by North Seattle Sarah, Washington Beer Blog’s North Seattle Bureau Chief
Friday night I had the opportunity to attend two new brewery grand openings in Ballard. My first stop was Peddler Brewing, located on Leary Way just off of 15th. After splitting a sampler with a friend, we went just a few blocks down to the grand opening of Populuxe at 49th & 8th to enjoy a pint there.
And while I had a good time at both, my mind kept wondering just how sustainable it was to keep opening more breweries in the same small section of Ballard. When I’m not wearing my super-hero-north-bureau-chief uniform, I’m a real estate broker – and my entire industry revolves around supply and demand. When there’s too much supply, home sellers suffer from lower prices and the buyers (customers) have so much choice that some homes don’t sell for a long time. And then there’s the reverse of that (like what we’re going through now) where there’s too little homes to sell and they fly off the market.
Ballard reminds me of this with the brewery boom right now. Besides the two I visited Friday, we have Hilliard’s, Hale’s, Reuben’s, Maritime, NW Peaks – and that’s just if you stay within one small pocket. (Don’t forget Urban Family, which is in the heart of Ballard’s drinking district on Ballard Ave.) Let alone head over to Fremont or go a little further north to Greenwood, or consider all the neighborhood establishments that simply serve craft beer. What sets one apart from the rest? I’m really not sure. Last night, for instance, I found that there were beers I really enjoyed, and beers I didn’t, at both locations. Both spots were dog-friendly (a big plus for me). Neither serves food (although Populuxe had a food truck outside). If given the choice to go back to just one, I’d probably pick Peddler based solely on the fact that there’s a little more indoor seating.
Needless to say, both openings were packed full – so I suppose that even with so much choice in the neighborhood, there’s somehow room for more. Returning to my real estate analogy, no matter how terrible the market, if a house is a winner it’ll sell no matter what the condition. Perhaps Ballard is the same way – it doesn’t matter how many breweries open up in the industrial neighborhood, if they make good beer, people will drink it. If they don’t, they may not survive. And that’s not a bad thing – it’s business.
Either that, or Ballard just knows how to throw ‘em down.