Stephen Chavez, owner of Crossed Arrows Brewery, pours a sample of his beer. (Photo by Caitlyn Anderson)

Stephen Chavez, owner of Crossed Arrows Brewery, pours a sample of his beer. (Photo by Caitlyn Anderson)

Army veteran right at home with Crossed Arrows Brewery on Whidbey Island

At his home-based brewery, Stephen Chavez makes the beer he likes, with flavors like root beer, creamsicle and jalapeño.

OAK HARBOR — In a small brewery attached to his Fleet Street house, Stephen Chavez put a glass to the nozzle of his fermenter, pouring in the golden, hazy color of his Believer IPA, a flavorful beer made with actual Douglas fir tips, pine, spices and Chinook hops.

“No one makes cookies like Grandma does,” he said, “and no one’s gonna make beer like we do.”

Chavez’s 28 years in the Army, with two decades in the special forces, rubs off on Crossed Arrows Brewery — the logo itself shows the crossed arrows of the special forces branch insignia crowned with hops.

Beer taps inside Crossed Arrows Brewery are curated by Stephen Chavez in Oak Harbor. (Photo by Caitlyn Anderson)

Beer taps inside Crossed Arrows Brewery are curated by Stephen Chavez in Oak Harbor. (Photo by Caitlyn Anderson)

The pine flavor of the India Pale Ale was inspired by Chavez’s time in survival school, he said, where he learned tea can be made from pine needles and water in a dire situation.

Chavez considers himself a perfectionist, at least when it comes to beer. He’s right where he needs to be, with a relatively small setup and no taproom, putting the craft in craft beer.

“There’s a lot of great breweries out there,” he said, “but I’m not sure they’re able to sit there and zest huge oranges and then juice them and throw them into the fermenter.”

Chavez makes the beers he and his wife like to drink, taking the advice of a winemaker who told him that, in the end, he could be the only one who drinks it. The result is a lot of fun flavors — root beer, creamsicle, jalapeño, grapefruit, dark chocolate, coffee, ginger snap.

Chavez is originally from northwest Ohio, home of “Pabst Blue Ribbon, Old Milwaukee, like the worst beers on Earth,” he said. His time in the Army moved him all over the country with constant deployments to the Middle East, North Africa, South America and more. In 2014, during his last tour to Afghanistan, he told his generals he was retiring.

“They’re like, ‘What are you going to do?’” he said. “I’m like, ‘I don’t know. I guess I want to go make beer.’”

It started with a regular, simple beer kit, and the system grew to what it is today. Crossed Arrows brews can be found in bars and restaurants across Oak Harbor.

Crossed Arrows Brewery fermenters hold unique flavors. (Photo by Caitlyn Anderson)

Crossed Arrows Brewery fermenters hold unique flavors. (Photo by Caitlyn Anderson)

The bigger breweries push out beers in two weeks, Chavez said, often not allowing the yeast to fully eat the sugars. With pressure fermenting, Crossed Arrows retains carbon dioxide, benefitting the flavor and increasing the shelf life.

The next beer on the Crossed Arrows docket is a peach blonde, kicking off the summer beers. While Chavez plans on growing to increase brewing and distribution tasks, the vision will remain a small, homestyle brewery.

He likes the concept of keeping it local, allowing people to see the process and chat with the brewer.

“If you can taste off the fermenter, it’s a huge difference on what it will taste like from taps or cans or whatever the case may be,” he said. “Here I control every aspect of the environment.”

The public can try for themselves during the brewery’s Growler Fill Fridays, from noon to 7 p.m. at 1091 SW Fleet St. in Oak Harbor. Appointments can be made through the brewery’s Facebook page.

Sam Fletcher; sam.fletcher@whidbeynewsgroup.com.

This story originally appeared in the Whidbey News-Times, a sibling publication to The Herald.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Food & Drink

Diamond Knot is partnering with APEX Art & Culture Center to mix APEX’s Dogtown Collection artwork with its beer cans. (Photo provided by Diamond Knot Brewing Company)
Diamond Knot Brewing taps Everett’s APEX to add street art to beer cans

The Mukilteo brewery partnered with the art and culture center to slap graffiti-style artwork on its newest beer releases.

