Whenever Big Time Brewery marks a milestone, it packs some historical significance. Roll the clock back to 1932 and you’d find beer lovers around Seattle celebrating the end of Washington state’s Prohibition laws. Happy days were here again, but it would take another 56 years for a brewpub to open in Seattle. In 1988, Big Time Brewery and Alehouse opened in the University District, the first brewpub to operate in Seattle since the enactment of Washington state’s Prohibition in 1916*.
Big Time Brewery and Alehouse endures as the city’s oldest brewpub and longest-running independent brewery. A lot has changed –the menu, the staff, the regulars, the beers, the owners– but the pub is now exactly what it has always been: a friendly and convivial place to enjoy a meal and a great, house-brewed beer.
Today, the Big Time is helmed by the McLaughlin brothers (pictured at top). Roy brews the beer and Rick runs the show. When the opportunity arose seven years ago, a former Big Time bartender, Rick McLaughlin, cobbled together the funds and financing needed to purchase the brewpub. Seattle’s most-venerated beer institution could not be in more capable hands. The place is looking better than ever, they’ve added a beer garden out front, and Roy’s beers are outstanding.
This Saturday, Big Time Brewery and Alehouse celebrates its 33rd anniversary. This milestone is certainly worthy of celebration. “It’s our anniversary, We are turning 33 years old!” said a statement on social media. “Come help us celebrate and have a glass or bottle to go of our anniversary beer! It’s called “RWBOWB” which stands for, Rye Whiskey Barrel aged Old Wooly Barleywine.”
The beer will be on tap at the brewpub and available to go in bottles. (Limited supply of bottles; you know what to do.) Who knows what other gems might find their way out of the cellar?
“It is both humbling and amazing that we have had the privilege of serving you all amazing beers and delicious food for so long. Please join us on December 11th from noon to midnight and cheers with us. There will be a couple of surprise kegs of beer from our cellar on tap as well.”
From My Own Perspective
Rarely do I possess a clear, precise recollection of exactly where I was so many years ago. Big Time Brewery opened on December 8, 1988. I was a much younger man, but I was at the Big Time on December 9th. One-third of a century later, I still lament missing opening day.
Here’s something I wrote that was published in Seattle magazine back in 2015.
“By 1988, Seattle had secured a reputation as one of the nation’s first hotbeds for craft beer, but the city curiously lacked a brewpub (a pub that brews its own beer). This oversight inspired brothers John and Reid Martin, who owned a brewpub in Berkeley, California, to open one here: Big Time Brewery and Alehouse on University Avenue was Seattle’s first post-Prohibition brewpub. Since that time, the venerable watering hole has witnessed a continuous cycle of matriculation and graduation, with patrons, staff and even the owners changing as the semesters and years rolled by. What remains immutable is the pub itself.”
Happy Anniversary to Big Time Brewery and Alehouse. Seattle would not be the same without you. Here’s to another 33 years, at least!
*In Washington, Prohibition was enacted in 1916 and the laws were repealed in 1932. You’ll find more info about the history of Prohibition in Washington state here.