Downtown Renton isn’t a beer-lovers dream. The city sticks close to its blue collar roots in the downtown area, even as the rest of the city continues the Puget Sound tradition of rolling toward gentrification and yuppification.

Four Generals Brewing, which opened in 2015, walks the line between old and new Renton.

The beer often finds itself in that same situation, torn between West Coast-brewing style and old German and English styles.

When I came to the brewery, a nondescript location in the middle of the block, it was packed.

The crowd was – how should I say this – not what I expected out of a Washington brewery. High-vis vests, work boots and hardhats made this look like a construction convention. With all the road work in Renton, maybe a cold pint after work is just what they need.

Let’s start with the good things.

  • The Hefeweizen was wonderfully done, a traditional German weizen, with cloves, banana and bubblegum. It’s clean, slightly sweet and leaves a nice malty linger.
  • The East Coast IPA was juicy, cloudy and bitter, and did a serviceable job for the style.
  • The Taproom itself is bright, clean and lively. There are board games and an outdoor seating area for the rare sunny/warm days.
  • They don’t force cutesy names on the beers. You know what you are getting by the style on the handle.

Things to work on:

  • It’s a small taproom. It’s usually busy and just a few seats at the bar means it can be hard to find a seat.
  • Many of the styles are ho-hum at best. The Scottish Red, Red IPA and West Coast IPA didn’t stand out in any particular way, and the English Bitter was just not good.
  • A related complaint to the small size is the card payment system. It’s on a swivel iPad in the corner of the bar and usually crowded and hard to get there.

Final review: The beers can shine, but many of them get lost in the muddle of mediocre style. The taproom is bright and cheery – a rarity in Renton – but its small size can make it more crowded than you might life.