Thursday, December 2, 2010

Growing Up

Soon you'll notice something different about our homepage if it hasn't already changed by the time you read this. It will soon feature a video produced by soulmoto, an upscale yet nimble video branding company whose portfolio includes Getty Images, Starbucks, and Rick Steves’ Europe. The world premier of of this swanky new video will be on FRIDAY, DEC. 3RD, 4:00 – 9:00 pm at the Urban Beer Garden for December’s Fremont First Friday Art Walk.

It was quite a departure from our scrappy, DIY modus operandi to hire soulmoto to produce such a fancy video for us. But we figured it was time to grow up a little and put something pretty on our home page instead of the usual low-grade iPhone videos of the guys goofing around in the shop. I know some people are really into that roots sort of thing so don't worry, it will still be available on our site.

One of soulmoto's partners is Dave Scudder. He's a beer aficionado, a Fremont local, and a regular at the Urban Beer Garden. His familiarity with Fremont Brewing made him and his company the logical choice for this endeavor. Their product is absolutely gorgeous and entertaining, capturing perfectly the essence of Fremont Brewing’s people, beer, and community. Well, maybe not perfectly. We look a lot better and come off more articulate than in real life thanks to professional lighting and editing. But seriously, it conveys a genuine slice of who we are. Soulmoto’s tagline isn’t “moving brand stories” for nothing.

This little gem will be posted on the homepage as soon as we figure out how to load such a huge file where our YouTube embed usually goes. But stay tuned. And if you’re a regular at UBG, you might even see yourself in the footage!

PS: Sorry so lame in posting lately -- I got my real, paying job back at City Council. I'll get better.

(Image above provided by soulmoto.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Almost ready! Cowiche Canyon organic hops, part 3

This is the third post in a three-part series on our partnership with organic hop growers in Yakima.

My last two posts have focused on our partnership with the American Organic Hop Growers Association. I’ve talked about our trip to Yakima to visit the new Cowiche Canyon organic hop farm on entomologist Ron Britt’s family’s property just outside Yakima. And last time I wrote about some of the challenges faced by organic hop growers.

To review: on September 1st, the Cowiche Canyon organic Simcoe® and Citra® hops were harvested. The next morning, Brad Carpenter, Ron Britt, and his son Reed trucked 75 lbs of each to Seattle.

It was tricky to brew but by the end of the day, our first fresh-hopped beer, the Cowiche Canyon Organic Fresh Hop Ale, was in the fermenter. Here’s Matt to expalain: “We had to use a totally different process with fresh hops. Using exclusively fresh, wet hops was an interesting challenge due to the sheer volume of hops and the unique flavor of fresh hops as opposed to dry hops. We decided to use our mash tun as a hop back which means we put 100 pounds of hops in one of our tanks and ran all the beer through this wall of hops before it went into our fermenters. The wall of hops concept was designed to get the freshest hop flavor possible out of the hops.”

Want to try some? We’ll tap it at the Yakima Fresh Hop Ale Festival on Oct. 2 but after that, it will be on tap for as long as the 15 barrels last at the Urban Beer Garden and maybe also in growlers. It was the ultimate “farm-to-table” experience to watch the evolution of the cowiche Canyon hop farm, eat them right off the vine on our visit and then make beer with them the day after harvest. We’re looking forward to many more seasons of collaboration with the Carpenters, Britts, and other members of the American Organic Hop Growers Association.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cowiche Canyon organic hops, part 2

Like most cash-crops, hops are very vulnerable to visitudes in both weather and supply and demand which drive prices up or down like a yo-yo. But unlike other crops, say corn or barley for example, the growing region for hops is relatively small. In 2008, according to the American Organic Hop Growers Association, the Yakima Valley produced 30,595 acres of hops, comprising 75% of the U.S. commercial hop production. Compare Yakima to other agricultural regions like the Midwest or the San Joaquin Valley in CA and you get my point. On top of that, demand for Northwest hops has exploded in recent years with both the growth of the craft brewing market and the decision by major manufacturers (think Anheuser-Bucsh) to source their hops from here rather than, say, New Zealand or Germany.

The cycle goes like this: a couple consecutive bad weather seasons could decrease the supply of Yakima hops and drive up their price. Conversely, subsequent growing seasons could produce bumper crops of hops which would lower prices. These price fluctuations make it difficult for growers to plan their next year’s crop and for brewers to budget for their hops needs. On top of that, the vast majority of brewers enter into multi-year contracts for hops, requiring them to commit to a price that might be relatively high, compared to prices in subsequent years when supplies might increase and prices drop – bad for brewers, good for growers. But the opposite can happen: brewers can luck into a low price in a multi-year contract during which the price of hops might increase – bad for growers, good for brewers. You might remember that a few years ago, supplies of Yakima hops fell and prices spiked, a cycle that jacked up the price of beer production and, consequently, the price of beer.

