Front Street Ale House / San Juan Brewing

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Front Street Ale House / San Juan BrewingFront Street Ale House / San Juan Brewing
13 Ratings
Front Street Ale House / San Juan BrewingFront Street Ale House / San Juan Brewing

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery

1 Front St
Friday Harbor, Washington, 98250
United States

(360) 378-2337

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Ratings: 14 |  Reviews: 14
Photo of barleywinefiend
3.5/5  rDev -6.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

Located on the waterfront (front street) in downtown friday harbor on san juan island. When you get off the ferry go right and at the beginning of the street on the right hand side.The atmosphere is that of a local watering hole and is small but not crowded. The brews (of which there are quite a few) are good but not great. With the hop shortage they have had tp get creative with brews much like other small breweries.Food is selection is varied and the entrees we had were good. If you are on the island, you owe it to yourself to stop in for a pint. I was impressed and want to go back as soon as I can.

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Photo of RedDiamond
3.35/5  rDev -10.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 2 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

San Juan Brewing Company holds the distinction of being the only brewery in the northwest unreachable by road. To get there you'll need a boat, or at the very least, a ticket aboard the Washington State Ferry system. The ferry lands just a block from The Front Street Ale House where San Juan serves 11 house beers and a guest cider.

The atmosphere here is cozy, local, and maritime. There are model boats on shelves, a full figurehead (wearing a sombrero, no less) and the bar rails are secured with brass mermaid fixtures (some of which are a bit hand polished, if you catch my drift). Even the tap handles are locally made glass porpoises. The main room is split into a kid-friendly dining area to the left, and the bar to the right, with views of the brewery to the left and slightly uphill. Tables near the bar enjoy excellent views of Friday Harbor marina. There's also an upstairs dining area with a second bar and even greater views though this was unused during my visit.

I sampled a wide array of appetizers with friends and noted the food to be simple, enjoyable barfare with an emphasis on seafood. I shared a fish taco salad, mussels in broth, fried calamari, and a generous serving of onion rings. Prices are reasonable especially in light of the pub's location on a heavily touristed island.

Unfortunately, beer quality was poor. I had three pints and all three were painfully spoiled. I usually make repeat visits to a brewpub to sample a broader array of their wares before passing judgment, and I hope to return to San Juan for this purpose at some point in the future. But a three-out-of-three series of bad beers should give some indication of what to expect. And I'm not talking about beers that merely tasted bad. I'm talking about serious drain-pour quality spoilage; beers that should never have been served publicly.

Of the eight regular beers on their menu, none reached higher than 4.8% ABV. These included a pepper beer, an Oktoberfest, and a cream ale on nitro. Three rotational offerings were brewed to higher gravities. Several beers are available in bombers to go in a refrigerator case near the front door. The beers are otherwise only served in house and are not distributed.

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Photo of AllThingsNinja
2.85/5  rDev -24%
vibe: 3 | quality: 2 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 2

My wife and I stopped into the Front Street Ale house, mid week in August. We were seated promptly, and the staff amide an effort to accommodate our oversized back packs. We'd just hopped off a Ferry. Unfortunately, this courtesy was really the extent of service exceptionalism. Empty glasses lingered a little too long.

The ale house is positioned right on Friday Harbor;'s main harbor drag, and offers some views of the harbor from the dark wood tables near the ale houses windows. Unfortunately, there is nothing remarkable about the cramped interior.

Later on in our visit, we learned that the Iland's typical rule of thumb for eateries was that the good restaurants close before 8:30. The Front Street ale house is open late, and it's food does nothing to challenge that maxim. We ordered some logistically challenging, and rather bland oyster shooters, and unexciting fried seafood entrees. Nothing was special. I had a paprika chili beer, which was mostly a joke. Their oak aged IPA to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Pig War was nice. They also had a pale ale showcasing island grown hops. It was servicable. All in all, there were about 8 house brews focusing on British styles and their American derivatives. They are the only beers brewed on Island, and worth trying if you're in the area.

I wouldn't plan an expedition just to check it out, unless you are an obsessive completist.

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Photo of chiefojibwa
2.53/5  rDev -32.5%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 2 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3 | food: 3

not really impressed with this place or the beer. staff was a bit rude...i understand that they may get annoyed with all the tourists but, hey, we're driving your economy. maybe you could be a bit nicer? my wife and i tried the royal marine ipa, bacon beer, and pepper beer. all three were a bit flat. not much of a head on any of the beers. the ipa was pretty weak and not very hoppy. the bacon beer was ok but it was hard to taste the bacon. what i did notice was a greasy film on my tongue...that must have been from the bacon. the pepper beer was a JOKE. it literally tasted like someone had ground BLACK PEPPER into the beer! for my final pint i had one of their guest beers, a stone ruination, and the overwhelming hoppiness of that beer really let me know how crappy the brewery's beer actually was.

very unimpressed with this place. for my money you'd be better off going next door to outriggers where you can sit outside and enjoy a fish tale ipa.

oh, we also ordered food. my wife got beer battered oysters. the oysters were good but the batter was not done. i had the seafood sampler platter and it was pretty good.

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Front Street Ale House / San Juan Brewing in Friday Harbor, WA
Brewery rating: 3.3 out of 5 with 13 ratings