Picture this…Seattle’s cherished sun illuminating a lazy afternoon. A warm breeze and good tunes paired with a frosty microbrew dripping with condensation. There’s arguably no more perfect summertime union than sunshine and cold craft beer! One thing that doesn’t pair well with beer, however, is blisters. Luckily just north of downtown, Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood offers up an ever-expanding selection of first-rate craft breweries in a very walkable footprint.

Want to pack a lot of suds into one afternoon? Just add wheels! The city has three different bike sharing companies with free-roaming bicycles available via app. Or BYOB – bikes are allowed aboard the Clipper. Whether you’re on foot or atop a cruiser one thing’s for certain, on a visit to Ballard you won’t leave thirsty! Plan out your tasting trail with these 10 can’t-miss craft breweries.

1. Stoup Brewing

With a frequently changing lineup of beers on tap and food trucks in the parking lot, Stoup Brewing’s spacious side patio is worth a few return trips. If you happen to visit when a truck isn’t on duty, however, just grab some quarters and hit up their meat and cheese vending machine – yes, really! – and couple your snack with one of their bold, hop-forward brews. Try their Double Dry-Hopped Lager for a punch of flavor or sip on a Lemon Enigma IPA for a citrusy treat that pairs perfectly with a warm afternoon.

Courtesy of Stoup Brewing_crop

2. Obec Brewing

Old-world brewing styles meet contemporary PNW flavors at Obec’s inviting neighborhood taproom just down 52nd Street. Meaning “community” in Czech, Obec’s founders aimed to create a place where people can hang out and enjoy both great beer and each other’s company. In other words, that second pint of English Pale Ale or tulip glass of Summer Saison you’ve been considering is practically a must-do!

Rob MangelsdorfCo-owner and Head Brewer Wayne Jehlik explains, “Our brewing philosophy is all about respecting the tradition of brewing. We strive for balance in our beers, and there’s a lot of European inspiration to be found on our taps, alongside the more familiar Northwest style ales.”

3. Trailbend Taproom

Pedal down 11th and hook a right to find Ballard’s newest hop spot, Trailbend Taproom. Offering 42 taps from around the globe that rotate daily, you’re bound to find a pint to suit your palate. Feeling peckish? Order up a plate of beef and pork meatballs or chicken wings from their menu of shareable dishes and refuel with your crew before cruising to your next destination.

4. Reuben’s Brews

A block away, you may recognize the distinctive scrawl of the “Reuben’s Brews” sign from their jewel-toned six packs lining the shelves of many local grocery and convenience shops. As the longest-standing brewery in Ballard, they’ve earned local acclaim after years of putting out flavor-packed, consistently delicious beer in a wide range of flavor profiles.

From their pervasive store presence to their collaboration with brewing heavyweight Rainier, Reuben’s has gained an impressive local following, while maintaining the low-key charm of their neighborhood tasting room.

Co-founder and Brewmaster Adam Robbings says of their brew ideology, “We opened the brewery back in 2012 with one
focus – to make the best beer we could. We brew from the glass backwards, we concentrate on how we want the beer to taste and work backwards from there, unconstrained.”

5. Lucky Envelope Brewing

Ride along 50th Street ‘til you reach the bright red banner welcoming you to Lucky Envelope Brewing. Think fruit and beer are a match made in heaven? You’re in luck! Sample one of their sunshine-ready brews like their Grapefruit Mosaic IPA, Raspberry Sour and Lemondrop IPA in their breezy tasting room and let the summer vibes wash over you.

Director of Operations Raymond Kwan says of their backstory, “Lucky Envelope’s brewing philosophy is all about culturally inspired beer. The name comes from the Chinese tradition of the elderly generation giving the younger generation red envelopes filled with paper money. The color red is meant to ward off evil spirits and bring good health, while the money inside is supposed to bring prosperity.” We’ll drink to that!

6. Populuxe Brewing

Across the road you’ll find the neighborhood’s quirkiest tasting space at Populuxe Brewing. With its vivid blue paint job, funky retro furnishings and sprawling outdoor space (yard games, anyone?) this spot packs a whole lot of flavor into their brewery before you even get to the beer!

Populuxe’s tap list is filled with creative flavor combinations, which also serve to illustrate their affection for the area. With brew names like Burke Gilman Bitter (named for the city’s beloved hiking and biking trail), Ballard Blonde and Juneuary, you’ll feel like a local after your first pint.

