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Exploring Seattle’s Booming Beer Scene

Seattle is home to nearly 70 breweries — a staggering number more significant than several states can boast. Summer is one of the best times to backstroke through this ocean of excellent beer as the pandemic loosens its grip. There’s always something new to try and someplace new to go as breweries continue to take root in this thirsty city, sometimes in the unlikeliest of places. Ersatz biergartens have sprung up in parking lots as the pandemic forces breweries to become creative about gathering people safely.

Exhibit A lies about three miles north of downtown Seattle’s high-rises, where a patch of gray industrial land has become a famous brewery district in only a few years. Eleven breweries with taphouses occupy the roughly six-block square of what’s now called the Ballard Brewery District; another opening by a well-regarded brewer, Bale Breaker Brewing Company, should happen by summer’s end.

But even this list doesn’t fully capture the sudsy momentum. Cast your eyes a few more blocks in any direction, and the number of breweries-with-taprooms swells. Cloudburst Brewing has added a satellite taproom to its nearby brewery about one mile west of here. A bit farther to the south sits Holy Mountain Brewing, one of the best microbrewers in the nation. A beer lover could wander for days. Best of all, almost everything is so close that the thirsty and curious can explore on foot or on one of Seattle’s ubiquitous shared scooters or city bicycles.

The Robbings had no idea if anyone would show up, but customers started arriving even before they opened. Within eight months, two more breweries opened. One of those was Stoup Brewing. Like the Robbings, Lara Zahaba — who started Stoup with her husband, Brad Benson, and business partner, Robyn Schumacher — wanted to brew close to the vibrant neighborhoods nearby. The more breweries that appeared, the better all the breweries fared, both owners said. “Rising suds lifts all boats,” Adam Robbings joked.

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