Skookum Brewery celebrates 10 years with bigfoot costume party

Ask Skookum Brewing owner Ron Walcher what he’s learned in the 10 years since he and his wife, Jackie, opened a brewery out of their home down a dirt road near Arlington, and he’ll talk about what he misses most.

“It’s more fun to brew than to do the books,” said Walcher, with a chuckle.

Personally, Walcher may not brew very often anymore, but he oversees a brewing operation that has exploded since opening in 2007. Headed up by head brewer Hollis Wood, he has a three-man team manning the mash tuns and fermenters to create wild concoctions that use a wide range of ingredients, including hops from as far away as South Africa and New Zealand, and prized malts from as close as the Skagit Valley.

“We like to think of ourselves as just big homebrewers with access to amazing ingredients,” Walcher said. “We love to have fun.”

Skookum celebrated 10 years Jan. 21.

When Ron and Jackie first envisioned their brewery, they had a completely different business model. The two felt that Skookum would be a wholesale brewing operation, sending out cases of beer and kegs from their home brewery to bars, taprooms and bottleshops around the state. Instead, they became a destination brewery, much to the chagrin of their neighbors.

So they moved. In 2012, Skookum Brewery took over a large warehouse near the Arlington Airport that once was a Bayliner production facility. It was the best thing that could have happened to them. Ron said the move gave them what they needed most: refrigeration.

“What we really needed was refrigeration,” Walcher said. “When we moved it gave us 300 percent more space for refrigeration and more freedom.”

With more space to brew and store that beer, Ron, after brewing the very first batch at the new location, took a step back and let Wood take over the day-to-day brewing operations. The crowds continued to come. Visit Skookum on any night it’s open, and you’ll likely have to park in the overflow lot across the street. People from all walks of life visit the brewery to drink, commiserate and play cribbage, Ron’s favorite game.

“We get big crowds of great people,” said Jackie, who used to grind grains to prep for brewing while Ron was working construction during the first two years of the brewery. “We couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Ron said that they’ve had a lot of help along the way, including advice from the owners and brewers at Diamond Knot Craft Brewing and Boundary Bay Brewing. His advice for young brewers? Have some small business experience and know what you’re getting into.

“This isn’t as easy as everyone thinks,” Ron said.

Ron and Jackie oversee much more than the grains and mash tun these days. It’s more about the books, the schedules and the meetings than the beer recipes. So, Ron has decided to build a boat. He jokes that he’s gone from building a brewery in a building where they once made boats to building one himself.

“It’s cheaper than a therapist,” said Jackie, with a laugh.

Diamond Knot at Skookum: Two of the most iconic Snohomish County breweries spend the night together for a brewers night at Skookum Brewing. The event will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 19 and will feature a number of DK beers, including the brewery’s Red IPA and Storm Surge.

Talk to us

More in Life

This image provided by Higgins Design Studio shows an open Murphy bed. (Mentis Photography/Higgins Design Studio via AP)
Pandemic-era design solution from the past: the Murphy bed

The beds that emerge from a wall to instantly transform a living room into a bedroom date from more than a century ago.

R.J. Whitlow, co-owner of 5 Rights Brewery, has recently expanded to the neighboring shop, formerly Carr's Hardware. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
County craft breweries’ past lives: hardware store, jail

Most breweries in Snohomish County operate in spaces that formerly housed something far different — from boat builders to banks.

Red apples with leaves isolated over white background. Gala apple. Top view
Everything you never wanted to know about fruit tree pollination

If your trees are blooming and not setting fruit, the most likely culprit is poor pollination.

Cryptomeria japonica “Sekkan-sugi”
Great Plant Pick: Cryptomeria japonica “Sekkan-sugi”

If you love golden foliage, the golden Japanese cedar is for you. When planted against a dark green backdrop, it shines like a beacon.

Moving eyes add interest to an antique clock. This blinking-owl clock sold for $1,900 at a Morford's auction in 2021.
These antique clocks have shifty eyes that move with time

More modern moving-eye clocks include the Kit-Cat clock, a fixture in nurseries since 1932.

Heroes.jpg: Characters in the fantasy world in “She Kills Monsters” at Red Curtain Arts Center, running Jan. 28-Feb. 13, include (front row) Erin Smith as Lilith, Katelynn Carlson as Kaliope; (middle row) Marina Pierce as Tillius, Lucy Johnson as Agnes; (back row) Daniel Hanlon as Orcus.
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Dungeons & Dragons collides with reality in “She Kills Monsters” at Red Curtain Arts Center in Marysville.

Caption: Stay-at-home parents work up to 126 hours a week. Their labor is valuable even without a paycheck.
A mother’s time is not ‘free’ — and they put in 126-hour workweeks

If you were to pay a stay-at-home mom or dad for their time, it would cost nearly $200,000 a year.

Linda Miller Nicholson from Fall City, Washington, holds up rainbow pasta she just made in the commercial kitchen at her Fall City home, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021.  The rainbow wall behind her is in her backyard. (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle TImes/TNS)
This King County woman’s rainbow pasta signals her values

Linda Miller Nicholson sculpts colorful noodles that reflect her personality and pro-LGBTQ+ pride.

CloZee performs during the second day of Summer Meltdown on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019 in Darrington, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The psychedelic fest Summer Meltdown is back — and in Monroe

The music and camping event is on for July 28-31, with a new venue along the Skykomish River.

Most Read