This is the 2012 Seattle Beer News list of the Top 10 Beer Spots in Seattle. Many great bars, pubs, and breweries won’t make this list; that doesn’t mean they aren’t outstanding places. Check out the previous post for #3.
Beer Mecca. That is the phrase that comes to mind when trying to summarize my thoughts on Brouwer’s Café. Their combination of 60+ taps of outstanding beers from around the world, an extensive bottle list with many rarities, a food menu that continues to impress, and a year-round slate of exciting special events makes it not just one of the best and most-recognized beer bars in Seattle, but in the entire country. Many locals call it their favorite bar, and most beer geek visitors to Seattle have Brouwer’s at the top of their list of places to visit. It is absolutely a world-class bar that deserves all of the recognition it gets.
The Beer: The selection at Brouwer’s is like something out of a beer geek’s wet dream. 60+ taps of well-thought-out selections entice you on any given day. Their menu is split mostly between Belgian imports and American craft beer, with other select imports thrown in as well. With their volume of taps, they do a great job of supporting local breweries while still offering beers from all over the world. They often have cask beer, as well as various beers on nitro taps. A recent tap list offered 9 Washington beers, 21 craft beers from the rest of America, 13 Belgian beers, and 7 other European imports.
You can’t miss the windows of bottles sitting quietly behind the bar, and even if you plan to stick to draft beers you should ask your server for a bottle menu to check out the selections. They can get pricey, but if you feel like splurging on something special to share with your friends, this is the place.
Brouwer’s also throws some of the best festivals anywhere. Their annual Hard Liver Barleywine Festival features 60+ taps of barleywine and is a hell of a good time. Other festivals include Hopfest (coming up on Sep 27), Sour Beer Festival, and Big Wood, which focuses on wood-aged beers. They pull out all the stops for these fests and usually have a few things on tap that you wouldn’t otherwise find in Seattle. If you can put up with the crowds, these festivals are not to miss.
The Food: The food has continued to get better and better over the years. They have a solid seasonal menu with salads, sandwiches, and offerings such as Mussels & Frites and Carbonnade. They usually have a sheet of weekly specials these days, which almost always has something difficult to pass up. They also have a bargain happy hour menu, which includes what might be the best dish in the house: a simple bowl of outstanding spaghetti Bolognese for $5.
The Atmosphere: The atmosphere at Brouwer’s is probably best described as a modern beer hall. The main floor has several booths and even more tables, and the long bar has room for probably twenty or more people to pull up a stool. The room is large and cavernous, and there is a wrap around second level that holds even more tables, as well as the “parlor” room which has a large table perfect for groups. The design is modern and wouldn’t exactly be described as cozy. While the layout works well for large events and festivals, it definitely does not have the feel of a local corner bar. I’m OK with that. On weeknights, the atmosphere is pretty relaxed. But, the place fills up on weekends with the local Fremont crowd, college kids, and all other walks of life. Loud music is not a rarity.
Overall: This place is special. Their everyday selection paired with their events makes it a cornerstone of the Seattle beer community. Locals are lucky enough to be able to visit whenever they’d like. Visiting beer enthusiasts just wish they could.
400 N. 35th St.
Seattle WA 98107