Gallaghers’ Where-U-Brew, the popular do-it-yourself brewery and taproom in Edmonds, announced Friday morning that it will be closing its doors. In an email to subscribers, owners Tom and Marcie Kretzler acknowledged that the current COVID-19 pandemic played a role in the brewery’s closure.
“It is with great sadness that Gallaghers’ Where-U-Brew is having to permanently close it’s doors,” the Kretzlers said in the email. “The past few years have been a struggle, and the recent pandemic has made it impossible for us to continue. We have agonized over this decision and we are forced to accept this as reality.”
Gallaghers, located near the Edmonds waterfront, boasted all the equipment and ingredients necessary to brew a batch of your own beer. Customers could choose a recipe, make the beer and then come back in a couple weeks to bottle the beer and take it home. There were also options to brew cider, root beer or wine, as well as a taproom for customers to come try a variety of homemade beers on tap.
In the email, Tom and Marcie Kretzler thanked their customers and told anyone interested in buying a brewery to give them a call.
“From the bottom of our hearts, we thank each of you for your support these past years and wish you all health and happiness,” the Kretzlers wrote. “You have touched our lives and we will miss you dearly.”
For 18 months, Mark Shintaffer oversaw the renovation of a large historical building along the riverwalk in downtown Mount Vernon. It was a project filled with the kind of ups and downs that come with trying to turn a 100-year-old building into something modern and state-of-the-art.
Shintaffer’s end goal was to turn the rundown building, which used to house the Lyric Theater, into a destination brewery and restaurant. By mid-March of this year he was finished and ready to fling open the doors.
Then the pandemic hit.
The weekend that District Brewing was set to open in late March, the Governor was preparing to issue his Stay Home, Stay Safe order. Shintaffer never got to truly open the brewery. Instead, like many breweries and restaurants, District had to pivot quickly. They began selling pizzas and crowler and growler fills to go. So far the response has been promising.
“We continue to blow through kegs, so the consumer has responded very well,” said Shintaffer.
For weeks now customers have been lining up in front of the brewery along the riverwalk, waiting their turn to order pizza and beer. Inside the building, the beautiful brew tanks serve as the backdrop to a large dining room, with a second floor of customer seating overhead.
Until this week, the beer on tap has been outsourced. But Monday Shintaffer finally posted a District Brewing original: First Strike, a West Coast IPA. Three days later, Tropical Vacation, a hazy IPA, was added to the menu.
Along with helping him make connections in the craft beer world that has already led to collaborations with Iron Horse Brewing and Bale Breaker, brewing at a big player like Elysian taught Kochendorfer a lot about the beer-making process.
“(I learned) that details make the difference between a mediocre beer and a great beer, and to always question the accepted wisdom if you ever want to make progress,” Kochendorfer said.
As for the beer at District, Kochendorfer plans to focus on hop-forward beers. But that doesn’t mean he’ll be looking to just fit his beers into a pre-defined style or flavor profile and start pumping our cookie-cutter IPAs.
“I plan to make a wide variety of hop forward beers in a range of different alcohol content and in varying degrees of haze or clarity,” said Kochendorfer. “There will be names and descriptions to guide you through them of course, but as brewers, and drinkers, we are blessed these days with an amazingly wide variety of hops that continues to grow every year and I intend to play with as many of them as possible to bring people uniquely refreshing hoppy experiences.”
District will have 20 beers on tap, most of them being their own beer.
When looking for a brewer to head up his operation, Shintaffer wanted someone with experience in a professional setting and knowledge of how to make beers consistent and reliable. He believes that’s what he’s got in Kochendorfer.
“When John’s brewing he’s brewing to the gram,” Shintaffer said. “He’s a scientist. It’s all math for him. He’s dialing in each recipe so it’s exactly the same every time. We want our customers t to be able to depend on that.”
For Shintaffer, beer is just part of the experience he hopes patrons enjoy when District can finally open to foot traffic. With the restaurant focusing mostly on pizza and the theme and decor around movies (paying tribute to the building’s past as a theater), Shintaffer wanted to create a place where everybody felt welcome.
