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Brouwer's Cafe

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

130 Ratings
Ratings: 130
Reviews: 98
rAvg: 4.33
pDev: n/a
Taps: 64
Bottles: 300
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

400 N 35th St
Seattle, Washington, 98103-8607
United States
phone: (206) 267-2437

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate on 04-01-2005)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 130 | Reviews: 98 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Tupperwolf
4.53/5  rDev +4.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

Brouwer's does not have a sign or any real markings that describe what it is - it's a large building just offa popular street, but if you didn't know what it is, you probably wouldn't take time out of your day to walk inside. That kind of marketing (word of mouth) could work very well, or could flop.

When I went here, I was by myself, and had to work my way, somewhat uncomfortably, past a crowd of young, hip Seattle punk/emo kids. Entrance is via a huge wooden door, and the establishment is based on one large room. To the left are large booths, in the center are long tables suitable for crowds of 5-20, and to the right is the bar. Upstairs, a balcony rings the room, set up with smaller tables. Dark, gothic, but not intimidating; Inside were several groups, from another tableful of the young and dyed, to a group of older fellows who I could distinctly see sampling one another's beers and taking tasting notes on their coasters.

I bellied up to the bar and gazed in wonder at the line of taps - some fifty, sixty taps, many of them Belgian, as well as an entire wall full of bottles. This place is run by Bottleworks, so of course the selection is good...

I ordered myself a plateful of fries (with some fancy Belgian name) and a glass of Lucifer - it was poured into a Lucifer glass (the glass collection is intimidating) after a quick spritz with a high tech water/sanitizer squirter under the taps. The selection is awesome, but the prices high - There's no way I could really enjoy a night out drinking tap Belgians at eight to ten dollars a glass, as good as the beers are. Other brews were priced more reasonably, but don't expect the deal of a lifetime.

All in all, it was a refreshing experience, and would be a great place to go on your birthday (when everyone else is buying :)

Photo of bultrey
4.9/5  rDev +13.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Re-reviewed 9-18-06 -- I don't known what else a person would want in a beer bar. Quite possibly the best in the US. I don't have many more details here, but let's just review my drinking list there over the past two nights: Walking Man malt liquor, Big Time Cask IPA, Dick's Imperial Bitter, Maritime Pacific Porter, Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA, draft St. Bernardus Abt 12, bottle of Hanssen's Framboise, Walking Man Perambulator Weizenbock. Food is exceptional for a "beer bar." Lots of fresh local ingredients and organic foods, with an adventurous twist on pub food. The atomosphere, which is anything but "intimate," is probably the biggest knock against it. Any beer advocate in Seattle must finda way to make it here.

Original review 12-05-2005 -- Visited this place on a Tuesday night, I think, on a recent beer... uhhh, business trip. It was one of my must-stop bars according to Beerfly and some locals, and boy, were they right. If you're driving, as I was, this makes a nice trio along with Maritime Pacific and the Bigtime Brewery and Alehouse -- all are essentially a short drive from one another along the waterfront of Lake Union/Salmon Bay.

Run by the same owners of the great Bottleworks store just a little north of here, this is a tricky little bar to find if you're not from the area. Unless you approach it from the correct direction, the door is not readily apparent, and the place itself looks like a warehouse on the outside. Well, it's got space of a warehouse on the inside, too. An absolutely huge place... when you walk in, the downstars table and booth area is on your left, as is the long beer bar at the far end of the room, and another tiny bar tucked in the corner that seems devoted to whiskeys, etc. There is also a staricase that leads up to a second floor that borders the entire place and looks down on the main level. The atmosphere is really interesting -- very modern/goth, with lots of deep red and black, steel railings, giant leather chairs and bar stools, etc. It's a bit cold and uninviting, and seemingly better for large groups than single barflies, but honestly, it's a cool space nevertheless. Furthermore, out of all the smoky places in Seattle, this one seemed to bother me the least, maybe because the big space diffused the smoke, or maybe because it's well-ventilated.

