Bothell’s beer scene can be best understood through the lens of that beloved story, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The blossoming beer-drinking town, located some 25-minutes north of Seattle, offers a triumvirate of taverns, each of its own size and personality.
If you’re looking to get a parking spot at McMenamins Anderson School (18607 Bothell Way N.E., 425-398-1022) on a Friday or Saturday night, good luck. It may take a while. The hot spot, which includes among other amenities a hotel, a high-end cocktail bar, and a beer hall, is regularly packed on weekends. And if the story of Bothell’s beer scene is the story of the Three Bears, then the Anderson School is most definitely Papa.
The sprawling campus (the bar and restaurant complex were born out of a refurbished school) hosts teams of adults reveling and reliving the carefree days of their school-aged youth. Sitting in the “Woodshop” Room, a dimly lit watering hole where candles light the faces of smiling patrons, the bartender offers a Hammerhead Pale Ale, round and malty despite the hop effort, and the brewery’s signature Ruby Ale, a grapefruit-forward soft but memorable brew.
But what of Bothell’s Mama Bear? That would be Beardslee Public House (19116 Beardslee Blvd. #201, 425-286-1001), an expertly laid-out modern pub offering a delicious Sequoia IRA and, to compliment it, decadent deviled eggs and a housemade pretzel with smoked gouda. The theme of Beardslee is most definitely the Northwest forest, exemplified by beer names like Beaver Bait Blonde and Sasquatch CDA, which are consumed by patrons crowding around wooden tables and watching sports.
And that just leaves Baby Bear, or Decibel Brewing Company (18204 Hwy. 527, Suite C, 425-408-1946), the quaint but charming corner suds shop that opened last September. Decibel’s bar is adorned with microphones for tap handles and mannequin heads—one of which wears a David Bowie orange lightning bolt—as sacred decorations. “When we first got here, there was nothing really much going on,” says co-owner Ben Endicott, who opened the brewery with his business partner Corey Cook. “Until now.”
Decibel offers a swath of delicious beers, but most notable are its approachable Farmhouse options—especially the Trios, a muted but very notable semi-sour concoction reminiscent of the fantastic all-hands-on-deck batches seasonal farmers used to brew in the olden days during their downtime. And while Decibel is small compared to the area’s other two main breweries, Endicott is pleased with his burgeoning business. “In 2010, we started kicking the tires on the place,” he smiles, “and bing-bam-boom, here we are!”