4 reasons why tap rooms and bottle shops are the best

Ditch your neighborhood bar. This weekend, go hang out at your local brewery’s tap room or a nearby bottle shop. They’re better. And here’s why.

Tap rooms and bottle shops are changing our drinking culture, making a bigger splash than craft cocktails and any other bar trend in the past five years.

They function like bars, but many aren’t defined by the state as such. Many allow minors and even dogs.

Bottle shops have a retail component, hawking craft beers in bottles and cans while also pouring from taps, to drink on the premises or from growlers to-go.

Tap rooms function as tasting rooms for breweries.

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Neither serve hard alcohol. They usually don’t have kitchens. Yet, they aren’t so much confined by those restrictions as liberated from them to focus on a singular purpose: to serve craft beer. And they’re better for it.

These places are approachable and affordable — a pint of beer goes for the cost of a latte. And they’re everywhere. The research firm Datafiniti projects the Seattle-Tacoma region has more breweries than any other metropolitan area in the country.

Here’s four reasons why bottle shops and tap rooms are better than your neighborhood bars.

1. Community hub

These spots feel more like coffeehouses with a town-square vibe than dives. People hold baby showers and birthday parties there on Saturday afternoons, often with no drink minimum or deposit required. Many host PTA and community-watch meetings there, too.

It’s not a stretch to say these places perform a civic function.

In his seminal book, “Celebrating The Third Place” (Da Capo Press, 2002), Ray Oldenburg contends that after our First Place (home) and Second Place (work), we need a gathering space (Third Place) to sustain a vibrant community.

That’s what the best tap rooms and bottle shops are.

Chuck’s Hop Shop is like that for the Central District, even opening at 10 a.m. if Seahawks have an early game. Like many tap rooms and bottle shops, Chuck’s also carries root beer, nitro coffee and other nonalcoholic beverages on tap for teetotalers.

Stogies n Hops in Lynnwood and The Brewmaster’s Taproom in Renton are good community hubs as well, the latter one of the most popular dog-friendly places to hang.

And on a smaller scale, Flying Lion Brewing anchors a strip mall in Columbia City, and Four Generals Brewing along a stretch of downtown Renton.

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