There was a time not so long ago that craft breweries did not happily crowd the landscape like they do now. Breweries were typically located in or near the big cities or they were randomly, broadly scattered hither and yon in suburban and rural locations. As we now slowly climb towards 500 breweries in Washington, the dots on the map, in locations both urban and rural, are much denser.
I recently updated our map of Western Washington Breweries, which admittedly covers a vast area of my own definition. It includes Tacoma, Woodinville, Kent, Bremerton, and so on, but it does not include Seattle, which warrants a map of its own. In performing those updates, I noticed something curious.
On the map of Western Washington Breweries, which includes breweries with taprooms and brewpubs within the geographical area that I subjectively defined, there is one, obvious black hole of beerlessness. How am I defining that? I am talking about a subregion boasting a considerably dense number of humans but no breweries or brewpubs.
The sad, beerless wasteland of Southwest King County
Between Burien and Tacoma, Kent and Puget Sound, there are no breweries or brewpubs. Southwest King County is a black hole. Federal Way, Des Moines, and SeaTac are beerless.
Is it an oversight that Federal Way has no brewpubs? Is it happenstance that Des Moines is void of brewery taprooms? Is there something about those crowded communities that simply will not support craft beer? Is it demographic? Real estate availability? I honestly do not know and am not suggesting anything. I just find it curious, that’s all.
With a population of nearly 100,000, Federal Way supports no breweries. At the same time, a town like Poulsbo, with a population of about 10,000 supports four breweries, with a fifth coming soon.
Federal Way is about the exact same size as Bellingham, where there are currently a dozen breweries and another slated to open soon.
What’s up, Federal Way? Get yourself a brewery or two. Perhaps the city council should be courting breweries. It’s generally agreed that local breweries are community builders, that they give a place a sense of home, and that they bring people together. Federal Way, do you not want that?
Des Moines, I’ll cut you a break. You’ve always been weird. I lived there when I was young and Des Moines was then as it is now: inexplicably trapped in time. I got no idea what’s going, but it’s cool. I get it. You be you, Des Moines.
All of you would-be breweries and existing breweries looking for new expansion opportunities, maybe Federal Way and Southwest King County are ripe for the picking. Is there a reason why it’s not? I don’t know.
There was a time when this issue existed in a part of South Central King County. The Covington/Maple Valley area was a black hole. In recent years breweries like Four Horseman Brewery and Lumber House Brewery have thankfully filled that void. From what I see, there’s still room for more breweries in that rapidly growing area, which is increasingly crowded with upwardly mobile young families. Still, the black hole in Southwest King County persists.
What do you think? Are there other black holes besides Federal Way? Other places in Western Washington where the population is dense with humans but sadly devoid of breweries with taprooms and/or brewpubs?