Darrington brewpub finally opens for business

DARRINGTON — After a two-month delay caused or compounded by the March 22 mudslide, Darrington’s newest brewpub opened its doors Wednesday.

Whiskey Ridge Brewing Co. served six people on the first day, said brewmaster Jack Hatley.

The plan is to open the pub only on weekends until Highway 530 is reopened, or unless it gets really busy in the meantime, Hatley said.

This first week the pub will be open daily through Memorial Day. The doors will also be open for the annual Darrington Day celebration on May 31.

Hatley, who owns the pub with his wife, Francine, had hoped to open in mid- to late March.

Initially the delay was caused by meeting the demands for an operating permit, Hatley said.

“There wasn’t exactly clear direction from the building inspector,” he said.

Then the mudslide hit, blocking Highway 530 and effectively cutting off Darrington from the rest of Snohomish County.

The inspector, Hatley said, “had to come back several times, and every time he came back there was something new.”

With a two-hour detour, that made it difficult, as the inspector wasn’t local, and even the Hatleys have to make the long trek from their home in Marysville. Jack Hatley still works a day job during the week.

With the highway tentatively scheduled to reopen in June and lower-elevation campgrounds in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest now open, the hope is that hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts will find a whistle-wetting pit stop in Darrington.

The brewery is in the old Darrington City Hall, a 1940s-era building that has been unused for more than a decade. The brewery occupies the ground floor and has seating for 20.

“It was so great to see that old city hall come back to life and to have a business come in there,” said Darrington Mayor Dan Rankin, who has been working full-time since the mudslide to find new ways to draw traffic to Darrington.

“I’m really looking to make sure that business stays,” Rankin said.

Another brewery, River Time Brewing, is located south of town on Clear Creek Road. It is usually only open Sundays.

Whiskey Ridge Brewing has five taps running, Jack Hatley said: an oatmeal stout, Irish stout, amber ale, kolsch ale and a chocolate porter. The Hatleys plan to have peanuts or pretzels available, but otherwise they are encouraging visitors to bring their own food, either a picnic or from one of the restaurants in town.

Last week the Hatleys took their beer on the road to the Snohomish Brew-Ha-Ha festival, and they’ve already committed to being at the Snohomish Sips event on June 27. They’re looking at other beer festivals in the county.

With beer flowing and doors open, the brewery will still have a rustic feel, as befits the Hatleys’ shoestring financing of the project.

“We’re going to be upgrading as we go,” Hatley said. “It’s still rough around the edges, but that’s kind of the town of Darrington.”

“And we fit in well,” he said.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165 ; cwinters@heraldnet.com.

Open for business

Whiskey Ridge Brewing Co. is at 650 Emens Ave. in Darrington in the old City Hall. Hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays until Highway 530 is reopened. The brewery is available for group events on weekdays. Check the website or call for updates: whiskeyridgebrewing.com or 360-913-0425.

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