A preview peek at Fair Isle Brewing, opening soon in Ballard


Ballard’s Newest Brewery is About to Open.
UPDATED: Opening on Thursday, January 23

Photos by Kim Sharpe Jones.
Photos by Kim Sharpe Jones.

The long-awaited, much-anticipated opening of Fair Isle Brewing is rapidly approaching. Currently, things are pretty much ready to go and they’re just waiting for some of the final permitting to come through from the city. It could happen any day now. We stopped by yesterday for a media preview. Keep an eye on the company’s Facebook page and Instagram page to find out exactly when they’ll be open for real.


Fair Isle Brewing is located one block south of Lucky Envelope Brewing and one block west of Populuxe Brewing on NW 49th Street (936 NW 49th St, Seattle, WA 98107). The taproom will welcome grownups only (21+). Dogs will be allowed in the beer garden but not the taproom. Because of their liquor license (a tavern license, basically) the state won’t allow children. The desire to serve wine as well as their own beer required this kind of license. Because they have a kitchen, which we’ll talk about below, the county won’t allow dogs inside.


The taproom itself is cozy, with an official capacity of just 48 people. There’s also an overflow seating area, the Orchid Room, which increases the overall capacity to 80 people. The beer garden will eventually help increase the capacity further, but the weather needs to change for that because it is currently uncovered. The plan is to eventually offer some shelter in the beer garden, though there’s no schedule for that yet.

The Orchid Room.
The Orchid Room.

The Orchid Room, with a seating capacity of just over 30, has a small, basic kitchen that Fair Isle intends to use for hosting pop-up dinners and other special food-related events. Glass doors open to the beer garden out front. The Orchid Room is so named because the building’s previous tenants grew and sold orchids.

That's a 45-barrel foeder. Roughly 1,400 gallons.
That’s a 45-barrel foeder. Roughly 1,400 gallons.

All of the beers produced by Fair Isle Brewing are mixed-culture beers, so you won’t find a “regular” IPA or porter, but you will find a lot of variations of saison, most of which will be aged and conditioned in barrels, puncheons, or the foeder pictured above. For you newbies, “mixed-culture” is a term applied to beers that are not simply fermented with normal brewers yeast, but also make use of wild yeast, certain types of bacteria, and other microbes.


When I visited the other day, the taplist included things like the Petra, which is basically the house saison; Madame R. Galle, a dry, lemony version of the Petra;  Bobbi, a hop-forward, very dry saison that is reminiscent of a brut IPA; and Sadie, a tart and creamy pineapple saison. There were others, too, but that’s a pretty good representation of what you’ll find on tap.

15-barrel brewhouse from North Coast Metal Design and Fabrication.
15-barrel brewhouse from North Coast Metal Design and Fabrication.

The two masterminds behind Fair Isle Brewing are Geoffrey Barker and Andrew Pogue. Geoffrey is new to the industry but is an accomplished homebrewer who built his own three-vessel brewing system, which will continue to be used as Fair Isle’s pilot system. His partner, Andrew, previously worked at Jester King Brewing in Austin, Texas, one of the nation’s most revered producers of mixed-culture beers.

Keep an eye on Fair Isle Brewing’s social channels to find out when they open to the public.