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 #4.
#3 Beer Spot in Seattle: Uber Tavern
This little bar packs quite a punch with its beer selection. But, if you don’t pay attention, you might miss it altogether. I still remember the first time I drove by Uber Tavern, located on Aurora Avenue just north of Green Lake, not long after it had opened several years ago. They have an industrial-looking “kegs to go” sign outside to match their “Uber” sign, and if you don’t take a close look through the windows it is easy to miss the treasures that await you through the door. I passed it right up without thinking about it that first time and it wasn’t until a friend said, “Dude, have you checked out that Uber place? It’s amazing.”, that I had any clue that it was worth visiting. The bar may be small in square footage, but it packs as much good beer as possible into that limited space. A recent renovation made even better use of their limited space.
The Beer: Strong. That is the first word that comes to my mind when I think of the beer selection at Uber. It is not uncommon to sit down at the bar, look at the list displayed on flat screen televisions and realize that half of their seventeen taps of beer could be considered strong beers, say around 8% ABV or higher (8 of them were at last look). That is partially a result of them pouring what they consider to be the best beers they can get their hands on. They don’t really care where the beer comes from; local, northwest, West Coast, East Coast, Midwest, and international are all the same to them. They just want to pour great beer. That’s not to say they don’t pour plenty of local beers, but they don’t put the focus on those beers like many bars in the city do. Most recent, their local Washington selection included a double IPA from North Sound Brewery and the Vienna Lager from Chuckanut.
From sours, to imperial stouts and IPAs, to barrel-aged beers and strong Belgian ales, Uber is best visited by bus, so you don’t have to worry about driving home. They pour outstanding sessionable beers as well, but chances are you are going to be tempted by something strong on any given visit. Another feature that makes it reasonable to sample several of their high octane offerings is the fact that they offer 4oz tasting glasses of all of their beers for a price as low as $1, depending on the beer.
It’s impossible to miss the four well-stocked bottle fridges directly behind the bar. It is set up perfectly to peruse the selections while you are sipping on a beer, and it isn’t hard to find something you’ve never had before. They do as good of a job as any local bar of stocking their bottle fridge. If you are with a few other people, it can be fun to split a few bottles of special beers while at the bar; just ask and the bartender will break out a few tasting glasses for you. For when you have had enough strong beer, there are also some great session beers in bottles. My fallback is the slightly smokey, 4.3% ABV Aecht Schlenkerla Helles, which you can almost always find here in bottles and occasionally on tap.
You can also get growler fills of any tap beer to-go, and you can purchase any bottles out of the cooler to take home. Don’t expect competitive bottle shop prices, though. This is a bar…not a bottle shop.
The Food: They don’t have a kitchen, but they have a large book of restaurant menus that will deliver. The PCC is also across the street and has a hot and cold food bar. My favorite place to grab a bite is Barriga Llena, which specializes in Mexico City style tortas. They don’t deliver, but they are just a couple blocks down the street. They also occasionally pull their food truck up to the bar these days. Good stuff.
The Atmosphere: “Cozy” just about sums it up. The space is not large, and it can get pretty packed in there for special events and on weekend nights. There are about ten seats at the bar, and then there are a few tables scattered around. The focal point of the room is the fireplace table, which has a gas flame and is a nice spot to hang out with friends on a cold winter evening. The bartenders are knowledgeable and friendly, and if you sit at the bar by yourself you won’t have a problem striking up conversation with other customers. A few TVs are spread around and typically are tuned to sports. There is a small patio space out front facing the wonderful sights and sounds of Aurora Avenue. Grab one of the few seats out there and just soak up the atmosphere.
Overall: This is one of my favorite places to drink beer in Seattle. It is relaxed enough to make for a perfect neighborhood bar, but it has a world-class selection that lures visiting beer geeks in search of the best of the best. It’s not uncommon to intend visiting Uber for just a couple beers, and then the next thing you know you’re there much longer than you had intended. That’s what my friend Colin likes to refer to as “The Uber Time Warp”. Watch out for it. It may happen to you.
7517 Aurora Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103-4747