Today’s Groupon gets you $30 worth of beer tasting, a pint of your favorite house beer, and a nifty T-shirt at Two Beers Brewing Co. for $15. Beer tasting will incorporate your hands, torso, and palate for a full-sensory tastezone.China, 5,000 BC: Alcohol was used in China to celebrate a variety of important events like births, conference championships, and the invention of gunpowder.
Established on the grounds of the celebrated Rainier Brewery a decade after its closing, Emerald City Beer Company restores a rich brewing heritage with its own traditionally minded approach to the craft. Founder and brewmaster Rick Hewitt has been crafting homebrews since his days as a graduate student, surpassing his contemporaries by not including shredded diplomas and tassels in his beer recipes. His brewery’s signature creation, Dottie Seattle Lager, combines four types of grains with Yakima Valley–grown hops for a flavorful lager with local roots. Emerald City is quickly expanding its reach and is available in more than 40 bars throughout the state, as well as in stores throughout Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Idaho.
Pyramid Alehouse pours a flavorful cascade of handcrafted draft beers, passing straight to the mug from the on-site brewery. Whether guests prefer a malty amber ale or a hoppy, Thunderhead IPA, Pyramid Alehouse’s vast menu of succulent cuisine and beer-infused bites are specially designed to complement every frothy glass. Pair down the sweetness of fruity apricot ale with a spicy platter of wheat-battered chicken wings served with extra spicy hot sauce and blue cheese ($11). Or, absorb a double dose of unfiltered Bavarian ale by pairing the Haywire Hefeweizen with a hearty helping of alehouse fish and chips, featuring Alaskan cod marinated in Haywire ($12). Though football and cheese-rolling season have finished, Pyramid Alehouse boasts a daily rotating lineup of food and drink specials to keep sports fans well fueled until the championship line-dancing semi-finals makes its triumphant return to prime time.
The enthusiastic tour guides at Road Dogs Tours love Journey, standup comedy, and snowboarding—but on their three tours, their love of Seattle and its signature beverages is what really shines. With a focus on creating a lasting, unique memory, the staff crafts fun and engaging tours based on tips and information gathered from locals, research, and their own personal experiences. On the company’s namesake brewery tour, a guide whisks tourists to three breweries in three hours, where they sample craft beer, learn about the brewing process, and brush up on Seattle’s brewing history since the first beer tree was tapped in 1892. Distillery tours offer a similar selection of behind-the-scenes tidbits and local history, and feature samples of vodka, gin and whiskey. Morning coffee tours, meanwhile, stop at bean roasters, cafés, and bakeries, celebrating the city’s caffeine addiction.
Fremont Brewing Company has all the markings of a big-time brewing operation, but with smaller accents that make the place seem approachable. Just a little bit rustic, with big, wooden communal trestle tables and comfortable chairs in the adjoining taproom, Fremont also holds lots of industrial stainless steel vats and barrels inside their outsized concrete blue building. Seasonal brews on tap help to quaff the thirst of local craft beer fans, and a suppertime urban beer garden routinely fills up on sunny days. Pints are available to enjoy while on the premises, and growlers to go keep the regulars coming back. Each of the brewery’s small-batch artisan beers are made with local ingredients, and range from a handsome India Pale Ale to stouts, porters and assorted ales. The fact that the place is both kid- and dog-friendly also tells you a lot about the business.
A pedigree of 21 medals from the Great American Beer Festival distinguishes Big Time Brewery—open since 1988—which crafts its own pantheon of sudsy brews in-house and serves them alongside traditional pub fare. The tasting experience begins with two flights of five 4-ounce samples of the house's microbrews, such as Prime Time pale ale, which has notes of delicate malt, and the Atlas amber ale, which leaves one with hints from three different hops and two recent New York Times crossword puzzles. Crispy pomme frites can accompany the taste parade draped in dipping sauces, while salsa adds zest to each rhythmic crunch of nachos. Meanwhile, a pair of Big Time–logo drinking glasses act as eternal reminders of this tasting gauntlet, and sippers can choose to tote home a 22-ounce bottle of a house brew or an empty half-gallon growler, which can be flushed with foamy goodness for $8.75 per fill.