First Impressions: Outlander Brewery & Pub

Isn’t it wonderful when a visit to an eagerly anticipated new brewpub exceeds all expectations. In this case it’s particularly so because my first attempt to visit ended in disappointment. I’m speaking of Outlander Brewery & Pub, the tiny nanobrewery in an old Victorian house that opened in Fremont in August…

My first attempt to visit Outlander was in August shortly after they opened. It was during my Beer Trek 2012: Fremont to Ballard with Mrs Fueled by Beer and The Daughter along for the ride. We were foiled by the pub’s then-undisclosed 21+ designation (since resolved). Let’s just call that a false start: this time we planned it right.

For our return Mrs Fueled by Beer and I took turns hanging out with The Daughter outside the pub; we each went inside separately with The Navy Son to check out the beer and food. It took only one sip of Outlander brew to make everything all better.

The Outlander’s 1 BBL brewery is down below in the pub’s basement: this is where brewer Nigel Lassiter performs his magic. Each batch of beer is a one-off yielding just 2 kegs – which blow through very quickly up in the pub. As a result of this small scale, high turnover production, most folks can expect to find a different house lineup on tap at every visit. And once gone, a particular beer will likely only be repeated by popular demand: Nigel has a lot of recipes up his sleeve. On tap for our visit were three unique Outlander ales: Chili Amber Ale; Pumpkin Spiced Ale; and a Yam Ale. The remaining taps, pouring a selection of guest brews, complimented the house ales very nicely.

The kitchen side of the pub is not yet fully ramped up so food offerings are currently limited to light snacks. However our two selections from the menu: Bier Dip with Pretzels, and the Charcuterie plate, were both excellent accompaniments for our beer samples. The food is freshly prepared using high quality ingredients and prices are reasonable.

You really can’t beat the Victorian vibe of the place: the pub looks great from the outside, and the interior is comfortably furnished like your grandma’s formal living room.

The Outlander guys have done a remarkable job turning the building into a neighborhood gathering spot. No sports blaring on flatscreens here: it’s all about communing with your fellow man (or woman) over a pint of some of Seattle’s most creative beer, and enjoying the simple pleasures of conversation with friends.

I commented recently in another post that I find it strange there aren’t more standalone neighborhood brewpubs along the lines of the Oregon model perfected by McMenamins and emulated by others so successfully in and around Portland. In Washington it seems most brewpubs belong to larger production breweries whose output goes mostly to wholesale customers in kegs, bottles and cans; with relatively little consumed on-premise.

Fortunately there are some notable exceptions – where beer is brewed and distributed almost entirely through the brewpub. In Seattle there’s Big Time, Naked City, and all three Elliott Bay pubs. And these establishments produce what I consider to be some of the best beer in the state, matching the best artisan small batch brews to be found at neighborhood nanobrewery taprooms, such as NW Peaks – currently with Outlander the only other nanobrewery in the Fremont/Ballard corridor. Now, after this visit, I believe I can add Outlander to my list of best brewpubs: they are certainly among my ‘ones to watch’. I’ll be back!  🙂

Outlander Brewery & Pub is located a short walk along N 36th Street from the Center of the Universe, which is easily reached by transit from pretty much anywhere in the greater Seattle area. The map below can be used to find bus routings and times. Click View Larger Map then you can enter your starting point.

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