Seattle Brewery Tour: Capitol Hill

By now you probably know we are working our way around the city to taste all that our local breweries have to offer. Here are the results from our trek around Capitol Hill. 

Optimism Brewing 

Quote by the bar at Optimism Brewing

Quote by the bar at Optimism Brewing

Optimism is an intriguing new addition to Capitol Hill breweries. This open beer hall is the creation of a Microsoft/tech power couple who were tired of software. Naturally, they decided the next step in their lives would be to open a humble, 16,000 sq ft. brewery in one of Seattle's hottest neighborhoods. 

When you walk into Optimism you feel the openness of the massive space, their brewing operation is front and center and they have communal seating. The yellow paint and large windows give off a light feeling. Perfect for drinking a beer with some friends. 

Many beer enthusiasts will pause in confusion when reaching the bar to order though. Optimism's owners have been clear they want to bring beer drinking back to the "every day (wo)man." So instead of calling it a Stout, they describe and label their beers with more general names (Ex. Black: bold, coffee, nutmeg). 

They state beer is "not something that should be intimidating, pretentious or expensive. For this reason, we try to make beer approachable to everyone by describing our beers in ways that everyone can understand without beer-geek jargon."  

It's a nice thought. Not sure if it really works though.

Regardless of how they name the beers, we've found that they do indeed know how to create beer that tastes good, which is more important than anything else. Dive into a sampler and you'll agree with us.

Sampler at Optimism Brewing

Sampler at Optimism Brewing

In addition to the good beer, the no-cash checkout is speedy which means you'll never wait in a long line and the food truck pod in the back brings delicious food to their door. You can also bring your own food in to enjoy with their beers. 

And can we just get on a soapbox for a minute and say that the way they've done their bathrooms is how EVERYONE should be doing bathrooms. Seems so obvious. Thank you, Optimism.

Our favorites? Amplify and Zest

Elysian Brewing Company

Night Owl Pumpkin Beer at Elysian 

Night Owl Pumpkin Beer at Elysian 

Elysian. Ohhhhhh Elysian. We used to all love you without question. You made great beer. You were Seattle's pride and joy. Then you sold to Anheuser-Busch. You went corporate. And now we are all confused. 

We will try to put on our unbiased reporting hat for this review though.

Capitol Hill is Elysian Brewing's original location, which opened in 1996. For the most part, it's your classic brewpub (their food is decent). There isn't any trendy logo or minimalist design like these hot new kids on the block. It's a more traditional atmosphere with exposed timber and dark, heavy curtains hanging in the windows. 

As for the beer. It's delicious. They might have sold out, but they didn't change the recipes that have made them big enough to gain interest from the largest beer company in the world. Right now they have their famous pumpkin beers on tap, which go well with the rainy, chilly weather!

Our favorites? Space Dust and Super Fuzz

Outer Planet Brewing

A "One of Everything" sampler at Outer Planet 

A "One of Everything" sampler at Outer Planet 

Another new brewery to Capitol Hill! Outer Planet opened in 2015 and is a small operation, but it has a great vibe and some good beers. With their live music performances and huge pile of card and board games you can always bank on entertainment while you drink. 

Their taps are also fun to say, with names like The Meddling Monk and Galaxy Girl it will make you spark up a conversation with the brewery owner to find out what inspired them. 

Oh, and did we mention they just recently started serving pizza? I mean why wouldn't you go check this place out? 

Our favorites? Kumbaya Supernova IPA and Spacetrucker Brown

Standard Brewing

Photo from Instagram by @ nathaniel.stott

Photo from Instagram by @nathaniel.stott

This small brewery up on Jackson St. is wonderful. It might technically be the Central District, but we wanted to include it here because it's not too far and you gotta know about this place!

With what seems like a million breweries opening up around the city it's hard to accomplish a unique vibe. So many are starting to blend together in look and feel. We think Standard's ability to do something a little different is what drew us in. And fortunately for us they are doing a pretty good job on the beer front too. 

With 12 beers on tap you'll have plenty of options, regardless of what you like you'll find something good here. If you need help choosing a truly exceptional one though, they have two award winners from the WA Beer Awards this year, the Imperial IPA ( people) and the Brett Earl. They don't serve food but allow you to bring it with you, so hit up a food truck and head on over. 

Our favorites? Imperial IPA and West Coast IPA (We like IPA's okay?)

Seattle Brewery Tour: Downtown

Downtown Seattle. It's a love hate relationship we have with you. On one hand you are the epicenter of our city. You house Pike Place Market, our favorite place in the city. On the other hand you also smell kinda bad and lack the fun atmosphere so many other neighborhoods have in Seattle.

