From gruit to grappa to cyser and rhodomel, the South Sound’s craft beverage vocabulary is expanding this year.
That expansion continues a pattern we saw in 2015. In the last two months of the year, five tasting rooms opened: three breweries, a cidery and a winery.
This year will bring even more. And they’ll include things we’ve never had here before with beverages new to the area — specifically, grappa and mead.
Five breweries (and counting) plan to open this year.
On the heels of two distillery openings in 2015 (Old Soldier Distillery and Chambers Bay Distillery), Mastrogiannis, a Greek grappa and brandy distillery, will open in Lakewood this spring.
While Pierce County has welcomed two cideries (Cockrell and Tilted Tree) since 2014, we’ve yet to see a meadery. That’ll change in 2016 with the opening of two, each specializing in numerous styles of the fermented honey beverage.
Take a look at what’s coming next — and don’t forget to wander in and check out what’s newly opened. Also, below are details for those five tasting rooms that opened at the end of 2015.
Know of a craft beverage company opening this year? Contact me at email@example.com. I’ll share detail with readers.
TASTING ROOMS NOW OPEN
COCKRELL HARD CIDERS
Contact: 6613 114th Ave. Ct. E., Puyallup; 253-905-5800 or cockrellbrewing.com.
Hours: 3-6 p.m. Fridays; 12-4 Saturdays.
Tasting room prices: $6 for four 5-ounce tastes; cider pints $4-$4.50; take-home bottles, $7-$7.50. No kitchen, outside food welcome.
Rich Cockrell has taken his hard cider business public. Well, open to the public anyway.
His production-only business opened in 2014 on a 17-acre farm near the Puyallup River. He spent last year planting or prepping for new orchards, to the tune of about 1,000 more cider apple trees.
Two weeks ago, he opened a tasting room — a gazebo, actually — in the middle of his cider orchard.
Down a gravel driveway is an enclosed, 350-square-foot, vaulted ceiling gazebo with seating for 14 and standing room for more. Tall windows telegraph views of the dormant apple orchard. Come spring, the view will change significantly as a back deck is added, and hours will expand.
Ciders poured for visitors span whatever’s new at the moment, with bottles for purchase. No formal tours offered, but cider operations are viewable beyond windows of the nearby production facility.
21 CELLARS WINERY
Contact: 2625 N. 21st St., Tacoma; 253-220-7752 or 21cellars.com.
Hours: 2-4 p.m. Saturdays. Downstairs barrel room open to members 4-6 p.m. Saturdays. (Membership is free).
Tasting room fee: $10 for two tastes, waived with a bottle purchase (around $45). No kitchen.
The newly opened tasting room of 21 Cellars Winery is so small, it should be called a wine parlor — or tasting closet?
It’s a striking little space with wood floors, sage-green walls and only room for two bright orange chairs tucked into a corner. There’s a street view of North 21st.
21 Cellars, one of Tacoma’s few wineries, began production in 2005 and opened its subterranean barrel room in 2009. The two-seat tasting room opened in December.
The expansion might be small, but its street-level presence is significant to winemaker and winery owner Philip Coates, who lamented that locals still have trouble finding the downstairs winery that produces fewer than 1,000 cases a year.
The intimate space feels even more intimate thanks to friendly wine prattle. The winery specializes in red Bordeaux wines, and winemakers are on hand to answer questions.
GIG HARBOR BREWING CO.
Contact: 3120 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma; 253-474-0672 or facebook.com/gigharborbrewing.
Hours: 3-7 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays; 2-8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays; 12:30-5 p.m. Sundays.
Tasting room prices: Three-beer sample tray, $5; pints, $5. Dollar discounts on Sundays. No kitchen, outside food welcome.
The Nalley Valley neighborhood in Tacoma might seem an odd location for a brewery named after a city across the Tacoma Narrows, but owner John Fosberg said he’s still glad he bypassed the namesake for Gig Harbor Brewing Co. and located in Tacoma. Two advantages: Freeway access and building infrastructure better suited to a brewery.
The taproom seats about 25, which is a fraction of the entire 2,500 square feet space. Most of that footprint is eaten by the brewing equipment, partially on display.
Find between three to five ales on tap in the tasting room, which also has a shuffleboard and flat-panel TVs for game viewing. A recent visit found a red ale, imperial stout and India pale ale on tap.
The brewery’s next special release is late January, when an imperial stout that brewer Mike O’Hara placed in whiskey barrels three months ago will be ready for tapping.
NORTH 47 BREWING CO.
Contact: 1000 Town Center NE, Tacoma; 253-517-9865 or facebook.com/NORTH47BrewingCo.
Hours: 3-10 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays; noon-10 p.m. Saturdays; noon-8 p.m. Sundays (or earlier for games).
Tasting room prices: $7 tasting tray; $2.75 for a 6.75-ounce taster; $3.50 for a 9.5-ounce tumbler; $5 pint. No kitchen, outside food welcome.
