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The Beer Lover’s Guide to Seattle
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Beer Culture

 
Seattle Beer Culture
Eric Sheckler
There are few things cozier to do in Seattle on a rainy day than hole up in a brewpub with some friends and enjoy some locally brewed beer. Many claim that Washington started the microbrew rebirth in the 1980s. In fact, it boasts one of the country’s largest concentrations of breweries, and with good reason. Three-fourths of the nation’s hops — one of beer’s major ingredients — are produced in the nearby Yakima Valley. The area’s pristine sources of mountain spring water and other fresh local ingredients make it an ideal brewing ground.
 
There are plenty of ways for visitors to celebrate the area’s beery heritage, which was popular long before the craft-beer craze took foot: Jim Whittaker had a can of Seattle’s Rainier Beer with him when he became the first American to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.
 
Many of the local brewers, including Redhook Ale Brewery and Pike Brewing Company, offer tours of their operations, where you can see the suds go from grains to glass and enjoy a sampling of the brewery’s pride and joy. Be sure to check their websites for seasonal hours and special events. If you’d rather enjoy your ale with some good eats, both places offer full menus, as does the Pyramid Alehouse.
 
The waiters at these spots are even savvy enough to recommend the perfect beer to match the order, much like a wine expert pairing food.
 
Seattle also offers an extraordinary number of intimate pubs that have dozens of local beers on tap. The bartenders are likely to have many theories on what makes Seattle beers the best, so be sure to ask what their favorites are. Stick to the tried-and-true lagers, ales, stouts and pilsners, or try something really different like marionberry wheat, pumpkin ale or chocolate porter. Don’t be afraid to choose a beer by its tap handle. It’s a virtual runway-show contest among brewers to come up with the most unique, eye-catching tap for their brew — everything from a spaceship to an oar to a lightning bolt can be found behind the bar.

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Further evidence of Seattleites’ love of a pint is the number of annual beer events, including the Washington Beer Commission's Brewers Festival in June and its Winter Beer Festival in December, the Seattle International Beer Fest in July, Washington Cask Beer Festival in March and Hops & Props at the Museum of Flight in February. These beer extravaganzas feature entertainment, contests and keg tosses and, of course, enormous selections of craft beers from Seattle and beyond.

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Pub crawls and beer tours are offered by  Seattle By Foot, Road Dogs Seattle Brewery Tours and Puget Sound Brewery Tours.