Bartender Blake Fitzgerald pours a pint. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Bartender Blake Fitzgerald pours a pint. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Trend: More focus on interesting beers, less on bar scene

SNOHOMISH — Mara Arnold hails from the city that brought us that familiar — if fictional — place where everyone knows your name.

But when it came time for this Bostonian-turned-Snohomian and her husband, Josh, to open their own watering hole, they eschewed the Cheers-like aesthetic of an old-fashioned tavern for the new hot trend: a taproom/bottleshop hybrid.

“The scene is changing from bar-centric to more bottleshops,” said Mara, who opened Josh’s Taps and Caps with her husband, Josh, in April. “Beer is such a scene in Washington. We knew this was going to be popular in this type of community. People love tasting different beers and the convenience of tasting beers from all over.”

Inspired by Seattle taproom/bottleshops like Chuck’s 85th, Full Throttle Bottles and Bottleworks, these craft beer hybrids are usually minimal enterprises that have at least a dozen beers on tap and hundreds more in bottles to go.

Since Special Brews, a taproom/bottleshop, opened in Lynnwood in 2011, nine similar establishments have opened in Snohomish County.

“Bars have been opening and closing up and down Hewitt and Colby (in downtown Everett) since the ’90s,” said Joe Kutz, who opened Brews Almighty, another taproom/bottleshop, in an industrial part of Grand Avenue in Everett in 2012. “It’s a tough game. They became old and stagnant, and lost their luster.

“But that doesn’t mean I don’t have to be ahead of the curve. I always need to be evolving, trying new things.”

The largest boost to this sector was the state law passed in 2011 that allowed growlers to be filled in off-premise, or retail, establishments. Spearheaded by Shane McDaniel, owner of Norm’s Market in Lake Stevens, the law radically changed how bottleshops could sell beer.

“We all have Shane to thank for this,” Kutz said.

Unlike traditional bars and taverns, which revolve around pool tables and dart boards and late-night pub grub, taproom/bottleshops pride themselves first and foremost on having unique and interesting beer lists. They also often host local breweries to further highlight craft beer and shorten the distance between brewer and beer-lover.

“I think taprooms and bottleshops are great for people who truly love beer,” said Jack Crawford, whose Brigid’s Bottleshop in Edmonds recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. “You can come in and explore different breweries you wouldn’t normally come in contact with. People can find rare bottles and take them home. It’s more of a one-stop shop.”

These next-generation drinking establishments rarely have food made on premise. They instead invite customers to have food delivered from nearby restaurants or bring in food trucks to serve patrons. For Josh and Mara Arnold, it came down to the fact that they didn’t have a passion for food.

“Josh loves beer and I have a passion for business, but we had no interest in getting into the food industry,” Mara Arnold said. “It’s so much work and so much money. There’s just a lot more complexity and overhead.”

Kutz saw the craft beer revolution coming nearly two decades ago while he worked as a salesman for Crown Distributing, Snohomish County’s largest beer distributor. So when he saw a void in the Everett market for a taproom focused on craft beer, he pounced.

Now he peruses new beer lists from nine different distributors to battle an ever-growing list of craft beer establishments for the newest and most-hyped beers. He also works the taps nearly every minute Brews Almighty is open and does all of his own marketing. That kind of one-man operation isn’t unique in the taproom/bottleshop world, and is something Kutz thinks is helping push them ahead of traditional bars.

Doug and Bonnie Roulstone came to the taproom/bottleshop concept from a different avenue. The Roulstones owned Clearview Wine &Spirits, but after the state privatized liquor sales, they knew they had to take a different approach.

In 2014, the couple teamed up with their son, Harrison, and transformed their liquor store into a taproom/bottleshop with 32 beers on tap and another 350 in bottles. They renamed it Harry’s on Tye and, given the fact that Harrison is a trained chef, opened a small restaurant as well.

With a little more money available than most taproom/bottleshop owners, they didn’t stop there, recently opening a conjoined wine bar and continuing plans to build an upscale dining experience.

“For us owning a small liquor business was not viable because of the added taxes,” Harrison said. “It was a natural move to craft beer and wine. The industry is exploding and we wanted to be a part of it.”

Local craft beer havens

Ale Spike Bottles &Taps, 9300 271st St. NW, Suite B5, Stanwood; 360-386-7650

Brews Almighty, 3011 Grand Ave., Suite A, Everett; 425-252-2739;

Brigid’s Bottleshop, 190 Sunset Ave. S, Suite C, Edmonds; 425-412-3199;

Harry’s on Tye, 14286 169th Drive SE, Monroe, 425-344-4825;

The Hop and Hound, 18116 101st Ave. NE, Bothell; 425-486-2337;

The Independent Beer Bar, 1801 Hewitt Ave., Everett; 425-212-9517;

Josh’s Taps &Caps, 1800 Bickford Ave., Suite 210, Snohomish; 360-217-7221;

Route 2 Taproom and Grazing Place; 19837 U.S. 2, Monroe, 360-863-2036;

Special Brews, 14608 Hwy 99, Suite 307, Lynnwood; 425-741-7049;

Stogies ‘n Hops, 526 164th St. SW, Lynnwood; 425-741-1000;

Talk to us

More in Life

Beachcombing on London’s riverbank.
Beachcombing through London’s long history

At low tide, the banks of the Thames teem with the flotsam and jetsam of centuries gone by.

Carolyn Cross repairs light strands on a flower christmas light frame at Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021 in Stanwood, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
All is merry and bright at Warm Beach

The Lights of Christmas endures as one of Snohomish County’s premier holiday traditions.

Some ways to take care of yourself during the 2021 holidays

This is such a busy time of the year! Here are some… Continue reading

Caption: Family photos like this one of the author’s grandmother give extra meaning to this family’s holiday decorations.
Memories linger like the scent of fake Christmas trees

On this family’s tree, the most important ornaments are framed photos of beloved family, especially the ones who have passed away.

The 2022 Infiniti QX60 is available in four trim levels, all with standard front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive. (Manufacturer photo)
Infiniti QX60 midsize SUV is all new and deluxe for 2022

An extra dash of exterior drama, upgraded interior, and new Autograph model keep QX60 in the running.

Steve Smith gift ideas for gardeners
Ten gift ideas for gardeners

From puzzles to pruners, how to pick the perfect present for the green thumbs on your list.

Seven gift ideas for weathering the holiday season

Smart thermostats and portable power will be thoughtful presents — especially when energy bills and power outages hit.

Photo Caption: Francois-Xavier Lalanne often used animal motifs in his modern, minimalist sculptures. His porcelain eggcup with a chicken's head, wings and tail sold for $2,080 at Palm Beach Modern Auctions.

(c) 2021 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.
‘Pocillovy’ is the obscure hobby of collecting eggcups

It stems from Victorian times, when nearly every type of food had its own specialized dish and utensils.

Orangebark Stewartia, Stewartia monadelpha,
Great Plant Pick: Orangebark Stewartia

This tree’s stunning bark is shown to perfection when it’s planted with a backdrop of evergreens.

Clockwise from top left: Trinity Yun, Ryan Chung, Carson Chadd and John Meneses.
Orchestra returns with four outstanding young musicians

Pacifica Chamber Orchestra’s first in-person concert since before the pandemic will feature winners of the 2020 Snohomish County Music Teachers Association Competition.

George MacKay in "Wolf." MUST CREDIT: Focus Features
‘Wolf,’ a film about identity issues, is an unintentional howler

This misguided movie goes off the rails immediately and stays there throughout its running time.

Daphne Patakia, left, and Virginie Efira in "Benedetta." (Courtesy of IFC Films/TNS)
‘Benedetta’ an unruly, sexually frank tale of Renaissance nun

Paul Verhoeven’s film has drawn protests from Catholics, which means he’s definitely doing something right.