Given this volatility, you can see why it would seem very risky for hops growers to go organic, despite increasing demand for all things organic. Indeed, in 2009, only about 100 acres in WA are producing organic hops. Without all the fertilizers and chemical pesticides, an acre of organic bines yields half as much as conventionally-grown hops. And if it’s a bad year, well, see above. So brewers might not believe that they can secure a reliable supply of organic hops – or specific varieties of organic hops like Simcoe, Citra, or Amarillo that brewers need for their specialty beers. And most growers, lacking confidence that devoting their land to vastly more labor-intensive organic hops will pay off, are wary of going organic.

That’s why we’re supporting the efforts of the American Organic Hop Growers Association to dedicate increasing resources for organic hop production. By buying and promoting their organic hops, we’re trying to generate a reliable market that their growers can depend on as they plan for future production cycles. Last week, Brad Carpenter and Ron Britt trucked in a load of FRESH, ORGANIC hops from Cowiche Canyon’s first-ever harvest. (That's Matt, Ron Britt, Ron's son Reed, and Brad Carpenter holding up fresh organic Simcoe hop cones.) You might have read the tweets we sent out as the guys here brewed their first batch of fresh-hopped beer. The aroma was amazingly distinct – super-concentrated, earthy yet floral, and100% hoppy. We look forward to tapping the first batch of Cowiche Canyon Fresh-Hopped Ale at the Yakima Fresh Hop Festival on October 2 – stay tuned for sneak previews!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cowiche Canyon organic hops, Part 1.

This is the first of a three-part story about our trip to Yakima to tour an organic hop farm and why that's a big deal.

Last fall, we met with Brad and Craig Carpenter, the sixth generation of the oldest hop growing family in WA, and Ron Britt, their entomologist and pest-control czar. The Carpenters are also one of several families who own Yakima Chief, the major hops processor. They approached us because they were considering a new venture: an organic hop farm on Britt’s family property in Cowiche Canyon, just outside Yakima. But they wanted to spec out potential demand among Seattle microbreweries and they targeted us because of all our high-fallutin talk of sustainability on our website. (I posted about meeting them on Dec. 1, 2009)

Encouraged by our interest and the growing demand for organic hops in the craft brewing industry in general, they wasted no time and planted a half-acre of Simcoe and Citra hops. (We've featured both Simcoe and Citra in our cask IPA's.) They also formed the American Organic Hop Growers Association, comprised of a handful of other hop growers who are dedicating portions of their land to organic production. Last weekend, the whole gang here went to tour the bines and meet with Brad Carpenter, Ron and Kathie Britt and their sons Reed and Nathan, and Jason Perrault, Vice President of Select Botanicals and the actual, real-life creator of the Simcoe variety, among many other strains of organic (and conventional) hops. He’s pretty much a rock star in the beer world – google him. Videographer and Fremont Brewing fan Greg Young (aka @CoolGuyGreg), volunteered his time and expertise to video the history-in-the-making gathering. [And no, for once that was not a typo: they’re called “bines” because they’re not “vines” – hops climb and cling by little hairs instead of by tendrils as do vines – see, ya learn something every day.]

Cowiche Canyon, about six miles northwest of Yakima, is a stunning, basalt-lined canyon that frames the lush, winding Cowiche Creek, home to a remnant run of Coho salmon and several hundred species of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers, including the rare Tauschia hooveri, found only there. So pristine and unique is this riparian oasis in the middle of the arid shrub-steppe surrounding it that the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy was formed in 1985 to preserve and protect it. Among the Conservancy’s many projects is to acquire and restore enough parcels of private and public land to the west of the canyon to build an 80-mile long trail from its mouth all the way to Mt. Rainier. (!) I know all this because its Executive Director, Betsy Bloomfield, came to the gathering to meet everyone and educate us on what the Conservancy is doing in the hops' backyard.

The Carpenters and Britts decided to locate their organic hop experiment there because, a) the Britts already owned the land, it having been in the family for 25 years and, b) because its isolation from any other hop fields will protect the plants from cross-fertilization by air-borne spores. But beyond these practical reasons, the Britts are committed to showing that agricultural uses can co-exist with conservation efforts, that it doesn’t have to be farmers vs. nature-freaks (of whom I am one, I guess). Indeed, since they’re farming organically, they’re not dumping a bunch of nasty chemicals into the creek, proving that farmers can be stewards and not mere extractors of the land.

