This Seattle brewery has survived an army of steamrollers


The oldest Seattle brewery celebrates its 30th anniversary this Saturday

Seattle is a city of new things and new people. I’m not the type to wax melancholy about the fading past, but it is strange that nothing lasts very long in this town. If it’s more than 20 years old, we tear it down and build something new, replacing history with something modern and presumably better. It’s kind of the same way with people. Most are transplants and natives like me are a rare breed these days.

That’s all fine. I’d rather live in a city that struggles with prosperity and growth than a city that suffers from stagnation and deterioration. Still, some of the best things are the oldest things. Not everything needs to be replaced.

Over the past few decades, Seattle has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But beer has marked the time. A precious-few breweries around the city remind us that this is the place where it all began. Breweries like Big Time Brewery, Hale’s Ale Brewery, Maritime Pacific Brewing, and Pike Brewing are among the oldest breweries in America. The oldest brewery in the city, Big Time Brewery and Alehouse, marks its 30th anniversary on Saturday, December 8th at the venerable pub in the University District.

Yes, Hale’s Ale Brewery predates Big Time Brewery and Alehouse, having opened in Colville, Washington in 1983, but the company didn’t relocate to Seattle until the 1990s. Other breweries, most-notably Redhook, opened in Seattle (1982) and either moved away or disappeared altogether, but Big Time remains. Pike Brewing opened in 1989 and Maritime Brewing in 1990, so we can look forward to those 30th birthday parties in the near future.

I admit that I’m an old timer, that my roots in this community stretch all the way down to the bedrock, and that I remember a lot of things about the local beer scene that predate even the conception of many of the people who read this blog. For example, I remember my first visit to the Big Time. No, I was not there on the day they opened in 1988, but I was there on the second day. Lordy, me and my beer-loving friends (just barely legal drinking age) were so damned excited.

Redhook, in those days, didn’t have so much as a tasting room, so the Big Time was the first place in Seattle where you could enjoy a beer at the same place it was made, something we so seriously take for granted these days. (Yes, there was the Mountain Room at Rainier Brewing, but that’s a different thing altogether.) Over the years there have been some notable changes, but for the most part Big Time Brewery and Alehouse remains the same thing it’s always been; a great neighborhood brewery and pub.

For the 30th anniversary, they are going to raid the beer cellar. They’ll be selling off a limited supply of vintage bottles of Old Wooly Barleywine and Old Sol Wheatwine. Also, bottles of Dirty 30, a collaboration sour beer that Big Time brewed with Dirty Couch Brewery, one of the city’s youngest breweries. And of course, they’ll have this year’s version of Old Wooly.

According to a statement on Facebook, “Thirty years ago we opened our doors at 4133 University Way ~ Seattle, WA as Seattle’s Original Brewpub. We have seen a lot of changes in Seattle and in the beer community over the last three decades. Big Time has found that focusing on quality beer, food, community, ambiance, and service is what keeps us going.”

“Join us for a day full of celebration this Saturday. Beer will be flowing, our amazing remodeled kitchen will be cranking out great food, and so much more!”

To further plagiarizer Field of Dreams, as Seattle rolls into the future like an army of steamrollers, one constant through the years has been Big Time Brewery and Alehouse on University Way. This brewery, this alehouse: it’s a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good and could be again.

Congratulations, Big Time, and thank you.


One comment

  1. Love the Field of Dreams “plagiarism.” I feel like the entire Terrance Mann speech can be updated to refer to our town’s beer history.

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