Ponied up to the bar alone, and my illusions of 'uninviting' were quickly shattered by a friendly bartender, can't remember his name now, but was eager to chat about the beers, and opened up even more when he learned I was a BA. Offered me plenty of free samples, and guided me through the extensive hoppiness of their draft list, which even by PacNW standards had some crazy-ass hop bombs on there. It also had a good selection of other brews, too, mostly local, as well as several Belgians and Belgian-style ales, a few Germans, really just about everything. I'd estimate about 25-30 on draft. If you've ever been to the Gingerman or Barcade in NY, the drafts are presented in the same way: it appears as if all the kegs are situated in a temperature-controlled room directly behind the taps, so there must be very short tap lines delivering the beer to a stainless steel facade of beer tap beauty. Everything just looks so clean and sterile, which again, is a bit of a knock against the atmosphere, but a really great thing if you want freshness and quality in your beers. That same back keg room doubles as bottle storage, and above all the taps is the bottle colletion, neatly organized so you can see the labels looking out from behind glass doors. You just really have to see this setup. Awe-inspiring. And the bottle list is fan-frickin-tastic, too, rivaling Spuyten Duyvil and focusing mostly on Belgians. I believe they must update it regularly on their website, so check it out. You won't be disappointed. Everything is served in appropriate galssware, by the way. Of course it is.

The food -- well, the food is actually quite impressive for a beer bar -- very original takes on pub grub, with high-quality ingredients. Again, check the menu on the website. I had bacon-studded Gruyere and Emmental croquettes (awesome), followed by a marquez sausage sandwich, with some roasted red peppers, chipotle mayo, and frehs mozzarella. I could only finish half -- took the other half home and enjoyed it the next day. Prices for beer and food were very reasonable.

This might be my favorite straight-up beer bar yet. It may not have the comfort and coziness of, say, a Spuyten Duyvil in NY or a Horse Brass in Portland -- but when it's time to get serious about the beer, and grab a nice bite, come here.

Photo of masikon
4.16/5  rDev -3.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 5

A buddy who lives in the area brought me here to pre-funk before a concert. He had no idea what an amazing establishment this is and neither did I at first. The building is unnassuming and industrial located in fremont. Upon entrance the bouncer was typically arrogant while checking my I.D. and giving me the once over (i'm only 21). Walking in the patrons seem happy and talkative with a few small groups at the lower floor tables but most people were at the bar. Once i got to the bar i realized I was in for a treat, a HUGE row of taps lining the wall (over 60 i believe) with an additional 150 more brews available in bottles. Dissapointedly I had to leave after less than an hour and only 2 beers but I vowed to make it back there at least once a month. A highlight of the Seattle beer scene.

Photo of atomicbwax
3.8/5  rDev -12.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 5

A friend of mine turned me on to this place a few months ago. I have to say I am quite impressed.

Selection - I don't anyone would argue that this place has an incredible selection of beers from all over the world. The beers are usually served in the "proper" glass as well. Goblets, pints, imperial pints, half-liters, and liters are all available. Be careful on the liter though as on more than one occasion they have run out of the giant glasses and my friends have been left waiting for 30 - 60 minutes to get their liter. They advertise 40+ taps and 200+ bottles. By the looks of things insode this is not a lie. The wall of taps is quite impressive and the bottles behind there are quite impressive as well. They also seemed to have a decent selection of winess and they did have a full bar for the non-beer drinkers. I would be hard pressed to think that someone could go in there and not find something they would like.

Location - Located in the popular & trendy Fremont neighborhood of Seattle this place is close to quite a few other good places inclusing the George and Dragon. Because of this location close parking might be difficult t find so be prepared to walk a few blocks from the car.

Ambience - Being a popular spot in a popular area the place can fill up and is quite loud. There is the main floor where the bar is and a "balcony" that runs aroun d the perimeter. On Friday and Saturday nights seating can be difficult to find, especially for larger groups. The clientele is quite varied as well. Anyone can go in there and feel welcome.

