Located on the busy tree-lined thoroughfare of Seattle's Wedgwood neighborhood, Fiddler's Inn has been quenching the thirst of Seattle beer lovers since the end of Prohibition. And in terms of classic Seattle-area watering holes, they don't get much more classic than "The Fiddler." Creaky wooden floors, dim lighting, communal board games, and a steady stream of neighborhood regulars give this tavern is cozy, pub vibe.
That charm is why current owner Bob Brenlin and his partners bought the tavern in 1995 (they also own Latona Pub near Green Lake and the Hopvine Pub on Capitol Hill.) "The primary reason we liked this place was the historic quality." The Fiddler's original owner, Walt Haines, was a professional tuba and bass player who left farm life in South Dakota for a career in entertainment on the West Coast. Haines' life, and the history of Fiddler's Inn, are chronicled in detail on a blog dedicated to the history of the Wedgwood neighborhood. When Haines' music career fizzled during the Great Depression, the end of Prohibition provided him with a new career direction: tavern owner.
Just like in the 1930s, patrons of Fiddler's Inn can grab a stool at the bar and order a cold, frosty beer. Some things never change. Today however, the beers available include 11 craft beers on tap, with a new beer featured on the chalkboard menu each day. There are hop-forward IPAs, a nitro tap, sours, barrel-aged beers, seasonal offerings like winter ales, and craft ciders.
On the outdoor patio and beer garden, hop vines grow overhead throughout the summer and are harvested and used for a special brew each fall. An outdoor smoker is put to use for ribs, chops and menu specials to accompany the regular offerings of pizza, sandwiches, and other pub grub.
The appeal of a classic tavern like Fiddler's Inn is more than the menu or the tap list. "I think it's the ambience and the pub feel," says Brenlin. "We wanted to add to that by adding craft beer, and Northwest products like wine, and good food. It's fun to introduce new beers, and great to stay relevant and keep things new and exciting," he adds. "As people see the growth in neighborhoods around Seattle, the challenge is adjusting to what people want, and at the same time kind of reintroducing people, or reminding them, the qualities that we started with. It's good to balance keeping things fun for new customers, but also keeping things kind of the same for the regular customers. The beer might always changing, but we'll always have beer."
Fiddler's Inn celebrates its 20th anniversary of new ownership this year. Stay tuned on their Facebook page for food and craft beer events coming up later in 2015.