Fred’s Rivertown Alehouse owners Mark and Ginger Nuss at the “staff table” inside the alehouse on Tuesday, June 4, 2024 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
As owner faces health scare, patrons rally around Snohomish bar

Fred’s Rivertown Alehouse owners Mark “Chewey” Nuss and his wife, Ginger, face mounting medical bills and home care costs.

Melinda Grenier serves patrons at her coffee truck called Hay Girl Coffee during the third annual Arlington Pride event in Arlington, Washington on Sunday, June 2, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Hidden costs, delays crush hopeful food truck owners in Snohomish County

Melinda Grenier followed her dream to open Hay Girl Coffee. Thousands in fees later, it has cost her more than she bargained for.

This super-fast shrimp scampi makes a tasty, easy summer meal

By Perry Mascitti / Tulalip Resort Casino With “National Shrimp Scampi Day”… Continue reading

Once-hot direct-to-consumer pots and pans are up for grabs on secondhand marketplaces at steep discounts — or ending in the garbage. (Shawn Michael Jones/The New York Times)
Is this the end of Instagram cookware?

Once-hot direct-to-consumer pots and pans are up for grabs on secondhand marketplaces at steep discounts — or ending in the garbage.

A person walks into Paris Baguette next to the Alderwood Mall on Thursday, May 30, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. This is the first Paris Baguette location to open in Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Cafe latte and pastries, anyone? Paris Baguette opens in Lynnwood

On a roll: The franchise opened six new U.S. bakery cafes this year, including the first Washington store in Lynnwood.

Stephen Chavez, owner of Crossed Arrows Brewery, speaks about the future of his brewery. (Photo by Caitlyn Anderson)
Army veteran right at home with Crossed Arrows Brewery on Whidbey Island

At his home-based brewery, Stephen Chavez makes the beer he likes, with flavors like root beer, creamsicle and jalapeño.

Eggs at Cackle Hatchery in Lebanon, Mo., Jan. 26, 2023. How long do eggs really last? Believe it or not: It’s longer than you think. (Neeta Satam/The New York Times)
How long do eggs really last?

Believe it or not: It’s longer than you think.

It may be hard to stick to your food budget, but there are many ways to be resourceful with what you have without feeling as though you have your head just above water. (Chris Gash/The New York Times)  — FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY WITH NYT STORY SLUGGED GROCERY SPENDING TIPS BY KRYSTEN CHAMBROT FOR MAY 16, 2024. ALL OTHER USE PROHIBITED. —
9 Tips to Stretch Your Food Budget

These expert hacks can help you lower your grocery bill.

Tony Cladusbid, co-owner of the Beaver Tales Coffee franchise, watches over the canoe racing at the Penn Cove Water Festival on Saturday. (Photo by Sam Fletcher)
More than coffee: Swinomish Native shares family history and wisdom

Tony Cladusbid is the co-owner of Beaver Tales Coffee in Coupeville. He recently changed his name to honor his heritage.

FILE — Newly filled bottles of Sriracha hot sauce at Huy Fong Foods in Irwindale, Calif., on April 28, 2014. Huy Fong, the maker of the most popular variety of Sriracha sauce, told distributors in May 2024 that it would halt production of all its products until at least September, rekindling fears of another prolonged shortage of the beloved condiment. (Emily Berl/The New York Times)
Another Sriracha shortage may be on the horizon. What happened?

Huy Fong Foods, the producer of the most popular variety of Sriracha sauce, has faced several supply glitches over the years.

Pablo Garduno and the team at Barbacoa Judith’s churn out pit-roasted lamb tacos by the dozen at the Hidden Gems Weekend Market on Sunday, April 28, 2024, at Boom City in Tulalip, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Eating our way through Tulalip’s Hidden Gems weekend market

Don’t miss the pupusas, pit-roasted lamb tacos, elotes and even produce for your next meal.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.