TNT Diner

Here’s one more moving to Tacoma’s old Brewery District. The new digs open in May

Head brewer Shane Johns pours a bag of malted barley into a mash tun full of hot water at the Engine House No. 9 brewery. The pub and restaurant will stay in the Sixth Avenue neighborhood, but the brewery operations and brewers will move to the new Fawcett brewery and taproom.
Head brewer Shane Johns pours a bag of malted barley into a mash tun full of hot water at the Engine House No. 9 brewery. The pub and restaurant will stay in the Sixth Avenue neighborhood, but the brewery operations and brewers will move to the new Fawcett brewery and taproom. Staff file, 2014

They’ll be able to produce more beer.

A lot more beer.

That’s the first thing beer lovers need to know about the big move for Engine House No. 9’s brewing operations.

If all goes as planned, the operation will open in its new home at 2506 Fawcett Ave. on May 1.

But, hang on. I guess there’s another big thing beer lovers should know.

The original Engine House No. 9 pub and restaurant where diners can grab a burger or enjoy a pint of E9’s House IPA at 611 N. Pine St.? It stays put in its original Sixth Avenue neighborhood digs. That beautiful courtyard? The private space upstairs? The side room with all that natural light? E9 beers on tap? No changes there.

What is moving is just the brewery, which has operated for years in the small space to the right of the main pub space on Pine Street.

“The old brewery space is going to be repurposed into something yet to be determined, and we utilized only the fermentation vessels in the new facility,” said John Xitco, co-owner of X Group Restaurants, which also operates Asado, Choripan and The Pine Room Events Center.

The move allows for something the longtime Tacoma brewery has not been able to do in its small brewery digs on North Pine Street.

“We have gone from a seven-barrel system to a new 15-barrel system custom built for us in Portland by Pinnacle Stainless,” explained Xitco. “With the expanded brew system, we will be able to do some bigger beers that our little system struggled to do, like imperial stouts and barleywines.

“We are planning on having at least one dedicated longer fermenting lager tank as well, which was always a challenge with the limited number of fermentation tanks in the past.”

The brewing operation will come with a slight name change to the E9 Brewing Co., which Xitco said “better identifies with our brand and is clean, simple and gritty, and somewhat separates us from the restaurant by name.”

First on the agenda: More barrel-aged brews.

“We have purchased new larger format oak tanks to continue to create the barrel-aged farmhouse (funky) and mixed-culture (funky/sour) beers in bigger quantities,” Xitco said.

He added, “We can use these to blend with aged beer in our smaller wine barrels as well as age on fruit as well. These are the kind of beers that have been produced for centuries in Belgium and elsewhere, and it’s our goal to have some educational events to help promote them as they are some of our favorite beers.”

Also on the agenda — more beer bottling.

“We have purchased some new equipment to help with our bottling process as we were previously hand corking and caging bottles for the higher champagne-style carbonation levels we prefer,” said Xitco.

The Fawcett E9 taproom — which will be for patrons 21-and-older only — will be run by head brewer Shane Johns, sales-and-marketing head Donovan Stewart and taproom manager Todd McLaughlin, the longtime Engine House No. 9 bartender. Jack Hagey will be the cellar-man.

Other than expanding beer production, Xitco said the new facility will micro focus on beer making in a space that he says will encourage visitors to put away their cell phones and talk to one another.

“We want people to get off their phones and not watch TV — because there won’t be any,” said Xitco.

The taproom seats about 40 with a larger outdoor space about “the size of a respectable mosh pit,” said Xitco.

Food operation inside will be limited, but the Fawcett taproom does intend to rotate food trucks through that outdoor space.

As for food inside, Xitco said there will be a few sandwiches and snacks and DIY charcuterie.

“The menu will serve as a shopping list for local charcuterie items, including local cured meats, cheeses, nuts, crackers, warm bread and other accompaniments,” he said. “You will check what you want and hand the menu to the bartender, who will pick the items and place them in a handle bag for you along with a house cutting board and knife to make your own charcuterie board.”

As for the space, Xitco described it as, “The facility will have a small taproom that has a floor-to-ceiling-glass wall that allows you to view right onto the brewery floor, as well as a small area next to the barrels inside.”

He described a glass-paneled garage door that opens to the fenced courtyard with outdoor seating.

Xitco said, “It’s also a fun note that Tacoma’s first craft brewery is now blocks from where Tacoma’s first production brewery once was before Prohibition.”

E9 Brewing Co. will have 12 taps, plus bottles and growler fills.

E9 Brewing Company

Where: 2506 Fawcett Ave., Tacoma

Info: e9brewingco.com

Hours: Opens at 3 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and 11 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays

Opening: May 1 if all goes as planned

Note: E9 Brewing Co. on Fawcett is for diners 21 and older. The Engine House No. 9 pub and restaurant at 611 Pine St. is all ages.

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