Touring the maturing beer scene in Tri-Cities, Washington

Flight of tasters at Moonshot Brewing.
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For some, it is often a drive-thru along a bigger road trip, but it’s not a destination. For others, the Tri-Cities is where the kids have a big soccer, baseball, or softball tournament, but those occasions do not necessarily involve breweries and beer. For many folks like me, Tri-Cities, Washington has never been a destination for beer touring. I recently remedied the situation and spent a couple days exploring the growing beer scene.

The interior at Wheat Heads Brewing.
The interior at Wheat Heads Brewing. Photos by Kim Jones unless otherwise noted.

I list the local breweries below, with some info about each, but before I get to that I share a few thoughts about the Tri-Cities in general.

Accommodations
I stayed at a hotel in Richland, one of the hotels suggested by the folks at Visit Tri-Cities, who were happy to answer questions and provide ideas for my visit. The Homewood Suites provided as good a location as any, within easy walking distance of two beer destinations. Also near the hotel, some other good dining and drinking options, like across the parking lot. Beyond that, it’s a lovely hotel with an excellent complimentary breakfast. Fresh, homemade picante to liven up your scrambled eggs? Yes, please!

Homewood Suites in Richland. Exterior shot.
Homewood Suites, Richland.

The hotel is located along the Riverfront Trail, which goes on for miles and miles upstream and downstream. Also, it is at the north end of Howard Amon Park, a lovely, huge, and well-used park along the river. Start your day off right with a walk or run along the river.


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Getting Around
It seems that everything in the Tri-Cities is 10 to 15 minutes away. As the name suggests, the metropolitan area consists of three separate cities connected by highways, high-speed boulevards, and bridges. To get from one brewery to the next, it will usually involve a 10-minute drive or more.

Howard Amon Park
A lovely riverside park.

Also, for us beer hunters, it is hard to determine a center point. I stayed in Richland and was glad I did. Some destinations were not exactly nearby, but my home base at the Homewood Suites worked well. I was within walking distance of one brewery taproom and one brewpub. Not sure you can do better.


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Other Diversions
Like wine? The wineries and vineyards of the esteemed Red Mountain AVA are just minutes away. I recommend Hightower Cellars and Terra Blanca Winery. You’ll find several other wineries and tasting rooms around the Tri-Cities, but if you’re so close to Red Mountain, why not go to the source?

Wine tasting at Hightower Cellars.

I enjoy hunting birds with my binoculars. If you’re a bird nerd like me, you’ll find lots of great birdwatching nearby. Consider Bateman Island, which is actually in town near the Yakima River delta. Also, McNary National Wildlife Refuge, which is out of town and across the Snake River.

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View of the pond at McNary Wildlife Preserve near Pasco, Washington.
Birding at McNary.

Tri-Cities Breweries

There are about a dozen breweries in the area, depending on where you draw the lines. I had time to visit several of them. I saw and heard evidence suggesting that the beer-drinking public of the Tri-Cities is still getting up to speed about this whole craft beer thing. The number of breweries has increased in recent years, and those breweries are helping guide people into the light. Something experienced beer hunters might notice is a lack of stuff like barrel-aged beers, sour beers, and other more creative concoctions, but there is still plenty of good beer to be had. Below I share some info about the breweries of the Tri-Cities.

There is also a plan to create the first Tri-Cities brewery tour program to introduce the city’s breweries to locals and visitors. Apparently, it’s a plan hatched by one of the folks at Moonshot Brewing. The tour will work alongside Visit Tri-Cities. We’ll update this story with more info when that happens.

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Pint of beer at Sage Brewing.
Sage Brewing.

Sage Brewing

Sage Brewing is Located east of the Columbia River, with a Pasco address, Sage Brewing is a no-frills brewery and taproom in a small industrial complex right along a main road. It’s an underserved part of town, with few restaurants and bars nearby, so Sage Brewing is popular with the locals who stream in from the huge, recently built neighborhoods that surround it. Good beer, food trucks, live music, all that brewery stuff. All-ages. 8425 Chapel Hill Blvd B102, Pasco, WA 99301.

Bombing Range Brewing entrance.
Tardis-like. Big things await inside.

Bombing Range Brewing

Bombing Range Brewing is located north of Richland along Highway 240, the beers are good, the food is great, and the after-work crowd is robust. It’s tardis-like; bigger on the inside than it appears from the outside, and circuitous with multiple different spaces. The decor celebrates and honors our nation’s military, especially the flyers. All ages, some outdoor seating. 2000 Logston Blvd #126, Richland, WA 99354.

The interior at Bombing Range Brewing.
Bombing Range Brewing.

