Steins, Vines & Grinds: Washington's Story of Beer, Wine & Coffee

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January 21 - April 23

Music to my Beers registrationWashington loves to drink! Our three favorite adult beverages—beer, wine, and coffee—are practically synonymous with Washington and have become part of our cultural fabric. 

Yakima became the first city in the nation to open a brew pub post-Prohibition. Washington ranks second only to California in the nation’s grape production, producing 14.8 million cases of wine annually. Six out of the top 10 cities in the United States with the highest density of coffee shops are in Washington. 

Steins, Vines & Grinds documents the long history of beer, wine, and coffee in the region, from early Hudson’s Bay Company imports through modern-day innovative processes. Even predating statehood, beer, wine, and coffee quickly became important commodities. All three beverages could be found inside the walls of Forts Vancouver and Nisqually. Whether roasting their own green coffee beans from Hawaii, sipping on homemade wine, or imbibing a bottled India pale ale from London, early Northwest settlers took the first steps in the creation of a cultural phenomenon.

From these humble beginnings, an intriguing arc of production began. As a territory and a young state, Washington survived (and thrived in many cases) on beer, wine, and coffee grown, produced, and/or processed in the region. Local brewers generally made their beer in town, then delivered it by horse cart. Coffee roasteries either roasted green coffee beans at home or in the local marketplace. Immigrants from many points of origin grew wine grapes on small family farms. Each industry eventually achieved large-scale production: beer with Olympia Brewing Company, wine with Chateau Ste. Michelle, and coffee with Starbucks, among others. These large companies announced to the rest of the country Washington’s affinity with the beverage industry. 

SVG T-shirtWhile many big companies remain, craft beverages are experiencing a major resurgence. Microbreweries, wineries, and roasteries represent an ever-increasing portion of the beverage market, indicating a return to the smaller-scale production of bygone times, with an emphasis on quality over quantity. 

Puget Sound is home to a number of urban wineries that source their grapes from multiple vineyards across the state to develop unique blends. Brewers are experimenting with new hop varieties and working with new grains thanks to small-batch malting systems. Washington coffee roasters are working directly with coffee growers from around the globe to make use of their distinctive microclimates in developing the best beans they can produce. Washington continues to be at the forefront of these industries. 

Visitors to Steins, Vines & Grinds will be immersed in the origins of these three beverages in Washington and see a giant-size inflatable Rainier Beer bottle and a bottle of Rainier - unopened - discovered in a sunken ship; a grape press used by Croatian wine makers in Gig Harbor; coffee and beer mugs and wine bottles and glasses ranging back in time; and a melange of beverage memorabilia and marketing materials that includes posters, neon signs, beer trays, and a bobblehead brewmaster. 

Why do Washingtonians love their beer, wine, and coffee? It’s in our shared history and the efforts of a long line of brewers, vintners, and roastmasters whose devotion and determination have made Washington a state known and revered for its contributions to the beverage industry.
CSM logo O Bee Credit Union logo

Steins, Vines & Grinds is sponsored in part by Chateau Ste. Michelle, Obee Credit Union, and the Craft Brewing & Distilling Center (Tumwater).

See the Steins, Vines & Grinds story on Pierce County News!

Exhibit-Related Events

"Music to My Beers," an Evening at the History Museum

Music to my Beers registrationThursday, March 2, 7 – 9 PM
Washington State History Museum, Tacoma
(Ages 21+, $15 with preregistration/$20 at the door) 

  • In conjunction with the exhibits A Revolution You Can Dance To and Steins, Vines, & Grinds, we are hosting an adults-only evening at the History Museum! Just for this event, Three Magnets Brewing is making three new beers inspired by songs from the ’90s Olympia punk/grunge scene. Sip cutting-edge brews to the sounds of iconic music, try hands-on activities and get an exclusive look at two exhibits that showcase Washington’s sonorous and sudsy history. Cost of admission includes five tasting tickets and a take-home tasting glass. Sponsored by O Bee Credit Union.

History Happy Hour at The Swiss in Tacoma

History Happy HourWednesday, March 15 @ 6 PM
The Swiss Restaurant and Pub, 1904 Jefferson Ave. in Tacoma

  • We’re back again with the Tacoma Historic Preservation Office and Tacoma Historical Society to bring you the most intriguing, exciting, and outright weird trivia about your city and state! Test your knowledge and compete for prizes and the Washington trivia throne in this all-ages trivia night!

History Happy Hour at Three Magnets in Olympia

Thursday, March 30 @ 7 PM
Three Magnets Brewing Co., 600 Franklin Street SE #105 in Olympia

  • Join us at the Three Magnets taproom and eatery for a spirited sports-themed trivia contest. We are joined as always by our partners from the Washington State Archives. Come on down and bring your Washington sports trivia knowledge.

Colorful Coffee Mugs

Available in the Museum Store or at!

Etched Beer Steins

Available in the Museum Store or at!

Stemless Wine Glasses

Available in the Museum Store or at!