I love this time of year. MLB spring training is nearing its end, and the start of the regular season just over the horizon. NFL free agency has been in full swing, and the draft is coming up next month. But, arguably the most exciting sports event of the year is NCAA March Madness, which tips off bright and early tomorrow (not counting the play-in game…). You’ve filled out your bracket already, right?
When it comes to sports, it is really quite difficult to get fans interested in games that don’t involve a team they have a rooting interest for. That all changes for March Madness. During the opening week of the tournament, sports fans pack bars across the country to watch games from early morning (around 9am here in Seattle) till late in the evening, tracking their picks on printed out brackets, and getting excited about teams they’ve very possibly not even seen play before. Productivity at offices dips, and many people choose to take a vacation or sick day to watch games all day on Friday. It’s fun to watch the games anywhere, but watching at a bar with other people getting into it is part of the fun. Watching upsets like #15 Lehigh beating #2 Duke last year gets just about everyone cheering and jumping out of their bar stools.
One of the great things about Seattle is that just about every bar has at least a few solid beers on tap. At the very least, you are likely to find something like Georgetown Manny’s Pale Ale or Mac & Jack’s African Amber. That means you can choose just about anywhere to watch the games and not worry about what beer you’ll be drinking. But, if you are like me, settling in for a full day of watching sports means enjoying a variety of good beer as well. Here are some places you can plan to catch the games and not sacrifice your beer drinking agenda.
Uber Tavern – This is where our group of friends watched last year. It’s small, and if many people show up there is no guarantee you’ll get a seat. But, With 3 TVs well-located around the small room and an amazing selection of beer, we had a blast. This year, they will be open at 9am on Thursday for the games and they’ll have $3 pints of Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA throughout the tournament. Check out their website for other details.
Sports Bars – While I think the overall quality and selection of sports bars in Seattle is severely lacking vs. what you’ll find in other big cities, there are plenty of places to choose from for March Madness. Be prepared for them all to be packed, though. 95 Slide, Buckley’s in Belltown, and Ballard Loft are probably my favorites. All should have the sound on the games, and I would assume that they are all opening early (shame on them if they are not). Of the 3, I think Buckley’s probably has the best beer selection, but all 3 have several craft offerings to choose from.
Cooper’s Alehouse – They will be open at noon every day and will have the sound on the games. 7 HD TVs and lots of rotating beers on tap. Thursday is also $1 off all pints and $3 off pitchers.
Beveridge Place Pub – I love that BPP has a “game room” in addition to their front pub. With 3 TVs places around the room, it’s a good spot to catch a game. They’ll have the games on their main TV throughout the tourney, except for the two Saturday nights that the Sounders are on; the games would still be on their 2 smaller TVs those nights. They’ll be open at 2pm on Thu/Fri, and Noon on Sat/Sun.
Collins Pub/Mutiny Hall/Hudson Public House – Seth Howard’s 3 bars have plenty of great beer to keep you busy, and the games will definitely be on. No sound on the games though, unless there is overwhelming demand from the people watching. They won’t be opening early, so check the websites for hours.
Bottleworks – This great bottle shop will open their doors at 9am on both Thursday and Friday and will have the games on. I think they just have one TV, but they have an insane amount of great beer on tap and in bottles.
The Noble Fir – 2 TVs located at each corner of the bar are typically tuned to sports. Visit on Thursday to see what is left from “Ellen’s Head on the Floor” party, which takes place Wednesday. Not open until 4pm from Thu to Sat, and 1pm on Sunday. One of my favorite bars in town.
Reader suggestions from Facebook/Twitter/Email:
The Chieftain - I’ve never been here…so not much I can say about this one.
The RAM Brewery – the locations at U-Village and Northgate definitely have plenty of TVs to go along with good house beers. Sounds like a great option. Probably likely to have the sound on, I’d imagine.