The Best Beer Gardens in Seattle

The 17 best local patios, decks, repurposed parking lots and other open-air beer-drinking spots

By Julien Perry and Kendall Jones August 15, 2014


This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of Seattle magazine.


Populuxe Brewing
This brewery calls itself “the biggest little brewery in Ballard,” and lives up to the claim by offering a tiny tasting room and an expansive beer garden. Don’t expect anything too fancy, just a gravel lot with picnic tables and some large, wooden cable spools surrounded by a mishmash of chairs. Enjoy a Beer Snob brown ale or one of the brewery’s other small-batch beers and try your hand at cornhole, a beanbag-tossing game designed to keep one hand free for beer. This dog-friendly zone regularly features food trucks and welcomes kids, who seem to appreciate having lots of room to roam while still keeping an eye on mom and dad.

Photo by Andrea Coan
Lunch and dinner Thu.–Sun. 826B NW 49th St.; 206.706.3400;

Stoup Brewing  
One of the most popular breweries in Ballard, Stoup Brewing is the “it” place to go for a leisurely weekend of beer drinking and lounging. There are up to eight brews on tap, ranging from Session IPA to Bavarian Hefeweizen, available in a 5-ounce taste, schooner (12 ounces), pint or growler. The lofty, dressed-up indoor warehouse space is fancier than your average taproom—we’ll call it “haute industrial”—and provides ample room to mill about and catch up with your friends over the big game, projected on an equally big screen. An open-air concrete driveway has been serving as the beer garden but plans for a revamp started in August include a “very industrial space,” framed by two shipping containers (a turquoise one will have a concession window), picnic tables, Adirondack chairs and plantings. For food, there’s Ballard Pizza delivery and a roster of rotating food trucks. The entire place is both dog- and kid-friendly, so come after 6 p.m. to avoid the stroller crowd. Lunch Sat.–Sun., dinner Wed.–Sun. 1108 NW 52nd St.; 206.457.5524;

Beacon Hill

Tippe and Drague
The regulars at this family-friendly neighborhood alehouse and eatery, which is housed in an old, freestanding brick building painted dark red, refer to the beer garden at the Tippe and Drague as the “beer deck,” which some visitors may not even notice unless they venture down the hallway past the washrooms. Stepping out the back door, you will discover an eclectic collection of brightly colored patio furniture along with some unexpected solitude, and barely notice that Beacon Avenue traffic roars by on the opposite side of the building. The “fryer-free” pub menu features dishes such as the grilled chicken sandwich served on a ciabatta roll with caramelized onion and pear. From among the ample beer choices, consider a brew from Foggy Noggin Brewing, such as the Bit O’ Beaver English bitter. Beacon Hill–sters are already dedicated to this quaint little pub, which opened in 2012, but outsiders are just beginning to discover its charms. 21 and older only. Dinner daily from 4 p.m., lunch Sat. from 1 p.m., brunch Sun. from 9:30 a.m. 3315 Beacon Ave. S; 206.538.0094;

Capitol Hill

Rhein Haus
As if the 10,000-square-foot Bavarian-fun-house-themed interior was not enough, Rhein Haus (formerly Von Trapp’s) transformed the 6,000-square-foot parking lot next door into a beer garden, or biergarten as they say in the old country. This is no modest affair: Picnic table seating, an outdoor bar, fireplaces, outdoor televisions and a bocce court are among the biergarten’s amenities at this popular Capitol Hill restaurant and beer hall. If the weather is conducive to outdoor imbibing, expect serious competition for table space. There are plenty of beer options, but why not embrace the Bavarian theme and order a Maisel’s Weisse, an authentic Hefeweizen imported from Germany, which is available in various sizes of traditional glassware, including supersize 1-liter mugs, and pairs well with one of the house-baked pretzels or anything on the Bavarian-inspired menu. Lunch and dinner daily. Kids welcome until bedtime (10 p.m.). 912 12th Ave.; 206.325.5409;


Fremont Brewing Company
When Fremont Brewing moved its beer-only tasting room to a larger space on the south side of the same building in 2012, the dream of giving the neighborhood a beer-focused social hub came to fruition. The urban beer garden’s (referred to as the “UBG”) long, heavy wooden tables, surrounded by long benches, invite conversation, encouraging people to forge new relationships as they sip an always-popular Interurban IPA and watch bikes whiz by on the nearby Burke-Gilman Trail. Beer hunters visiting from across town mingle with hipsters, young parents swap babysitters’ phone numbers, toddlers poke each other in the tummy, and everyone embraces the beer-infused sense of community. Bring your food with you, as you won’t find anything more than bowls of free, miniature pretzels. Open daily from 11 a.m. 3409 Woodland Park Ave. N; 206.420.2407;


