Nick Hegge has been quietly producing beer out of his garage and shipping it out to a few taprooms within shouting distance of his Woodinville home/brewery.
After nine months of this, he’s ready to unleash his beers to a wider audience.
The owner of Lost Bears Brews, Hegge will be pouring two of his beers at this weekend’s Snohomish Brewfest at Thomas Family Farms. It will mark his first brewfest and first time he’s poured his beer in Snohomish County.
“We felt like we got to a point where we were getting signals from customers that our beer is ready,” Hegge said of the timing. “It’s a good opportunity to show it off to those who can’t make it to where our beers are on tap.”
The annual Snohomish Brewfest will have more than 30 breweries and cideries pouring during three sessions over two days on Nov. 2 and 3. A large contingent of Snohomish County breweries will be there, including all seven breweries with a Snohomish address.
It’s been a decade-long journey for Hegge, from nascent homebrewer to commercial garage brewer. He started brewing when he moved to Seattle from Minnesota 10 years ago and soon found success. So much so, his wife, Pam, pushed him to go commercial.
“We had a little five-gallon system in the garage, and the bar started stacking up in the garage,” Hegge said. “My wife was like, ‘I think you need to start selling this stuff.’ There was a lot of it.”
He started a tiny one-barrel system in the 238-square-foot garage of his home near Cottage Lake. Hegge, who works at Microsoft during the day, is a one-man operation, with his wife and friends helping with delivery and other local breweries like Woodinville’s Good Brewing opening space for Hegge to wash kegs. He recently upgraded to a three-barrel system, which will help him increase production.
Hegge focuses on IPAs, saisons and sours. For now, the sours are limited to kettle sours — beers soured in the mash tun instead of aged in barrels with wild yeast — made with Lactobacillus plantarum and local fruit like apricots and blueberries. He’s planning to start a barrel program soon to create more traditional sours.
The plan is to eventually move Lost Bears Brewing into a small neighborhood taproom in the Woodinville area. Hegge said he finds inspiration in breweries like Reuben’s Brews, which he remembers visiting when it was a simple hole-in-the-wall in Ballard, and Good Brewing, which was once a garage brewery.
“We’ve received a lot of support from the craft beer community,” Hegge said.
For more on Lost Bear Brews, visit www.lostbearbrews.com.
Here’s what to try at this weekend’s Snohomish Brewfest:
Sweet Sour of Mine, Dreadnought Brewing: Made with 120 pounds of blackberries.
Wheezin’ the Juice IPA, Whitewall Brewing: Packed with Citra and Azacca hops, this IPA has big tropical fruit notes.
Tropic Island Stout, Diamond Knot Brewing: A full-flavored stout reminiscent of Caribbean dark rum.
Maple Praline Belgian Dark Strong, Spada Farmhouse Brewery: Spada’s Belgian dark strong recipe made with maple syrup and pralines.
Bine to Brew, Sound to Summit Brewing: Winner of The Independent Beer Bar’s Fresh Hop Invitational. Available in the beer garden.