For more than a decade, the south-facing windows at 722 N.E. 45th St. in the U District have remained shut. For a time the building was home to Rainbow Tavern, a dive known for its gritty local music. Then it was Fusion Ultra Lounge, an 18-and-over dance club known for loud, pulsing music and the occasional violent episode. Now, though, the windows are open, the light of day comes in, and fresh craft beer is brewed by the barrel inside.
Floating Bridge Brewing, which took over the corner-facing storefront about 18 months ago, began its massive remodel in June 2015 after Fusion shut down. And while conventional IPAs and brown ales occupy some of the brewery’s tap handles, Floating Bridge also specializes in the unconventional—like a sweet Blackberry IPA, a dry Chai Pale Ale, and a robust Pumpkin Wit.
Co-owner Dawn Perry, who started Floating Bridge with her partner Russell Cornell, says the remodel included removing absurd amounts of sand (there to dampen the sound inside?) and “some other things I won’t tell you about.” The new brewery—an amalgam of teal walls and shiny steel brew barrels—opened last July, and its proprietors, who used to work on the East Side, couldn’t be happier. “We really love this neighborhood,” Perry says. “And they’ve been so welcoming to us.”
If the prior two tenants evoked a heavier, darker aesthetic, Floating Bridge, as the name might suggest, is ebullient—buoyant, even. The prominent teal implies a connection with the neighboring waterways, and the steel barrels might remind you of the girders and pipes that hold together an actual bridge.
Perry and Cornell, who moved to the Emerald City from the East Coast (via several other locales), fell in love with the area, she says, because of its creative culture and stunning outdoors. “It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen,” Perry says. As a result, the two wanted to name their new brewery after an iconic Seattle landmark. “We used to travel the bridge all the time for work,” she recalls. “You can see the mountains, you can see the city. The water is right out your window.”
Floating Bridge, which has a small but cozy tap room, also offers an India Red Ale that drinks like a hoppy scotch and a Winter Warmer (brewed with cocoa nibs and chili peppers) that drinks surprisingly mildly. But most of all it just feels good in the brewery. Sitting down and having a pint feels easy, stretched out, calm—words many wouldn’t have used to describe the address even a year prior—and that’s welcomed a neighborhood full of students, restaurants, and neighboring nature.
“Let the light in,” Perry says, smiling and motioning to the big glass windows. “There’s a lot to love around here.”