Seattle's Macro Microbreweries

Here's what's new at three of our area's most established craft breweries.
Posted September 16, 2011
Elysian’s flagship pub on Capitol Hill

Georgetown Brewing
A singular focus on tasty beer

In 2002, Roger Bialous and Manny Chao opened a brewery in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. Bialous came from a background in biology and health care administration, and Chao was a home brewer who also enjoyed success as a beer salesman for Mac & Jack’s Brewery.

The two friends approached the craft beer business with an uncommon strategy. They did not build a brewpub or a suite of beers. Instead, they introduced and marketed one single beer: Manny’s Pale Ale. It quickly became one of the most ubiquitous craft beers around Seattle.

For many less-than-hardcore beer drinkers, this slightly sweet, mildly bitter, draft-only product is the only craft beer they will drink. For others, Manny’s serves as a gateway beer to the larger world of craft beer. Over the years, Georgetown has successfully added other beers to its lineup, such as Georgetown Porter (formerly known as 9 lb. Porter) and Lucille IPA.

The retail store, open Monday through Saturday, is always lively with customers buying growlers and merchandise. Unlike many other breweries, Georgetown offers something more like an all-ages retail outlet and less like a tasting room or pub. Look for Manny’s Pale Ale on tap everywhere and other Georgetown beers on tap at the area’s better beer bars. When tourists visit Seattle, they must see the Space Needle and Pike Place Market. When your beer-loving cousin comes to town, he must drink Manny’s Pale Ale and visit Georgetown Brewing.

Local sensibilities on the national stage

The three locations of Elysian’s brewpubs are unique unto themselves. Enjoy some of the city’s most colorful and entertaining people-watching at Elysian Brewing Company’s flagship pub on Capitol Hill. At Elysian’s spot across the parking lot from CenturyLink Field, thirsty fans lubricate their vocal chords before the game. In a peaceful neighborhood between Green Lake and Wallingford, locals relax quietly at Elysian-Tangletown, which offers a more family-friendly neighborhood pub experience.

Since opening in 1996, Elysian’s popularity, reputation and production volume have all grown steadily. Elysian cofounder, co-owner and brewmaster Dick Cantwell is one of America’s rock star brewers, brewing straightforward favorites like The Wise ESB as well as eyebrow-raising creations like Avatar Jasmine IPA. With the recent opening of a new production-only brewery in Georgetown, Elysian now stands poised to become the next big thing from Seattle. In the face of impending stardom, the brewery remains true to its Seattle roots and will stay focused on brewing great beer. When it hits the big time on the national stage, it will be more Sub Pop Records and less American Idol.


Big Time Brewery and Alehouse
Back to school

Sit at the bar, listen to the conversations around you and imagine you had actually stayed in school just a few more years to pursue that graduate degree. While the frat boys shotgun beers somewhere else, the faculty and grad students gather around oversized library tables to savor delicious beers at Big Time Brewery and Alehouse on University Avenue, where kids of all ages are welcome before 8 p.m.

Since Big Time’s opening in 1988 as Seattle’s first brewpub, the timeless cycle of matriculation and commencement provides Big Time with a dynamic crowd that includes a group of neighborhood regulars. In the face of constant change, there is tradition at Big Time. Adhering to time-honored recipes, Coal Creek Porter and Bhagwan’s Best IPA forever amaze new generations.

Occasionally, these beers make it outside of the pub’s hallowed walls to a handful of other establishments. Drew Cluley, who took over as head brewer in June, continues a tradition of excellence and innovation, mixing a rock-solid lineup of regular beers with inspired, creative offerings. At last count, Big Time’s recipe book featured an impressive 83 specialty brews.


Elliott Bay Brewhouse & Pub
Booster Seats and Organic Beers

Since 1997 the Elliott Bay Brewhouse & Pub has been a fixture in West Seattle. It is so embraced by the locals that it is simply known as “the pub.” It’s the kind of place where the servers know you and your kids by name. Any night of the week, expect a line at the door as families wait for dinner tables.

At Elliott Bay’s Burien location, which opened in 2007, expect a similar scene. All indications are that when the company opens its third location in Lake City this winter, the trend will continue. In addition to top-notch pub grub, the beer is flawless. While the kids nibble on hamburgers made with local, all-natural beef, parents savor organic ales, such as Alembic Pale Ale and No Doubt Stout.

Elliott Bay is the first and only brewery in King County to earn USDA-certified Organic status. Does that make the beer taste better? Visit one of the pubs—or a handful of local alehouses—to find out.


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