Swamp Tavern

Your Rating: None
2 Ratings

Type: Bar, Beer-to-go

1904 W 5th Avenue
Spokane, Washington, 99204
United States

(509) 747-7575

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Added by woemad on 01-16-2008

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Ratings: 2 |  Reviews: 2
Reviews by woemad:
Photo of woemad
4.06/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5

<Edit 11/14/14: Joe the manager has long given up his anti-IPA stance: Caldera is a staple, plus lately Riverkeeper IPA from River City (located a few blocks away) had been regularly on-tap>
The most recent incarnation of a seminal Spokane drinking spot is a place many BAs would enjoy (unless you are bound and determined to have an IPA from a tap, but more on that later).

The Swamp Tavern is a cozy, somewhat hidden-away watering hole near I-90 and the Browne's Addition neighborhood that is often spoken of admiringly by many alcohol consumers in Spokane. It's best summed up by one woman who once told me she takes anyone she dates early on to the Swamp, and if the boyfriend in question appreciates it, she doesn't break up with them the next day. It's gone through multiple changes of ownership (including one ill-advised owner & name change when it was known as The Hideout). It's reverted back to it's traditional name and has become a kind of beer geeks' diamond in the rough. On my last visit, two of the 10 or so taps were devoted to macros (Oly and Kokanee) with the rest micros from brewers such as Avery, Elysian, Northern Lights (a local), Scuttlebutt, Oskar Blues and others. But where they really grab your attention is the 80 or so bottled and canned choices. While there are some macros and malternatives among them (after all, this is a small dive bar off the beaten path, location-wise), the vast majority of beers are micros, with some imports present as well (chatting with the bartender on duty -the proprietor's mother -on my most recent visit, she told me how they've been having extra trouble lately keeping Young's Double Chocolate Stout in stock due to popular demand, and have two distributors vying over supplying it to them). One odd thing about the selection is that there are no IPAs available on-tap (at least on the two occaisions I've visited them in their current incarnation), though 90 Min is available in bottle. The one occaision I've spoken to Joe (the owner/chief bartender) I got the impression he is not a fan of the style. He also said that part of his M.O. is to try to get beers no one else carries locally, so maybe it's a reaction to the more hop-heavy beer geek locations in town such as the Viking and the Elk. In any event, if you're a hophead your best bet is probably a hoppy pale ale like Dale, which has been on-tap each time I've been in here.

Despite the many micros available, and the bias toward them that's obvious when viewing the majority of the bottles and taps, there's also a healthy minority of macros. This is due to the following the location has due to it's many years of being a no-frills tavern. I drank a Dale's, a Scrimshaw and an Old Chub alongside people who were drinking Scuttlebutt Blonde, Oly, Busch and wine. Speaking of, there's a surprisingly large number of wines also available, and Joe seems to have a fondness for Port, as 4 brands seem to be available. Food seems to consist of free popcorn that is self-serve, so I'd eat elsewhere.

Beer prices on average are about $3.50 per pint, though the specialty beers such as Raison D'etre are more expensive. A real value is what Joe calls the "man-can" - 20oz micros for $4.50. Prices for glasses of wine tend to be more expensive, as you can probably guess. A glass of port set me back $4.50.

There's an outdoor smoking area that includes a fireplace that's generally kept lit. In the summer there's also ping pong tables in the same area. The owner has two dogs that have the run of the place, and allows customers to bring in their dogs as well, so long as they behave. Just be sure to shut the door properly, as he doesn't want his dogs taking off, and will send people coming in back to shut the door if they haven't.

The Swamp is one of the more eclectic drinking establishments in town. The clientele vary between crusty old geezers that have been comeing here for decades, college students from Browne's Addition, the self-consciously hipster-ish, and borderline meth heads. Factor in goofy dogs that are overjoyed to see you despite never having encountered you before, and you've got a fairly memorable drinking experience.

 4,175 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of RJLarse
4/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

The Swamp is a true tavern (no hard liquor) located in an industrial area of Spokane near I-90. When I visited the place was remarkably empty because of a festival going on in a nearby neighborhood.

It is a very clean cozy little place. Bar seating for 15 with a 10 seat island bar in the middle of the room. There are several small 2 seat tables and a pool table in the back. Music comes from a mechanical juke box with an interest mix of selections, from crooners to country to classic rock and roll. The bartenders roll dice with customers to see who pays for the juke box. It's an interesting old tavern diversion. There is outside seating, and probably smoking. I did not venture out there.

Quality is good. There are some quality craft beer choices in bottles. I had a Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA on tap that was very good.

Service was good. The bartender was afraid to give me a Double IPA without a tasting first.

Selection is good. 10 taps and 80 or so bottle selections.

The Swamp is an excellent value. I paid $3.50 a pint for the draft beer I had, which si as good a price as you find anywhere.

Not an exceptional place, but adequate, and I'll be back.

 1,177 characters

Swamp Tavern in Spokane, WA
Place rating: 4.03 out of 5 with 2 ratings
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