I’ll close on that high-minded note. Next: the politics and economics of organic hops and AOHGA’s Grand Plan.

In these photos: The group shot is Ron Britt, Kathie Britt, Brad Carpenter (sitting), Matt Lincecum, and Betsy Bloomfield showing a map of Cowiche Canyon (the woman whose back is to the camera is Janet, a Britt family friend). Missing from the shot is Jeano who, with Kathie, made us the most amazing BBQ lunch. The guy standing in front of the hops is said rock-star horticulturalist Jason Perrault. The pic of the bines is courtesy of Brad Carpenter, taken July 19, 2010 (note the basalt towers in the background).

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Bad, Good, and New

I have some good news and some bad news. Per my dark nature, I’ll give you the bad news first: our sub-letter, Blue Marble Energy is moving their production facility to Corvallis, MT. We’ve enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with this green energy company by giving them our spent grain which they essentially distill into high-grade chemical compounds for use in food flavorings, cosmetics and other products. The byproduct of this biorefining process is ammonia and methane which they will clean and sell as a clean, green renewable energy source. This is bad news because off-loading our spent grain has saved us about $500 a month in disposal costs – plus, they’ve been fun neighbors.

The good news – besides the fact that Corvallis will inherit a cutting-edge biochemical refinery* – is that we’ll be forced to come up with new, creative uses for our spent grain. Right now, we, like many microbreweries in town, have relationships with farmers who pick up our grain and feed it to their cattle, pigs and chickens instead of feeding them commercial feed which is expensive and usually loaded with lots of stuff animals were never meant to ingest. This is fine but pick-ups are sporadic and then there’s the little problem of all these farmers driving down from places like Marysville, emitting all those green house gasses for one truck-load of feed. (The photos above depict one of our takers. As you may gather, he's no hippy-dippy, anti-capitalist, slow-foodie -- just a guy who wants cheap, good feed.)

We’d like to expand and regularize this exchange for the benefit of not just farmers and Fremont Brewing Company but for many other local microbreweries. Just brainstorming here but wouldn’t it be great to develop a program that would pick up breweries’ spent grain, deposit it in one place (say, the new North transfer station, whenever and wherever it finally gets built), and then transport it to one central location (like, say, Cedar Grove’s facility up north) where farmers could pick it up closer to their farms?

To make this happen we’d need the cooperation of the City (which runs the transfer stations) and a company with big trucks like Cedar Grove as well as $. Maybe a regional entity could kick in some start-up funds and once a threshold number of breweries and farmers were involved, it could be self-sustaining, with breweries paying a fee much smaller than their regular disposal bill and farmers paying much less for animal feed than they would pay for commercially-available and antibiotic-laced feed (to say nothing of other nasty ingredients in industrialized feed that can make people and animals very sick).

It’s just an idea and in the meantime, we bid the folks at Blue Marble Energy farewell (although their corporate office will remain in Seattle) and the best of luck as they expand their business. To learn more about BME’s ventures, see

* Why BME is taking its technology and jobs to Montana instead of relocating somewhere else in Washington is a matter for another day but suffice it to say WA dropped the ball on this one.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Give Me Liberty

Having survived the dueling festivities of the Fremont Solstice Parade/Fremont Fair and the Washington Brewers Fest a couple weeks ago, we are now prepping for extended 4th of July Urban Beer Garden hours. We'll be open on Sunday from noon to 9:00 p.m. to serve party-goers en route to the Gasworks Park fireworks show.*

And in a special display of patriotism, we'll be serving "Liberty Lager," a small-batch collaboration between our head brewer Matt Lincoln and Elliot Ryan from the Latona Pub, first mentioned in this video (scroll to bottom). If the temperature gets above 65 that day, it will be the perfect, thirst-quenching treat -- light, yet complex. I should know because I just sampled it from the bright tank in the walk-in. The sample valve on that tank being rather touchy, I also gave the floor a gushing taste. That'll teach me from sneaking drinks in the walk-in! But I digress. We'll also be serving a cask-conditioned IPA (discussed by Matt Lincecum here in addition to our regular line-up.

You might have noticed we're trying to amplify our "online presence" via tweets (@fremontbrewing), our new Facebook page (become a fan and post on our wall!), and our video-enhanced homepage. Thanks for your patience while this 44-year old with Luddite tendencies attempts to master the world of social media.

