One Foot in Front of the Other

If you’re looking for a quiet, pretty walk that highlights Seattle’s verdant parks and stunning bodies of water, look elsewhere — this ain’t that.

If you want to pack eight brewery visits into a 90-minute jaunt, though, with planes roaring overhead and hidden gems (literal and figurative) scattered across the route, this blue-collar trot through the Industrial District and Georgetown is right up your alley.

Starting and ending at Two Beers Brewing Co., with stops at Georgetown’s finest taphouses along the way, this walk is a refreshing change of pace for those who typically avoid Seattle’s industrial neighborhoods. Maybe you’ll head home with a new perspective.

South Seattle brewery walk

Round-trip distance: 4 miles

’Twas the evening of 4/20 and I found myself in a rush — an attitude at odds with the holiday of kush. Two Beers Brewing Co. on Ohio Avenue South understood the assignment, welcoming happy-hour drinkers with a chill reggae mix on the speakers. The bartender said Two Beers does not, in fact, boot patrons for having just one beer, but I got a pair of Washington-themed IPAs just to be safe.

Outside of The Woods taproom, which Two Beers shares with Seattle Cider, look north down Ohio toward the skyline. In the time it takes to count the skyscrapers, at least one plane will zoom overhead, low enough as it nears Seattle-Tacoma International Airport or Boeing Field that you can hear it screech. Circling seagulls doing their best impression of jets overhead, beer in your belly, clouds drizzling — welcome to Seattle, baby.

An elevated sidewalk runs south on Ohio from the taproom to South Hudson Street. If you run into the monster that guards Seattle Escape Games — it looks like a werewolf meets the Demogorgon from “Stranger Things” — you’ve gone too far and might get eaten. Go left on Hudson instead.

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This stretch of Hudson isn’t glamorous. There’s no usable sidewalk until you get closer to First Avenue South. There’s a noisy recycling facility with nearly as many busted windows as panes intact. There are several vehicles — cars, campers, a bus — that have sat dormant since at least August 2021, when they were captured by Google Earth cameras.

You’ll find a protected crosswalk and an honest-to-God sidewalk on First Avenue South, which you’ll follow south, taking a right off Hudson to move away from the skyline. Stick to the left side of the street, across First from the fleet of 18-wheelers.

Your next turn is at South Lucile Street; look out for La Hacienda Motel on your left. There’s a turquoise sign at this corner advertising Crystallography Gems, one of several scattered across the route, including one inviting passersby on a side quest. I ignored my instincts — as a video game lover and someone inordinately impacted by the Jim Carrey film “Yes Man” — and stuck to the main storyline: beer.

Carry on beyond the motel — UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT, FREE CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST, WELCOME SEAHAWK FAN — until you reach Fourth Avenue South. Go right, heading south toward the Subway.

If you need a break, don’t stop at Subway. There’s a pho joint before the sandwich chain, and just beyond, Marco Polo Saloon boasts “pressure-fried chicken,” which caught my attention. But a few blocks farther is Lucky Restaurant, the Platonic ideal of a hole-in-the-wall Chinese joint. I ordered a couple of egg rolls to gain bathroom access and wish I’d ordered a dozen. Light, crisp, freshly fried — perfection.

I thought about egg rolls until Counterbalance Brewing on South Michigan Street, which has a tasty Midnight Snack black lager and a framed copy of “The Fifth Element” on laser disc hanging on the wall next to photos printed on birch wood. An “Avengers” movie was on one TV; “Zombieland” played silently on the other. I sipped my baby beer pour and left when “Zombie” by The Cranberries came up on shuffle. I’m not one to miss the moment when the cosmos wink at me; time to giddy up.

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Keep heading northeast on Michigan until you reach Corson Avenue, where you’ll take a left and head north. (Go the opposite direction to find Oxbow Park and its giant hat and boots.) Three blocks farther you’ll find Jellyfish Brewing Co., which lived up to its name on a wet Wednesday evening: It was dark and frankly smelled dank — like an indoor pool, not a dispensary — but the outdoor patio was the perfect place to listen to the rain rattle and down some suds. The Smack IPA and Sour Suzie 33 were delicious but tall; I was tardy and tipsy and didn’t drink half of either.

Continue on Nebraska to Airport Way South, Georgetown’s main drag. Head south under the overpass to Lowercase Brewing and Great Notion, which share one building but boast starkly different vibes. A common thread: trippy art and planes overhead.

I had the Mexican lager at Lowercase, which, like several breweries on this walk, displayed for-sale art from Washington artists, in this case Paul Nunn, who illustrates pop culture figures — Slash, Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” — in artworks augmented by 3D glasses, which Lowercase has on tap.

If the art at Lowercase pairs well with ganja, the art at Great Notion is liable to induce an acid trip. There’s a banner outside bearing a hippie out front giving the peace sign and displaying a hop on his tongue a la LSD. Inside, in addition to tasty brews, you’ll find other psychedelic and mythological scenes: Nikola Tesla battling a lumberjack; a shark tending bar for an octopus, a pelican and a fish; a hummingbird hovering in the stars; Medusa with her eye(sssssss) on you.

At Two Beers, there was reggae; at Counterbalance, serendipity on shuffle; the Chili Peppers played at Lowercase and the Roots bumped at Great Notion. At English-style brewery Machine House, which you’ll find backtracking on Airport Way, there’s a delightful bluegrass jam on the first and third Wednesdays of the month. I enjoyed a few ditties with a Best Bitter; I bought a half-pour and asked the bartender to fill that glass halfway, soaking in my defeat.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself: “This walk (and article) has gone on too long, how are there still two breweries left?” The answer, at least for me, is … there weren’t.

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Elysian Taproom is another half-mile up Airport Way, headed back toward the skyline. Look for the bridge over the train tracks; the giant Elysian plant is right there. Cross the street to reach South Lucile, and another block west you’ll find Denver Avenue South, which leads to Georgetown, surrounded by a barbed-wire fence and also too big to miss.

Reader, you’re just going to have to trust that Elysian and Georgetown make good beer. Georgetown is the biggest indie brewer in Washington; Elysian hawks Space Dust across the country and beyond. They’re doing fine. To the proprietors of these establishments, I’m sorry, but I was too late to drink at either place on this recent Wednesday. I definitely didn’t need anymore beer, but I hope you know I didn’t want things to end this way.

Denver turns into Dawson, which you’ll follow over Fourth Avenue; your pick of Third, Second or First will lead a block north to Hudson, the final stretch of our walk. Just a few blocks back west is Ohio Avenue and the start of this whole ordeal.

It isn’t always the prettiest, but this walk sure is a lot of fun. Pro tip: Start before 6 p.m. Do as I say, not as I do. You know how it goes. Happy trails!