The breweries in the neighborhood of Ballard in Seattle have exploded recently such that they are close enough together that you can walk to a number of them after parking. For me this meant visiting Reuben’s Brews, Stoup, and Lucky Envelope in one monday afternoon. I wanted to visit Populux as well but they were closed that day. Each brewery had a few tasty beers but nothing to the level that would justify the hype behind them.
Reuben’s Brews is the first one I wanted to visit due to reading about it online from another blogger. They had a massive tap list but the seven beers I ordered didn’t impress me enough to get me to order another flight. I tried three sours, three IPAs and one stout. The three sours were all very interesting though my favorite was the Kentucky Common. It was really smooth with notes of caramel and some mild tartness. It had a delightful smooth finish that I don’t get much. My sister really liked the dry-hopped sour because it exhibits tons of lemon with a mild tart kick. I also enjoyed the fruited sour I had because I thought it had some good balance, just the right amount of fruit, and a good tart finish.
I picked my IPAs to try by the two varieties they had available in cans. Both seemed to exhibit bitterness over aroma and both also seemed to have a wheat malt base that I didn’t really care for. Though one of them had some nice tropical fruit and pine after it warmed up, it was just fairly average. The experimental IPA was really off-putting and the flavors reminded me of Sorachi Ace hops. Neither one of us liked that one at all. I later told the bartender they should put a note that it tastes similar to Sorachi ace because that hop is very polarizing. The Porter was really tasty with lots of caramel, roast, and mild smoke.
For such a new brewery, I was surprised that they had almost 20 beers on tap. It seemed to me like they need to spend more time coming up with some killer core beers but I hear their IPAs are quite popular around the area. If you like kettle sours, it should be an interesting place to stop by but I wouldn’t recommend trying everything on the board. They have a nice open atmosphere and tons of outdoor seating and street parking.
Kentucky Common Sour
Just a short walk from Rueuben’s is Stoup, where they have a shorter tap list and the IPAs are more flavorful. I did not care for the ESB I tried. It was really pretty tasteless and thin. Their seasonal witbeer was pretty good with lots of spice, some mild fruit, and hints of lime. The Mosaic Pale was quite popular there and my sister really liked it. I thought it was well done and had a good amount of citrus and fruits. It also had some notes of green peppers, which was a bit strange. I preferred the Citra IPA instead, which had a lot of tropical fruit notes. The North West IPA was an interesting take on the style, lots of sticky, dank pine character that dominated over the malts. The porter was solid but lacked the sweetness that I enjoyed in the one at Reuben’s.
Stoup seems to have a good start on finding the right flavors for their IPAs but the hops weren’t bursting as much as they could have been. They also have a nice open ambience and a good amount of outdoor seating.
I started with a helles at Lucky Envelope and really liked the fruity apricot hop character and crisp helles taste. The Session IPA was smooth and fruity, and done well. The IPA was nice and fruity without a ton of bitterness and exhibited lots of tropical fruit. The grapefruit version was quite tasty, with a bitterness to the beer that suggested lots of zest was added to the beer. Their Peanut Butter Stout was also quite delicious with tons of nutty flavor and a smooth finish without being too sweet.
Peanut Butter Porter
Each of the three Ballard area breweries I visited had something tasty available. They make for a fun walk between the three. Then my husband drove us to Holy Mountain for our last stop of the evening (almost!)
Known for lagers and wild ales (lagers?) Holy Mountain has developed quite a reputation very quickly. Many of their bottle releases sell out incredibly fast. Thankfully they have plenty of other good beers available for those who happen to stop by without planning like myself. I won’t bother describing the specific style of most of the beers since they are almost all wild. Though they didn’t offer tasters, we were able to do half pours of everything and create a flight still. I also left with a few bottles to go.
I started with Kiln & Cone their pale ale, which was really smooth and quite fruity. After everything else we tried their Three Fates lager, which we should have started with as well. It was quite tasty lager with an earthy back and some floral hops. Ceremony has the unique flavor of cake frosting and coconut while finishing with some mild funk. My sister liked it more than I did but it was interesting for sure.
Demon Teller was a nice mix of brett and funk with some mild tart and a nice dry finish. Fellowcraft was a bit more fruity than the demon teller and had some nice grapefruit notes. Witchfinder was hoppy and mineral forward, solidly fruity, and good and funky. I got a bottle of this one. Most of the brett beers were tasty though none of them stuck out either as really bad or clearly the best. They are a bit isolated as far as breweries go and my sister tells me not very easy to get to by public transit. If you want anything special, follow their social media for the extremely limited releases.
Overall, I would highly recommend Holy Mountain but the three other breweries didn’t knock off Fremont Brewing or Bellvue Brewing from my previous favorites from an earlier trip.
Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.