Breweries go out of business for a number of reasons. Some are the victim of a bad location, while others see a partnership go south. Some brewers just get tired of the business side of brewing beer.
It was a similar tale for five local brewers. Thanks to SnoTown Brewing’s Frank Sandoval, though, all five will get at least one more day in the spotlight to tip back a pint of beer they brewed and drink it with those who supported them over the years.
Trying to figure out a unique event for Saturday’s Washington Beer Open House, Sandoval’s mind turned to his friends in the brewing community who had fallen on hard times. One by one, he reached out to five brewers he knew had recently shuttered their doors.
Cole Rinehardt (In The Shadow), Kirk Hilse (Twelve Bars), Nate McLaughlin (Justice), Don Worthen (Prison Break) and Jack Hatley (Whiskey Ridge), having all closed their doors at some point over the past few years, jumped at the opportunity to join Sandoval for a collaboration beer brewing session.
“It just came to me: ‘Why don’t I get all of these guys together and brew some beer,’ ” said Sandoval, who is using some of Rinehardt’s equipment.
Thus was born the All-Star Resurrection Brewing Project. Each brewer made a beer through the project, as a chance to brew on a commercial scale again and have fun with a fellow brewer.
“It’s really a great honor to be a part of this group,” Rinehardt said. “This really was a big success, and it’s a credit to Frank. He’s the reason I did it.”
Each one of them came to Sandoval’s brewhouse having different experience. Some had to scale up their recipes to his two-barrel system, while others, like Hilse, who used to brew on a 15-barrel system, had to cut down his recipe to size.
“Each one of us brews differently and that’s the essence of brewing,” Rinehardt said. “It’s funny, but beer always turns out different no matter if the recipe is exactly the same when you brew on different equipment. It was a fun experience.”
Sandoval said he’s the real winner.
“I got to take all of this collective knowledge and learn from it,” Sandoval said. “It forced me to get out of my comfort level.”
Here’s a look at the five collaboration beers brewed and a quick update on the brewers who brewed them:
Kirk Hilse, Twelve Bars Brewing
Hilse recently sold his equipment and Woodinville space to Crucible Brewing’s Dick Mergens and Shawn Dowling. He said he misses brewing, but not everything else that came along with running a commercial brewery.
“I didn’t really like the business aspect of it,” Hilse said. “I was fortunate to sell it to some really great guys who will do a great job running it.”
Hilse brewed an ESB that he used to make on a production scale at Twelve Bars. He made Sandoval call up White Labs, an international yeast cultivator, to get the correct British ale yeast for the beer, something Sandoval had never done.
“I got them on speed dial now,” Sandoval said.
Cole Rinehardt, In The Shadow Brewing
Rinehardt hasn’t brewed commercially since shuttering the doors of his brewery, located in an outbuilding on his property in Granite Falls, nearly two years ago.
Rinehardt picked this low-key sessionable cream ale for his beer. Made with two- and six-row grains, flaked corn and hops, the beer is subtle and dry with slight bitterness. Rinehardt said it’s a little thinner than the version he used to brew on his own equipment.
As for the brewery, Rinehardt isn’t sure how or when, but the goal remains to reopen In The Shadow Brewing at some point.
Jack Hatley, Whiskey Ridge Brewing
Jack and his wife, Francine, closed their downtown Arlington brewery in December due to a dwindling customer base. It was an unfortunate ending for their brewery, which they’d relocated from Darrington just a few years prior.
This Scotch Ale is based off of one of Hatley’s favorite recipes, one he called Off-Kilter. He said this version is slightly different with a higher ABV than the original.
“I was honored when Frank texted me about the project,” said Hatley, who said he’d like to reopen on a smaller scale one day. “Brewing was a blast. I really appreciated the opportunity to brew again on a commercial scale.”
Nate McLaughlin, Justice Brewing
Just weeks away from opening his own brewery/taproom in downtown Everett, McLaughlin had the rug pulled out from under him when the building he was going to move into was condemned. Having moved all of his equipment out of his previous location in preparation for the move, Justice Brewing was homeless.
McLaughlin suggested they make a White IPA, hopped with Citra and Jarrylo. Sandoval said McLaughlin’s technique of dry-hopping the beer 24 hours after it was brewed was much sooner than the usual few weeks he generally practices.
“It gives the beer those fruit flavors,” said McLaughlin, who, like Hatley, said he’d like to brew commercially again but on a smaller scale.
Don and John Worthen, Prison Break Brewing
Admittedly, Don Worthen isn’t a big fan of saisons. His daughter, Erika, on the other hand, is, so he brewed this style for her. Sandoval and the Worthens brewed three different versions of the saison with three different yeasts. They’ll pick one and serve it up on Feb. 24.
As for Prison Break, Worthen and partner Mike Sexton closed the brewery late last year. Worthen, who started as a homebrewer 15 years ago, isn’t too interested in opening another brewery and said he knows someone who would definitely be against it.
“I really doubt my wife would let me do it again,” Don said with a chuckle. “Maybe I’ll do some sort of man cave with a brewery sort of thing.”
All-Star Resurrection Brew Project
Noon to 6 p.m. Feb. 24 at SnoTown Brewing, 511 Second St., Snohomish.
All five beers will be on tap at the brewery. All five brewers plan to attend.