The Northwest has become a center for high-quality handcrafted ales. Though many folks still swill down Rainier or Budweiser, microbrewed specialty beers have gained in popularity as people discover the difference between quantity and quality.
Pike Pub & Brewery (1415 1st Ave., 206/622-6044, www.pikebrewing.com ) is a popular and friendly place in the heart of the market, with some of the best micros anywhere, including XXXXX Stout.
In existence since 1981, Redhook Ale Brewery (3400 Phinney Ave. N, 206/483-3232, www.redhook.com ) is one of the largest microbreweries in America (though Anheuser-Busch has a 34 percent ownership stake). Stop by corporate headquarters in Fremont  to taste its ales, check out the gift shop and tasting room, or enjoy a light meal at the popular Trolleyman Pub. Redhook beers aren't brewed in Fremont, but you can tour the big brewery in Woodinville.
A much smaller operation is Dad Watsons Restaurant & Brewery (3601 Fremont Ave. N, 206/632-6505, www.mcmenamins.com ). This attractive brewpub has ales on tap and an enjoyably diverse menu; it’s part of the McMenamins chain of brewpubs.
Just west of Redhook—and right off the bike path—is Hale’s Ales Brewery (4301 Leary Way NW, 206/706-1544, www.halesales.com , 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Sun.–Thurs., 11 a.m.–midnight Fri.–Sat.), which cranks out seven different draft-only beers and serves meals in the cozy pub or outside on the small deck. There are no scheduled tours, but the staff will describe the brewing process.
Out in the U District , Big Time Brewery and Alehouse (4133 University Way NE, 206/545-4509, www.bigtimebrewery.com ) features several fresh-brewed ales on tap and an antique back bar where you can enjoy the passing scene through the big front windows.
With its fireplace and comfy sofas, College Inn Pub (4006 University Way NE, 206/634-2307) is a favorite place to catch a beer with the grad students and profs around UW .