Service - I love this place but the service is not the greatest. Unless you know someone who works there or know someone who knows someone who works there (lucky me) you might have to stand in line for a while before you get helped. With so many taps the bar is quite long so you may need to wait a while for a bartender to notice you.

Staff - The staff, when they are helping you, is quite knowledgable and more than willing to help you make a good decision on a beer if you're having a hard time deciding. Free samples are available upon request as well, just don't overdo it.

Food - I didn't have any food but my friends who did said it was decent enough.

Overall this is a good place for beer fans.

Photo of jaskiern
3/5  rDev -30.7%
vibe: 1.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2 | selection: 4 | food: 3

I was certainly not a fan of the atmosphere. The setting itself just didn't do anything for me. And the music didn't blend in well with the background -- it was loud and wasn't very good bar music.

Brouwer's certainly has enough customer's that the beer is always kept flowing. I get the impression nothing is ever old. The fish seems pretty fresh also.

The service just barely existed. It took the bartender quite some time to get people their drinks, I don't really know how he managed it. It was quite a magic trick.

But the selection is where Brouwer's really stands out. They had ~50 taps with a strong focus on Belgian beer and food to go along with it. They only had 2 handpulls, which seems like a shame with that many taps. Considering the customers from the area, it seems understandable (unfortunately).

Beer and food seem a bit pricey.

I highly recommend reading BA <deeplennon>'s review of Brouwer's Cafe, they share many of my other sentiments regarding the bar. This is not the kind of place that I would visit regularly, but only when I really wanted some beer that I had difficulty getting elsewhere.

Photo of deeplennon
4.05/5  rDev -6.5%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

Brouwer's definitely has it's hits and misses. It's strong point is without a doubt it's selection of over 60 taps, the breakdown typically being roughly 20-25 Belgians (wow), 30-35 domestic micros with a slong slant towards NW brews and 5 'other', english/german/canuck drafts. While the Belgian list is great, nothing is below $7 for a 12oz pour and they can go as high as $10. Most domestic prices are a steal however, with the common price breakdown being $4 for a 16oz pint and $3 for a 12oz schooner. At happy hour (3-6pm 7 days a week) all drafts are a buck off, making schooners the best value per oz making them a great way to knock off some obscure brews or old favorites. The bottle list is at 200 strong and at least 75% Belgian. There are some deals to be found but most overpriced.

Food-wise the small list of entrees are average to above average though somewhat overpriced. The frites however, are really good, and probably the best in the city.

The table service can be hit or miss though it's improved quite a bit over the last two years... You'll find the most knowledgable staff working behind the bar and service is usually great there.

The atmosphere? Fantastic when you have the place to yourself but unfortunately the bar is located in fremont where every twenty-something single ex frat-boy/sorority-girl in Seattle hangs out 7 nights a week. If you leave the place by eight you can mostly miss this crowd. If you arrive after then or especially on a friday/saturday evening, then you'll be in for a crowded loud night. The decor is a tad pretentious with some kind of nature meets industry motif, but you don't really start to notice it until the crowd that's drawn to it like a moth to a flame arrive.

Definitely a place not miss for any Seattle beer tourist. Though locals will general stick to the off times here.

Photo of Philby11111
4.44/5  rDev +2.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Just went to this pub as a a part of a pub crawl sponsored by NW Brew News. Awesome selection of Belgium style beers, both from Belgium and US/Canada origin. Folks in the bar were a mixture of beer geeks (myself included), curious beer lovers, and kids who were there just because it was trendy. Despite the rif-raf, I will go back. Tripel Karmeliet on tap!! Advised a few newbies/younguns as to the virtues of Ommegang 3 Philosophers and Unibroue Trois Pistoles. Also, they had Monk's Cafe sour on draft. I was in Monk's about about 2 months ago and they didn't even have it.

