find out.
The new wave of beer bars popping up, they seem bent on world domination — a thousand bottles, a hundred taps. We could be here a while. Here’s a peek at two of these new mega beer bars.
First up, Teku Tavern, which must be the happiest place on Earth to work if you love beer. It’s not just the stellar 50 taps, three cask stations or the thousand different bottles and cans that will be stocked. These busy bees have the best job titles: Here, they’re not just busboy or server. There’s a Beer Wizard, a Craft Beer Aedile and a Beer Poet Laureate.
Owners Rich Powell and Karrie Stewart have a good time with their new tap room on the corner of Denny Way and Taylor Avenue North. She used to work for Boeing; he still works for Amazon.
But you can guess that beer is their first love, not byte. The couple have a good pulse on what Seattle likes. There’s lots of hoppy and sour beers. It’s a solid lineup that includes the fresh hop from Fremont Brewing, the hottest brew right now.
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No kitchen here; its 3,700-square-foot space is devoted to storing beers and seats for the people who drink them.
The bar looks massive, and its “beer forest” isn’t even filled up yet. Only 13 of its 29 fridges are stocked with Belgian beauties such as the Orval and the St. Bernardus Abt 12, along with wine, ciders and mead.
Maybe it will grow to become a much-loved hoppy, malty wonderland. All the merry wizards and aediles behind the bar seem happy to be here.
It’s a dog-friendly atmosphere with communal tables and four televisions, but Teku Tavern still faces the same challenge of most giant tap rooms and mega bottleshops — the vast space, lights and sensory overload of all the beers make Teku Tavern look sterile.
Teku Tavern, 552 Denny Way, offers $1 off on selected beer on Tuesday. You’re encouraged to bring takeout or order pizza. Cold sandwiches will be offered soon. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight Friday, 9 a.m.-midnight Saturday and 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday (206-466-1764 or tekutavern.beer).
Opened in August, Growler USA boasts twice as many beer taps as Teku Tavern, though it’s not necessarily as ambitious. The Eastside pub hews closer to the hotel- or airport-bar model. There’s something for everyone — catch a game on one of the five flatscreens, grab a drink to wait out the rush-hour scrum or get a growler to-go for your potluck.
The Colorado-based chain runs an easy-to-prep bar menu — tacos, nachos and flatbreads — designed for speed and efficiency to fortify you between beers. Nothing more.
Its epic beer list stretches from one end of the 17-seat bar to the other. Unless you plan to pace back and forth, the printed menu is the way to go.
Look, I get it — 100 taps is a big, sexy number, and one way of showing you’re serious about beer. But a quarter of these beers during a recent visit were duds.
Some stellar beers can be had, for sure. You just have to comb through the list. Some of the better ones: The Crux Fermentation Project Doublecross with molasses and dried fruit, and the Evil Twin Retro IPA with a bready, pleasant maltiness.
To its credit, Growler USA does a public service by showcasing a lot of mom-and-pop beers that you wouldn’t have found elsewhere. Microbrews from Woodinville, Sammamish and other Eastside cities are featured, though the best remains the Trickster IPA from Black Raven Brewing Co. in Redmond, a grapefruit-bitter beer balanced with caramel notes, one of the best IPAs in Western Washington.
Growler USA, 8300 160th Ave. N.E., Redmond, offers happy hour daily 4-6 p.m. with $3-$5 beer specials and half off on some beer snacks (425-658-7074 or growlerusa.com/craft-beer-pubs/wa-redmond-milehouse).