Monroe hopes to tap into ever-growing craft beer industry

MONROE — A bartender sits behind a fresh-cut pine bar, quietly strumming a guitar.

Craft beers are served to people at steel-wrapped tables. Different guitars line the cedar paneling behind the bar and vinyl records fill the shelves.

Music is part of the feel at Dreadnought Brewing, owner Steve Huskey said. The business, which takes its name from an acoustic guitar style, opened June 25 in the Fryelands neighborhood.

City leaders hope that Dreadnought is the first of many new craft-beer businesses to set up shop in town.

The Monroe Chamber of Commerce is working with business owners to bring another business, Prison Break Brewery, to the city this fall, Director Una Wirkebau-Hartt said.

Mayor Geoffrey Thomas said he likes the idea of microbrews bringing more visitors to Monroe, which is the biggest city between Everett and Spokane on heavily traveled U.S. 2.

“I certainly am very supportive of having breweries, taprooms and alehouses become part of Monroe’s landscape,” he said. “I think it’d be really exciting if that was one of the many reasons people come to Monroe.”

Huskey is among the business owners who have their sights set on making the city a mecca of craft beer.

They’re tapping into the market with hopes that microbrew can be to Monroe what wine is to Woodinville.

“It dawned on me that breweries around here are going to be like coffee shops,” Huskey said. “Monroe is one of the untapped spaces. I figure by setting up now, I’m the first one on the corner.”

The Route 2 Taproom quickly followed suit. It opened earlier this month with almost 30 craft beers, ciders and nitros at 19837 U.S. 2.

Jeff Dickinson provides the taproom’s food, including barbecue ribs, pulled pork, brisket, chicken, through his business, Hook &Ladder BBQ. He said the rise in popularity of craft beers in Monroe has made it possible for him to go into the restaurant business full time after years of smoking meats as a side job.

For Huskey, opening the brewery took years of hard work, planning and perfecting his craft beers. The military veteran, 43, compares the wherewithal it took to get his business up and running to becoming an Army Ranger.

With investments of time and money from family and friends, Huskey was able to secure a space for his brewery, a taproom, a full kitchen and a family-friendly dining space at 16726 146th St. SE, Suite 153.

He opened with five beers on tap: a blonde ale, California-style pale ale, Northwest-style IPA, an oatmeal stout and an imperial oatmeal stout.

Eventually, Huskey plans to have 10 of his own beers, two guest taps and his vanilla root beer, ginger ale and sarsaparilla available.

He expects to produce 39 barrels, more than 1,200 gallons, of beer a month.

“Our goal is to make beers that are good. Nothing fancy. Just good, solid brew,” Huskey said.

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; Twitter: @AmyNileReports.

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