Here’s some good news for the outdoor drinking set: Seattle’s biggest beer garden opened on Saturday. Well, technically it reopened. Taking over and renovating the Ballard space formerly occupied by Populuxe Brewing, Yakima’s Bale Breaker Brewing and Wenatchee’s Yonder Cider brought a taste of Eastern Washington to the Puget Sound with a novel business model that combines operations under one roof. This shared spot, just off Leary Way on NW 49th Street, is the second location for both brands, and stands to attract even more thirsty locals and beverage tourists to Ballard’s already busy brewing district.
“We’ve been wanting to expand our presence west of the Cascades for a while — and when Caitlin [Braam] at Yonder Cider reached out to us to let us know the laws had changed and we could find a way to open a hybrid beer and cider taproom, it felt like a no brainer,” says marketing manager Sara Gottleib. “We were sad to see Populuxe go, but it felt like a perfect opportunity for us — the space is such an amazing gem.”
Both kid- and dog-friendly, the beer garden covers more than 6,200 square feet, and that’s not including the indoor bar area or the adjacent retail shop with beer and cider to go. Fire pits will keep visitors toasty as warm summer days segue into cooler fall nights, and approximately 150 seats in addition to numerous barrels and an outdoor bar top provide plenty of places to set down your half-empty glass. Additionally, when hunger strikes, members of Seattle’s food truck fleet will be there several days a week to serve everything from nachos and tacos, to southern-inspired bbq and Laotian cuisine.
A striking mural by Seattle-based artist Jennifer Ament livens up the modern, somewhat minimalist interior, while local illustrator, designer and muralist Teresa Grasseschi painted the BBYC sign on the front of the building. “It’s a great amalgamation of our brands,” explains Gottleib. “When we were designing the interior, we were thrilled to discover that both Yonder and Bale Breaker use a dark green color in a lot of our designs, so it naturally became a color that drove our palette. Beyond the colors, we just worked to ensure there’s a homey, cozy vibe, which both of our current spaces make sure to exhibit. We have a mural out back that also reflects the Central Washington sunshine — both Yonder and Bale Breaker have deep ties to agriculture on the east side of the state — and we wanted to bring some of that over. We also have hop poles, of course. Can’t have a Bale Breaker space without some hops,” she adds.
There are 32 taps of beer and cider, plus Bale Breaker’s new YOXI hard seltzer. Moreover, with frequent collaborations like a hopped version of Yonder’s Palisades cider, and East Meets West, a sour graf (a cider-beer hybrid), the new drinking destination should have wide appeal from day one. Eventually adding wine will only increase its drawing power.
The launch of the taproom also coincides with the introduction of Wise Fool Spirits, the distillery project that legally allows Yonder and Bale Breaker to operate as a shared production facility. A 7-barrel brewing system isn’t up and running yet, but Gottleib says that by November fans can expect to see draft-only Ballard brewed beers on the menu. In terms of spirits, tentative plans include apple brandy and whiskey made with malt grown on the Bale Breaker’s family farm in the Yakima Valley. Just don’t expect them anytime soon. While you’re waiting though, why not grab a pint or two and a seat in that sunny beer garden?
For the current tap list and more information, visit https://www.bbycballard.com.