Before Seattle’s prolific Ballard brewers were making waves on the national scene many of them were working together in the North Seattle homebrew club. As of 2008, the headbrewers of NW Peaks, Reuben’s Brews, Lucky Envelope, and Populuxe were all members in this club, driving each other to improve their recipes while all aspiring to one day open their own breweries.
Populuxe might be the brewery that embodies the style of Seattle the most. With a name derived from the combination of ‘popular’ and ‘luxury’ as well as curvaceous mid century graphic design, Populuxe’s image fits right in with the space age architecture found in the ultimate symbol of Seattle — the space needle.
Populuxe’s beers aptly represent the Northwest with their IPA and CDA (that’s Cascadian Dark Ale a.k.a Black IPA) leading the way without defining everything Populuxe is about.
“If I was a businessman, not a brewer, there’d be a ton of IPAs on the board,” says Owner/Head Brewer Peter Charbonnier. “People look at the board and they don’t see IPA. They turn around and leave.”
Peter makes a point of actively making room in his taproom for more unusual beers like his Pink Peppercorn Saison and English style Mild Ales. Peter’s willingness to follow his own path to making delicious beers, makes every trip to Populuxe feel personal, eclectic, and engaging.
Here’s an intimate walk through their tap room menu for curious craft beer drinkers who are ready to expand their knowledge beyond the conventional IPA scene and take a step into one of Seattle’s most important breweries:
Their Flagship Populuxe IPA centers around Peter’s favorite: Citra Hops. Every other component works with the Citra. Amarillo hops back them up with orange notes and dose of biscuity Victory Malts and Rye Malts give it spicy depth.
“I really like Citra. I feel like it brings a nice brightness. It’s one of the few hops I can use 100% in a beer that’s going to resonate with people. Citra plays well with other hops if you need to brightening something up. To bring a little more of that lemony grapefruit thing to a beer ... that’s why I use a lot of it.”
Their Cinderblock CDA is a reference to cinderblock compound in which they do all their brewing which was advertised as “a man cave”. This CDA has many of the same ingredients as their IPA — Rye, Citra, and Amarillo. Midnight Wheat Malt contributes smooth dark chocolate notes that gives CDA its formidable reputation.
When asked what his favorite most underrepresented style was, Peter pointed to the fresh flavors of the rarely seen English Mild. “I really like running fresh young beers that are 10 days or so from grain to glass.”
Milds offer expressive and unbeatably fresh malt flavors, yet they are often overlooked because they clock in under 4% ABV. Nevertheless, Populuxe has two Milds — a regular and a dark that are often on tap and both deserve connoisseurship.
Another one of Peter’s obsessions is the Pink Peppercorn Saison he’s been brewing for 3 years. Inspired by his love for the unique fruity spice of pink peppercorns, Peter makes sure to return to it often. But this on tap favorite will likely never venture out of the taproom because at $60/lb, peppercorns make it very expensive to make in quantity. You’ll have to go there to experience it!
Time-tested quality and idiosyncrasy abounds in every one of Populuxe’s beers. They are not afraid to venture away from the norm, they are not beholden to trends, and are across the board, they offer thoroughly thought out pieces of craft.
-Neal, writer & beer taster extraordinaire
Populuxe Brewing: 826B NW 49th Street Seattle, WA 98107
Tasting Room Hours:
Thursday: 4:30–9:00 PM
Friday: 4:30–10:00 PM
Saturday: 12:00–10:00 PM
Sunday: 1:00–8:00 PM