“The concept is really neighborhood brewery; that ‘third place’ feeling,” Shintaffer said. “We want people to bring the wife, the kids, your neighbor. It’s going to be a fun environment.”
The vision Shintaffer has in his head was put there by Pinthouse Pizza, a small chain of pizza and beer spots he visited in Austin, Texas. Like what District will eventually do, Pinthouse has customers order their pizza and beer at the counter and then sit down and eventually bus their own tables.
“It’s new to our area,” Shintaffer said, “but I believe that if you build it they will come.”
Shintaffer comes from a long line of beverage people. His family started Sound Beverages, a beer and beverage distributor in Whatcom County, 70 years ago. In recent years, Shintaffer decided it was time to try opening his own brewery.
“I’ve enjoyed the business, but I needed to find something of my own,” Shintaffer said.
For now, he’ll have to wait a little longer until that vision is fully realized.
First Strike IPA
| KEY INGREDIENTS Mosaic, El Dorado, Centennial, and Pahto hops | ABV 6.1% | IBU 67
For brewers, creating the official beer for the annual Seattle Beer Week is quite an honor. This year that job was supposed to fall to the brewers at Skookum Brewery and Old Schoolhouse Brewery.
Of course, we know what happened to all that. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak, Seattle Beer Week was canceled, the official beer was scuttled and Skookum’s head brewer Hollis Wood and the folks at Old Schoolhouse were left holding the bag on a 1,000 pounds of experimental HBC-630 hops.
But when life gives you lemons … apparently you make delicious beer.
Wood took the hops that were once destined for the collaboration with Old Schoolhouse and spun it into another beer collaboration, this one with Chuck’s Hop Shop. Enjoyable Distraction is a tropical IPA made with spelt and oats and a whole mess of hops, including the Yakma Chief experimental hops HBC-630,
“We had these hops, so I figured let’s do something fun,” Wood said. “This was a perfect chance. I’m really liking the beer.”
Skookum canned the beer on Tuesday and will be delivering 50 cases to each of Chuck’s Hop Shop locations, Greenwood and Central District. The brewery will also be selling cans of the beer starting at 3 p.m. Wednesday, May 20.
This is Skookum’s second collaboration with Chuck’s after brewing Chucklehead, a double IPA made with Amarillo, Mosaic and Southern Star hops, for the 2017 Seattle Beer Week. The connection between brewery and bottleshop goes back to when Chuck’s became a gateway for Skookum into the competitive Seattle market.
“Chuck’s was one of the first accounts to take our beer in Seattle,” Wood said. “They helped get us established in Seattle and I’ve always felt we owe them a bit for having given us a chance.”
As for the beer, Wood said it’s tropical with a hint of stone fruit like apricot and peach from the HBC-630. The other hops are Citra, Vic’s Secret and Azacca.
On Monday, Skookum released 16-ounce cans of its IPA Southern Glow and Parlor Trick, an imperial oatmeal milk stout brewed with cocoa powder and finished on strawberries. Along with Tuesday’s canning of Enjoyable Distraction, it’s a second major canning session for a brewery that had only canned its beers once before the pandemic. Wood said the brewery is planning to do more canning in the coming weeks.
The additional canning runs comes on the heels of Skookum digging through its cellar to sell the final bottles and kegs of crowd favorites like Heavy is the Head That Wears the Crown, a blend of barleywine and wheatwine, releasing a four-way barleywine blend called Quarantine and #BIL in crowlers and even selling kegs retail.
“We’ve had to bob and weave and change up our plans,” Wood said. “We decided early on we would do what we could to survive. We’re adapting to the current market.”
Look for more goodies from Skookum coming out soon. In the meantime, the Arlington brewery plans to return to its normal hours of operation June 1. Currently the brewery is open 3 to 7 p.m. every day.
