Whether you want to brew your own or taste the handiwork of a hobby beer brewer – Steve Samples has the store for every kind of beer geek. His beer brewing and tasting store Station U-Brew opened two weeks ago in Puyallup. The grand opening for the store is Saturday, May 8.
I spoke with Samples a few months ago when he was preparing to open the store and he told me the concept was simple, but unusual for this area. His store is a place to taste and make beer. Not only are there six beers on tap - all brewed on site by Samples - but there also are supplies and machines for brewers to brew their own, all at his 1,500 square foot store that has two fermentation rooms and a keg storage area.
Said Samples of the beers on tap, “It's hard to cover all tastes at once with just 6 taps but a basic selection from light to dark will always be available.”
Samples is a longtime fan of experimental brewing, but this is his first time doing it as a job. He previously worked in metal distribution, but was laid off after 20 years.
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He started researching the self-brew beer business and paid a visit to Gallaghers Where U-Brew in Edmonds, which brews and serves beer in a similar concept. It seemed the right brew move for Samples. “I was impressed with the social atmosphere, the hobbyists, the people coming in and talking about what they’re doing. It gets away from a real bar atmosphere,” said Samples.
For those who want to come in and brew and bottle their own, his equipment trends beer geeky. He has three machines called Brew Magics which he describes as three-pot brewing systems.
“Basically, what you have is a three pot system. It has three burners on it. The top two are on the same level. One liquor tank heats up water (and conditions the water). The other is mashing where you make the mash in for boiling, which is similar to steeping tea. And then those two pots are combined into a lower pot, which is a boiling pot. It’s all stainless steel and sanitary. It’s all smooth welded, and it’s more sanitary than people can do at home.”
Samples guesstimates the size of the batches could be about 10 gallons. Partial-extract batches should take about two hours to make from start to finish; and all-grain beer could run as much as four hours. Brewers can control settings to a finite detail, meaning every batch can be consistent, or there is room for a lot of variety.
Samples has a happy hour special going now. Monday-Saturday from 3:30 to 6:30, pints of his in-store brewed beer are $2.50. To brew your own, it’s substantially more expensive. The cost for about 10 gallons is $150, plus packaging.
Samples has all kinds of ideas for brewers, including an idea I thought was brilliant – assisting grooms in bottling their own beers with their own labels for their weddings. Head to the store for more details.
Station U-BrewWhere: 211 W. Stewart, PuyallupInfo: 253-466-3721Hours: Approximately 1 p.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday