Born in 1996 during the waning days of the grunge movement, Pike Brewing Company’s historic subterranean pub, just a few blocks from the center of Pike Place Market, The Pike Pub, is adorned with random stickers, exposed grating, and pipes painted black. The pub, which brews and serves some of the city’s most recognizable beer, feels comfortable and familiar, like your favorite ripped jeans/flannel shirt combo. But the famous locale has recently changed significantly.
To supplement the pub’s rougher exterior, the folks at Pike recently expanded the space upward, taking over the area above the brewery once occupied by a few retail shops. Occupying the third floor of the building where it’s resided for decades, the brewery has expanded its production facilities and opened a new restaurant, Tankard & Tun (1415 1st Ave., 812-6619), which serves succulent seafood—like fresh oysters and tasty steamed clams—as well as a myriad of the brewery’s best beers.
“We were at capacity,” says Zan McColloch-Lussier, the brewery’s head of communications, showing off the six brand-new 60-barrel brew tanks. “This lets us expand a great deal as well as experiment more with new batches. Before, we’d sell every drop of beer we made.”
Below, in the pub, Pike offers patrons some 350 seats–an impossible number of folks to serve if they each want, say, a plate of oysters on the half-shell. Tankard and Tun, though, has one-fifth the capacity, allowing for a more refined experience for both the chef and diners. But the brightly lit restaurant is not without its kitschy flair. Pike’s co-founders, Charles and Rose Ann Finkel, have lined one of the hallways leading from the center of the restaurant to their brew deck with drinking mugs and steins–otherwise known as tankards, for which the spot gets its name–ranging from elegant drinkware to goofy historical-figure spoofs.
But what’s especially interesting about Tankard and Tun is how much it celebrates beer. Often, beer can be considered pedestrian, but the folks at Pike want to help promote the idea that beer can be more than that. It can be used as an ingredient, like a spirit, in cocktails, or refined in such a way that the flavors pop and are specific enough to pair with different dishes. During the restaurant’s opening celebration, bartenders whipped up a citrusy gin-based drink using Pike’s Naughty Nellie Golden Ale; and the menu offers pairing options, like a purple asparagus salad with cured egg yolk and Pike’s Hive Five Honey Ale.
And while downstairs the spirit of Seattle’s history maintains intact, it’s noteworthy that the city’s seemingly unquenchable thirst for craft beer has allowed for new upward growth, for a new perspective and perch. Indeed, with Pike’s development, the old is not being thrown away for the sake of the new. Rather, the new is built up on a beloved foundation. In a city that extols its progressive and at times highfalutin virtues, it’s worthwhile to take note of the tradition that craft beer continues to bring to Seattle: an ethic of joy, imbibing and honoring the city’s roots while not being scared to move forward with a sense of maturity and fine-tuning.