If you’re looking for the best brews in Seattle, you need to head to Ballard. The once sleepy fishing village is now brimming with great food, beer and shopping. Plus, the Ballard breweries are some of the most highly-rated in the region, drawing the best talent and brewing concepts from across the country. In fact, the award-winning craft breweries are really responsible for the industrial revival of the waterfront district.
The best way to explore this buzzing neighbourhood’s beer scene is on a Ballard brewery tour. With dozens to choose from, we’ve cherry-picked nine of the best to help make the decision a little easier for you.
Breweries to check out in Ballard:
Old Seattle Brewery Tour
Run by Seattle Brewery Walking Tours, this three-hour walking tour ticks off three of the district’s best-loved breweries, with four delicious tastings at each brewery. First up is Lagunitas, one of Ballards newest breweries but one of California’s oldest. The beer menu features Washington brewery favourites, as well as experimental blends. Then it’s onwards to NW Peaks Brewery and Peddler Brewing Company. You’ll get to keep your souvenir beer tasting glass and a West Seattle brewery and food guide too.
East Ballard Brewery Tour
This three-hour tour dives deep into the east end of the city and is a great option for families. The tour kicks off at Populuxe Brewing, voted the most Family Friendly Seattle Brewery. There’s a huge beer garden and Pinball Gallery to keep little ones occupied while the adults tuck into some of the finest beers in the city.
Next up is the no-frills Lucky Envelope, which also features toys and board games to keep kids occupied. It’s known for its award-winning Six Weeks Series Lagers, sour beers and Northwest IPAs. Finally, there’s a stop at the Urban Family Brewing Company. The brand new brewhouse is inspired by Belgian and French Farmhouse brewing traditions, with a great selection of in-house brewed sour ales.
Cycle Saloon Brewery Tour
If you’re looking to cover more ground and burn off a few of those beer calories in between, this Cycle Saloon tour is a fun way to explore the West Seattle brewery scene. Each ‘Cycle Saloon’ can seat up to 16 passengers, and it’s totally pedal-powered. Beer isn’t included in the price but you’ll have plenty of time for a Swifty at each stop. The route includes stops at Lagunitas Brewery, Peddler Brewery and Lucy Envelope, as well as a few other breweries including the lovely and lively Bad Jimmy’s. Tours run from Thursday to Sunday each week.
Old Ballard Brewery Tour
This three and a half hour walking tour includes stops at three major breweries, with four tastings at each. It kicks off at Reuben’s Brews, one of the neighbourhood’s most popular spots. The multi-generational brewery is run by Reuben, who was only one month old when his parents named the brewery after him.
Next up is a stop at Peddler Brewing Company and Lagunitas Taproom. The tour includes a free souvenir glass and bottle opener too. Along the way, a knowledgeable guide dives into the history of the Northwest barley fields, traditional old-world brewing styles and some of the new experimental beers.
Ballard Brewed Passport
If the thought of organised tours breaks you out in a sweat, then this Brewery Passport, created by Visit Ballard, might be just the ticket. Featuring a helpful map of 11 breweries in a one-mile radius, you collect a stamp at each location. Once you’ve completed the passport, you need to head to Hattie’s Hat and exclaim ‘I COMPLETED THE BALLARD BREWERY PASSPORT” for your final stamp and commemorative drinkware.
You can complete the tour in your own time too. It’s the perfect way to experience the unique spirit and character of each West Seattle brewery at your own leisure. Visit Ballard Brewed to download the passport.
Central Ballard Brewing Tour
Considering the heart of Ballard is home to the highest concentration of craft breweries in the world, it’s no surprise that this central Ballard brewing tour stops off different breweries to the first entry on our list. During the three-and-a-half-hour tour, participants get to sample 12 different beers, ranging from classics like Czech-style Pilsners and old English Ales to experimental Northwest IPAs.
Beers change seasonally too. If you’re in town during the autumn, you’ll get to sample some of the best Oktoberfest lagers and pumpkin-spiced ales too. Or, if you’re travelling at Christmas, you might get to tuck into a tasty Whiskey Barrel-Aged Stout. The itinerary includes stops at Reuben’s Brews, Stoup Brewing and Obec Brewery, Ballard’s newest microbrewery.
Lakeside Beer Tour in Seattle
You don’t have to be a keen cyclist to enjoy this leisurely lakeside beer tour, but you’ll need stamina. Starting in Fremont, the tour winds its way across some of the best Seattle breweries in the city, Ballard included. There are stops at the Gas Works Park, Lake Union and downtown Seattle before you take on some of Ballard’s most iconic breweries, like Peddler Brewing. The tour finished up with sunset views over the Olympic mountains from Seattle’s white sandy beaches.
Lagunitas Brewing Company Tap Room & Beer Sanctuary
Lagunitas is a microbrewing powerhouse. It follows then, that if you were going to choose one Washington brewery to explore it would be this one. Daily tours start daily at 4:20 pm from Wednesday to Friday and 2 pm at the weekend. It’s a casual but fascinating tour run by knowledgeable guides who are more than happy to regale audiences with the origins of the company and entertaining anecdotes peppered with funny mishaps along the way.
The tour includes behind-the-scenes access to the whole facility and a tasting too.
Ballard Craft Beer Tour
This biking tour features three West Seattle brewery stops, with tastings along the way. The third stop is the Maritime Pacific Brewing Company, with a trip to the ‘Jolly Roger Taproom’ – an old-fashioned nautical-themed pub, complete with pirate flags and sailing charts. After filling up on some of the best beers in town, you can sober up at Mike’s Chilli Parlour, a well-kept local secret. They’ve been serving up mouthwatering burgers, hot dogs and signature chilli since 1922 in this laid-back family-run eatery.
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