Schooner Exact Brewing Co.   
This clandestine brewery in SoDo, located in a nondescript warehouse complex in the Industrial District, is equal parts taproom (16 taps: two for wine, one for cider, six year-round for beer and seven in rotation) and restaurant (led by former Tom Douglas chef Warren Peterson). While those looking to grab a brew at the bar can gaze upon large stainless steel fermenters, those sitting inside the adjoining dining room are treated to an intimate view of the many wine and whiskey barrels aging sour beer. But the best seat in the house is at one of the two long, wooden communal tables parked outside on a covered concrete patio, making it a prime spot to enjoy warm-weather pints, sandwiches (and during weekend brunch, signature waffles) and the latest sporting event on one of two plasma televisions, which are potentially viewable from outside if you situate yourself just right. All of this while taking in the last sips of the season. Open daily. 3901 First Ave. S; 206-432-9734;

Smarty Pants    
Fall is a fantastic time to visit the patio of this gritty-ish Georgetown bar—famous for its lengthy roster of sandwiches. An expansive open-air, beer-friendly patio feels somewhat like a hidden garden with its bamboo-lined fence, potted plants and garden sculptures. There’s also a corrugated-steel-topped (and Christmas-light-draped) shelter with four wooden picnic tables and a chalkboard featuring beers on tap (Manny’s and PBR are regulars, four are rotating). And, for when there’s a chill in the air, a covered fire pit turned communal table comfortably seats 10. The name is fitting: This cleverly designed place was made to handle Seattle’s unruly and unpredictable weather.

Smarty Pants’ beer garden is ready for any type of October weather; Photo by Scott Stedman
21 and older only. Open daily. 6017 Airport Way S; 206.762.4777;

The Woods   
Just off East Marginal Way in that industrial part of Seattle where SoDo makes the transition into Georgetown, The Woods is the official tasting room for Two Beers Brewing Co. and Seattle Cider Company, two separate operations that share the same owners and location, occupying two units in a long, brightly colored warehouse building. Out front on the west-facing loading dock, bathed in sunlight until late in the day, a smattering of small, rectangular tables surrounded by folding chairs invite you to relax and consider that ever-important decision—beer or cider. Even after making that choice, you still must pick from 17 draft beers and ciders. On warm afternoons, many of the after-work regulars reach for Two Beers’ Evo IPA, whereas the less-calloused weekend crowd is more apt to order Seattle Cider Company’s semi-sweet. If you’re hungry, The Woods has some personal-size pizzas available, which are cooked one at a time in a pint-size pizza oven. Well-behaved dogs are welcome, but kids are not (21 and older). Open Tue.–Sun. 4700 Ohio Ave. S; 206.762.0490;,


Naked City Brewery and Taphouse
This beer garden has a name, The Walrus, which pays homage to the legendary tavern and music venue that once graced the location. Since its demise by fire in the 1980s, all that had remained of Greenwood’s Walrus Tavern was a parking lot, but last year Naked City Brewery and Taphouse transformed the space into a spacious, uncovered, outdoor seating area. The giant mural painted by local artist Ryan Henry Ward (aka Henry) features friendly walruses inviting you to grab a seat and enjoy a Crossfire IPA. Accompany the brew with a salad, sandwich or something less expected from the diverse menu or the Thursday dinner specials, which rotate seasonally. Open daily (until 10 p.m. for those younger than 21). 8564 Greenwood Ave. N; 206.838.6299;

Chuck’s Hop Shop   
A few months ago, Chuck Shin, the owner of Chuck’s Hop Shop, converted his business’s few parking spots in front of his beer mecca/mini-mart into a pint-size beer garden. Unfazed by the din of passing traffic, beer enthusiasts and families from the neighborhood vie for one of the umbrella-covered picnic tables along 85th Street. (The vibe is similarly chummy on the patio at Chuck’s second location, at 20th and Union in the Central District.) Don’t worry, there is still plenty of room to park your bike or stroller and to accommodate the regular rotation of food trucks. With an ever-changing selection of dozens of draft beers, there is no regular offering at Chuck’s: Ask your knowledgeable server for a recommendation. Open daily. 656 NW 85th St.; 206.297.6212;


Dog & Pony Alehouse and Grill
Relax on the spacious (and dog-friendly) patio knowing that just a few blocks away, crews of machinists work feverishly around the clock assembling commercial airliners. Like Boeing, the Dog & Pony welcomes machinists and engineers alike, and work boots and wing tips rest side by side at picnic tables and assorted pieces of patio furniture as their wearers slurp pints of mostly local craft beers. Located on a busy corner in what appears to be a transformed filling station, the Dog & Pony has a vast beer selection, with more than 30 beers on tap. However, the locals have a fondness for IPA, so expect to find plenty of those on the menu, such as the Sky Hag IPA from Airways Brewing Co. This primarily 21-and-older watering hole (kids are allowed in the front area until 8 p.m.) also offers typical pub grub, such as fish and chips, sandwiches and salads. Open daily. 351 Park Ave. N; 425.254.8080;