Luckily, if you are in downtown and are overcome with the smell of urine or just need to get away from that man on the corner trying to convince you the end of times are indeed upon us there are a few breweries you can duck into for sanctuary. 

Pike Brewery Company

The big hitter downtown. The George Clooney of the downtown breweries. They have been around awhile and know what they are doing. They have it down, they rarely create something that isn't good (cough cough.. Batman...cough cough). They have a big location, good for groups, a large food menu, and offer brewery tours. 

Our Favorite: The Space Needle IPA, but if it goes off the menu the Scottish Kilt Lifter is a year-round goodie.

Old Stove Brewery Co.

Another brewery in Pike Place Market? What??!! Yep. It just opened this year and is set to expand into the new MarketFront building next year. They have communal tables in a true beer hall fashion, large windows that open to bring in fresh air and don't forget about the beer. It's pretty good too. We attended the Grand Opening and did a full write up here

Our Favorite: Galaxy Smash Pale Ale (you had us at citrus aromas).

Good color palette plus good beer equals happy bloggers.

Good color palette plus good beer equals happy bloggers.

Cloudburst Brewing

We saved the best for last, like the red skittle or the pink starburst. This brewery was born at a time of turmoil in Seattle, when Elysian sold out to The Man (aka InBev), and we were all crushed, but from the ashes rose something beautiful, from the ashes rose Cloudburst Brewing. There is not a bad beer on the menu. Everything is different in a delightful way. Exploring this menu is like exploring a beautiful utopia where you encounter something better at every turn. It's really that great, we are not hyperbole-ing here people. 

Our Favorite: It is so hard to pick one but if we MUST...Happy Little Clouds... or maybe the Clickbait IPA... but then there is the....crap. ok. stopping before this gets embarrassing

Need to find breweries in Ballard? Check out our first post in this series.

Seattle Brewery Tour: Ballard

The Emerald City is full of options for trying some of the best beer in America. Washington State has over 200 independent breweries and many choose Seattle as their home. Yakima Valley is one of the biggest producer of hops in the world and luckily it is in our backyard.

Neighbors, just like Seth Rogen and Zac Efron.

Neighbors, just like Seth Rogen and Zac Efron.

The craft brewery industry brought over $6 billion to Washington last year and continues to grow. If you live in Seattle, you've probably noticed. New breweries pop up on street corners as often as Belltown gets a new apartment building, but you won't see us complaining, we can drink beer allll day, every day (we don't because that isn't socially acceptable though unfortunately). But what we can do (all for the sake of research) is spend the next year traveling to every corner of the city to get you all the information you need to make informed decisions about our local beer.

Part one of the craft series is focusing on Ballard, which, in our opinion, holds some of the best beer in the city. Here are our four favorites.

Stoup Brewing

Stoup, named after a Scottish drinking vessel, is fairly new to the brewery scene, opening in 2013. We are a little biased about our love of their beer since 50% of the brain power behind this operation is female. Robyn Schumacher was Washington States first female Cicerone and she is killing it at Stoup. She and her partner built the brewery on their love of science and beer, and you can taste it.

Our favorite: Citra IPA.

PicMonkey Collage - Stoup.jpg

Reuben's Brews

Reuben's entered the scene in 2012. Back then it was a lot smaller, with a metal bowl of pretzels and a short list of beers on the wall. Fast forward to today and they are one of the most popular craft breweries in the city. Getting a seat on the weekend in their expanded space is difficult, but the wait is worth it. Sitting in the sun with a Reuben's brew in your hand is a pretty good way to spend a Saturday afternoon...or Sunday...or Monday...or Tuesday... or

Our favorite: Gose Sour Ale

Peddler Brewing Company

Peddler Brewing has great beer, but they win their spot on this list because of their space. For Seattle, this place is yuuuggeee. They have taps in the front, along with seating, but don't stop here, head out back and take advantage of their many games and giant yard full of communal picnic tables. Bond over beers with strangers by playing a game of cornhole/bags/whatever you call it where you are from or giant Jenga under their string lights.

Our favorite: Earl Gray Blonde Kombucha Sour

Hale's Ales

Hale's is the wise old papa bear of breweries in Ballard, hell in Seattle. Mike Hale opened Hale's Ales in 1983, and they are still running as an independently owned shop. That makes them the longest running operation in the NW and for that, we show respect. Their place might not have a modern logo or creative tap handles, but they pour good beer and their brewers know their stuff. 

Our favorite: Supergoose IPA

There are a few other breweries in the neighborhood, but if we have to pick, these are the ones. Let us know your favorites in the comments. Cheers! 

All four breweries within walking distance. Sunday Funday? Challenge accepted.

All four breweries within walking distance. Sunday Funday? Challenge accepted.