4 Washington Beer Cities Outside Seattle

You don't have to brave Seattle's notorious traffic for great beer in Washington state. With a current active brewery count of 319 (according to Washington Beer), Washington contains the second highest number of breweries in the US, after California. And with an area of 71,362 square miles, there's plenty of room to spread the craft beer love around.

We present four of the state's most hopping beer cities, exploring their ale trails and brewery passports. The best part? No city on this list is within 50 miles of Seattle.

With approximately one brewery for every 10,000 residents and more to come in the next year, Bellingham is Washington's beer capital of the north. Old standby Boundary Bay Brewery never disappoints, Chuckanut Brewery is perhaps the most sought-after brewery in the state, and new additions like Structures Brewing are keeping things fresh. Bellingham Tap Trail is a great resource for navigating the City of Subdued Excitement's breweries.

In the far eastern reaches of the state, Spokane and the greater Spokane Valley area boast over 15 breweries in a 15-mile radius. With over 77 percent of the total United States hop crop grown in nearby Yakima Valley, Spokane is no stranger to fresh, hop-centric beer. Stop by No-Li Brewhouse or Iron Goat Brewing for an introduction. Or check out the Inland Northwest Ale Trail to try them all.

Featuring several (claims vary between 9 and 12) breweries with a 2-mile area, Vancouver, WA is becoming a destination of its own. Not to be confused with the Canadian city of Vancouver, BC - or nearby Portland, Oregon for that matter - Vancouver, WA is redefining its place in the craft beer community. Oregon may have Beervana, but Washingtonians can enjoy Brewcouver without crossing the Columbia. Pick up a Brewcouver Brewery Passport at any of the city's participating breweries.

Olympia needs no introduction as a beer city. We've all heard of Olympia Brewery - first opened in 1896 - and its world famous slogan: "It's the Water." Unfortunately the slogan doesn't exactly hold water anymore, as Olympia Brewery was purchased by Pabst and moved to California. Several craft breweries have since materialized to fill the void. Try some organic brews from Olympia's oldest remaining brewery, Fish Tale Brewpub. There's no passport program out here yet, but you can collect half a dozen stamps in your Washington Beer passport around Washington state's capital city.

Brandon Fralic is a Bellingham-based freelance writer. With a focus on the outdoors, travel, and craft beer, he has contributed to a handful of publications including Washington Trails, Whatcom Talk, and Outdoor Project.