Ballard is fast-becoming the “place to be” in Seattle for many reasons but most arguably is for the breweries that keep sprouting-up in the area. Ballard is quickly becoming the best location for a new nano brewery because of it’s decently priced industrial space surrounded by a large residential population. Ballard is a great neighborhood for people who work downtown since it’s a short drive over the bridge and you don’t have to deal with the prices or the inconveniences of living downtown. There has been at least three new breweries in Ballard this last year and I suspect the growth will continue as the demand remains high.

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Lucky for me, my sister and her husband lives in Ballard so I have a place to stay when I come to visit. I had flown into SeaTac late Thursday night and we dropped-off my bags and went to eat at her husband’s new place of work, Roux. He also works on the food truck “Where Ya At Matt” and the owner has just launched their brick-and-mortar restaurant, Roux, in Fremont. I was excited because I haven’t had the food yet but heard nothing but good things. I split a burger with my sis, along with hush puppies, jalapeno poppers and the apple salad. Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of the food because I was too hungry and my mind was functioning on a basic level of “must stuff my face” and I didn’t think to take pictures. It’s a bad habit that I need to break. Anyways, the hush puppies were super crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle with little chunks of jalapeno to give it a good spice kick. I could eat a whole bowl of them right now. The burger was juicy and delicious, but the interesting part was the bacon they put on top. It was almost candied but not sweet, and I was in love. The cocktails they had were impressive; I liked the refreshing combinations. The next morning my sis had to work and so did her hubby, Syd, so I took my sweet time to roll out of bed and in the afternoon I walked (40 mins or so) down to Ruben’s Brews.

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Ruben’s Brews is located near the corner 14th and 53rd in downtown Ballard. The industrial design is something I am very familiar with because that’s how most OC tap rooms are constructed, but this just felt somehow cleaner and more modern. It’s possible the calming green and yellow colors incited a feeling of excitement and creativity that the grey’s around here just don’t give me. It was surprisingly busy inside considering they just opened their doors a mere 30 mins before I arrived at 3:30 pm on a Friday. I found the only open standing table and ordered my first beer, the Nitro Dry Stout. This 4.9%ABV beer is lusciously creamy with a roasted, dry finish. It reminded me of the beers in the UK which is fitting because their co-founder is from there. The second beer I had was the Belgian Rye Imperial IPA (8.2%ABV) and I was a huge fan. It had a nice rye flavor without being over-powering and all the fruity qualities I love from a good Belgian yeast. It’s notable that Ruben’s have a lot of beers on tap that are brewed with rye malt, which you don’t see all too often. The tap room was spacious for a new brewery but they have already out-grown it in the short 1 1/2 years of being open and are reportedly looking for a larger location.

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After Ruben’s we went to Chuck’s bottle shop for dinner (from the food truck Where Ya At Matt) and a few drinks. I was functioning on food mode so I didn’t get any photos of this but I really enjoyed Chuck’s. It’s well-known in the beer scene because they have great beers on tap and a kick-ass bottle shop. I saw a lot of drool-worthy beers available for purchase at Chucks but sadly my luggage was already at capacity. It’s no wonder that the place was packed (no tables available) full of locals. In Seattle, you can bring your dog and kids basically everywhere. Most business owners are totally cool with you bringing your dog inside their stores. It’s totally foreign to me because I would love to bring my puppy everywhere but So Cal is so uptight about animals it’s crazy. It’s also awesome to see families with kids inside Chuck’s and Ruben’s because it’s not only fun for the parents and they can be social but it’s like a community gathering center. It kinda feels like Seattle is treating me like and adult and allowing me to make my own damn choices and it feels good. Thanks, Seattle.

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Me and my sis, Jen, spent most of the following day visiting some of the wondrous parks that surround her neighborhood. We went to Gas Works Park, Discovery Park, and Golden Gardens Park. The first stop was at Gas Works and we had fun watching Jen’s corgi, Charlee, go chasing after the geese and making them fly into the bay. The park features a large, steep hill that is a popular spot for flying kites or taking pictures and an abandoned coal manufacturing plant that has been fenced-off and stands at the center of the park. It’s beautiful and eerie. I am glad they kept the structure because it makes the park so different and perfect for photos. The next stop was to Discovery where I wanted to see the lighthouse. Apparently you aren’t supposed to drive to the lighthouse even though there is a paved road? It’s very confusing. The West Point lighthouse is what I wanted to see so we made it fast, and it was worth it. I had a view of Mt. Rainier from the beach that was breathtaking. The final stop of the day was to Golden Gardens where we walked along the beach and had a view of sail boats and the coastline as the sun set. It was an exhausting but satisfying day.

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The following day, my last in town, we went to the Ballard farmer’s market and walked around downtown. After spending a few hours looking at shops and the stores we got some street food and grabbed a beer at Urban Family. Urban Family is a brewery that has a storefront right in the middle of downtown amidst all the adorable stores. I enjoyed a Saison Maiden (5.8%ABV) with a hot dog in Urban Family’s modern taproom. The saison was well-made and light to compliment the heavy food.

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It was time to head to the airport but not without one last stop to Two Beers which is thankfully on the way to SeaTac. It’s in a brightly colored industrial building track and even with dark clouds looming, the colors popped against the grey sky. Two Beers is right next to Seattle Cider Company and both share a combined tap room next door called The Woods. The taproom is styled very well with rustic wood tables and grain sack lights. I ordered the cask with Theo’s Chocolate and peppermint and it was rich and delightful. Syd ordered a Semi Sweet by Seattle Cider Co. and I stole several sips of that beer. It was so good! It reminded me of a good Chardonnay but without being buttery. I wish I had more time to taste beers from Two Beers and Seattle Cider Co. but I was going to miss my flight so I had to go. Until next time, Seattle. Love you.

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