Everett’s Justice Brewing puts DIY spirit into brewing

  • By Aaron Swaney, Herald writer Herald Writer
  • Thursday, April 23, 2015 4:37pm
  • LifeEverett

Nate McLaughlin has heard them all.

There’s the story about how Justice Brewing was founded by a group of retired cops. Or the one about an old judge building a small brewery empire in north Everett. There’s plenty of origin stories concerning McLaughlin’s brewery, and his policy is to confirm them all.

The truth, which concerns Sam Adams beer, Paul Revere and a few pints, is a little less exciting.

What is exciting is the operation McLaughlin has built in a small out-building off of Chestnut Street in Everett. Starting with a small 7-gallon system, McLaughlin created Justice Brewing with the ultimate Do-It-Yourself spirit.

McLaughlin outfitted all of the electrical and plumbing for the building that houses that brewery. McLaughlin hand built his own keg stands and learned welding to modify his equipment, which now consists of a 55-gallon mash tun and brew kettle. His grain mill is powered by a modified hammer drill.

Housing the beer is no different. His fermenting tanks are giant plastic tubs he bought from Petco. The kegs are old throwaways from Emerald City Brewing and Mukilteo’s Diamond Knot. He bottles his own beer in 22-ounce bottles one at a time.

“That is my core belief,” McLaughlin said of the DIY ethos. “That is the way most home brewers are. They start any process and discover, ‘Hey, I can do this.’ ”

Working for FedEx for three years, McLaughlin socked away the money he earned working loads of overtime to start the brewery. Three years ago, he began brewing full time out of the small out-building, which was 25 feet behind the house he rented. Recently he and his wife purchased a home in Everett, but Justice Brewing remains with an agreement with his former landlord.

Part of that agreement is the brewery can only have visitors at certain times. (Customers who want to visit Justice Brewing are by appointment only.) McLaughlin said that doesn’t keep people from popping up at all times, knocking on the door in search of a cold pint.

Because of that, plus the limitation of space, McLaughlin, who grew up in Lynnwood, is in search of a new space for his brewery. He said he really wants to stay in north Everett, and is looking for a space that can house the brewery and a small taproom.

“It’s just a good city,” McLaughlin said when asked to explain his love for Everett.

A longtime home brewer, McLaughlin learned a lot as a member of the Cascade Brewers Guild and the Greater Everett Brewers League.

In 2008, McLaughlin took a craft brewing class at Chemeketa Community College taught by Portland brewers Van Havig, of Gigantic Brewing, and Matt Sage, who was head brewer at Bridgeport Brewing at the time. Once a week for five weeks, McLaughlin would wake up at 4 a.m. and make the trek to the school near Salem, Oregon, for the 8 a.m. class.

“I really discovered my love for sours during that class,” McLaughlin said.

On a recent afternoon, upwards of 15 kegs and barrels filled with sours sat in a section of the small wood-framed building to avoid cross-contamination with the ales fermenting in the cooler. Most of the containers were filled with Didactic, a Flander’s brown sour stout, while a large whiskey barrel housed Oswald, a sour oak-aged stout.

A lot of the beers McLaughlin brews are experimental in nature. McLaughlin recently finished brewing his third batch of High Stupitidy, an imperial brown made with hemp seeds and bacon, for April 20 (4/20, get it?). He’s also continuously brewing single batches, testing them and tweaking the recipes.

His flagship, White &Nerdy, is not an IPA — sacrilege in the Northwest — but rather a Northwest-style Belgian wit. He bottles a beer called Experience Everett that is an imperial stout brewed with coffee from Everett’s Velton’s Coffee.

“The market is saturated with IPAs,” McLaughlin said. “It’s hard competing with the number of cheap sixers of IPA.”

McLaughlin eventually cracked and brewed an IPA. Whiter &Nerdier is a more hop-forward version of White &Nerdy, while Whitest &Nerdiest, a triple white IPA, takes it up a notch.

Back to the true origin of the name Justice Brewing. McLaughlin said he was sitting around with some friends talking about how Paul Revere was the face on Sam Adams beer bottles, not Adams.

“We talking about creating a Paul Revere beer and putting Sam Adams on the bottle, and I said, ‘That wouldn’t even do it justice,’ ” McLaughlin said. “It just kind of built from there.”

Unlike its beer, Justice’s origin story is mundane.

Aaron Swaney: 425-339-3430; aswaney@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @swaney_aaron79. Follow the Hops and Sips blog at www.heraldnet.com/hopsandsips.

Justice Brewing

Everett, 425-835-2337, www.justicebrewing.com

The brewery is located in an outbuilding behind the house at 2414 Chestnut St, Everett. Entrance is via the alley and parking is on the street or at Garfield Park. Visiting hours are between 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and are by appointment only. Find Justice Brewing’s beers at Sno-Isle Coop, Brews Almighty, AFK Tavern and The Hop and The Hound.

Talk to us

More in Life

TSR image for calendar
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

This weekend in Snohomish: The Snohomish Blues Invasion and the Snohomish Studio Tour 2023.

Dark gray wheels and black exterior accents provide extra visual appeal for the 2024 Subaru Impreza’s RS trim. (Subaru)
2024 Subaru Impreza loses a little, gains a lot

The brand’s compact car is fully redesigned. A couple of things are gone, but many more have arrived.

A clump of flowering ornamental grass or pennisetum alopecuroides in an autumn garden.
My garden runneth over with fountain grasses, and for good reason

These late-blooming perennials come in many varieties. They work well as accents, groundcovers, edgings or in containers.

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay walks into the Prohibition Grille along Hewitt Avenue in Everett Wednesday Dec. 5, 2012 while reportedly filming an episode of Kitchen Nightmares at the Everett restaurant. (Mark Mulligan / The Herald)
Even more films and TV shows filmed in Snohomish County

Readers point out projects previously missed in this series, from reality television to low-budget indie films.

Daniella Beccaria / for The Herald

15-month-old Kantu attempts to climb a pumpkin at Stocker Farms in Snohomish on Sunday, September 20th, 2015. Stocker Farms offers a U-pick patch, farm animals and a corn maze.
Best pumpkin patch in Snohomish County

You voted, we tallied, here are the results.

A woman diverts from her walk on Colby Avenue to take a closer look at a pickup truck that was partly crushed by a fallen tree during an overnight wind storm Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, in north Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / Herald file)
Storm season is coming. Here’s how to prepare for power outages.

The most important action you can take is to make an emergency preparedness kit.

Do you prefer green or red grapes? This antique Moser pitcher is decorated with enameled grapevines on shaded red-to-green glass.
Grapevine pitcher was made by renowned Bohemian company

Also, queries about grandmother’s coffee set and late husband’s Beatles records and memorabilia collection.

The city of Mukilteo is having a naming contest for its new $75,000 RC Mowers R-52, a remote-operated robotic mower. (Submitted photo)
Mukilteo muncher: Name the $75,000 robot mower

The city is having a naming contest for its new sod-slaying, hedge-hogging, forest-clumping, Mr-mow-it-all.

Death of parent with child. Piece of paper with parents and children is torn in half.
Helping children cope with the hard realities of divorce

I’s important to set aside one’s feelings and find a way to make this challenging transition as comfortable for children as you can.

Most Read