Year in Review: the 10 most-read beer stories of 2021



No joke. The Washington Beer Blog published over 400 stories in 2021. That’s a lot. As of December 28th, 590,679 unique visitors viewed a total of 1,258,046 pages in 2021. For real. So which stories received the most attention? Let’s take a look. (Learn more about how we monitor traffic.)

The bulk of the Blog’s web traffic comes from people like you, beer-loving Northwesterners who follow us on social media or receive our daily updates via email. In addition to that, our website and the stories we publish score very high with Google and other search engines, so a fair portion of our traffic comes from search results.

S.W. King County – beerless black hole.

Our top 10 list is based on web traffic and not opinion. Here are the top ten most-read stories of the year. Some were stories of great local interest while others attracted a wider audience.


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Our Top 10 Stories of 2021

Western Washington’s Black Hole of Beerlessness
In our most-read story of the year, I examined the striking void that exists between Burien and Tacoma. Basically, there are no breweries in that area, which is anomalous because pretty much every other population center of equal size in Washington state has at least one brewery. That was my only real point, but I think some of the locals felt like I was dissin’ on their neighborhood.

Introducing a new style of IPA – Cold IPA
The original story on this topic ranked second, the follow-up story ranked sixth, so I combined them here. Why did this topic get so much attention? Well, although two respected, award-winning brewers (Kevin Davey of Wayfinder Beer and John Harris of Ecliptic Brewing) describes this as a new style of beer, a lot of people disagreed. It became a sort of lightning rod. Personally, I would never presume to know more about beer and brewing than either of those esteemed brewers. If they say it’s different and new, then I am going to believe them. But that’s just me.


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What the heck is Ranch Water?
This was a story about something that emerged as a growing trend in the adult beverage market. Basically, this story is about the rising popularity of a particular cocktail, ranch water, which was starting to show up as a flavor of hard seltzer. Would this trend, this “new” flavor profile, find its way to beer? As evidenced by its position on this list, ranch water was a really hot topic on the Internet for a minute. Next…

Chuckanut Brewery closes its Bellingham brewery and restaurant
Yeah, this one caught everyone by surprise. Really sad for folks in Bellingham, but the closure was not a sign that the brewery was suffering, failing, struggling, or anything like that. Seems they just couldn’t come to terms with the property owner and decided to move the brewery equipment to Burlington and increase production at the company’s other location. And, almost simultaneously, Chuckanut opened a new taproom in Portland.


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Diamond Knot shuts down outdoor seating area
Some folks suggest that the city of Mukilteo was inspired by complaints from a grumpy business owner. Whatever the case, the city suddenly decided that Diamond Knot must shut down its outdoor seating area. Because this story, by its very nature, became something of a political football, it got a lot of traffic.

Service Industry Labor Shortage
We all know that coming out of the pandemic lockdowns, people have been very slow to come back to work in certain industries. Instead of assuming, I asked. Instead of arriving at predetermined conclusions based on my own political ethos, I asked. Why are folks reluctant or entirely unwilling to return to work in restaurants, bars, and taprooms? I just asked. What did I learn?

San Juan beer adventure
The San Juan Islands are something else. This story, about a simple little day trip to Friday Harbor, attracted more attention than I expected. Why? As much as some of the communities on the islands rely on tourism, there are a lot of islanders who want you to stay away. I think this story got a lot of attention from those people.

Beer Hunting on San Juan Island.

Good Brewing compliance issues
Another story with a political bend got a lot of attention towards the end of the year. It’s more complicated than many people are interested in admitting or understanding, but the county recently ordered some businesses the halt operations and move away.

Beer at the Ballpark
After a year of playing in an empty ballpark with weird piped-in crowd noise, the Mariners welcomed fans back to the stands in 2021. As usual, our annual guide to finding good beer at the ballpark got a lot of attention.

Cans at the ballpark. This is the new normal, and I like it.

Winning breweries at Yakima Fresh Hop Fest
Fresh hop beer was a big deal this year as the style’s popularity continues to grow. Bringing home a medal from the Yakima Fresh Hop Festival has always been a big deal, but this year our story about the 2021 winners was one of our most-read stories. Everyone wanted to know which was the best of the best.

Other Notable Stories

The following stories were also near the top of the list, in the top 20. Though they didn’t rank in the top ten, in my opinion, these deserve mention.

Elephant in the room – dirty beer lines
This is an honorable, honorable mention for a story that didn’t make the list. For the first time since it was published in 2012, our story about dirty draft beer lines and the necessity of keeping draft beer equiptment sanitary did not make the top 10. Interestingly, it slipped all the way to number 29 this year. Apparently fewer people are searching Google for things like “dirty draft beer lines.”

48 breweries open in 24 months
Published late in the year, so the numbers won’t roll up yet, but this story points out how many breweries opened in Washington state during the course of the pandemic. Personally, I didn’t see this coming.

One of our honorable mentions involves the return of “Tacoma’s beer.”

Base Camp Brewing closing
Maybe the pandemic was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but this brewery closing was more about a personal journey. The story got a lot of attention.

The return of Heidelberg
A lot of you might be too young to remember Heidelberg, but the rebirth of “Tacoma’s beer” got a lot of attention, as it deserved.

Washington Beer Awards
It’s taken a few years, but I think the public is finally coming around and recognizing the significance of winning a medal at the WBA. One thing that was different this year, and I’m not sure it has anything to do with anything, but the awards were handed out at a gala, a big banquet hosted by the Washington Brewers Guild. That was pretty cool. Usually, the winners are announced during the Washington Brewers Festival so it is easy for the news to get washed out by the bigger event.

The Sabro story
It continues to be one of our most-read stories of the year. This story from 2018 introduced what was then a new variety of hops. Today, it continues to get attention, apparently from people who are searching for info about Sabro hops. Whenever I do a story that I assume will only be of interest to industry insiders, it gets more attention than I expect. Hmmm. Something for me to think about.

Cheers to the New Year

In so many ways, I have no idea what next year will bring. At the same time, for 2022 I am going to expand the Washington Beer Blog’s coverage of the industry itself. That is, you’ll see more stories that are relevant to people working inside the craft beer industry.

Thanks for following along and cheers to a bright new year!



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