The Pacific Northwest is known nationwide for its ever-growing selection of craft beverage establishments, but up until a few short years ago, Renton had a distinct lack of craft breweries and watering holes. Not so anymore, with a small but impressive number of places popping up where you can get locally-made refreshments to slake your thirst. Here are my top five places to grab a craft beer in Renton.
*Note: All locations are dog-friendly, so feel free to bring along your well-behaved furry friends! With the exception of Whistle Stop Alehouse, they also allow outside food.
Four Generals Brewing
Renton’s very first brewery, Four Generals was started back in 2015 by the Hudspeth family. Settled in a nice spot just off downtown Renton’s main street on Wells Avenue South, this brewery is primarily focused on German-style lagers – though that doesn’t mean there aren’t offerings for those who choose to venture off the beaten path. On my most recent trip, there was Otra Chela, a light, citrusy Mexican-style lager, an impressive Dobblebock that packs a punch at 8.6% but doesn’t feel like it, and a hazy IPA named Renton River Haze (whose name is a play on the Renton River Days festival). Not-to-be-missed: the Schwarzbier collaboration with nearby Boon Boona Coffee that’s rich in coffee flavor, yet still light and easily drinkable – it’s like the alcoholic version of a delightful cold brew.
This colorful spot (rainbows and unicorns feature prominently on their merchandise) on the corner of Main Avenue South opened its doors in the summer of 2019, offering 12 beers on tap and a selection of wines and ciders. This spot, owned by Jason Griggs, offers a sturdy selection of beers for all tastes – IPAs, of course (it IS the Pacific Northwest, after all), lagers, hefeweizens, and Kolsch-style ales. If you’re a fan of banana-forward flavor of marzens, you might want to check out the Sai Sum Saison, or, if you’re in the mood for dessert for beer, consider the Safe Word Chocolate Stout, which features a pure cocoa flavor that might sate your sweet tooth.
Beer in the Renton Highlands! In 2019, co-owners Frank Castro and Shaunn Siekawitch took over a former Starbucks location in the parking lot of the QFC on Northeast 4th, and the rest is history. The small but welcoming space puts you up-close-and-personal with the brewing process, with fermenting tanks front and center offering tantalizing promises of what’s to come down the road (if you ask Frank or Shaunn, they might give you a heads up!). Featuring tongue-in-cheek names like “Heff-U-2020” and “No More Day Job,” the beers are straightforward yet creative, focusing on various IPA styles, lagers and wheat beers. We recommend checking out the D.M.M.K.Y.A.B.G.S.A., a Belgian-style golden strong ale that’s light, refreshing, approachable and yet 7.2% ABV. Bickersons is also branching out more into sours, so keep an eye out for their latest!
The Brewmaster’s Taproom
Don’t let the unassuming exterior in a strip mall on Benson Road South fool you – once you step into The Brewmaster’s Taproom, it’s a treat for craft beverage lovers that’s much more than you might expect from the outside. Twenty-six different brews are always on the rotating tap list (which you can check out live online), including favorites from breweries in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, not to mention the dozens of bottles available in the taproom’s cold case. We tried the Crux Fermentation Project’s Better Off Red, a wonderfully sour Flanders red with a bright cherry flavor. Even better: Brewmaster’s uses spent grains to make baked goods for both people and pets, so you can pick up a snack for you and Fido while you’re there!
This Renton stalwart appeared on our list of best places to eat in town, but it also earns a spot of best places to drink (“Alehouse” is part of its name). While you’ll find more mass-produced brews like Guinness and Manny’s on the menu, the majority of beers offered are of the local variety. From just-around-the-corner Four Generals Brewing to Tacoma’s Wingman Brewing to Boundary Bay Brewery in Bellingham, this is a great place to both grab a meal and try out Washington and Oregon beers. And yes – you can absolutely have a cold one with your breakfast here – after all, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere.