Nanobreweries spark new life in Seattle industrial area

Seattleites endure months of gray, drizzly days. But there’s no better place to be in the summer months. And summer is also when Seattle’s abundant and ever-increasing nanobreweries roll-up their glass walls, and uncover their decks and patios, drawing crowds of beer lovers, along with their kids and dogs.

Ballard, a traditionally Scandinavian-heritage waterfront neighborhood northwest of Downtown, is home to Seattle’s brewery district, with eight nanobreweries (very small breweries, generally with an industrial aesthetic, that mostly host food trucks rather than serving food), two microbreweries (a bit larger, and serve their own food) and three taprooms (like nanobreweries, but don’t brew beer on site). In addition, by the end of the year, one brewery is planning to move in from a nearby neighborhood and another is slated to launch, and a third is set to open a taproom. Most have great indoor-outdoor spaces, making them ideal hangouts when the weather turns nice.


Stoup Brewing

The availability of vacant industrial spaces drew the first nanobreweries to Ballard. Then the burgeoning cluster attracted more. Visit Ballard has created a Brewery Passport program, which gives prizes to people who collect stamps from six of the breweries or from all 11 (they count the Lagunitas taproom as a brewery). “Cycle Saloon” bikes weave their way around the breweries on a regular circuit.

cycle saloon

Cycle Saloon

Nanobreweries are by no means exclusive to Seattle. Charlotte, to take one example, has burgeoning Brewery/distillery district in its LoSo neighborhood.

A common trend is that these districts often form in under-used industrial zones close to lively retail areas. Ballard’s brewery district is in a transitioning industrial area east of Ballard’s commercial core (which is also hopping, with trendy restaurants, bars, concert venues and boutiques). LoSo is just south of Charlotte’s popular South End neighborhood.

Sugar Creek Brewing Co.

Sugar Creek Brewing Co., in Charlotte’s LoSo neighborhood

The brewery districts also help spur new development. Dining and retail offerings, plus homes and offices, are starting to proliferate around Ballard’s brewery district. LoSo has new restaurants and offices, and a major new office, retail and residential development in planning.

Is all this talk of local beer making you thirsty? Be sure to spend an evening in Ballard next time you’re in Seattle. Better yet, let us know you’re coming and we’ll take you around!