I'm sad to inform you that one of our brewers, Aaron Golston, will be leaving us next week to begin a graduate program at UC Davis so he can be a rich and famous brewer on his own some day. Aaron came to us by way of Charlie from Pike Place Brewing and he's been of invaluable service from the get-go: building the brewery, designing recipes, hauling kegs all over town, teaching us about beer chemistry, and scaring my sons into submission when they get wild. He's super-smart, conscientious, and funny but you probably don't know that because we try to keep him away from customers (his attitude is an acquired taste). He will be missed, particularly bybar managers who've grown used to the pleasure of his sunny disposition. Pictured above, painting kegs -- he just loves repetitive, mind-numbing tasks!

Yesterday I went to Whole Foods (@wholefoodsrsq) to get stuff for a dinner party and I saw myself on their FBC growler display -- it was weird. But better than seeing myself on a poster in the post office. So here's a little reminder that you can buy our beer in all five Seattle, Redmond, and Bellevue stores. And to answer questions about how long they keep, we shoot them full of C02 before filling them so that the beer stays fresher longer -- it can last weeks in the fridge before opening and for up to 3 or 4 days after opening, so I'm told. Speaking of Whole Foods, we'll be doing a tasting at the Interbay store (@interbaywfm) this Saturday, July 3rd from 4:00 to 6:00.

Finally, I'm excited to announce the launch of the Seattle Good Business Network, a network of local, independently-owned businesses that are committed to sustainability as an operating principle, either in their operations or products. I've been on the advisory team and I look forward to taking advantage of the business-to-business benefits as well as the business-to-consumer promotion opportunities. It's not just another business network and my description won't do it justice so just go here to find out more. It takes a village.

*Our regular Sunday hours are from noon to 5:00 p.m.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Happy Anniversary!!

We're approaching the anniversary of a MAJOR MILESTONE in our history. The Fremont 5k & Briefcase Relay is next Friday, June 11 and we’re serving the beer. That event, ONE YEAR AGO, was the first time we ever served our beer to the public. I think we called it “Test Batch, Universale” or something like that because we hadn’t worked out all the kinks of our production process (remember that, Kemp?). And if you were there as a runner or just a partier, you’ll remember we hadn’t worked any of the kinks out of our serving system. We didn’t bring a cash box for change (and I was slow on the ol’ subtraction – change for 2 beers from a twenty is um, wait a minute…), we hadn’t decided who would pour, serve, and take money, etc. The lines got long but it was sunny, the beer tasted OK, and people were happy enough that we were invited back this year.

I get a little misty-eyed thinking about that day a year ago – how totally psyched we were to make our debut and how much has transpired in our business since then. We owe much to the enthusiastic and forgiving Fremont community for our continued success and all the fun we’ve had. So cheers to the fact that we’re still here together and promise: the beer garden at the run will be run by true pros who’ve got beer-making and counting down pat.

Enjoy these photos from the vault. They include current server/investor Kemp Hiatt, Matt Lincecum, and yours truly, Sara Nelson.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Seattle Beer Week Events

Here's a not-necessarily-comprehensive list of events we're participating in for Seattle Beer Week. Please refer to the event list for more details.

Today, Tuesday, 5/18:

  • Beer Cruise, 2:00 – 6:00, riders start at the Big Time and arrive at FBC about 3:00.

Wednesday, 5/19

Thursday, 5/20:

  • Urban Beer Garden, 4:00 – 8:00, as usual
  • Ray’s Boathouse Copper River Extravaganza, 6:00 – 8:00, sold out.

Friday, 5/21:

Sunday, 5/22:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fresh Fills!

Seattle Beer Week is here!!! It’s scary thinking of all that great beer, all those fun events, and all those calories. We’re participating in several events over the next 2 weeks; tonight we’ll be serving at the Park Pub’s New Brewers Night and at West Seattle’s Beverage Place Cask Fest (serving a dry-hopped cask IPA with blood orange zest). Check SBW's calendar for more info.

Tomorrow, Friday, the 3 Seattle Whole Foods stores will launch their brand-new “Fresh Fills” growler offering with our beer!!! It was a bit of a scramble filling 72 growlers of IPA and 48 growlers each of Universale and Solstice during the ramp up for SBW but, hey, we’re scrappy and highly motivated (that's Matt filling in the pic above)! It’s been fun working with WF Corporate on this project and we look forward to more in the future.

To be honest, we had a fleeting concern that we’d lose business if people can buy our growlers at WF. But let’s face it, it’s a pain to get here during our business or UBG hours and the customer service isn’t always exemplary. So we figured the kind of person stopping by for a growler in the middle of the day (i.e. a determined, yet slacker, fan) is not the same kind of person who’s picking up some of our beer while shopping for delicious, healthy groceries at WF (basically, everyone else). Like I said, fleeting.

I look at this partnership with WF as a great opportunity to spread the goodness – and also, it might be the closest I get to being famous, with Matt’s and my photo on the displays ("end-caps") all over town (promo shot, above).

Hey, don’t forget we’re on Twitter: @fremontbrewing ! And you might have noticed the video snippets I’ve added to the homepage – fancy!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Can Can

The used caning line Matt scored for us arrived yesterday! It's a manual system capable of canning 20 cases an hour. Now we
just have to buy
some cans (minimum order: 85,000) and soon you'll see us in grocery stores -- and elsewhere...

Also yesterday, we put Universale into two cab barrels where they'll live for a year, turning into a subtle, oak & cabernet-inflected sour. Sours are the new thing, you know, and our head brewer, Matt Lincoln, produced some of the classiest sours when he worked at Goose Island in Chicago.

You might've noticed that we've been pouring cask beers at the Urban Beer Garden lately. Last week was a cask IPA and this weekend it's going to be a Porter. They haven't tapped it yet
though so I don't know how to describe its loveliness. Come on down and try it, why dontcha?

Last week's FRESH event with Theo Chocolate, Mt. Townsend Creamery and Whole Foods was a big hit among folks into sustainably-produced local food and beer (which pretty much covers half of Seattle, right?). Fun to party with our neighbors from Theo, who -- contrary to my Willy Wonka Oompa-Loompa associations -- are quite hip and hot.

(I'm pretty lame at formatting these posts and getting the photos where I want them. Above: Matt with canning line, barrels of Universale, the Theo team, Council President Richard Conlin speaking to the FRESH crowd, and Graham Day from Mt. Townsend Creamery -- the last 3 photos taken by Amy Benson.)

Thursday, April 8, 2010


We've wanted to collaborate on a project with our neighbor,
Theo Chocolate, for some time now, but we were always a little shy about approaching such a highly-esteemed chocolatier. As it turns out, they came to us and we've joined forces to promote "FRESH," an award-winning documentary celebrating the farmers, business people, and visionaries from accross the country whose commitment to local, sustainable food is helping to revolutionize our food system.

At an event here on Sunday, April 25 from 3:00 - 5:00 pm, Theo will launch two brand new chocolates made with our winter and summer seasonals. We've sampled a couple iterations and they are melt-in-your-mouth divine. That's chocolatier Joanna Lepore, in the middle, one of Theo's marketing people, Audrey, on the left, and me on the right tasting the first batch in Theo's test kitchen.

Here's Joanna's description: "The Abominable hits with a malty bitterness that recalls the fermentation process of making both chocolate and beer. The Saison is more subtle, finishing with a grassy bite that stands out against the sweetness of the ganache. Decorated with hops and malted barley, each confection ends with a powerful beer-y crunch that lends depth to this decadent treat!"

Thinking a party with just beer and chocolate might be a tad decadent, we've teamed up with Mt. Townsend Creamery to provide a smattering of their hand-crafted cheeses. Tickets for the event cost $25 and include a voucher to "FRESH," running at Seattle Central Cinema from April 30 - May 6th.

Special guests will include Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin, champion of sustainability and instigator of Seattle's Local Food Action Initiative and Ana Sofia Joanes, Director of "Fresh". Capacity is limited to 200 so get your tickets now!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Call for Artists, Cask Festival, Twestival

We're now participants in the Fremont First Friday Art Walk. This month we featured bike screen prints by Dan Stuckey. Now we need more material to show, most pressingly for Friday, April 2. And we're building up a list of folks to show throughout the year. So if you are -- or know -- an artist looking for exposure and sales, please contact me by email:

Today, we tapped the first firkin of our brand new cask program! It's an IPA, dry-hopped with Chinook and Amarillo hops. It's delicious and ON TAP tonight at UBG. Tapping it was a rehearsal (it sort of erupted) for the casks we're contributing to the not-to-be-missed Cask Festival this Saturday at Seattle Center Fischer Pavilion:
  • Totonac Bbomb: slow-roasted winter ale aged in 15-year old bourbon barrels from Kentucky with organic vanilla bean pods. It's basically an elaboration of our Bourbon Abominable (B-Bomb) which, sadly, is no longer available at UBG.
  • Wee Little Woody: Universale Pale aged on American white oak and spiced with zest of organic blood orange.
  • Mystere de Mars: As in March. It's a secret -- 3rd in the Mystery Series.
Matt's on his way right now to Emerald City Trapeze to donate the beer for Twestival Seattle. It's a 24-hour-long, world-wide fundraiser for World Concern. Tweeters and other social media geeks will schmooze, party, tweet, and swing (on trapezes) for this non-profit that's raising money for earthquake victims in Haiti and Chile. TONIGHT from 7-10:30.

