written and photographed by Jackie Dodd
Close your eyes for a second. Imagine you’re in 1970s Seattle. Imagine you’re boating on Lake Washington in late July, clad in cut-off Levis and a concert T-shirt. You reach into a red-and-white Coleman ice chest and pull out a beer. What is it? Even if you weren’t alive in the 1970s, let alone of beer drinking age, that tableau conjures an image and you already have a beer in mind. It’s a beer that makes you happy, a beer that predates industry snobbery, awards and billion-dollar buyouts. That refreshing, low ABV, compulsively drinkable beer in your fictitious hand is the inspiration for the beer Seattle Lite Brewing is making right now.
To understand what Seattle Lite Brewing is, you first must know what it isn’t. It isn’t going after Rainier and macro lagers, or anyone else for that matter. It isn’t blazing a trail or looking to be the next Sierra Nevada. It isn’t interested in franchises, reinventing craft beer, or shaking the trees of a rapidly growing industry. It is making deliciously drinkable, nostalgic, Seattle-inspired light beers, and it really hopes you like it. When owners Dan Martinez and Seiky Huerta decided to take the colossal leap from beer fans to brewery plans, they wanted to brew beer that captured that hometown feeling, “We are Seattleites, we’re hometown boys,” Martinez said. Of course, triple IPAs and esoteric kettle-soured beers are great, but they wanted to focus on offering the Pacific Northwest beer scene a beer with Seattle nostalgia and an option for a low-ABV lager brewed right in their own backyard. They’re just a couple of local boys using local ingredients to sell in the neighborhood tap rooms and bars they swell with pride at being offered in. The name is a play on the intersection of the Seattleites that they are, and the low-ABV beer that they brew. It’s “lite” beer for Seattle’s own.
For an indication of Martinez and Huerta’s vision of growing a community, look no further than the space they occupy. A charming, all-ages, pet-friendly, patio-flanked taproom sits in the scrappy little neighborhood of South Park, an area that has seen a growing revitalization evidenced by the ever-expanding list of delightful shops, restaurants and breweries moving in to the hyper-walkable neighborhood.It’s a fortuitous space—recently vacated by Burdick Brewery—that put them in the path of now-business partner Chris Smith and brewer John Marti from Lowercase Brewing just down the road. “He’s so talented,” Martinez said of Marti. He still seems slightly shocked and grateful that the man responsible for the great beer at Lowercase is the man behind the mash tun of his own beer, which not only lives up to the promise, but is exactly what you want it to be, pint after pint.