This is the first in a four-part summer series in which we’ll travel to nearby and not-so-nearby Washington towns to check out the beer scene—from Bellingham to Port Townsend, Anacortes to Leavenworth, we have your beer-inspired weekend trips covered!
The picturesque maritime village of Port Townsend, two hours northwest of Seattle via the Bainbridge ferry, is home to sailboats and lighthouses as well as breweries and restaurants that would satisfy even the pickiest Seattle foodie. Travelers who meander through the surrounding green fields and farms should take a deep breath when entering this community oasis and sit down to wet their whistles first at the Port Townsend Brewery (330 10th St., 360-385-9967).
Co-owner Kim Sands moved to the area from southern California in the early ’90s. By 1997, she and her husband, Guy, opened their spot, which today occupies a long, rectangular, powder-blue building, complete with outdoor music stage and beer garden, in the cutest industrial park of all time. On a bright, sunny day you can sit outside and try any number of the brewery’s 13 drafts, all of which, Sands says, are brewed with a “clean and balanced” taste in mind.
The brewery’s top three sellers are the porter, a crisp beer that drinks almost like a brown ale; the scotch ale, which isn’t too thick or overly sweet; and the Hop Diggity IPA, a floral brew with a kick of traditional hop on the back end. But maybe its most interesting concoctions are the Yoda Green Tea Gold, a lighter beer with a jolt of green-tea flavor, and the barley wine, a 10.5 percent ABV drink that is aged three to 10 years and tastes like a sour on steroids.
“We started this brewery on credit cards,” says Sands, who prefers the hoppier side of the beer spectrum. “Banks don’t lend people money just because they want to start a brewery.” But the brewery’s mettle was soon proven and the business has had to expand in one way or another almost every year since. Port Townsend kegs, in fact, can be found as far as Seattle and as close as down the street at the popular late-night hangout Sirens (823 Water St, 360-379-1100), located on the top floor of a downtown building overlooking the glistening bay.
If you’re lucky enough to get a seat on Sirens’ outdoor deck, be thankful. From there you can watch the tide ebb and flow as boats trickle past and seagulls dive into the water after fish. For eats, try the rich and flavorful black-bean burger (served with the crispiest fries on the planet) or the robust Cobb salad with grilled chicken and caramelized bacon.
Afterward, walk the streets, popping into bookstores or antique shops. But before you finish your stay (and your beer drinking for the day), we strongly recommend you visit Pourhouse (2231 Washington St., 360-379-5586). The back deck overlooking the water is the draw in mild months, but the myriad local taps, like the Breakside IPA, Pfriem pilsner, or 7 Seas Porter, make the visit worthwhile year-round.
But if you want late-night food and drinks, the place to check out is Doc’s Marina Grill (141 Hudson St., 360-344-3627) at the very edge of town. It offers an Ahi poke cracker and a plate of absolutely delicious blue cheese-tossed French fries—and of course three or four Port Townsend taps.