Photo of RedDiamond
4.95/5  rDev +14.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Where to begin? How about the Fremont neighborhood, that funky place on the ship canal dotted with bridges and trolls. Walk past the old trolley house – now the former Redhook brewery – and you’ll see an unassuming place with a fresh coat of paint. There’s no sign outside announcing Brouwer’s, just a tiny ad for Chimay. Step inside the formidable wooden doors and you’re in a beer playground. Tables and chairs are dark wood and solid. Booths are private and cushioned. Upstairs, the horseshoe shaped balcony holds tables with a panoramic overview while a tiny, hidden book nook with sofas provides a small fireplace. A huge, circular skylight throws daylight everywhere.

I counted 17 American draughts, centered in Washington though reaching as far as Alaska, Colorado, and Anderson Valley. But no Oregon beers on tap! Sacrebleu! Just a single, dusty bottle of Old Boardhead. An oversight in need of immediate remediation! Compensating for this temporary shortcoming are 13 Belgian taps, 4 German, 2 English, plus one Canadian and Guinness. That’s just the draught beer. Though I saw no menu listing bottled beers, they are on display in the cooler behind the bar. I might number them at about 100 varieties, mostly Belgian though I saw German, Czech, and Dogfishhead.

Someone at Brouwer’s spent a lot of time focusing on details. Things like the silverware, the salt and peppershakers, the stone walls and the iron chandelier – they all add up to a class act. The glassware was even more impressive: nonics, goblets, tulips, weizens. A lot of care went into refining the beer drinking experience and I appreciated it. My first beer was Bangelijk Blonde, a pale ale contract brewed in Belgium for Bottleworks. It was exquisite. Next I had a St. Bernardus Abt. 12 on draught. I can’t recall ever seeing this classic Trappist ale on tap anywhere. I dined on Waterzooi, a Belgian stew similar to a potpie with chicken and veggies in a light cream sauce surrounding a delicate flaky pastry. It was fabulous.

The owners are the same folks from Bottleworks and are widely respected beer purveyors in Seattle. They’ve kept the ambiance spacious and the tap lines short. They also stock top-shelf booze. Interestingly, on my Sunday afternoon visit all but one of the 18 barstools were occupied while there were plenty of empty tables to be had. People seem to prefer sitting at the bar or on the low wall of an elevated seating area to tables. To me, this speaks to the sociable informality of the place despite the obvious refinement of the décor and the fairly pricy menu.

Brouwer’s has raised the bar on beer bars. It’s the kind of place where even great beers like Stone or Rogue would appear commonplace. In fact, Brouwer’s doesn’t stock them. You’ll find Flemish art on the walls and an obvious Belgian theme throughout, but you’re still in Seattle. Being a classy beer bar means very manly men drink here. Being a Seattle beer bar means some very manly women also drink here. It’s a Northwest experience all beer fans should have.

As for the service, it was excellent. My questions regarding ABV were easily answered and the waiter apologized for delayed service due to an unexpected surge of patrons. I never even noticed a delay in service and my server left before I could tip him. UPDATE: I’ve tied my rating for selection to the availability of Oregon beers on tap. On my first visit to Brouwer’s, there were no Oregon beers flowing – a grievous oversight for such a distinctive Seattle beer bar. I’ve since heard that Hair of The Dog is pouring. Therefore, my selection rating is: no Oregon beers on tap = 4.5. At least one Oregon beer on tap = 5.0.

Photo of pluto
4.95/5  rDev +14.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

I went to Brouwer's within a few days of its opening and was highly impressed. It's a cool space, nice and open with quality fixtures, and a skylight that illuminated the end of the bar. I'm sure when it's full and bustling it will be quite the hopping place, as it should be, because it sets a standard for beer bars in Seattle. We sat at the bar for a light lunch, and the staff was very attentive and knowledgeable. The beer selection was a remarkable mix of high quality German and Belgian selections and the best of the Northwest. In recent years some of the beer bars and most of the restaurants in Seattle have been winnowing down the selection to the "usual suspects" which I'm sure has to do with price points and distribution but not here. I had the cheese plate and a salad which were excellent.
Brouwer's has vaulted to near the top of the Seattle beer scene for me. Check it out.

