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Best of Tacoma 2015: Best Brewery in Pierce County

Wingman Brewers

Wingman Brewers produces P-51 Porter, Ace IPA and many more. Photo credit: Christian Carvajal

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Would it surprise you to learn that the history of legal American microbreweries began less than 40 years ago? In 1978, Congress and President Carter ended the federal restrictions and excise taxes on home brewing with H.R. 1337. Dozens of new breweries popped up by 1980, and now there are about 2,400 craft breweries in the U.S. Some, like the Boston Beer Company, the makers of Sam Adams, are famous the world over. Others are treasured local secrets.

Take Tacoma's own Wingman Brewers, for instance. It currently produces two year-round beers, three seasonal brews, and two special small-batch concoctions. Try the Ace IPA anytime; it's reddish and armed with the punch of five varieties of hops. P-51 Porter, also on tap year-round, is malty and rich with hints of coffee and chocolate. Seasonal brands are Beazle Extra Special Bitter; Coconut P-51; and the citric, Belgian-style Miss-B-Haven Tripel. On special occasions, look for cedar-y Stratofortress and the multigrain India pale ale Pocket Aces 2x. Imbibe while the getting is good, though, as both tend to sell out quickly. But hey, maybe you're that rare eccentric who's not into beer? Fear not, my monocle-wearing friend: Wingman also keeps hard cider on tap for just such emergencies.

This is a taproom, with workaday simplicity and honesty befitting the Gritty City. Don't bother looking for Kobe-and-quail-egg sliders or pâté en croûte. Instead, bring your own damn burger from Alfred's a block away, or grab a bite from the food truck outside. The objective is to put away a few thousand calories fast, thereby fortifying yourself for the task at hand. Wingman is all about the beer, as God intended.

This is your chance to drink like a cultured connoisseur. Enjoy pale beers in summer, dark beers in winter, and neither below 50°F. Sip the lower half of your glass, savoring each note of flavor. Swirl lightly to aerate. True relaxation is serious business.

WINGMAN BREWERS, 2-9 p.m. Thurs. and Sun., 2-11 p.m. Fri. and Sat., 509 1/2 Puyallup Ave., Tacoma, no cover, 253.256.5240

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