Washington ranks seventh among states in craft breweries per capita and brews up a good chunk of the nation’s $19.6-billion small-batch suds industry. And the South Puget Sound region, which includes the cities of Tacoma, Gig Harbor, Puyallup and Graham, embodies the success of the Washington beer industry. Be sure to add one (or all!) of these South Sound breweries to your Washington itinerary.
The South Sound’s “legacy of honest hard work” resonates in every sip from Wingman Brewers, a 2011 start-up that’s already upgraded to a taproom across from Tacoma Dome Station. Its theme salutes the World War II service of head brewer Ken Thoburn’s grandfather, who painted designs on military fuselages. Today, Wingman’s logo, a pinup girl behind an airplane gauge, keeps alive the area’s can-do spirit.
Harmon Brewing Co.
Sample the South Sound region’s success at Tacoma’s first craft brewery: Harmon Brewing Co. Located in the heart of downtown Tacoma in the historic warehouse district, Harmon Brewing Co. was named after the building it calls home—the 1908 Harmon Manufacturing Building.
Head to Pint Defiance, a new bottle shop that has 50 feet of craft beers, meads and ciders for sale, as well as tap offerings like Test Pilot IPA from Kent’s Airways Brewing Co. Pint Defiance’s taproom also features a rotating selection of 10 draft beers and ciders; visit their website to see their current offerings.
7 Seas Brewing
To find the 7 Seas Brewing tasting room, just head west across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to beautiful Gig Harbor. Their 3,000-square-foot tasting room sits only a few blocks from the Puget Sound and features up to 17 beers on tap. Sip on a Rude Parrot IPA or an Oatmeal-Raisin Stout while sitting on long, rectangle tables made from reclaimed timber, and watch beer being made in the 25- and 8.5-barrel system through a glass wall.
Connoisseurs can savor Powerhouse’s Amperage Amber, Four Alarm Stout and Scottish Ale in a 1907 electrical substation constructed for the Puget Sound Electric Railway—converted into one of the west’s top brewpubs.
M.T. Head Brewing Co.
Lift a glass of Dark Marc Ale to the M.T. Head Brewing Company’s sixth year of turning out boutique barrels under the watchful gaze of Mount Rainier. The No Brainer Ale radiates the perfect blend of Northwest malt and hops.
South Puget Sound Wine
But the area doesn’t just excel at artisanal beer. Vintners have opened shop in Lakewood (Stina’s Cellars) and on Vashon Island (Palouse Winery), among others, keeping the South Sound’s spirit of innovation burning bright.
-Amanda Castleman and Mike Moe
Photo credit: Bale Breakers