In Washington, a craft beer isn’t just something you crack open after a long day on the trail or on the water. According to the Brewers Association, the state is home to roughly 450 craft breweries—fourth most in the nation. On the state’s arid east side, farmers grow the vast majority of the nation’s hops, and a growing number of Washington destinations are offering visitors the chance to sip their way through numerous local breweries.
So whether you’re a beer geek at heart or are thirsty for an introduction to the state’s award-winning ales and lagers, here’s a guide to some of the best Washington State beer destinations.
Explore Washington State Beer Destinations
The community of Bellingham in northwest Washington sits surrounded by natural beauty that stuns in all four seasons, making the city a popular base camp for outdoorsy beer lovers.
Boundary Bay Brewery poured its first suds in 1995 and is the city’s oldest producer; its busy brewpub sits in downtown, where sustainable practices are at the heart of Boundary Bay’s charm—from locally sourced ingredients to furniture crafted from reclaimed wood. Nearby, Gruff Brewing Co. hosts a dog-friendly outdoor space that includes fire pits and covered seating, with a wide-ranging tap list of satisfying ales and lagers.
Elsewhere in town, Kulshan Brewing Company pours nearly two dozen house-made beers at three pubs, including the Trackside Beer Garden, housed in a converted shipping container on the shores of Bellingham Bay and open in spring and summer. One of the city’s exciting newcomers is El Sueñito Brewing. The gay- and Mexican-owned brewpub opened in early 2023 and brews Latin American-inspired beers alongside hearty tamales.
Bellingham’s official Tap Trail gives beer fans the chance to win prizes for visiting some of the area’s nearly 40 breweries, cider makers, and tap houses. And every spring, Bellingham Beer Week brings together exclusive releases, pairings, and other fun events.
Roughly 75% of the United States’ hops are grown in the fertile Yakima Valley, and its craft beer scene—a worthwhile visit all year long—truly comes alive every autumn for fresh-hop season.
When hops are harvested between mid-August and early October, regional producers and local craft brewers use the crop within hours of being picked in what are called fresh-hop beers. The resulting ales and lagers are imbued with bold tropical, floral, and even pine-tinged flavors while dialing up the juicy notes for more savory pours. So popular are these beers, Yakima hosts two events to celebrate the season every autumn: the Yakima Fresh Hop Party and the massive Fresh Hop Ale Festival.
Even if you miss out on fresh-hop season, the Yakima Valley is an excellent Washington State beer destination all year. The family-owned Bale Breaker Brewing Company hosts a taproom on its hop farm on the outskirts of Yakima. Similarly, Cowiche Creek Brewing Company sits on a farm outside Yakima and prides itself on using locally sourced ingredients in its wide-ranging lineup. Wherever you go, earn prizes for traveling the Hop Country Craft Beer Trail and checking into stops via the Yakima Valley Craft Beer Trail Digital Passport.
Also See: 3-Day Yakima Valley Itinerary
An astounding 60 or so craft breweries sprawl across Seattle’s neighborhoods, making the state’s largest city one of the essential beer destinations in Washington.
Start your brewery crawl in the Ballard Brewery District, where more than a dozen producers pour ales and lagers within a one-mile radius of each other. Highlights are numerous but include Reuben’s Brews (which crafts dozens of beers annually and routinely hosts community events to benefit local nonprofits) and Lucky Envelope Brewing (whose brews and techniques are inspired by cultures from around the world).
Away from Ballard, the mystical Holy Mountain Brewing crafts outstanding barrel-aged beers while Black-owned Métier Brewing Company pours award-winning beers alongside Japanese-inspired street food. The brewery displays art from BIPOC artists and routinely features live sets from local musicians.
Elsewhere across the city, explore Seattle’s craft beer history at several old-school stops—including Georgetown Brewing Company, which launched in 2002, the leafy beer garden at Fremont Brewing Co., and Pike Brewing Company, which has churned out popular beers in the shadow of Pike Place Market since 1989.
Also See: Things to Do in Seattle and Beyond
More than 25 brewpubs cover the Spokane area, making it an excellent beer destination in Eastern Washington and an essential stop for beer geeks in search of smaller, under-the-radar Washington state breweries.
Start in downtown, where Brick West Brewing Company crafts a balanced lineup of easy-drinking lagers, IPAs, and dark beers. Their spacious beer garden is always buzzing with plenty of outdoor seating, live music, and local food trucks. Just a block away, Iron Goat Brewing Co. prides itself on experimenting with new hop varieties, producing a solid mix of seasonal brews, and innovating with exciting recipes. The award-winning No-Li Brewhouse, meanwhile, pours beloved beers in the bustling U District—with a patio that overlooks the Spokane River.
Wildland Cooperative sits a half-hour north of downtown, but the worker-owned farm, brewery, and market (open spring through fall) rewards visitors who make the trek with small-batch beers that incorporate seasonal ingredients.
Ready to dive in? Follow the Visit Spokane Beer and Cider Trail to earn points and redeem prizes at participating breweries.
Vancouver and the Gorge
Once home to the iconic Lucky Lager beer brand, Vancouver is today a hub for creative craft brews in Southwest Washington.
Heathen Brewing got started in an old horse barn and today pours a crowd-pleasing mix of IPAs, easy-drinking lagers, and fruity sour ales at two locations—including one with a spacious patio in the heart of downtown. A few blocks away, Loowit Brewing Company prides itself on producing a wide-ranging tap list while keeping an eye on environmental stewardship. One of the city’s beloved newcomers is Vice Beer, whose hip, ‘90s-inspired taprooms offer the perfect place to kick back with IPAs, lagers, seasonal beers, and other classic styles.
If time allows, head east along Highway 14, where a handful of scenic breweries await in the Columbia River Gorge. Fun stops include Backwoods Brewing Company, which dishes up hearty pizzas, pours quality suds, and hosts a patio that affords views of the surrounding forest, and Everybody’s Brewing, whose heated deck in White Salmon affords sweeping views of Mount Hood across the Columbia River.
Plan your beercation with help from the mobile Brewcouver passport. After checking in at 10 participating breweries in 2024, beer fans can win a prize. If the timing works, visit during North Bank Beer Week in September for a slate of fun events capped by the Brewing Bridges Collaboration Festival at the Pearson Air Museum.
Also See: Columbia River Gorge Road Trip
Every year, Skagit Valley farmers tend to roughly 90,000 acres of farmland and grow more than 90 crops that show up on dinner plates and in pint glasses across Washington. It’s no surprise, then, that a small but passionate craft beer scene has taken root in the agriculturally minded region south of Bellingham.
Anacortes Brewery got started on Fidalgo Island in 1994 and is one of Washington’s oldest breweries. Styles run the gamut, but German-inspired ales and lagers are a point of pride.
In Burlington, veteran Chuckanut Brewery crafts a variety of German-inspired lagers with sustainable practices and has been a local mainstay since brewing its first beer in 2008. Just down the street, the boundary-pushing Garden Path Fermentation produces beer, mead, wine, and cider with locally sourced ingredients (including honey from nearby farms and Skagit Valley yeast) in open-air containers that lead to complex flavors that may shift from batch to batch.
Start your adventures with the Skagit Farm to Pint Ale Trail passport, which gives beer fans the chance to win prizes for patronizing local producers.
Sitting on the shores of Puget Sound, the city of Tacoma has grown dramatically in recent years and has earned affection for its colorful glass art, easy access to nature, and (of course) a thriving craft beer scene.
More than a dozen craft breweries produce approachable ales and crisp lagers in Tacoma and surrounding communities. Perhaps the best-known is E9 Brewing Co., which serves a globetrotting lineup of European-inspired lagers, grisettes, IPAs, and more at two locations— an adults-only taproom and a family-friendly restaurant housed in an old fire station.
Just south of downtown Tacoma sits the city’s Brewery District, where brewers have been producing suds since the late 1800s. That tradition is carried on today by the likes of 7 Seas Brewery, beloved for dialed-in takes on several classic styles.
Every summer, Tacoma Beer Week takes over the city with tastings, special releases, and educational events.
Walla Walla in Southwest Washington is undoubtedly synonymous with its 130 wineries and tasting rooms—but dig a little deeper, and a growing craft beer scene makes it one of the most unlikely Washington State beer destinations.
Burwood Brewing Company occupies a sun-kissed corner of the city’s Airport District and is beloved as much for its beer as its spacious patio. Sip refreshing brews alongside your four-legged friend while playing lawn games, lounging in Adirondack chairs, and noshing on pub fare from an on-site food cart. Nearby Quirk Brewing serves a crowd-pleasing and always-changing mix that ranges from fruity sour ales and tart grisettes to barrel-aged stouts and hazy IPAs. An on-site food truck prepares some of the city’s best Mexican cuisine.
In downtown, Big House Brew Pub keeps an upbeat, family-friendly atmosphere with house-made beers, classic pub fare, trivia nights, live music, and other fun events.
About the Author
Matt Wastradowski is a travel writer, guidebook author, and lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest. He has written about the great outdoors, craft beer, and history for Northwest Travel & Life, REI, AAA’s Via magazine, and other publications.