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Destination taproom: South Sound breweries serve suds directly to you

Post by Sue Kidd / The News Tribune on June 15, 2012 at 12:01 am | No Comments »
June 15, 2012 9:42 am

Taprooms don’t offer glossy dinner menus or slick promotions and, well, most of them come with just one bathroom. As a woman who visits taprooms, I can report with authority that the seat rarely is left down.

While this region has plenty of restaurant brewpubs – the Harmon, Engine House No. 9 and Powerhouse among them – taprooms are a rare find.

The kind of taprooms I’m talking about are bare-bones facilities with little more than a few stools in a working brewery. They come heavy on the gritty atmosphere, light on the extras, such as kitchens. Think of a taproom as a place to buy a pint or fill a growler directly from the brewery and maybe even meet the brewer.

This weekend is the Washington Brewers Festival, the state’s most prominent beer festival, held every Father’s Day weekend. If you aren’t planning to make the drive to Redmond for the festival, design your own festival using these South Sound taprooms (all of which will be serving at the festival). You’ll find taproom pints priced around $4-$4.50. All taprooms below sell growlers, some sell cans and bottles, too.

Wingman Brewing just moved into its new taproom in April. Photo by Lui Kit Wong/Staff photographer

Wingman Brewers
Where: 509 1/2 Puyallup Ave., Tacoma; 253-651-4832,
Hours: 2-11 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays
The scene: Seating is limited to two rows of counter and table spots with plenty of standing room in this taproom in an industrial neighborhood near the Tacoma Dome. Vintage video games – Asteroids and Galaga – offer endless entertainment. This brewery started a year ago in a small space on the edge of the old brewery district and just moved into the new taproom in April. Wingman Brewers is the project of four friends who started out self-distributing to local restaurants and taverns.
On tap: It varies, but usually the P-51 porter and Ace IPA. Dubbel and a Belgian session ale were on tap recently.
Don’t miss: The Stratofortress, a Belgian strong ale aged on cedar planks soaked with dark rum. This is a high-octane beer.
Eats: On weekend nights, the Barrel No. 51 barbecue truck is parked out front. Do get the pulled pork sandwich ($6) or the Cajun burger ($6), a blend of andouille and ground beef. Both come with fries or coleslaw (Note: the barbecue is cash or check only, the taproom takes plastic).

The beer garden at 7 Seas has plenty of shaded seating. Some covered seating, too.

7 Seas Brewing
Where: 3207 57th St. Court N.W., Gig Harbor, in the industrial area behind the Inn at Gig Harbor; 253-514-8129,
Hours: 3-9 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays, 2-8 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays
The scene: Taproom? What taproom? There’s really just room for a few people in the actual taproom. Outside in the courtyard, adjacent to a greenbelt, is where you can sit and sip. The vibe is laid back, the soundtrack is classic rock, and there’s a water bowl for furry visitors. There’s covered seating for rainy visits. This brewery celebrates its third anniversary next month. It started as a small venture and has outgrown its current location. They’ll move later this year to a bigger space on Judson Street.
On tap: Four standard beers every day (a pale ale, amber, IPA and stout), but seasonal and specialty ales rotate through the tap list.
Don’t miss: If it’s on tap, the Hulaweizen, a lemongrass coconut beer recently brewed for a competition.
Eats: Bar snack mix, but nothing else. The Heritage Restaurant is adjacent and Tanglewood Grill is nearby.

Tanks are on display at Elk Head.

Elk Head Brewing Company
Where: 28120 state Route 410, Buckley; 360-829-2739
Hours: 3-7 p.m. Mondays, noon-7 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, noon-6 p.m. Saturdays. Closed Sundays.

The scene: Don’t let the warehouse location fool you into thinking this is going to be a cubby hole. The taproom is enormous and interesting inside – and not what you’d expect. The sit-and-drink area is outfitted with a long communal table and another row of high-top tables. A herd of wood-carved animals keeps watch in the corner. Samples are poured freely in mini beer mugs and empty growlers are decoration. This place has serious character.
On tap: Twelve beers at all times. The Black Stag Stout is one of my favorites. The Liberty Cap IPA is a beer hopped up on flavor and also a favorite among tap room visitors, the barkeeps say.
Don’t miss: Blast Zone sounds like something created on a dare. It’s a spicy smoked hot pepper ale brewed with five kinds of smoked hot peppers.
Eats: They serve pretzels, but there’s no on-site kitchen. Burger tip: Nearby is Wally’s Drive-In.

Trade Route Brewing Company
Where: 1091 Valentine Ave. S.E., Pacific; 253-987-5680,
Hours: Noon-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, noon-midnight Fridays, noon-11 p.m. Saturdays, noon-8 p.m. Sundays.
The scene: Live music on the weekends makes this a raucous destination. It’s also the tap room with the most seating, at a bar and at tables.
On tap: Usually 6-7 taps. On a recent visit, I saw 253 Amber, one of my favorites from the brewery. They also had dark ale, a lager, a coffee stout and an IPA.
Don’t miss: The Ginger Pale Ale is an unusual beer find and was my introduction to this brewery. Get it if they have it.
Eats: There’s always free popcorn. After 4 p.m., they add a menu of pizzas and subs. Brank’s Barbecue restaurant is nearby.

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