Photo of Knuckles
3.88/5  rDev -10.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

I was sadly disappointed in my initial visit to Brouwer's, so I'll have to go back and give them another opportunity to change my mind.

Atmosphere: Rather sterile, really. Lots of exposed steel beams, exposed concrete, fake rock walls, and stainless steel everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE. Steel bar back, shiny steel beer coolers, steel steel steel. It was like the episode of 'Spongebob' where Squidward gets frozen, then thawed two thousand years in the future. "In the future, all things are chrome." In short, not terribly homey. Now, in their defense, this is a converted warehouse, so it's sort of to be expected. But it's just the kind of trendy atmosphere that I avoid like the plague, and will probably prevent me from making this a regular kick.

Quality: I'm not sure what quality we are speaking of, so I'll encompass everything. The quality of the remodel is top-notch. They clearly spared no expense in the construct of this place, it's just simply not my style. The quality of beers poured is also top-notch. Proper glassware, beers served at the proper temperature. All very good.

****Edit: I contacted Mark, the head brewer at North Coast. He has since informed me that I am the one that is whack, and he designed the Old Rasputin to be served on nitro when on draught. Oddly enough, he and I completely disagreed on the flavors muted and accented with the nitro pour, so I'm going to have to go back and try it again (although I'd really prefer to go down to Fort Bragg). So, that said, I'm swallowing my pride and giving back the half-point I docked them for the nitro serve.

Service: This is where they really need to improve. The servers basically knew nothing about the beers they were serving, only which ones they had on tap. Also, as previously mentioned, they were out of almost every Belgian save for the St. Bernardus Abt. 12. I'd like to see a board somewhere in the bar where they post updates of which beers are on tap and which are not. They've got a beer menu which is much appreciated, but no way to know which ones aren't available without walking through them one by one with your server. Also, the visits to our table of four were few and far between. The place was hopping on a Saturday night, but there was an assload of service staff on the floor, so it shouldn't have been an issue. They need to make a visit to Silver City in Silverdale to get some customer service lessons (their customer service should be the model for all businesses, it's freakin' amazing).

Selection: Wide-ranging, just rather pedestrian. Their German beers didn't range much beyond Paulaner or Spaten (they MAY have had Weihenstephaner Hefe, but I'm not entirely sure), and as previously mentioned, their craft selection was just rather dull. The Lost Coast 8-Ball Stout was a find, however. No bar I've ever been to in Seattle has ever carried a Lost Coast keg. Docking a half-point for not having most of their Belgians on tap, and an embarassing selection of German beers.

Food: Dude, pommes frites can only go so freakin' far. I realize they are a Flemish cafe and all, but holy crap. Also, the menu is very brief, and offered nothing for the vegan (I am not one, but my father is. It's a good thing he ate before we went down there).

I think this place could truly be great, but it's got a ways to go. For me, the thing that will always cause me to think twice about going there is the ambience. Just not my cup of tea. That said, it's definitely worth a visit, and maybe more if you aren't as crotchety as I am.

Edited to add the value field: I chose $$$ instead of $$, but the place actually falls in between the two. It is a bit pricier than most. That's all.

Edited again to add: I'll accept a partial correction from justinp. The bar is not steel. The bar back, and pretty much that entire wall is steel. As you can probably tell from my review, it really stuck out to me.

Edited yet once more: I went back to Brouwer's on the evening of the Fremont Solstice Parade. I had quite stupidly forgotten about that, but still managed to find a parking spot right outside. They were hopping inside, but we got a table quite quickly. Again, this still isn't my kind of place. I can see how it works for many beer fans, but I am completely uncomfortable in the place. It's definitely for the beautiful people, and I'm simply not one of them. I'm adjusting my review to actually bump the value rating up to 'very expensive', as their Belgian prices are completely out of this world. $7.50 for a glass of Abbaye des Rocs, and that was the least expensive Belgian on the menu. We left and headed over to The Jolly Roger Taproom and had a pint of Nightwatch.

Brouwer's Cafe in Seattle, WA
96 out of 100 based on 130 ratings.