The Pacific Northwest has a ton to offer: lush mountain ranges, gorgeous coastline, and, as a general rule, a bunch of people who love good coffee and craft beer far more than the average person. And it's this last point that'll probably excite you most if you've clicked on this article. Yes, the region's craft beer scene is pretty unparalleled, and has resulted in unique craft breweries aplenty. Here are six that should be on your 'to visit' list this year, from Oregon to Washington and everywhere in between.
Propolis Brewing: Port Townsend, WA
This small artisan brewery on the Olympic Peninsula opened its tasting room last year, and it's well worth a visit. The team of Robert Horner and Piper Corbett focus on crafting herbal ales using local ingredients. These farmhouse style ales change depending on what’s in season at the time and ingredients include spruce, wild cherries, juniper, salmon berries and elderflower. You can really taste the love, passion and hard work that Robert and Piper put into each brew. The tasting room at Propolis Brewing is a relaxing environment where you can sit at the bar and have a quiet drink, or strike up a conversation with the friendly locals – of which there is a loyal following.
Foggy Noggin Brewery: Bothell, WA
If you find yourself in Seattle and want to get off the beaten track, just a short drive away on I-405, tucked away in a local residential neighborhood, is probably the last place you’d expect to find a brewery. Foggy Noggin is operated out of the garage of Brewmaster Jim Jamison. Opened in 2010, this local watering hole is only open on Saturdays and has become quite the attraction. Jim specializes in traditional-style English Ales, but is known for the odd experiment too: during the Seahawks season they serve an IPA inspired by former Seahawk Marshawn Lynch… yep, they make an IPA brewed with Skittles!
Foggy Noggin is the ultimate “friendly neighbor” atmosphere. Tucked away from the road amongst the trees, this is a great spot to chat with the locals, try some small batch beers you can’t get anywhere else, and have a quiet moment away from the city.
Spinnakers Brewpub: Victoria, BC
Established in 1984, this, believe it or not, is Canada’s oldest brewpub. A short walk from the downtown harbor of British Columbia’s capital Victoria, you’ll arrive at the home of Canadian beer history. Spinnakers shook things up when it opened, offering up beers that broke away from the ‘normal’ offerings provided by the major breweries at the time. At the brewpub there is a wide range of beers with a well-balanced kitchen menu. The whole space is sunny and bright with views of the inner harbor, and plenty of sun-drenched deck space when the weather allows. There is also guest house accommodation available on site for the ultimate weekend getaway.
Birdsview Brewing Company: Birdsview, WA
If you’re looking for a bit of a road trip to a very unique location, this is place for you. On the side of State Route 20 in Skagit County, WA sits a 1,000 square foot wooden yurt, home to Birdsview Brewing Company. This family owned business has been around since 2006, with father/daughter team Bill and Julie Voigt at the helm. Open every day except Mondays, this is a great destination location for those days when you just want to get in the car and discover somewhere new.
Check out their website for information on live music and other events throughout the year. If you feel like a bit of a workout, you can also get here via pedal power – running parallel to the brewery is the Skagit Valley Cascade Trail, a converted railroad which is now a bike path. From the trailhead at Fruitdale Road in Sedro-Wooley it’s roughly a 14-mile trip to the brewery.
Cascade Brewing Barrel House: Portland, OR
Portland has a time-old, well-deserved reputation for great beers, and part of this rich history can be found at Cascade Brewing. The Barrel House, it’s centrally located tap room, is the public face of the brewery, with the actual science and magic happening at Cascade Brewing, a few kilometers down the road. This venture focuses on sour beers, with over 20 on tap, but also six taps of non-sour beers for those wanting a more traditional taste. Locally-sourced produce is used not only in their brewing process, but also in their kitchen and there are some great menu options for pairing with the beers, or just for a meal out with friends.
Wander Brewing: Bellingham, WA
In recent years Bellingham has majorly grown as a beer destination, and one of the breweries that helped with this was Wander Brewing. Run by husband and wife team Colleen and Chad Kuehl, their tasting room is in a 100-year old warehouse alongside the brewery. You won’t find any TV screens with the day’s sports game on here; it’s a place for conversation catching up with friends. Most nights at the brewery there is a rotation of food trucks parked outside for you to grab a bite to eat with your beer.
All in all, the Pacific Northwest has so many places to explore, and if you look and make the random stops from the main tourist attractions, you’re sure to discover some memorable, unique local businesses. Even better, you'll be able to support hardworking artisans doing what they love.
If you want more about the backstories behind the breweries of the PNW, subscribe to the Cascadian Beer Podcast on iTunes, and check out the website behind the podcast. Here's a sneak preview of what to expect: