An Optimistic Take on Brewing Hits the Hill

Although the rare Seattle sunshine has been making more frequent appearances this dreary winter quarter, the days of fog and gray clouds are still well among us. There is, however, a silver lining—or should I say gold lining?

Jessie Koon • The Spectator
Jessie Koon • The Spectator

Optimism Brewery opened in December and is located at the corner of Broadway & Union on Capitol Hill.

Distinct for its bright yellow doors and chairs, Optimism Brewing is transforming the Capitol Hill bar scene. The wide open space with its intriguing mix of wood and sleek, stainless steel leaves plenty of room for beer lovers and take-out foodies alike to mill about and enjoy their evening. The establishment even welcomes kids and dogs, so families can stick together.

Troy Hakala and Gay Gilmore founded the brewery in 2013 and opened it to the general public last December on the anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition. Located on the corner of Broadway and Union, its large size certainly makes it stand out.

With beer and good company typically follows a desire to eat and, to supply this need, the brewery lets about two to three food trucks onto their loading dock area. Menus are available at the counter where customers order.

When I showed up on a rainy evening last Wednesday, Jemil’s Big Easy had some mouthwatering options for Cajun and Creole cuisine. Getting my ‘Louisiana on,’ never tasted so delicious and there was nothing to dislike about the medley of spices, meat and vegetables
served hot.

Some food for thought: the jambalaya and Big Easy Gumbo will definitely get your tastebuds dancing.


Jessie Koon • The Spectator
Jessie Koon • The Spectator

Their “Black” beer, a stout with flavors of chocolate and coffee. All of the beer prices factor in tips, so you don’t have to worry about tipping at the end of the night.


The beer itself is good, but not groundbreaking. Early reviews suggest the brewery may take some time to really hit its stride, unlike other new breweries like Holy Mountain and Cloudburst, which both hit the ground running with popular beers.

“[The beers] are all solid,” the Washington Beer Blog reported. “The beer that is not an IPA (but is actually Gay’s recipe IPA), was especially good, as was the beer that is not an Imperial Stout.”

Optimism has done away with ‘beer geekery and elitism’—with beer names like black, yellow, and One—to better the beer enjoyment for everyone and it is entertaining to say the least.

Their beer names and flavors are sort of fascinating. ‘Hello, World!’ is a beer described to have a hint of bubble gum flavor, while ‘Moxee’ apparently alludes more to the tropical fruit realm of IPAs today.

Several beers were sold out on their website. At present, husky, grainy flavored ‘Unicorn’ and malty ‘Yellow’ are sold out.

Optimism even offers a zero-calorie drink called ‘Clear.’ I thought it was a tad silly giving a name to cold, carbonated water, but it charmed me anyway.

All the bartenders and staff were warm and engaging, which was as refreshing as the water. They live up to their name and are optimistic in their service, unlike other experiences I have had with restaurant-bars and their too-cool-to-be-kind servers.

It must be their no tipping policy. All the staff at Optimism are apparently paid significantly higher than the minimum wage and brewing industry average wages, according to their website. Happy employees seem to lead to happy customers—who knew!

Overall, I give the place a solid 4.5/5 rating. I imagine the place could be a bit intimidating during the downtime hours, with all the empty space, but the cheerful atmosphere makes up for it. The diverse food truck rotations add some excitement and because it is located so close to campus, it has potential to become a pretty cool study spot.

Optimism Brewing is open Wednesday through Sunday. Sounds like a bright take on beer to me.

Vikki may be reached at vavancena@su-spectator.com

Vikki Avancena is a junior biology major. She plays guitar and rants about silly, obscure things when words for essays and articles and life fail her. She loves awkward situations and smiles.


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