Tacoma Taprooms Take Travel to New Heights

Prepare your pint glasses and pop tops; the South Sound Craft Crawl is back for 2016 and better than ever.

Each year, Tacoma and local breweries participate in an event that allows patrons to not only find new breweries, but also earn rewards for doing so. The South Sound Craft Crawl introduces patrons to different breweries in the area, spanning from Gig Harbor to Sumner and from Puyallup to Olympia. Beer enthusiasts just have to head to a local brewery that participates in the Craft Crawl and pick up a South Sound Craft Crawl “passport” to start exploring. Guests will receive a stamp on their passport for each brewery visited, and nine stamps will get them a South Sound Craft Crawl pint glass.

“I originally brought the idea to the folks at Travel Tacoma after seeing the Inland Ale Trail in Eastern WA,” says Ken Thorburn, head brewer at Wingman Brewers and creator of the South Sound Craft Crawl.

Last year, the South Sound Craft Crawl introduced patrons to 15 breweries—many of which reside right here in Tacoma. This year, the South Sound Craft Crawl is bumping the number to 22. Additionally, the prize for finishing the crawl has received an upgrade. While Thorburn didn’t say how many stamps are required to collect the prize this year, he did say, “This year the prize will be a 32-ounce growler. Hand-printed by the brewers and brewery staff of participating breweries.”

Many of the original 15 breweries are within walking distance from the campus, and each taproom has its own special spin. Harmon resides right on Pacific, and is complimented with a full bar and food service. Wingman Brewers, on the other hand, is only open a couple days a week and operates a small taproom in their warehouse. But it’s not as dreary as one would think—there’s a dart board and a classic Gattaca arcade game for those nostalgic 30-some-year-olds. Odd Otter—which is on the north end of Pacific—has countless board games and typically has nightly events (Tuesday night is Karaoke night). Engine 9 can be found right off of 6th Avenue in the bar district and used to be a firehouse. Narrows Brewing—found in University Place and right on the water—provides a perfect view of

the Narrows.

Those traveling south towards Olympia can make quick stops at either Fishtail Brew Pub or Three Magnets. Fishtail Brew Pub serves all of the Fish Brewing selections, and is also a full size restaurant. Three Magnets also has a dining area, but the taproom is where it’s at. Unless a Seattle team is playing, the televisions are typically turned on to one of the many European soccer matches.

And these are just a few of the many breweries in the region on the list. Gig Harbor has 7 Seas and Wet Coast, Olympia just added Triceratops Brewing, Puyallup has Puyallup River Brewing Alehouse, Sumner has Lake Tapps, Lacey has Top Rung, and Tacoma has many more on the list.

Some might be deterred from participating because they have children, but the South Sound Craft Crawl has parents covered. Last year’s passport indicated whether children were permitted into the taproom, and 11 of the 15 breweries did in fact allow children. Some of the breweries even have activities for kids (7 Seas has a huge outdoor tic-tac-toe board).

The thought of a free growler might be enough incentive to head out and start your beer travels, but Thorburn says his incentive is the different types of people that come through the door.

“There’s not one type of craft beer drinker… We joke about beer being the great equalizer. In our tasting room [we] have no TVs so it’s not uncommon to see a lawyer talking to a tire mechanic, talking to someone who works for Dale Chihuly, talking to someone who just got off the Greyhound from another state.”

PHOTO BY DANIEL BARNETT

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