Hey cyclists: SDOT finally installed a bike rack in front of the brewery! I was getting impatient as folks were locking their bikes up to anything that doesn't move -- the gas meter, garbage cans, trees. Rack space is limited so get here early.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

All Night Long

You gotta know about this: There’s a proposal circulating among Seattle electeds, bar/club owners, and opinion leaders to extend alcohol service hours in Seattle. The Seattle Nightlife and Music Association has been promoting two versions of the idea – the first to stagger closing times (2:00, 3:00, 3:30 or whatever) of venues based on size and other criteria and, more recently, to allow 24-hour service hours and “let the market decide.” Both have received initial support from Mayor McGinn, City Attorney Pete Homes, and several Councilmembers. Many news outlets have run stories, including Publicola, King 5 News, The Stranger, and KUOW here and here (CMs Richard Conlin and Sally Clark applaud the issue about half-way into Weekday).

To name a few of the proposal’s many benefits:

  • Times are tough and this would give a boost to SMALL BUSINESS. Bar, restaurant, and club owners would generate more sales, which would result in increased City revenues.
  • Having more night spots open in the wee hours would invigorate Seattle’s nightlife scene and would result in more “eyes on the street”, making people feel safer than they otherwise would while carousing or returning home from the late shift.
  • Perhaps counter-intuitively, proponents argue that public safety would increase, partly because of the above reason and also because police could better allocate their patrol officers. If they don’t have to be everywhere at 2:00 am when all bars close and patrons flood the streets en masse (after slamming as many drinks as possible come “last call”), they can more strategically deploy cops according to the varying closing times.

Of course, for either version of this proposal to work, the City would have to enact several measures to ensure that venues take responsibility for over-drinking patrons and comply with more stringent safety regulations.

Personally, I love the idea and not primarily for crass business self-interest. Yes, Fremont Brewing could benefit from increased late-night sales of our product – but so would everyone on tap. Rather, I find increasing City revenues and boosting Seattle’s nightlife scene the most compelling reasons to go forward. And I agree that extending alcohol service hours would decrease many of the problems associated with the binge drinking caused by mandatory 2:00 closing times.

All-night/extended drinking is nothing new in many GROWN-UP cities in the US and beyond (see above news sources for examples). But Seattle’s sad legacy of over-the-top blue laws might contribute to resistance to this effort. Leading with the indisputable economic benefits might be the best approach: Seattle needs more sales and B&O tax-generated revenues to fund services we demand, like parks, libraries, and cops & firefighters. Equally important, instead of inhibiting nightlife, Seattle should take full advantage of the rich cultural resources this city has been famous for (namely the performing arts and its resident, thirsty hipsters) and give folks more options for public, communal recreation.

My last word on this is that we’re lucky to have such an engaged, politically savvy group of bar/club owners to guide policy makers on this (esp. The Red Door's Pete Hanning and The 5 Point Cafe's David Meinert). They’re putting in a lot of time and energy to provide the political cover our electeds need to persuade the WA Liquor Control Board to change existing regulations. It’s easy to kvetch about how hard it is to make a buck but the SNMA has a plan that all bar/club/restaurant owners stand to gain from.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Art & Politics

At last Friday's Urban Beer Garden, our landlord, Suzie Burke, brought her beer-loving, home-brewing, off-duty buddies from SPD's North Precinct to enjoy some pints.

In case you missed my last post, we’re now on Twitter (@fremontbrewing) so you can follow new developments in recipe experimentation, upcoming events, and plain old daily life around here.

At this Thursday’s (March 4th) Urban Beer Garden, we’re hosting a big event for Seattle Politicos, a Facebook group I’m involved in. It’s the kick-off event for this year’s campaign season and a good opportunity for new candidates running for state office to meet Seattle’s political cogniscenti (and check-books); for incumbents to shore up support among their base; and for political hacks to play their favorite sport. I mention this because everyone’s welcome as usual but space will be tight – not the best UBG night to bring your PEPS group. Fortunately for those who wearied of my frequent soap-boxing last year, I don’t have a dog in this season’s race so I won’t be blogging as much about politics unless encouraged.

