They were three high school buddies who considered themselves more of a family. Together, they moved to Seattle in pursuit of their “hop dreams.”
“You can definitely feel it when you go to a bar. People here have a lot of pride in their beer,” said Justin Quinlan, whose dream is now coming true as head brewer at Urban Family Brewing.
Quinlan and company opened the Ballard brewery one year ago. They’re now watching the neighborhood’s beer world blow up around them.
Urban Family is one of a six-pack of brand new breweries now pouring in Ballard, all within about a mile of each other.
“There's definitely a lot of people brewing beer over here,” said Urban Family’s Tim Czarnetzki.
“Seattle is just such a great beer town,” added the brewery’s Katie Seward. “People here love good beer. They expect good beer. They know what they're looking for.”
Urban Family, Populuxe, Peddler, Northwest Peaks, Hilliard’s and Reuben’s Brews join Maritime Pacific and craft brew pioneer Hale’s Ales in Ballard. Kendall Jones of the Washington Beer Blog has dubbed the mile long swath “Seattle’s Redhook District” because the craft brew behemoth was born in a Ballard transmission shop more than 30 years ago.
“The craft beer revolution that swept the country started, in part, here in Ballard when Redhook started brewing. It is the birthplace of modern craft brewing,” said Jones.
Indeed, what's happening in Ballard is a microcosm of the microbrew revolution that continues across America. There are now nearly 2,400 breweries in the United States, the most in history. In Ballard, it’s almost like the Starbucks effect where one brewery sits right next door to another.
The lure of hops and barley is increasingly drawing more people to Seattle, not just to make beer, but to drink it. Beer tourism is now officially a "thing.” "Road Dogs Beer Tours" runs up to three trips a day across the city.
Kendall Jones only expects the number of new breweries to grow in Ballard and beyond.
“A lot of what we’re seeing is breweries serving their own neighborhoods,” said Jones. “As long as we continue in that direction, we will have more and more breweries because there are more and more people who like drinking good craft beer.”