Brouwer's Cafe

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BA SCORE
95
world-class

96 Reviews
Reviews: 96
Visits: 140
rAvg: 4.27
pDev: n/a
Taps: 64
Bottles: 300
Cask: Y
[ 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:
Place added by: BeerAdvocate on 04-01-2005

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Place: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 96 | Visits: 140
Photo of jaskiern
3/5  rDev -29.7%
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. (1,138 characters)

Photo of deeplennon
4.05/5  rDev -5.2%
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. (1,846 characters)

Photo of Philby11111
4.44/5  rDev +4%
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. (576 characters)

Photo of RedDiamond
4.95/5  rDev +15.9%
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. (3,700 characters)

Photo of pluto
4.95/5  rDev +15.9%
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. (893 characters)

Photo of Knuckles
3.88/5  rDev -9.1%
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. (4,698 characters)

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