CRAFT by Under My Host® Issue No. 14 Sci-Fi & Fantasy - Page 123

This is part three of a series by Amber Watts and Ron Extract on the process of starting up Garden Path Fermentation in Washington State Last fall, I was the lucky recipient of a Pink Boots Society scholarship to attend a class at the Food Craft Institute in Oakland, CA called, The Business of Beer. Over the course of a month, a small group of us future brewery owners toured and spoke candidly to the owners of countless Bay Area breweries about their startup stories. They gave us a wealth of incredibly valuable information about the myriad hurdles, setbacks, and successes each founder had encountered on his or her brewery’s journey. The two most common pieces of advice we received about opening a brewery, reiterated in some form by pretty much every speaker, were the following: 1) 2) “Don’t open a brewery.” “If you still want to open a brewery, remember that it will take twice as long and cost twice as much as you’ve planned.” Clearly, my partner Ron and I are completely ig- noring that first piece of advice in our quest to open Garden Path Fermentation. But the second piece of advice is one we unfortunately have come to heed. When we ventured from Austin, Texas to Skagit County, Washington last August, we’d planned on being open in some capacity by this summer. It’s summer, and we’re not open. Our dream is to open a destination farmhouse brewery/cidery/meadery/winery in this magi- cal valley in Northwest Washington. We want to grow as many of our own ingredients as we can, work with local farmers to source everything we can’t grow ourselves, and make products that showcase the unique qualities of this region. Key to our vision is an onsite tasting room, where pa- trons can experience a complete seed-to-glass tasting experience, drinking beer and cider at their ingredients’ source, understanding and fall- ing in love with the terroir of Skagit just as we have. As we’ve learned, though, building this experi- ence on a farm here in Skagit is much more diffi- cult than we’d anticipated. We moved here from Texas, where beer laws are incredibly strict but there’s comparatively little regulation regarding rural land use; the opposite is true in Washing- ton, which has some of the friendliest beer laws in the country but much more tightly regulated land and water usage. In our previous install- ment, Ron wrote about the zoning, water, and waste management issues that have hindered our location search to this point. Unfortunately, our second site also fell through, largely because of what turned out to be a lack of internal con- sensus among the sellers about whether they were actually ready to sell. Had it gone through, however, we would still have had to deal with the same zoning and septic issues as before, which would have inevitably turned into a long, expen- sive process. There may be a mystical place in the Valley that will allow us to do everything we want without having to face these issues, but if it does exist, it’s not currently for sale. We’re not the only ones to have this experience in Northwest Washington. Other brewers with sim- ilar visions in the region have given up and start- ed their projects elsewhere. Adam Paysse, one of the founders of Seattle’s Holy Mountain Brewing Company, recently started Floodland Brewing, the first solely mixed fermentation brewery in Washington. Floodland is located in Seattle in- stead of on a farm northwest of the city, as Adam had originally intended. He had found what seemed like a favorable site in a neighboring county last year, but was discouraged by a coun- ty representative who told him they looked very unfavorably on breweries opening in “non-com- mercial zoning,” and he likely wouldn’t be able to get permitting. Despite the extra expenses—Se- attle’s not cheap, y’all—he felt it made a lot more sense to get started in the city and work on the farm down the line. The idea of opening a true farmhouse brewery seems like it should be pos- sible, and welcomed, in Washington, a state that © Hundred-to-One LLC 2017. All rights reserved.