Photo: Courtesy Woodinville Whiskey Company
WHEN IT COMES TO BEVERAGES, we’re lucky. Climate and geography coalesce for some of the nation’s best growing conditions. Here’s how we toast our fortune. Beer: Second only to Germany in hop growing,we also rank eighth in the U.S. for craft breweries per capita. Rainier Brewing and Olympia Brewing were born in Seattle and Tumwater respectively in the late 1800s, and the now shuttered Yakima Brewing & Malting Co. was America’s first micro-brewery after Prohibition. Today, it’s hop-driven India pale ales and imperial ales from such breweries as Tacoma’s Harmon Brewing (harmonbrewingco.com and Yakima’s Bale Breaker Brewing Company (balebreaker.com, plus stouts and porters from the likes of Winthrop’s Old Schoolhouse Brewery (oldschoolhousebrewery.com, that draw raves.
Legislation in 2008 created a craft distillery license, and Washington now has more than 70 licensed distillers. Whiskey led the revival, first at the hands of Spokane’s Dry Fly and now with the likes of Woodinville’s Woodinville Whiskey Co. (woodinvillewhiskeyco.com. In Seattle, Sodo Spirits is making the country’s only shochu, a Japanese barley-based distillate, while 3 Howls Distillery (3howls.com) and Sun Liquor (sunliquor.com) were the first to produce a Seattle rum. And Gig Harbor’s Heritage Distilling Company (heritagedistilling.com) makes spirits and teaches guests to produce their own.
The second-largest premium wine producer in the country, Washington has 750-plus wineries—across 13 American Viticultural Areas—producing nearly 12 million cases of wine annually. Growing regions range from hot and sunny Red Mountain to cool and elevated areas ideal for Riesling. Tasting rooms abound—from Vintner’s Village, just off I-90 in Prosser, to Woodinville, with its 90-plus wineries. Walla Walla Valley is best known as wine country, and Lake Chelan is where lakes and grapes gloriously collide.
Buzz, No Buzz
Not all here is boozy. Coffee has been big since Starbucks opened in 1971, while Burlington’s (p. 66) Sakuma Bros. (sakumamarketstand.com) has been handpicking and crafting tea for a decade. DRY Soda’s natural sodas bubble with lavender and blood orange, and ginger beer from small producers like Rachel’s Ginger Beer has taken bars—and now Pike Place Market—by storm. —ERIN JAMES