Nothing beats a good beer after an adventurous day of hiking, boating, skiing, biking or whatever you like to do in the mountains. Just remember to bring enough growlers, bottles or cans of beer for your campsite, RV or hotel.
Regardless of which route you take into the Cascades, from Mount Baker Highway down to I-90, below are some great beer outfitters that you can easily hit along the way.
Elizabeth Station is an obvious choice for picking up beer or getting a growler filled in Bellingham. But if you’re short on time and eager to head east on 542, Safeway at Sunset Square (1275 E. Sunset Drive) makes for a convenient stop. The beer selection is typical for a grocery store (i.e., it doesn’t have a huge selection, there’s only a limited amount of seasonals and stock doesn’t change much), but it’s decent. If you need a growler filled, head to the back-right corner, behind the wine, and you can choose among 12 taps.
When you’re ready to come back to civilization, Chair 9 Woodstone Pizza & Bar and The North Fork Brewery both make great stops on your drive home, and both are right on 542.
Cook Road Shell Taps & Gas (9440 Old Hwy 99 N. Road, Burlington) is unlike most convenience stores that are attached to gas stations. This unassuming place has a surprisingly large selection of craft beer, including many single bottles, plus it has up to 24 taps for growler fills (64 oz. and 32 oz.). Prices are very reasonable, too, as most half-gallon growler fills are only $9.99. What’s even better, this Shell is right next to I-5 and Cook Road, so it’s a super easy stop when you’re driving up the North Cascades Highway.
If you don’t mind taking a short detour into downtown Sedro Woolley, The Woolley Market (829 Metcalf St.) offers a nice selection of packaged beer plus a constantly rotating tap list.
On the east side of the North Cascades Highway, The Mazama Store is a must-stop for growlers or packaged beer, plus food or just general browsing. The beer selection is small, but it’s a high-quality selection. In the summer, enjoy draft beer in the outdoor beer garden.
The Mountain Loop Highway has multiple access points from I-5, depending on if you’re coming from the north or the south, but most lead you right by Getchell Growler Beer (16410 85th St. NE, Lake Stevens; next to the Chevron Station at the corner of 84th Street NE and Hwy 92 / Granite Falls Highway), just before you get to Granite Falls. At one time, this beer store (adjacent to the convenience store) offered a whopping 50 taps for growler fills, but the last time I checked, it had dialed back its taplist to 25, which is still a worthy number.
Norm’s Market, by the way, is only about 7 miles down the road in Lake Stevens, and it also offers a great selection of beer and 50 taps dedicated to growlers.
When Leavenworth bound, Route 2 Taproom & Grazing Place makes for an ideal stop, as it’s conveniently located on Route 2 at the eastern edge of Monroe. This bar/restaurant features more than two dozen taps (for on-site drinking or growler fills) and Hook & Ladder BBQ, which happens to be the best barbecue I have ever eaten in Washington.
Speaking of food, if you’re driving to the mountains in the morning, before Route 2 Taproom opens, swing into the Sultan Bakery (7 miles east of Monroe) and pick up some of their freshly made buttermilk donuts. Seriously. They are unbelievably delicious. But just know they usually sell out by late morning.
From Bellingham, if you plan to head east on I-90, you’ll most likely take 405. And if you take 405, a visit to Malt & Vine (16851 Redmond Way) in Redmond should be in your plans. Dealing with Redmond traffic can be a hassle, but this bottle shop/taproom is well worth it, and it’s not far off the highway. Here you’ll find a great selection of bottled/canned beer plus 20 rotating taps for growler fills or on-site drinking.