7. Bad Jimmy’s Brewing Co.

Head south to Leary Street to the tucked away tasting room of Bad Jimmy’s Brewing Co. Every square foot of their compact space oozes fun, from their assortment of arcade games to their ongoing Sunday Yoga & Beer events. Even their beer doesn’t take itself too seriously. Playful summer seasonals include the Girl Scout Dropout, based on the crave-worthy Samoa cookie, and their three-time gold medal winning Cucumber Lime Blonde.

Co-owner Jason Shrum adds, “It’s our mission at Bad Jimmy’s to ensure that we consistently offer the most innovative creations when it comes to craft beer. We do this with creative combinations of the highest quality ingredients for which we see no substitute.”

Jason Shrum

8. Peddler Brewing

Saddle up on one of the neighborhood’s many shared bikes, an especially fitting way to arrive to your next destination – Peddler Brewing. This community hub provides a gathering place for beer lovers and cycling enthusiasts, offering up bike pumps and indoor bike parking, plus a first-of-its-kind bike part vending machine. Even the beer ties into their mission statement, with brews on tap such as their Beach Cruiser Blonde or the citrusy Pedal Strike Pale.

Co-owner Haley Keller says, “Ballard is a friendly, walkable, vibrant neighborhood and our large covered beer garden welcomes friends and families all year round. We work to have a variety of styles of beer available, so all beer lovers can find a favorite on our menu.”

Jesse Van Hoy

9. NW Peaks Brewery

Pop around the corner on 17th Street to pay a visit to NW Peaks Brewery. With a relaxed atmosphere, 13 hoppy concoctions on tap and a surprisingly extensive menu for the space’s diminutive size, this is a great local spot to enjoy a leisurely lunch with a few friends and a frosty pint. (Inside tip: Their rosemary spiced nuts should not be skipped!)

10. Lagunitas Brewing Taproom & Beer Sanctuary

One block up you’ll find the Seattle outpost of PNW brewing heavyweight, Lagunitas Brewing Company. Fans of their bracingly hoppy brews will be pleased to see the full roster of their year-round offerings alongside a selection of Ballard-exclusives, such as the espresso-infused A.M. Grind.

Head Brewer Dan Schmelzer mentions, “The density of breweries in Ballard is astonishing, and it keeps us as brewers always striving to make every brew better than the last. Our pub brews ten barrel batches with a focus on sourcing local ingredients for a creative spin on your favorite styles.”

Courtesy of Lagunitas Brewing Company

With a rapidly growing selection of craft breweries, Ballard is the ideal area to pack a ton of local flavor into one afternoon. Whether you’re exploring on foot or cycling your way around your own personalized ale trail, you’ll no doubt end the day with some new favorite brews and an appreciation of the neighborhood’s commitment to truly great beer.

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Photo Credits: 1st photo block: Patio courtesy of Stoup Brewing. Flight of beer. Credit: Cheryl Patel. Outside and food truck. Credit: Flickr user vermilionink. Tap handles. Credit: Flickr user VanFoodies. 2nd photo block: Portrait of Wayne Jehlik. Credit: Rob Mangelsdorf. Both patio photos. Credit: Casey Boothman. Flights being poured, courtesy of Obec Brewing. Flight of beer. Credit: Brian Chu Photography. 3rd photo block: All photos by Casey Boothman. 4th photo block: Portrait of Adam Robbings. Credit: Jared Moossy. All other Reuben’s photos courtesy of Reuben’s Brews. 5th photo block: Portrait of Raymond Kwan. Credit: Rob Mangelsdorf. All other photos courtesy of Lucky Envelope Brewing. 6th photo block: Exterior and tap list photos courtesy of Populuxe Brewing. Side patio. Credit: Flickr user vermilionink. Interior tasting room. Credit: Flickr user VanFoodies. 7th photo block: All photos by Jason Shrum of Bad Jimmy’s Brewing Co. 8th photo block: Portrait of Haley Keller and pint pouring. Credit: Jesse Van Hoy. All other photos courtesy of Peddler Brewing. 9th photo block: Tap handles. Credit: Flickr user +Russ. Interior of tasting room. Credit: Denny Gmur. Exterior. Credit: Plant Nite. Brewer behind the scenes. Credit: Joshua McNichols. 

Featured photo: Drew Beamer