South Lake Union

Brave Horse Tavern
Surrounded by Amazonian towers of glass in the South Lake Union neighborhood, Tom Douglas’ Brave Horse Tavern occupies the second floor of a historic brick building, where a tech-minded after-work crowd spills out onto the patio whenever the weather allows. The large tables accommodate sun-seeking crews of unwinding coworkers as they enjoy the selection of 20-plus draft beers served in 20-ounce “imperial pint” glasses. Expect to wait for a table on weekdays when the influx starts in the late afternoon and keeps coming through the dinner hour. Avoid the rush and visit on a weekend for brunch, or even on a Sunday evening for the tavern’s weekly chicken dinner—a three-piece buttermilk fried chicken dinner served with seasonal sides. While you’re there, be sure to try the Brave Horse ale, brewed exclusively for Brave Horse Tavern by Schooner Exact Brewing Co. This one is for grownups only (21 and older). Open daily. 310 Terry Ave. N; 206.971.0717;

South Park

Lowercase Brewing
The beer garden at Lowercase Brewing is the excuse you’ve been looking for to take that first trip across the new South Park Bridge (which opened in June) to visit this oft-forgotten but up-and-coming community. Lowercase is located off the main drag, in the middle of the neighborhood, in a small but tall, modern, green metal building; some of your fellow beer hunters probably traveled by foot to quaff pints or fill growlers of Lowercase Mexican lager, which is a delicious tribute to the ethnic vibrancy of South Park. Amidst the grass and gravel, there is some wooden patio furniture and plenty of room for a game of cornhole. Kids love to climb around on the big, rectangular chunks of granite and basalt that adorn the beer garden, the rock providing additional seating options as it awaits transformation at the hands of local sculptor John Hoge, whose studio is right next door. The collection of large stone sculptures makes this beer garden easy to spot. Open Thu.–Sun. 8103 Eighth Ave. S; 206.258.4987;


Fiddler’s Inn
This old-school pub in Wedgwood is a living page out of a Seattle history book. The homey, cottage-like atmosphere of this place, which has been around since the 1930s, exudes charm. Rust-colored wood paneling, wood floors, red swivel barstools, Johnny Cash playing in the background and about a dozen beers on tap (ranging from a Hale’s brew to pFriem IPA and Rogue Nitro Stout), make this a destination for a lot of beerophiles. There’s also a full kitchen that turns out panini, pizza, soups, salads, quesadillas and two types of nachos. Offering the perfect setting for drinking beer: Five long, umbrella-clad wooden picnic tables sit in a fenced-in, trellis-covered patio, a space that feels as though it’s filled with friends and that produces a happiness that only comes when you’ve escaped the hustle and bustle of the city for a much mellower way of life. But don’t hesitate—this beer garden closes for the season on October 15. 21 and older only. Open daily. 9219 35th Ave. NE; 206.525.0752;

West Seattle

Big Al Brewing  
The parking lot in front of the large, beige metal building no longer accommodates cars, but now is home to a mismatched collection of plastic and metal patio furniture, some comfortably shaded by awnings. On your way here, stop by Zippy’s Giant Burgers, which is just two blocks up the road, to pick up a hamburger to accompany a pint of Big Al’s Irish red ale. Many of the beer-loving neighbors treat this beer garden like it’s their backyard patio, and on Sunday, it can sometimes feel like a private barbecue or tailgate party, when the locals bring their own food, use the barbecue grill that the brewery provides and set up a potluck. However, don’t worry about feeling left out; everyone is friendly, you are not interrupting, and someone might even offer you a hot dog. Open daily. 9832 14th Ave. SW; 206.453.4487;

Beveridge Place Pub  
Dubbed the “Beveranda,” this is Seattle’s most garden-like beer garden, where beer drinkers find themselves happily cloistered behind a fence intentionally overgrown with hop vines and other plants, cocooned from the bustle of California Avenue and the parking lot next door. Because it doesn’t serve any food beyond nuts and microwave popcorn, Beveridge Place Pub encourages customers to order their meals from one of the nearby restaurants, many of which will deliver to your table. Order a chicken souvlaki salad from Kokoras Greek Grill, which is right across the street, and settle in with a pint of Immersion amber from Two Beers Brewing, or any of the more than 30 beers on tap.

Photo by Scott Stedman
This is a 21 and older establishment. Open daily. 6413 California Ave. SW; 206.932.9906;

West Seattle’s version of a biergarten can be found at this popular pub, where frosty pours of imported German beer (served in imported German glassware) are the real deal. Out back, a rather large patio filled with proper wooden picnic tables and a few umbrellas help create a leisurely ambiance that manages to keep you rooted in this little Bavarian oasis just long enough to order another pint. Under 21 OK until 9 p.m. Open daily. 3407 California Ave. SW; 206.420.7174;


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