There are lots of places to find a good beer in Yakima nowadays, but that wasn’t always the case.
As recently as 2007 — the year I moved to town — it was pretty slim pickins around here. You could barely find a good sixer, let alone a growler or twenty-two.
Bale Breaker had yet to step onto the scene and the beer distributors just kept peddling the same old mass-produced microbrews. (I didn’t think people still drank Red Hook?)
Aside from going somewhere that happened to have a decent selection — Sportscenter, the old Bert’s Pub and The Beer Shoppe were my go-to’s back then — you were stuck drinking Pyramid or Sierra Nevada.
Grocery stores like Rosauers and Wray’s tried to keep things interesting, but it wasn’t until 2009 or so that everyone else jumped on the bandwagon.
I remember when my neighborhood Safewey started carrying 22-ounce bottles from all over the Northwest. I wouldn’t even be craving a beer but would somehow leave with a bottle or two in my cart … “for later.”
It’s no coincidence that I started drinking more beer around that time. When you can get whatever flavor you want whenever you want it, you tend to buy more of it. Needless to say, this didn’t help my wallet, or my waistline.
Little did I know that the fun had barely begun. It wasn’t long before the mini-marts started stocking brands that you would never expect to find next to malt liquor and fortified wine. I soon figured out that the corner stores charge the same and there’s no line at the register, so this quickly became my favorite way to shop for beer and snacks.
However, I do like to browse a bit from time to time. That’s why I rarely miss a chance to visit Rosauers in West Valley and peruse their seemingly endless selection of beer and cider. I hear Wray’s on 56th Avenue does a pretty good job, too, but Rosauers’ beer aisle (pictured above) is truly a sight to behold.
Drinking a couple 22s on the couch is great and all, but it’s also fun to tip a few pints with your friends. Good thing the Valley has no shortage of options.
Wandering Hop, Single Hill, Valley Brewing, Cowiche Creek, Berchman’s, Redifer Brewing, Varietal, Hop Nation and Bron Yr Aur — I’m sure I missed one — have all earned a devoted following over the past two years.
And you can’t forget about Yakima Craft Brewing, which continues to kick out great beers after 12 years (their remodeled taproom is pretty cool, too, if you haven’t been).
Restaurants, bars and tasting rooms around the Valley have also done their part to promote the little guys by carrying their brews and hosting “tap takeover” promotions. Others are getting into the mix by promoting the Northwest beer culture.
D’Nile Taphouse opened last winter in Naches, serving an unexpectedly diverse selection of beers and ciders from around the Northwest, while The Public House of Yakima just opened its doors this month, offering 37 mostly local beers.
Among the restaurants in town that offer a wide variety of brews are Buffalo Wild Wings (37 taps), Second Street Grill (24), Provisions (24, including the market), Bob’s Burgers & Brew (16) and Cowiche Canyon Kitchen (11).
Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Que in Union Gap takes the trophy with 50 (!) beer handles, most of them from around the Valley and the Northwest.
Other Yakima bars folks often turn to for the best selection include The Public House, Jack-Son’s (36 taps), Bill’s Place (32), Sportscenter (24), The Beer Shoppe (21) and The Pub (16).
All this talking about beer has got me thinking about a Rosauers run after work. It’s nice that after 12 years living in Yakima, I finally have more craft beer choices than I know what to do with.
As they say, that’s a good problem to have.