Gig Harbor Brewing Company set to open this fall

The Gig Harbor Brewing Company, a product of years of work and planning by co-owner John Fosberg, is coming this fall.

The brewery and taproom is slated to open in late November, likely somewhere in Gig Harbor North or at Uptown.

Craft beer has been Fosberg’s passion for several years.

“Craft beer has come a long way in the last 15 years,” he said. “We really started getting into it when we started visiting Northwest craft beer festivals. Most notably, the big one down in Portland every summer.”

Fosberg and his associates also attended festivals in Washington, including the Gig Harbor Beer Festival, which just started a couple years ago.

He began to take tasting classes, and his interest grew even further. He said he was drawn to the passion of the people in the industry.

“These guys are just nuts about beer,” Fosberg said. “That made it extremely attractive. People are really serious about the process, art and science.”

Startup costs and his busy life — he also manages a creative agency, Fosberg Media Group — initially prevented the brewery from going beyond the planning stages. Once his kids moved on to college, Fosberg wanted a new project to take on, so he began to secure investors for a brewery.

One night, while he was on a solo winter vacation in Nuremberg, Germany, Fosberg found himself walking down a street while it was snowing. He noticed a pub and decided to stop in for a beer, and he noticed a man who was wearing a Beer Advocate hat. Beer Advocate is a magazine and website dedicated to rating and discovering different types of beer.

The man, who lived in Great Britain, told Fosberg he travels all over the world to different beer festivals, and that’s why he was in Germany.

The man’s passion inspired Fosberg to work harder to make his idea of a brewer come to fruition.

“I was one year into the brewery,” Fosberg said. “That was sort of the spark to get me through the next year and really get passionate about the project again.”

Fosberg said he asked various people in the industry, including Duo Brewery owner Dan O’Leary from Puyallup, for recommendations on a brewmaster. O’Leary gave Fosberg one name: Trevor Nichol.

“He came highly recommended,” Fosberg said of Nichol. “We met and talked about it. We found that our beers like were sort of the same. We decided to work on it together.”

Gig Harbor Brewing Company will start with three beers: Galloping Gertie Pale Ale, Round Rock Pilsner and the Mosquito Fleet IPA. Fosberg, who grew up in Gig Harbor, decided to give the beers names that have local significance.

“I’ve studied the history,” he said. “We wanted to have a local tie with Gig Harbor, and a historical tie. We also wanted to be different than 7 Seas; that could be anywhere. We wanted to tie the company directly to that place on the map.”

Fosberg said people have a positive mental association with the city.

“Gig Harbor has a reputation for being a getaway,” he said. “It’s close by, but it’s still far away. There’s sort of a romantic mystique about it.”

The company has a five-year plan, and Fosberg plans to roll out several different varieties. Currently absent from the lineup is a dark beer. For now, however, Fosberg wants to focus on perfecting the first three.

“We want to really perfect those three, make them as good as we can,” Fosberg said. “We’ll have time to test batches and develop other recipes over time. That’s our main focus first: three beers.”

While there are still hurdles to jump, the debut is drawing near.

“It’s extremely exciting,” Fosberg said. “It’s a lot of work. The master brewer is excited, investors are excited. It’s been an easy process of finding people to get behind this. It’s a booming market, plus it’s a ton of fun.”