A few months ago, Carl and Stephanie Leach would have laughed at the suggestion of tripling capacity so soon after opening their 47-seat taproom and brewery. But that’s the reality for the first-time brewery owners who tapped, so to speak, an underserved neighborhood in Northeast Tacoma when they opened North 47 Brewing Co. in November.
This is their first business. Carl is an Air Force reservist. Stephanie worked in travel tourism. Right now, they’re focusing on brewing enough beer to meet demand. They’re currently equipment shopping for the brewery that’s located at the rear of the building
The taproom is comfortably equipped with high- and low-top seating for small or large groups and flat panel TVs for games.
The brewery has an impressive number of taps for such a young brewery. Their goal is to always offer 10. There were six on my visit: a blond, American pale ale, India pale ale, porter, Hefeweizen and extra special bitter.
DUNAGAN BREWING CO.
Contact: 1126 Commerce St., Tacoma; facebook.com/dunaganbrewing.
Hours: 2-10 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays; 2-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays.
Tasting room prices: 12-ounce beers, $4-$6; pints for $6-$10. 5-ounce pours available for tasting tray ($2 each). No kitchen, but outside food welcome.
Jesse Dunagan is trying to create a nitrogen niche. He offers two nitrogenized beers on tap at his two-month-old downtown Tacoma brewery, Dunagan Brewing Co.
He also has something on tap that more Tacomans are asking for: a lager.
This is a first brewery for the native Tacoman, who built his brewery next door to the newly opened Russian dumpling restaurant, Vostok (it delivers to the taproom). The taproom is filled with tables for two to four people, with a few areas for larger groups.
Grab a pint and head to the back of the brewery area to see the operation on display through glass windows.
A recent visit found an Irish dry stout, East Coast IPA, witbier, Irish-American pale ale and a crimson honey lager on tap. Dunagan’s next project will be experimenting with gruit, an ancient-style beer that relies on herbs and botanicals instead of hops for flavoring.
COMING NEXT: BREWERIES
Half Lion Brewing Co.: Jason Nelson, David Westby and Adam Shay will open their brewery and taproom in Sumner, if all goes as planned, by February. Their opening lineup will include a blonde, a Northwest pale ale, an India pale ale, a dry-hopped amber and a stout on nitro. facebook.com/halflion.brew.
Dystopian State Brewing Co.: Shane McElwrath’s brewery will span 10,000 square feet in a two-story building in a former antique store in the St. Helens neighborhood. His 15-barrel brewery will have a public taproom, and is expected to open in late spring or early summer. He’s opening the brewery with business partner Chris Bradley. dystopianstate.com.
Janky Ox Brewing Project: Jay Walker and Shawn Anderson are operating their production-only brewing operation out of a private home. “We are optimistic that our beers will begin showing up around Tacoma in spring,” said Walker. Expect to see them on tap at establishes businesses, but they have no immediate plans for a public taproom. jankyox.com.
Farm Shed Brew (and Wines): This Buckley brewery expects to begin brewing this year, but when that will be is uncertain because permits are pending. Co-owner Madeline VanLierop-Anderson said her father, Brian Anderson, will be head brewer and will focus on Mexican lagers. Before the brew starts flowing, however, Farm Shed will open as a wine tasting room featuring little known micro wineries (but they won’t make wine on site). farmshedwines.com.
Rhein Haus lager brewery: The owners of Seattle’s Rhein Haus are expanding their Bavarian themed beer-and-bocce emporium in Tacoma’s Stadium neighborhood in late 2016. They’ll bring with them a small brewery specializing in something we’ve yet to see materialize in Tacoma: a brewery focused on lagers. rheinhausseattle.com.
Destiny City Brewing: This production-only brewery got its start in the second half of 2015, but this is the year beer drinkers should start seeing the nano-brewer in more places. Find Destiny City at the Gig Harbor Beer Festival in May and on tap at more restaurants and bars (currently at Treos in Old Town). facebook.com/DestinyCityBrewing.
COMING NEXT: MEADERIES
Outlanders Keep/Dragon’s Lair Meads: Chris Webber is days, or possibly a few weeks, from liquor permit approval, which means his honey meads should be available by this summer. His company, Outlanders Keep, will release his meads under the Dragon’s Lair label. He’ll operate his meadery in his Lakewood home, but won’t have a public taproom. Find a rhodomel, bochet and pyment, among other meads. The meadery is also licensed to produce cider. More information at outlanderskeep.com.
Dwarven Honey Meadery: Allen Dozier has only just now applied for permitting for his Dwarven Honey Meadery, which will be in Tacoma and will be production only. He’ll sell his meads, which includes a caramel apple cyser, to local restaurants.
COMING NEXT: DISTILLERIES
Mastrogiannis Distillery: Ilias Mastrogiannis is a second-generation distiller, who will continue his father’s Greek wine and distillery traditions at his new distillery featuring Greek grappas and brandy. He’ll keep his day job at Microsoft, but will operate his Lakewood distillery as a side job with tasting room hours from noon-5 p.m. Saturdays. If all goes as planned, he intends to have grappa available this spring. mastrogiannisdistillery.com.