Despite leaving Seattle in 2013 I’m still interested in its craft beer scene—it’s a good indicator of what to expect in the UK five or ten years from now. Back in 2008 my initial introduction to Seattle’s hoppy greatness owed a lot to the Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery—which became Mr & Mrs Fueled by Beer’s local go-to brewpub. I wrote about our experiences here, here and here…
So, after hearing the news of Rock Bottom Bellevue’s recent demise, I am frankly surprised that they hung on this long. By the time award winning brewmaster Brian Young jumped ship midway through 2012, the kitchen had already started its steady descent into mediocrity and plummeting service quality followed soon after. It was a slow death at the hands of CraftWorks that started after they acquired the Rock Bottom and Gordon Biersch brewpub businesses in 2010.
Fast forward to 2015: there is an exceedingly happy ending—or a new beginning depending on where you sit. The former brewmaster at Rock Bottom Bellevue, and one of our favorite Seattle brewers, Brian Young, has resurfaced. This is great because in our experience he was so much more than just the creator-brewer of Rock Bottom’s award-winning Hop Bomb IPA, awesome though that was. He is now the co-owner and head brewer at Hellbent Brewing Company which opened earlier this year in Lake City (map). They’re located at 13035 Lake City Way just a couple blocks north of Elliott Bay’s Brewery & Pub and directly across from the Fred Meyer store. According to local accounts the taproom, which is open 7 days a week, is gorgeous; Brian’s brews are as superb as ever and food trucks stop by on a daily basis (check website for schedule). Hellbent is a 21+ establishment.
On a side note: what of the brewer who succeeded Brian Young at Rock Bottom? That person was Sara Luci who came from Silver City Brewery across the Sound in Bremerton. Evidently her time with the sinking ship that was Rock Bottom didn’t hurt her career too much. She recently joined the brewing team at Black Raven in Redmond. I call that a definite move up.