We are now participants in Fremont’s First Friday Art Walk, starting this Friday! We’ll be showcasing Dan Stuckey’s bike screen-prints (the ones that have been up all along, coincidentally). Dan designed our gorgeous logo. He was our next-door neighbor for years before he abandoned us for California because his wife got a sweet job developing gear for Fox Racing. I tell ya, this guy’s gonna be famous someday so you might as well start accumulating his signed, limited-run prints while we’re selling them for a dirt-cheap twenty bucks.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tweet tweet

Kicking and screaming, we've submitted to our fans' demands and we are now “Twitterific”! (Is it just me or does that just sound so babyish?) Follow @fremontbrewing and you’ll get at least one tweet a day about life at ye ol’ brewery. I’m just learning the intricacies of this whole social media thing (thanks to help from my beer- and social media-geek hand-holder, Michael Foley @foleymo) and your patience is appreciated while I work out the kinks. If you’re wondering why I’m following Georgetown University, it’s because I thought I’d found Georgetown Brewing (@gtownbeer) and I don’t know how to un-follow yet.

And speaking of modernization, we're planning a major website redo that will reduce the boring text and feature rotating short videos of our goings-on among other things. Stay tuned...

Also new: we’re on the brink of signing with a distributor so you’ll have many more places at which to enjoy our beer – even some places south of the ship canal!

Our Urban Beer Garden is thriving and we’ve now got 6 beers on tap instead of four. This week: Universale, Interurban IPA, Abominable (our winter dark), Bourbon Abominable (my absolute favorite – Aboninable aged in bourbon barrels for months), Nitro Universale (creamy), and Little Woody (an old favorite, revived: our oaked Universale). That's Aaron prepping a tea-bag thingy of Chinook and Cascade hops for the next Woody.

Thanks to Green Frog Acoustic Tavern in Bellingham for hosting our Brewers Night last night. Matt Lincoln and Aaron had a great time – Aaron mostly at the expense of the red-head wine-drinker.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The new normal

The two new unitanks have been hooked up, rinsed and put to use. Yesterday we brewed a double-batch of Universale and today will be a double of Interurban IPA. By day’s end tomorrow, we’ll have 120 barrels of beer on the floor (“…120 barrels of beer. You take one down…”) in varying states of readiness. Feels good not having to ration product all the time to meet accounts.

If you missed out on sampling our delicious winter Abominable Ale during the holidays, don’t fret. It is still available in growlers and at the Urban Beer Garden so drink up – we’re offering 12 oz. goblets for 3 bucks while supply lasts. And if you want a really, really decadent treat, we’ve got a bit of our bourbon barrel-aged Abominable left on tap this week too. Redolent of whiskey, rich but not cloying, and about 8% alcohol, this is a rare treat (not sold by growler due to limited quantity).

Thursday, December 31, 2009

In with the new!

The Urban Beer Garden is OPEN tonight and tomorrow night, DECEMBER 31st and JANUARY 1st, 4:00 to around 8:30 p.m. -- the perfect place to launch your New Year's Eve carousing and nurse your post-party hangover. On tap this week:

1. Oak-Aged Abominable Ale: A blend of our winter ale, aged in heavy-toasted French oak barrels and medium-toasted American oak barrels.

2. Universale: the intergalactically, world-famously tasty ale that begat the Empire of Fremont Brewing Co.

3. Interurban IPA: Perfectly balanced -- hoppy but not too hoppy.

4. Abominable Ale: roasty, chocolatey, malt flavors balanced by subtle hoppy spice. Warm up to it. Don't be scared to be Abominable.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Double the fun!

We’ve doubled our capacity! Yesterday, Jim Uer of Interior Stainless delivered two brand-new 30-barrel unitanks that he made in his shop in Summerland, BC. We bought our first two used from Georgetown Brewery, also supplied by Interior Stainless. So now we have four identical, gorgeous, stainless steel tanks, all lined up and ready for action. Jim, his wife, and two daughters drove them down on a long flat-bed trailer attached to their family pick-up. These things weigh 2,000 lbs each and took some fancy fork-lifting to get into place. Jim’s a calm, tall craftsman whose primary clientele is small breweries -- which seems to be a lucrative and fun market niche (compared to, say, dairies or bio-deisel or any other industry needing stainless steel tanks).

