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Atomic Ales and Eatery
1015 Lee Boulevard
Richland, Washington
(509) 946-5465
Visited on September 30, 2008

Named for the old nuclear power plant that used to be across the street, Atomic Ales and Eatery might actually be the best brewpub in the Tricities region of southeastern Washington. Believe it or not, this small area boasts three different brewpubs, though none of them really stand up to much competition.

That being said, I did enjoy my time at Atomic Ales. It looks like an old drive-in burger joint, with its aging booth tables inside and its green covered parking outside. Pizza is the name of the game here, so that’s what I ordered. I don’t recall exactly what I had, but I do remember being pretty pleased with it at the time, as well as later that night after the Dave Matthews Band concert at the Gorge. As for the beer, I also remember very little now that so much time has passed. But after tasting the unimpressive offerings of the other two local establishments, I could easily see myself crowning this one as king.

Original Review

I rolled into this small, unassuming brewpub after three hours of road with another hour and a half in front of me, but looming on the horizon was Dave Matthews and O.A.R. at the Gorge, so needless to say I was excited. Luckily, the brewpub met with expectations and made the day that far even more enjoyable.

Atomic Ales is not a big establishment, but it’s got some history, which the menu will tell you all about. Apparently located across the street from the location of a women’s dorm that housed the female workers needed to supplant the men during World War II. The menu also mentions something about it being a former roller skating drive-in type place, further confirmed by the presence of a car canopy that fits the bill. The house does not seat many people. It’s jam-packed full of local history from newspapers to pictures and everything you could want to read. There are no televisions, video games, darts, or pool. Instead, they choose to provide a number of board games for patrons to play over a pint. Nice touch.

The beer selection is a little small since it is a small establishment. There are three “main” brews always on tap, and that day they offered another three seasonal brews for my enjoyment. The seasonal were much more adventurous and thus more to my liking. The main stays seem to have been so mindlessly brewed over and over again that they have lost all originality. The half-life heffe was rather bland, the atomic amber was way too sweet without some major hops for balance, and the porter was tasty but lacked any real depth of flavor. Of the seasonals, a blonde came out that was very much to my liking. Light yet somehow fully flavored. The IPA was definitely hoppy, almost to a fault, with the bitterness overpowering any of the more subtle hop flavors consistent with a good IPA. The final selection was a Brown that was the least appetizing of the six.

The pizza here is wonderful. It’s almost as good as the best I’ve had, located at New Albanian Brewing in southern Indiana. The selections range from typical to wild. I myself had a “black and blue” pizza topped with a white cheese sauce, chicken, black olives, pepperoni, black seasoning and crumbled blue cheese. The thin crust pizza was thin, yet not a cracker, and still maintained the chewiness so difficult to achieve in thin crust. I would come back here for pizza once a week if I lived nearby. My one complaint was the brownie bite. It had obviously been sitting for about a week and should not have been served. Over 75% of it was tough and crunchy, definitely not appetizing, and not even worth the dollar I spent for the lunch portion. Perhaps the chocolate cake is better.

The server was friendly and prompt—not difficult since I was one of two in the place in the early afternoon. He joked with me though and was very helpful. But nothing outstanding.

Location: 17
Food: 17
Beer: 14
Service: 16
Overall: 16
Total: 80

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