In true Tacoma fashion, brewing a special-release beer for Tacoma Beer Week percolated over a pint (or three).
Two brewers invited another brewer to help. Another brewer pitched in. And then another and another. The idea was to gather as many Tacoma brewers as possible to collaborate on a beer that would do something every Tacoma brewer wants: Get more people to drink Tacoma-brewed beer.
In all, brewers from seven Tacoma breweries including one that isnt even open yet collaborated on Tacoma Neo Noir, a Belgian-style black IPA brewed for Tacoma Beer Week, which begins Monday and includes events and special beer releases at Tacoma breweries and taverns known for their craft tap selections (find a partial schedule below, but more events are at facebook.com/tacomabeerweek).
Brewers from Engine House No. 9, Harmon Brewing Co., Narrows Brewing, Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. (not yet open), The RAM, Tacoma Brewing Co. and Wingman Brewers collaborated on the black IPA. Only about 20 kegs have been produced of the collaboration brew, which means the kegs could blow early in the week.
The brew was conceptualized via brewer meetings and finalized through email back-and-forths. Joe Walts of Narrows Brewing, who brewers point to as the inspiration for a jointly brewed IPA, said the process was easy because, in his words, none of us are divas.
Tacoma tap takeovers also are planned at taprooms and taverns known for craft beer taps: The Red Hot, Doyles and Parkway Tavern.
Breweries outside Tacoma are getting in on Tacoma Beer Week: Puyallup River Brewing will debut a special-release beer for Tacoma Beer.
I checked in with brewers about the state of Tacoma and South Sound brewing. Heres what they had to say. Read below for profiles and addresses for local breweries and taprooms. Youll also find a list of Tacoma Beer Week Events.
The future of Tacoma beer
I asked brewers to weigh in on the brew scene here and whats next: Ken Thoburn, Wingman Brewers: With a couple more breweries coming into town I think were reaching a critical mass. If the brewers in Tacoma can continue to band together we can make our town a mecca for beer. If you look at cities like Bend OR for beer or Woodinville for wine you can see whats on the horizon for Tacoma. Weve got loyal Tacoma drinkers and were making better beers everyday. If we can keep gaining speed then the future for Tacoma beer is an unstoppable creative and delicious force in the city.
Jeff Carlson, Harmon Brewing Co.: The biggest change is how many breweries that we have now. People ask me all the time if I think we have too many breweries around. I dont think we do when you compare us to Seattle, Portland or even Bend, OR. We definitely have room for more. The best thing about having more local breweries is the level of quality that it brings. When you have a bunch of brewers in a area it makes them up there game and stay on top of things. No sitting around making the same beers and recipes year after year. It forces you to evolve with the trends and to try and be a trend setter yourself.
Shane Johns, Engine House No. 9: Tacoma beer has really progressed in the last 10 years. We are no long a city with a couple brewpubs. We are going to be a force to be reckoned with. You have the Harmon, 7 seas and Narrows all with the capabilities to be huge regional breweries. Morgan at Tacoma Brewing and Ken at Wingman brewing (are) really pushing the limits. And the RAM (has) already outgrown their production facility. And thats just the start. Pacific Brewing will be up and running soon and there (are) a couple others that Ive heard are in the works. I think that you will continue to see more breweries, bottle shops and craft beer bars opening in the next few years. Really think the future looks bright for craft beer in Tacoma.
Russ Heaton, owner of Doyles Public House: As more breweries have opened it has allowed for brewers to work together and the competition has improved the quality. Nalley Valley could easily become a great brewery district with existing utility infrastructure & available commercial space.