Washington’s only black-owned brewery fighting for change

“Damn Good Beer” — that’s the motto of Woodinville’s Metier Brewing.

Métier is French for “one’s calling.”

And Rodney Hines has found his calling. Or rather, he’s found about 10 of them.

The co-founder of Métier Brewing in Woodinville, Hines has had to navigate a worldwide pandemic, plan ahead for his brewery’s reopening, find time to protest for civil liberties and, as his company’s mission statement says, “brew damn good” beer.

Hines, who is black, is the CEO of the first and — exhaustive research believes — only African-American owned brewery in Washington state. Long before protestors were marching in the streets, Hines was doing all he could to promote community and diversity for his company. From hiring black artists for labels, to understanding where his ingredients came from, inclusivity was paramount for Hines.

That feeling has only heightened in recent weeks.

“These days, I feel like I’m on the verge of crying every time I think about life,” Hines said. “It’s hard. I will say that I’m torn, in that I appreciate all the young voices who are out marching right now, and I feel like I am not fully doing my part if I’m not marching too. So I’ve actually gone out and participated in some of the demonstrations. And this sadness part is just feeling and seeing some of the same shit that’s been going on for our lives and our history. And I’m hoping that this current activism and the voices that are so diverse and yelling so loudly right now will help bring about the change that’s necessary.”

Rodney Hines (right) doesn’t shy away from political activism and protests and believes businesses have a resposibility to their communities: “I think the businesses should think about, ‘What are each of us doing that can help bring about the change that’s needed?’ ”

Hines chooses each word very carefully, just like the beers he puts on tap. Métier has seen an influx of new patrons and Hines is not blind to the fact that Métier’s standing as the only black-owned brewery in Washington may contribute to that. One of the company’s employees recently started a Kickstarter campaign to help the brewery recoup some expenses lost because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

With over a week to go in the campaign, it has already surpassed its $20,000 goal, with several unique experiences and swag items still available.

“A lot of new people are finding us and have been encouraged by social media and other places to come check us out,” Hines said. “It’s the majority of our customers. In some ways, that’s normal for us. We haven’t been open (a really long time). We’re about to celebrate two years. So it’s a lot of new people still finding us. A lot heard about us from somewhere. If they’re people of color, they’ve said, ‘We want to show some love for this business.’ I think that’s something that’s continued with these folks now who are finding us today. Now that they’ve found us, I hope they like the beer and come back.”

Hines does not shy away from the political activism and protests currently going on across the country. Along with joining rallies in the streets, he believes businesses have a responsibility to their communities. This is why he has hired black artists to design his labels, including one for Métier’s Trail Blazer Pale Ale, which features a drawing of Major Taylor, the first African-American World Champion cyclist.

A sign on the wall states Metier Brewing’s mission.

“I think the businesses should think about, ‘What are each of us doing that can help bring about the change that’s needed?’” Hines said. “… The organizations that we support, we’re really mindful and intentional about that. I’m hoping that there’s an integrity that is thread through everything that we do as a business.”

Like businesses, Hines believes individuals have a social responsibility right now. Hines looks at his phone and jokes that he’s scared to look at his credit card right now because he’s been out at local Woodinville-area restaurants and businesses at an exceptionally high rate. He believes that, “in so many honest, real ways the mom and pop shops, the restaurants, the tailor, everyone that’s in communities, there’s a beauty in the fabric of the community that’s developed because of small businesses. And I fear how the community changes when that changes.”

Hines isn’t sure how the next few months are going to go, both for his country and his brewery. But he sounds optimistic. He sounds hopeful. Hines goes out of his way, on several occasions, to thank those who are supporting him, and encourage everyone to support the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

“When I think about how can you help, I think broadly,” Hines says before trailing off. “I think what I ask of everyone right now is what I ask of myself, and that is if you look at what we’re facing in America right now, and I do the same, we each pause, we take a toll of what we see and we consider what we’re doing and are we complicit in what we see? And if we think we are, or not, we also ask the question, ‘What’s my privilege?’ Because we all have various levels of privilege, and it’s about how we’re using our privilege and agency to affect change. I ask that of individuals and businesses and organizations.”

Hines’ business is equality for all and “damn good beer.”

| Photos courtesy of Brian Hoorn.

Kenmore’s Nine Yards closes temporarily, launches GoFundMe

When a statewide stay at home order came down in March, breweries all over the state raced to find crowler machines, CO2 and cans in an effort to stay open and transform into breweries to go.

After internal — and external — deliberating, Nine Yards Brewing in Kenmore went a different route.

Knowing the large, open space he had could make it difficult to prevent the virus from spreading and over concern for his employees’ safety, owner Ethan Savaglio made the tough decision to temporarily close his brewery while he, and the rest of the region, wait out COVID-19.

“Our staff is very loyal, very dedicated, very capable,” Savaglio said. “We want to take care of our staff. We can only control so many factors. One of the factors that we could control was where they went to work. It was more important to us to have them stay home and have them remain healthy so when we reopen we have the staff we need. Also, ethically, having people stay healthy, that was more important to us.”

Savaglio loves the community feel Nine Yards Brewing’s staff and customers have been able to cultivate since it opened in 2015. The brewery hosts game nights, movie and sports screenings and does a comedy show one Friday a month.

“More than anything it’s just getting people out there, building a community,” Savaglio said. “We’re built around building a community and events. And no one wants to be in the position of having their event be the catalyst of having people getting sick.”

