The Aroma of Tacoma. Is It Beer I Smell?

I decided to do this post because I recently found out about two upcoming events in Tacoma. One is at the Parkway Tavern and the other is at the Red Hot. Both are mentioned below. 

Up here in Seattle, many people look down their noses at Tacoma. The stereotypes are deeply rooted; but the truth is, the city no longer stinks. There is a new aroma of Tacoma and it is beer. The community has evolved over the past two decades: the ‘hood has been defanged and gentrified. Good beer now springs eternal. Seriously, if you go down there on a beer tour, you will want to stay, especially when you consider the cost of housing in the Tacoma market. Below, I discuss some of my favorite T-town beer destinations.  

The Parkway Tavern – 313 North I Street (I, as in Indian) 

Located in one of Tacoma’s most historic and dare I say cute neighborhoods, the Parkway is just a few blocks away from the house in which Bing Crosby was born. Bing! It is a fantastic neighborhood bar with a fantastic selection of beer. I cannot say enough good things about this place. It just suits me. On Wednesday, March 25th, they will be hosting an Elysian night and will be pouring 20 different Elysian beers. I will not bore you by listing them all here. Get down there for this event or for any reason at all. You will love the Parkway. 

 

We happened by the Parkway last year during the IPA festival. That explains the crowd.
We happened by the Parkway last year during the IPA festival. That explains the crowd.

 

sponsor
sponsor
sponsor
sponsor
sponsor
sponsor
sponsor
sponsor
sponsor
sponsor
sponsor
sponsor
sponsor
sponsor
sponsor
sponsor
sponsor
sponsor
sponsor
sponsor

The Spar Tavern – 2121 North 30th

Located in the part of town known as Old Tacoma, the Spar proclaims itself the city’s oldest tavern. It oozes history. If your great-great grandfather lived in Tacoma, he might remember it as the Old Tacoma Saloon. That is, if grandpappy was a hard gamblin’ man who liked his drink.

 

The Spar as she sits today. Built in 1916 on the site of the Old Tacoma Saloon.
The Spar as she sits today. Built in 1916 on the site of the Old Tacoma Saloon.

 

Today, the Spar is very cool. They have a respectable and thoughtful selection of taps. You can get a good beer to accompany a deliciously greasy patty melt, a mountain of fries, or some of their famous fried chicken. Sunday evenings they have live music. It is always blues at the Spar. (Truth is, my Daddy’s boots spent some time resting on the rail at the Spar back in the late 1940s. Call me sentimental.)

The Swiss Pub – 1904 South Jefferson

The Swiss is in a cool old building very near the U.W. Tacoma campus. Many people who think they know their way around Tacoma will tell you this is the best beer bar. If you are looking to drink a good beer while you play some Golden Tee, then they are very much correct. They have an exceptional list of taps. They also have some good food. They offer music on the weekends. Monday nights they do blues – no cover. Often, on Thursday nights they do Rock-a-Roke, if that kind of thing spins your disk. 

Engine House Number 9 (The E9) – 611 North Pine

The E9 is a unique brewpub that you may not know about. It is located in a historic firehouse built in 1907 and placed on the National Historical Register in 1975. Numerous fire-fighting elements in the décor capture the essence of an old time firehouse.

 

The E9 is in a very cool old firehouse. Fun place.
The E9 is in a very cool old firehouse. Fun place.

 

The food is good, the beer is good, and the location is near the University of Puget Sound. It is a cool place. Sure, the beer could be better, but that’s a matter of taste. It is very much worth checking out.

The Red Hot – 2914 6th Ave

On Wednesday, March 25, the Red Hot presents its Dry Hop Festival. The Red Hot has a simple philosophy when it comes to food: hot dogs. Good hot dogs. That’s it. They have a respectable and thoughtful selection of beer on tap. The Red Hot Dry Hop Festival will feature at least 10 dry-hopped creations from notable brewers like Port Townsend, Schooner Exact, Fish, and Elysian. Kegs will be tapped at 11:00 AM.

Harmon Brewing Company and Restaurant – 1938 Pacific Avenue

This one is probably not a surprise to you. As a Washington beer lover, you should have been there already. It is easy to access off I-5. Harmon Brewing makes very good beer and this is a very good place to get it fresh.

 

At Harmon, the brewhouse is right behind the bar. Now thats fresh!
At Harmon, the brewhouse is right behind the bar. Now that's fresh!

 

Understand that this is a restaurant. If you ask too many questions, the college student serving you beer might explain that the difference between lager and ale is the kind of hops they use. Yep, that happened. It then occurred to me that I was the only beer geek in the building, along with the very savvy Mrs. BeerBlog, of course. I do not hold this against them, it’s just the way it is. 

I was born there, so I have a soft spot for T-town. Maybe it is just me, but Tacoma is tempting. If the price of housing was the only thing that they had going for them, it would be easy to resist; however, now they are establishing a beer micro-culture and it doesn’t even stink anymore.



8 comments

  1. Respectfully and thoughtfully, you don’t know what you are talking about. Get away from the aroma cliches.
    I would suggest that if you still harbor those condescending attitudes towards Tacoma, even if you were spawned here, you don’t understand Tacoma.
    Yes, we like our beer. But we don’t need any help consuming it.

  2. Respectfully and thoughtfully, you don’t know what you are talking about. Get away from the aroma cliches.
    I would suggest that if you still harbor those condescending attitudes towards Tacoma, even if you were spawned here, you don’t understand Tacoma.
    Yes, we like our beer. But we don’t need any help consuming it.

  3. Respectfully and thoughtfully, you don’t know what you are talking about. Get away from the aroma cliches.
    I would suggest that if you still harbor those condescending attitudes towards Tacoma, even if you were spawned here, you don’t understand Tacoma.
    Yes, we like our beer. But we don’t need any help consuming it.

  4. Great list of spots in Tacoma. I recently started trying out some Tacoma establishments myself. I was disappointed in both Harmon and Engine 9 their beers lacked the strong flavors I expect from a west coast micro brew. I don’t think they would survive in Seattle. I did LOVE red hot and the Parkway. They had a terrific beer from Russian River on tap at Red Hot as well as some terrific WA beers. They do a great Chicago dog too! The Parkway is one of the best beer bars I’ve been to in WA worth the trip. Respectfully and thoughtfully you do know what you’re talking about and thanks for the great blog.

  5. Wow, that smells like an inferiority complex. I forgot to mention that Tacoma stereotype.

Comments are closed.