Skookum Brewery/Chuck’s Hop Shop A tropical IPA from Skookum Brewery and made in collaboration with Seattle bottleshop Chuck’s Hop Shop. Brewed with spelt and oat and Citra, Vic’s Secret, Azacca and HBC-630 hops.
From the brewery: In these dark times we’re all grasping for a semblance of normalcy. We brewed this collaboration IPA to remind you of better times, and that we’re all in this together.
Available at Skookum Brewery, and Chuck’s Hop Shop Greenwood and Central District locations
Originally brewed for Special Brews‘ seventh anniversary, the beer, Jake Gave Dick Wood, is a buckwheat wine aged in JP Trodden Bourbon barrels and tequila barrels. The 500-ml bottles are $15 and will go on sale May 8 at noon at the brewery and at Special Brews.
Crucible Brewing co-owners Dick Mergens and Dylan Sandberg were long-time mug club members at Special Brews and have forged a strong relationship with Special Brews’ owner Jake Taylor over the years. In 2017, Crucible brewed the buckwheat wine for Special Brews seventh anniversary. After it was released a year later, Mergens kept a couple kegs behind and aged them a little longer in hopes of releasing them for Special Brews’ ninth anniversary next month.
With the COVID outbreak, though, the anniversary celebration was put on hold. So Mergens and Taylor decided to bottle the special beer. On Wednesday, they bottled 700 bottles in eight hours.
“It was mostly a manual process for this first bottle release, so it was mostly blood, sweat an beers,” said Crucible co-owner Shawn Dowling. “We had a lot of fun and it was great checking off this milestone for the brewery.”
Dowling hinted that there will be a few more bottle releases in Crucible’s near future.
Jake Gave Dick Wood
Crucible Brewing, Everett A creamy mouthfeel brings forward a medley of chocolate, vanilla, caramel, plum, raisins, dates and, of course, bourbon and tequila! The massive grain bill consists of English barley, buckwheat, chocolate malt and copious amounts of agave nectar and finished with East Kent Golding hops. 13.3 ABV.
Soon, Spada’s brewery, Spada Farmhouse Brewery, will be undergoing a huge change of its own. Spada Farmhouse Brewery is using this time in quarantine to renovate a building in downtown Snohomish that will eventually be its new home. It’s a huge move for the small craft brewery that focuses on sours and barrel-aged beers.
“I’m really excited for the opportunity for growth,” said Spada, whose taproom until recently was housed in a cozy taproom just up from First Street on Union Avenue in downtown Snohomish. “I think it’ll be an opportunity to attract a wider base of customers.”
Spada’s new space is located on First Street, which is coveted real estate for retailers with all of its antique shops, restaurants and other tourist retailers. The former tenant was Stewart’s Place Tavern, a fixture in Snohomish.
“The majority of foot traffic in Snohomish is on First Street,” said Spada. “It was tough being off of First Street because it really cuts down on that foot traffic.”
Spada said they had been looking for two years for a spot that could house both the brewery and taproom on First Street, but that the real estate market for that type of building is very competitive. Not only was First Street desirable, but Spada was looking to keep distance between his brewery and the five other breweries in Snohomish.
So when Spada found out Stewart’s was leaving, he jumped at the opportunity. Once they secured the building, Spada closed its former spot on Union Ave. and is now putting all of its energy into building out and renovating the new space.
The new space will allow Spada to move brewing production on site. Spada’s sour and barrel-aging program will remain on the family farm outside of Snohomish to ensure the separation of clean and sour beer.
Another bonus to making the move for Spada is the addition of food service, something the brewery didn’t have at its former spot. The kitchen will be run by Spada’s friend Tyler Stocker, who was one of the original owners of the Trail’s End Taproom and has run his own catering and food truck businesses.
“The menu will be unique and will complement the beer,” Spada said. “Tyler and I work really well together.”
Well-known for making great sour beers, Spada said that the brewery will also feature a few more approachable beers to serve a wider audience.
The schedule for opening the new space is dependent on Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order. Spada said that when the order is lifted they hope to be ready and can use the easing back in as a soft opening for the new location.