Until it can reopen, a GoFundMe has been set up to help to help Nine Yards with some expenses and provide some monetary relief to the brewery’s employees. Savaglio said he has enjoyed being able to use the funds to write checks for his employees once again.

The COVID-19 virus will likely cause some changes to Nine Yards Brewing when it does reopen, according to Savaglio. He is reassessing all aspects of the brewery from the shared cart of silverware and condiments down to the community water jug to figure out the best ways to keep people healthy both in the immediate, and long, term.

Along with his staff, Savalio is eagerly looking forward to being able to hang out again soon over a Homewrecker Red or a Sunset Cerveza or a Wee Heavy Scotch Ale.

Or a “specialty beer” that is currently in the works.

“We do have something pretty cool that is going to go up on the menu when we get back,” Savaglio said. “The biggest thing to do is, when we do open back up in whatever capacity we open up at first because we don’t know what the restrictions are, just come patronize the place. Let us know that you’re back! If you’re just comfortable grabbing growlers, we can make that happen. Just getting us back to where we can take care of our folks, that would mean the world to us. It would mean the world to have the community back and not have that place be dark.

“Come on back, watch a movie or sports on the big screen. Or replays of sports.”

Nine Yards Brewing

7324 NE 175th St., Suite A
Kenmore, WA


Good Brewing’s Great Reinvention

If I learned anything from Saturday morning cartoons, besides three being the magic number, it was “necessity is the mother of invention.” In the past few weeks, I have heard this old proverb bandied about to express the way retailers and the beer industry specifically have responded in the face of the current quarantine.

Never was this point more clear than in talking with Kevin King from Good Brewing in Woodinville. When news broke of the Washington stay at home order Kevin and his wife Shalliah, a nurse, knew it was the right approach to the crisis.

“We both understand what is at stake,” Kevin said.

While we can all agree there is never a good time for a statewide quarantine, the timing hit Good Brewing especially hard. Right now, their business model is based 90% on in-house pint sales which is tough enough. But after just opening a second location in the Hollywood Schoolhouse area of Woodinville, it was especially painful.

“We wanted to make sure people had an opportunity to grab beer from their doorstep.”

Instead of getting ready for spring and summer crowds, Kevin was left juggling taproom hours for in person pick up, but soon realized, “I was not going to make enough revenue to pay payroll, rent for both locations and utilities.” That’s when he saw that some breweries had turned to delivery. Figuring out next steps, he called his friend Michael Dempster, from Mirage Beer Co., who had already implemented delivery. Kevin picked up a few tips and off they went.

Kevin explained, “Most people are making the right choice to stay home and not venture out. We wanted to make sure people had an opportunity to grab beer from their doorstep.” Kevin revamped the website himself and started to figure out how far they would deliver. “For the boundaries I wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to get beer,” he said.

They set south Seattle as one boundary, figuring highway traffic would be light. Originally Kevin thought Bothell would be as far north as they could go. That’s when a volunteer stepped up and showed what a tight-knit family Good Brewing is. Literally. Kevin’s aunt said she could help deliver up north, which allowed Kevin to set the northern boundary to Arlington.

“She offered to deliver anything north of Bothell which helps out,” Kevin said. “She really loves doing the beer deliveries.”

So, every day on her way north from work to home, Kevin’s aunt, who is an essential medical employee, delivers beer. I guess we know who the real MVP is here!

Besides Kevin, in his 1949 Studebaker pickup, and the gracious aunt, Good Brewing is currently keeping 2-3 people busy with deliveries.

Asked about the response Kevin said, “Some people just order up a 4-pack and 6 Dave coins — coupons for free tap room beer — just to keep the money flowing for the brewery.” Adding a food option of “Pizza in a Box” where you get dough and all the ingredients to make your own pizza at home has helped. As more people hear about what Good Brewing is doing they continue to see an uptick in orders.

“This week looks like it will be the best so far,” said Kevin, which he’s hoping will allow Good Brewing to bring on/back more staff.

Naturally, I had to test it out. Because really, pizza AND beer delivered to my doorstep, am I dreaming? I ordered 2 mixed 6 packs of beer and 3 pizzas in 3 different boxes one evening and set delivery for the next day. Lo and behold, in early afternoon of the next day there was Kevin, with cold beer and pizza on my doorstep! I could’ve hugged him.

But, you know, there’s that whole social distancing thing.

The pizzas come with dough and all the ingredients needed to make them: sauce, toppings and cheese. We made the pizzas as a family, which, besides giving our wi-fi a break, also gave us a fun activity to do together. All of the beers were great, which isn’t surprising if you know Good Brewing. The two that stood out to me were Birthday Haze Craze and the Patchwork Hazy Pale.

Once things settle down and get back closer to normal, Kevin said, “we hope people will come running back to sit in our seats. However, I think things will be different, so depending on sales, we may keep beer delivery going.”

Personally, I love going out for a beer and will continue to do so as soon as I’m legally allowed. But I hope the innovation of home beer delivery sticks around much longer than Miller Chill and Four Loko.

Peace. Love. Beers. Brian

Brian’s Tasting Notes

Birthday Haze Craze

Had to get this. Because anytime I see “Idaho 7,” I just can’t help myself.

| KEY INGREDIENTS Row Barley, White Wheat, Oats. Mosaic, Columbus and DDH of Idaho 7 hop hash
| ABV 6.2% | IBU 60

Patchwork Hazy Pale

Light enough to crush. Hoppy enough to make you think you’re drinking an IPA.

| ABV 5.2%

Order here

If you can’t come to us, we’ll go to you.

| Artwork + Photography courtesy of Good Brewing Co.