Reuben's Brews – The Christening of Seattle's New Brewery District

This Sunday, August 5, Reuben’s Brews opens to the public in Ballard. It is one of the more highly anticipated brewery openings in recent memory. The scheduling is brilliant: host the grand opening of the tasting room at noon on Seafair Sunday. I still expect hordes of people to show up, but the hydro races, the airshow and the other Seafair hoopla should help moderate the blitz of thirsty Seattleites. Opening on a normal Saturday or Sunday might prove to be overwhelming.

This is more than a brewery opening; it is the christening of a brewery district.

Sometimes I think that Ballard needs another place to consume alcohol like Capitol Hill needs another button-snap flannel shirt, but the neighborhood’s willingness to support drinking establishments is a bit frightening. Downtown Ballard’s main drag (Ballard Avenue) might qualify as Seattle’s version of Bourbon Street, but just a few blocks east a brewery district is emerging. Ballard now offers four breweries in a five-block radius. I should note that if the folks at Urban Family Public House get their way Ballard Avenue also gets its own brewery soon.  

The tasting room at Reuben's Brews

The Redhook District

Reuben’s Brews joins Maritime Pacific Brewing, Northwest Peaks Brewery and Hilliard’s Beer in what we should now consider a brewery district. That is not even counting Hale’s Ale Brewery, which is just a few blocks farther east in that undetermined part of town referred to as FreLard. Even Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood cannot compare with East Ballard in terms of brewery density.

This new brewery district needs a name. My proposal: The Redhook District.

I am the first to admit that today’s Redhook Ale Brewery bears little resemblance to the brewery that opened in Ballard in 1982. Still, we should not forget that Redhook was one of the very first craft breweries to open in the United States, helping to ignite the craft beer revolution of the past 30 years. Say what you will, and I know many of you probably disagree with me, but Redhook was instrumental in changing the way Seattle and the rest of the country thinks about beer.

With breweries in Woodinville, WA and Portsmouth, NH, many of today’s beer lovers do not even know about the old brewery in Ballard. When Redhook founder Paul Shipman converted an old transmission shop on Leary Way into a brewery and began producing handcrafted ales, people must have thought he was out of his mind. He could not have imagined that the neighborhood would someday support so many breweries.

I don’t know if my proposed name, The Redhook District, will stick. I hope so. I think it makes perfect sense in a weird Seattle kind of way. Why not name our new brewery district after something that is no longer there? The next brewery district in Seattle will likely be in SoDo. You could argue SoDo already deserves to be recognized in those terms. SoDo stands for “South of the Dome.” For you newbies, there was once a dome stadium in Seattle.

Besides, if we call it The Redhook District, it will give us old-timers an opportunity to sound smart whenever somebody asks about the name.

Reuben’s Brews
1406 NW 53rd Street, Suite 1A
Seattle, WA 98107




  1. My meetup group is going to go there later this month. But now, I’m tempted to be there for opening day. 🙂

    As for the district name, The Redhook District is as good as any. And the more we beer snobs use it, the more likely it becomes an official name.

    So here’s the growth of the Redhook District!

  2. Yet another brewery in Ballard will be Populuxe Brewing. I believe they’re looking to open in the Fall.

    I thought Sodo stands for South (of) Downtown. In any event, there are several fine breweries down there as well!

  3. This brewery is highly anticipated. Many of us have watched this Brewmaster win event after event. This beer reminds me of the Dogfish Head story. Can’t wait to see these guys open.

  4. As the Kingdome fades from memory, SoDo is being revised to “SOuth of DOwntown.” Yes, really.

  5. As for the SoDo “brewery district”, I only know of two, unless you count Epic Ales. Someone tell me the ones I am missing, and I’ll visit them hastily. The two to which I refer, obviously, are Schooner Exact and Two Beers (I wish Two Beers would finally expand their hours!). I assume Emerald City Brewing is considered Georgetown. I have stopped going to Epic, as it seems Cody is interested in encouraging you to order food and experience the whole pairing thing. Am I wrong?

  6. I suppose it depends on how you define SoDo. Emerald City Beer Co is in the old Rainier Brewery on Airport Way. And yes, Schooner, Epic and Two Beers. Then down in Georgetown you have Elysian and Georgetown Brewing. Considering the fact that Rainier Beer has history in its old brewery in SoDo and its even older brewery in Georgetown, I would move to call that entire south of I-90 region “The Rainier Brewery District.” But that’s just me.

  7. As I understand it (and I don’t claim to know everything), SoDo is a term that was not used before the Kingdome. Originally, it meant South of Dome but now more appropriately used to mean South of Downtown. You say “tomato,” I say “solanum lycopersicum”

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