When I think of places I could be taking rainy beer hikes, the Hoh Rain Forest of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington and the Ballard District of urban Seattle offer interesting surroundings and a good variety of breweries and beers to check out. Walking in the rain there is not an unusual activity judging by the healthy numbers of people who were out in it along with me.
The Olympic Peninsula offers a big chunk of wild country and interesting-looking hiking in fairly close proximity to the urban strip that is Seattle and Tacoma. The eastern edge of the peninsula is a chain of quaintish towns having sufficient populations to support a smattering of brewpubs and small breweries. I worked my way up that coastline with a stop here and there until I reached Port Angeles on the north shore where a couchsurfing host had agreed to put me up. The only access to the Hoh River hike I had scoped out was from the west, so a good bit of driving was required.
The stereotypes I brought with me to Seattle of a hipstery urban place with lots of coffee joints and overcast skies were supported by the experience. It was rainy hikes and walks in funky feeling environs. Hard to say how much that was about my preconceptions versus the reality.
This story comes from a pre-COVID trip. You may click on any gallery image to see it in a larger format and to open a slideshow viewer that lets you scroll through larger versions of all images.
Beer Hike in the Hoh Rain Forest
My rainy beer hike in the Hoh River Valley started out with a drive in the rain past scenic Crescent Lake — after a stop at a drive-up coffee kiosk of course. I had picked up a Sesh Appeal Helles from Silver City Brewery in Bremerton to carry with for lunch on the hike. The Sesh was a clean, malty beer that at 4.8% ABV goes nicely with a hike.
Getting to the trailhead takes a long drive in the woods, but was well worth it. The beginning of the trail is at a well-developed parking lot with a ranger outpost for the Olympic National Park. The trail proceeds up the river for more than 18 miles to the base of Mount Olympus, but I chose to turn around at a place called Mineral Springs Falls. This is one of the mossiest, ferniest hikes I’ve experienced.
Ballard District Beer Walking
A walk in the Ballard District of Seattle was another interesting rainy day beer hike, albeit very different in nature from the day before. Ballard was once an independent town on the north bank of the Lake Washington Ship Canal but was absorbed into Seattle in the early 1900’s. Apparently, it had a reputation as a boisterous saloon district way back so I guess that carries over into the proliferation of brewpubs and breweries today. There is definitely a maritime warehouse feel to the area if you ask me. Many of the breweries occupy converted industrial feeling properties that seem one step removed from being auto body shops. The Seattle hipster stereotype was definitely reinforced by my co-clientele.
My rainy beer hike on this loop hit fourteen brewpubs and breweries: Fremont Brewing Company, Bluebird Micro-Creamery & Brewery, Hale’s Ales, Bad Jimmy’s Brewing Company, Populuxe Brewing (closed since I visited), Lucky Envelope Brewing, Stoup Brewing, Obec Brewing, Reuben’s Brews, Peddler Brewing Company, NW Peaks Brewery, Figurehead Brewing, Urban Family Brewing Company, Rooftop Brewing Company, There are a few more on the loop that were missed. I sampled many good beers but none that have really stuck in my brain as wowsers. The Bluebird was certainly memorable for the creamery-brewery combo which isn’t something you see every day. This does have to be one of the most dog friendly beer drinking areas I can remember – plenty of dogs in the taprooms.
There is no shortage of brewpubs and breweries scattered around the city, but Ballard struck me as the best concentration in an interestingly walkable area. I also took my time to visit a variety of visually interesting spots and places that struck me as having interesting branding. The Fremont bridge troll is a large sculpture living under a bridge along the beer walk in Ballard. An otherwise wasted space under the end of the Fremont Bridge hosts the street art, Downtown visits included the Museum of Popular Culture and its interesting modern architecture, the Olympic Sculpture Park at the Seattle Art Museum, and the classic Pike Place Market – an iconic attraction.
There are a couple of businesses in the center that struck me as having the kind of quirky branding that I find irresistible. In particular, the local eatery called “Biscuit Bitch” has a bitchin’ line-up of biscuit and gravy variations and sports the tagline, “trailer park to table” cuisine. Wash it down with an old-school beer experience at the nearby Altstadt Bier Hall.