White Bluffs Brewing

This brewery and taproom is very near Bombing Range Brewing–they practically share a parking lot–but it feels like a different world. Not a hustling, bustling brewpub but a quieter taproom with a completely different vibe, with one large seating area that opens to a covered patio. The beers here are outstanding, truly the nectar of the gods, which is also the name of White Bluff Brewing’s flagship IPA. No kitchen, but food trucks regularly. All ages, some patio seating. 2034 Logston Blvd, Richland, WA 99354.

White Bluffs Brewing exterior.
White Bluffs Brewing at dusk.

Moonshot Brewing

The brewery operates two locations: its brewery and taproom is in Kennewick and its Pub at the Park is in Richland. The brewery taproom is in a small strip mall and has a very inclusive vibe and a convivial crew of regular customers. There’s no kitchen at this all-ages taproom, but they regularly host food trucks. 8804 W Victoria Ave # 140, Kennewick, WA 99336.

Pint of beer at Moonshot Brewing.
Moonshot Brewing.

Moonshot Brewing’s Pub at the Park is across the parking lot from Howard Amon Park, the riverside park I mentioned earlier. The pub serves up a delicious food menu, with a focus on brunch. The pub has limited indoor seating, but the patio is really where you want to be anyway when the weather allows. At either location, expect solid beers. 94 Lee Blvd, Richland, WA 99352.

Moonshot Brewing's pub.
Pub at the Park

Ice Harbor Brewing

It is the Tri-Cities’ craft beer OG, having opened in 1996. There are two Ice Harbor locations, a taproom at the brewery and also a pub at the marina. Last spring, the brewery moved out of its longtime home and relocated the brewery and taproom to a historic building just a few blocks down the street. It is now neighbors with Kennewick’s new Public Market. The beers are tried and true, beloved by the locals who’ve embraced Ice Harbor for decades. The all-ages taproom offers a full kitchen serving solid pub grub in a huge old warehouse building with whitewashed brick walls. 10 E Bruneau Ave, Kennewick, WA 99336.

Public Market sign outside Ice Harbor Brewing.
At the Public Market.

The Ice Harbor Pub at the marina is quite a different scene. It’s more like a restaurant with a tap list featuring nothing but Ice Harbor Brewing’s beers. It’s a great place for a sun-splashed lunch and a beer. All-ages pub, some outdoor seating. 350 N Clover Island Dr, Kennewick, WA 99336.

Interior of Ice Harbor Brewing's taproom.
Taproom at Ice Harbor Brewing’s new location near the Public Market.

Wheat Heads Brewing

One of the most amazing views of any brewery I’ve ever visited. A newly constructed building and beer patio on the family’s 5,000-acre wheat farm overlooks the rolling hills and the mountains in the distance. The design and decor are gorgeous, too. The plan was to open an event venue (think weddings) but the county advised that the quickest route to that end was to build a brewery and taproom. So, they did. The brewery is still getting up to speed and has encountered some hurdles having commenced operations just a few months ago, but Wheat Heads Brewing is open and serving beer. All ages, no kitchen, food trucks sometimes, way outside of town in the hills, indoor and outdoor seating. 92308 Locust Grove Rd, Kennewick, WA 99338.

The view from Wheat Heads Brewing.
A Beer with a view at Wheat Heads.

Atomic Ale Brewery and Eatery

I did not have a chance to visit, but this is a cozy little brewpub focuses on pizza, sandwiches, burgers, salads, and house-brewed beer. This is the Tri-Cities O.G. brewpub, having opened in 1997. All ages are welcome. Some outdoor seating. 1015 Lee Blvd, Richland, WA 99352.

Atomic Ales Brewery.
Image from Google Maps.

Iconic Brewing

I missed this one too, but it’s not far up the road from White Bluffs Brewing and Bombing Range Brewing. I’ve been told that the big draw here is the live music and the expansive outdoor space, which offers plenty of room for the kiddos to run around and expend energy. 2470 Henderson Loop, Richland, WA 99354.

Rattlesnake Mountain Brewing

I didn’t have time to visit, but it is described as a “relaxed watering hole with an attached brewery serving burgers and other bites in bright, casual digs.” The menu includes cocktails and wine, too. It’s a full-on restaurant with a sports bar vibe. Kids welcome. Live music often. Once upon a time, known as Kimos. 2696 N Columbia Center Blvd, Richland, WA 99352.

Paper Street Brewing

This one also escaped me on this trip. It is located 2.5 miles north of the highway in West Pasco. The brewery and taproom, located in the middle of the farm country, is an indoor/outdoor venue for the entire family. Rotating food trucks, live music, and some limited food options. 241 Fanning Rd, Pasco, WA 99301.

Visit Tri-Cities!
For more information to help plan your trip to Tri-Cities, Washington, head on over to Visit Tri-Cities where a ton of resources are waiting.


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