The craft brewery movement in South Sound is percolating again.
If you haven’t been paying attention, breweries big and small have been popping up in the last few years: Gig Harbor’s 7 Seas, Tacoma’s Wingman Brewers and Tacoma Brewing Company, Puyallup’s Duo Brewing and Puyallup River Brewing, to name just a few.
Now add Narrows Brewing and Pacific Brewing and Malt Company to your beer-watch list.
Narrows Brewing will be the first to open; its planned grand opening is July 12. Located at the Narrows Marina (near Day Island), the brewery will be adjacent to Boathouse 19, giving the 100-seat brewery the best view of any taproom in this area. The entire marina has unfettered views of the Narrows Bridge and surrounding waterway.
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Narrows Brewing, which is owned by a group of six friends, won’t serve food, but it is working on a partnership with Boathouse 19 to provide some kind of menu. The taproom will be for those 21 and older only.
Six beers will be on tap, three regular brews and three seasonals or specialty brews, depending on the season or mood of head brewer Joe Walts – who recently moved here from a craft brewery in Madison, Wis.
He said the opening week tap list will feature a pale ale, golden ale and IPA. You won’t find fancy names adorning the beers, just yet. However, Walts said the brewery intends to distribute kegs to local bars. That’s when the beers will be named.
Late this year, expect to see Pacific Brewing and Malting open at 610 Pacific Ave. in downtown Tacoma.
If the name sounds familiar, it's because the brewery name is the same as Tacoma’s historic Pacific Brewing and Malting, which operated more than 100 years ago in the old brewery district near 25th and Jefferson. Before Washington state adopted Prohibition in 1916, Pacific Brewing was the second largest beer producer in Washington.
Head brewer Steve Navarro said he and owner Brent Hall, who has a background in funding craft breweries, wanted a brewery name with a nod to Tacoma’s history in suds. Pacific Brewing, he said, carried just the right cadence and the beer lore of the old company was fetching. Research showed expired trademarks and a murky chain of corporate ownership of the long-defunct company. They procured naming rights and started hatching a business plan for a brewery and taproom. The brewery will be positioned exceptionally well as a destination. It will be a short walk from McMenamins, which is planned for the nearby downtown Tacoma Elks Temple building.
Navarro long has been a home brewer, but this will be his first professional beer venture. Navarro actually had hatched a quite different brewery plan. A mutual friend introduced Navarro to Hall with the intention of Hall’s company helping Navarro find funding for a craft brewery. Navarro said Hall suggested something different - they go into business together in a building Hall offered in downtown Tacoma, near Old City Hall.
Navarro said the brewery will feature his favorite kind of beer - Belgian style brews. The opening tap list will include a porter, double IPA and strong ale for starters, and something unusual for a brand-new craft brewery: a lager. Seasonal and specialty beers will rotate through the tap list of 10 beers, which will include occasional guest taps from other brewers.
The taproom won’t serve food, but outside food will be welcome. Kids and families will be welcome - and they'll even have root beer on tap.
READ MORE: Here's my story from last year about South Sound Taprooms. These are taprooms from small breweries - the kind where only beer is featured, with little in the form of eats. Since the article, one more taproom has opened - Puyallup River Alehouse in downtown Puyallup. Read more about that taproom here.