We drink a lot of good beer around here. In the Seattle area, 25 percent of the beer we consume is craft beer. As a nation, we only consume about 10 percent craft beer. Seattle's appetite for good beer ranks second in the nation. Only Portland (29 percent) drinks more craft beer than Seattle does. Most cities in America are not even close. No matter how you stack 'em up and drink 'em down, we love craft beer and there is no shortage of places to drink it around here. Today I want to share my top five favorite places in Western Washington to drink craft beer. More specifically, my top five beer bars.
What do you appreciate in a bar? I have a soft spot for neighborhood bars because I think of beer as a social activity and not just an alcoholic beverage. I like people as much as I like beer, so good people paired with good beer is a winning combination in my book. My list is heavy on bars that offer a rotating selection of mostly local beers on tap, because I always like to discover new, locally brewed beers. Like the great beers of the Pacific Northwest, beer bars come in a variety of flavors to satisfy everyone's taste. These are my five personal favorite Western Washington beer bars in no particular order.
I am in love with Latona Pub. Our love affair dates back to 1987 when we met on a corner near Green Lake. Craft beer was still a new concept and we called it "microbrew" back in those days. People tried to tell us we were too young, that this whole craft beer thing was just a passing fancy, but me and Latona knew our love was real. You mess with Latona, you'll see a man get mean. Seattle's oldest is still one of its best and it just gets better with age. It is the city's prototypical beer bar—the standard by which all others are judged. New bars with bigger tap lists come and go, and I admit that sometimes my eyes wander, but the Latona is here to stay. You will always find at least a dozen well-chosen beers to satiate your desires at my beloved, my darling, my Latona Pub.
Fiercely loyal regulars unwind at the bar enjoying pints of mostly local craft beers, while just a few blocks away crews of machinists work feverishly around the clock assembling commercial airliners. Like Boeing, Renton's Dog & Pony Alehouse welcomes machinists and engineers alike. Work boots and wingtips sit side-by-side at the bar marveling at the vast selection of delicious craft beer. The locals have a pension for India Pale Ale so you usually see a dozen IPAs on tap.
Far from fancy, but not at all a dive, the Dog & Pony does not put on airs or pretend to be anything it is not. This is a place where working folks go for an honest pint of good beer. In a world where a growing number of people take beer far too seriously, the Dog & Pony's no-nonsense, in-your-effing-face attitude about craft beer is refreshing.
The front room at Beveridge Place Pub is like West Seattle's living room, with large communal tables and comfortable, well-used couches. The back room is like West Seattle's man cave, with flat screen televisions, billiards, foosball, shuffleboard, and darts. When I grew up, the rec room in our basement was the gathering spot for all the neighborhood kids. It is where everyone hung out, listened to tunes, watched television, and played games. Beveridge Place Pub is much the same except Mom lets us to have 32 beers on tap and Dad wears a UW Huskies Rose Bowl Championship ring on game days.
Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood enjoys no shortage of places to imbibe. The Pine Box sets itself apart with a monstrous selection of great beer and an unexpected atmosphere. You see, The Pine Box used to be a funeral home. Since there is nothing they can do to hide that fact, they don't try. At first, it seems a bit odd to drink, laugh and carouse in a place that has witnessed so much sorrow over the years, but any feelings of morose disappear with the passing of each pint. If there are ghosts, you get the feeling they are happy the crowd is around to add some life to the party, so to speak.
I was born just down the street from The Parkway Tavern at Tacoma General Hospital, but I do not think that impairs my judgment concerning this venerable watering hole. This cozy bar is a hyper-local neighborhood pub that doubles as one of the region's better beer bars. The Parkway Tavern is understandably proud of its Tacoman roots and you will find the city's history displayed in pictures on the walls. If you are one of those people who cling to hackneyed jokes and ill-conceived stereotypes about Tacoma, The Parkway Tavern will change your mind in a damn-quick hurry. Every time my wife and I visit this friendly pub, we end up driving around the neighborhood looking for real estate signs and discussing how we actually might be able to move to Tacoma. I am not sure a bar can get a better compliment than that.
Published in: around town