Why is this major purchase such a big deal? First, some Brewing 101: beer starts by boiling grain, hops, and magic in water to make wort. Once the wort is ready, it’s pumped from the brew house into a unitank where it ferments for a week or so. After the fermentation stage, the beer is transferred to another unitank for finishing: the suspended yeast falls to the bottom, carbon dioxide is added and the beer’s ready to be put into kegs. They’re called “unitanks” because they do everything: ferment, cool, refine, carbonate.

We have a 15-barrel brew house and until now, we could only accommodate two batches of beer at any one time – one batch in the fermenter, one finishing in the other tank. Even if we brewed double batches, we’d still only have two brews (or 60 barrels max) in the pipeline at any one time. With two additional tanks, we can do more experimenting with recipes, produce more one-off specialty beers, and make more mistakes without worrying about having enough beer for our wholesale accounts and retail sales. So this is a major milestone in our evolution. Now we need to get our hands on about 300 more kegs and we can sit tight while the cash comes rolling in – until we shell out the big, big bucks for a canning line.

Reminder: we’re offering the Interurban IPA at cheap, holiday prices through December 31st: $3.00 pints at the Urban Beer Garden, $13.00 growlers (glass and fill), $6.00 growler refills, and two free FBC pint glasses if you buy a keg. Please check our holiday schedule to ensure someone’s here to take your money and check out our swanky new merchandise while you’re at it.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Holiday shopping got you stressed? We can help. We’ve got a whole new shipment of merchandise including hoodies, women’s, men’s and kid-sized long & short-sleeve T-shirts in a dizzying (but not overwhelming) array of colors and styles. Many items feature an image of one of our fermenters on the front, launching our “artsy” line of brewery apparel. We also have baseball caps embroidered with our logo. And then of course, there’s always BEER which makes an ideal gift and sure takes the shopping edge off! Scroll down for pricing or go to the “Schwag” section of our website for photos of selected items modeled by real beer drinkers (and taken by iPhone – classy!).

And speaking of beer, sidle on down to the Urban Beer Garden for SPECIAL HOLIDAY PRICES on our new Interurban IPA! Pints: $3.00, new growlers: $13, growler refills: $6. Or buy a keg of IPA for that Boxing Day party and get two free commemorative pint glasses! And, just a reminder, the UBG is open Thursday, Friday, and now Saturday evenings from 4:00 to 8:30-ish. We’re open for retail Monday through Friday during regular working hours and now Saturdays from noon until last call. The IPA special will last through this month but if I were you, I’d take advantage of our very limited quantity of bourbon barrel-aged Abominable Winter Ale – truly extraordinary (if you’re a whisky fan).


Hoodies: $35

Unisex and Women’s long-sleeve T-shirts: $20

Kid-sized long-sleeve T-shirts: $15

Unisex and Women’s short-sleeve T-shirts: $15

Baseball caps: $20

Growlers (excluding IPA which is cheaper): glass + fill $15, refills $8

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bourbon-Beer and IPA

In case you’re wondering what to give those folks in your life who “have it all” (I don’t know anybody like that but I hear they exist), I wanted to let you know that we’ve got a huge new shipment of clothes for sale. Long and short-sleeve, men’s and cute-cut women’s, kids’ long sleeve shirts, hoodies, and soon baseball caps when Destee-Nation Shirt Co., our producer, gets them to us today or tomorrow. In addition to our logo, we have a new graphic of one of our big fermenters on the front of some of our items for the artsy-inclined on your holiday list.

Last night we threw a party (see photo) for our investors to thank them for making possible what was only last year a mere twinkle in Matt’s eye. We’re completely equity-financed (until some bank does what TARP intended and start LENDING MONEY with all that cash taxpayers fronted them) and a long time ago I said that I would extend a special thanks to them.

THANK YOU SO MUCH (in no meaningful order), Kemp, Matt, Eric, Shawn, Rob, Jerry, Michael, David, Colter, Ryan, Walt, and your spouses/SO’s for your generosity!!! You saw our vision and had faith in our ability to realize it. I believe the folks who drink our beer around town and enjoy the scene at the Urban Beer Garden appreciate your support as well. Cheers to you!

This morning I sampled some of our bourbon barrel-aged Abominable Ale Winter Warmer. Wow. Dark beer heavily infused with whisky -- yum. That's a picture of Matt Lincoln tapping a barrel for samples. Also, in case you haven't heard, we're serving (and selling) our Interurban IPA, FINALLY! As you know, I'm not a hop person but even I like this stuff. It's hoppy enough to be an IPA but you don't need a chainsaw to get through a glass. Check it out at the Urban Beer Garden this week (and buy a shirt while you're at it).