Updated Nov. 10 – Apparently I missed one, so the count is apparently now at 376. I’ve corrected the list to include Northish Brewing in Tacoma.
While updating my list of Washington breweries today, it occurred to me that we’d hit a significant milestone. A nice round number. It’s seems like only yesterday that I announced, with a modicum of certainty, that Washington was home to more than 360 breweries, but actually it was way back in August. So here we are in November and once again I have updated our maps of Washington breweries. We have now reached a nice round number: 375.
Here’s what is certain. I just did an update, adding 12 new breweries to the mix (listed below). My current count shows us sitting at 375 breweries. To put that in perspective, when I started this blog back in 2009, there were about 100. On average, nearly three breweries have opened in Washington each month for the past eight years.
Is this the apex? Have we reached critical mass? Many people said that we hit the ceiling back in 2013. Saturation was the word people used in 2015. It seems they were wrong. Today breweries face challenges in the market place because there are so many breweries, but is this the summit? I have my opinion, but it’s just an opinion like anyone else’s, and I’m willing to let time be the ultimate judge.
How do I count?
The Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board provides me with a master list of licensed breweries. I must assume that it is not updated in real time, so there’s one possible point of contention. According to that list, there are now 408 breweries in Washington, but that number is not real, so there’s another problem. A license from the state doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve been approved by federal and local authorities to start brewing. Getting a tax ID number from the state is the easy part. Many of the breweries on the state’s list will never become real breweries, but the state’s list is a good place to start. I do my best to scour the internet for information, I talk to friends who might know something, I reach out to the new breweries when I can, and I generally looking for any signs of life.
When I determine that a brewery is licensed by the state and is actually producing beer (selling and/or serving beer), I add it to the list. Some of the breweries on the list barely see the light of day. They don’t sell beer on a regular basis, they don’t make it out to festivals, and I am not quite sure why they bother to maintain a license. Home brewing and just “giving” beer to your friends seems so much easier. But they make and sell something, and they pay taxes on it, so they’re a real brewery.
If a brewery has more than one location at which it brews beer, each is counted. A brewery’s offsite tasting room, where they do not brew, is not counted. A brewpub is by definition a brewery.
A brewery’s size doesn’t matter. It can’t. Think about it. Where would you draw the line? Should a “real brewery” be required to brew a certain amount of beer? Say, over 1,000 barrels per year? Or should that number be 100 barrels per year? I am not about to start defining each brewery by size. It’s hard enough to maintain a basic list.
Is my number accurate?
According to me, there are now 375 breweries in Washington. It is entirely possible that I’ve missed something. This work is mind-numbing and dizzying. Understand that my intentions are good and if I’ve missed a brewery it is nothing personal. Perhaps a brewery is now closed and I am unaware. Perhaps a brewery just opened, is not yet on the state’s list, and I am unaware. There are so many variables and this is a very dynamic thing. I appreciate any information you have. My goal is to be accurate and for our maps to be of good use to the beer drinking public.
Most recent additions
Brouwerij Les Deplorables – In Woodinville. Apparently not open to the public. Sounds like they do bottle releases and announce them on Facebook.
Forward Operating Base Brewing – DuPont. Near Joint Base Lewis-McChord, with a taproom and a plan to serve beer to members of the armed forces and their families. Thank you for your service!
Good Brewing Company – Residential brewery in Woodinville. Apparently the garage doubles as a taproom. GBC, the Good Brewing Co.
Illuminati Brewing – Now open in Bellingham. Run by the same people, and at the same location, as Masquerade Winery.
Jones Creek Brewing – The tiny town of Pe Ell (west of Centralia) now has its own brewery. Growler sales now, taproom on the way.
Northish Brewing – Currently a production-only brewery in Tacoma.
Nu Home Brew and Bottles – In Spokane. As I understand, it’s a homebrew shop, bottleshop, and now a brewery with taproom.
Shoug Brewing – Small brewery in Washougal, not open to the public.
Taneum Creak Brewing – Small brewery in Cle Ellum, residential, not open to public.
Task Force Brewing – Lakewood. Taproom on the way. I’m hearing good things about their beer. Run by a veteran. Thank you for your service!
Valley Brewing – Yakima. Brewery with taproom on the way.
Western Red Brewing – Poulsbo. Brewery with a taproom. Who knew?
Wicked Teuton Brewing – Oak Harbor. It’s a brewery that shares space with a homebrew shop.
Check out our maps of Washington breweries.