good beer = happiness
bad beer = go back and work for the man
Where do you start?
Manny asked me to write up a history of the brewery for the website.
In general, I find history pieces really boring. It’s always the same kind of thing about how the founders loved beer so much, they decided to quit their boring insurance jobs where they couldn’t drink beer for a living, and dedicate their lives to brewing well crafted beers.
First of all, everyone loves beer. Even if you don’t, you know someone that does. Second, everyone hates their boring jobs and wishes they could drink beer for work. Third, no one sets out to intentionally make bad beer, even at Strangebrew in Port Townsend.
Instead, I wrote a really impassioned think piece about growlers, how the growth of our growler program mirrored the history of the company. It was really clever. Or brave. Or meta. I thought it was good. And I’m pretty sure I didn’t mention cats once.
But Manny wanted something more along the lines about how he and Roger met over their love of ultimate frisbee (aka, beer drinking) and wanted to start a business together because they hated working for The Man and they actually wanted to open up a cat food company. Just kidding, they wanted to start a brewery. Literally: they loved beer, quit an insurance job (that was Roger, Manny may or may not have been employed at the time) and wanted to make really good beer. You know, boring.
I’ve personally been here 10 years. I can talk about the history of the development of our Lucille IPA. I can talk about Retail and how it has grown from one Lisa to 15 folks. I can talk about how the brewers used to brew on the 15 barrel system 23 hours a day to keep up with demand when we were located in the original Rainier brewery. I can talk about the awards we’ve won (we usually come in 2nd place). I can talk about the weird family of Georgetown employees - past brewers that went on to do their own thing, Reid’s obsession with shorts, the babies that have been born, how Crystal's laugh can be heard anywhere in the brewery and that time Sean barfed at the company holiday party (that’s inexplicably always in February). I can talk about the ridiculous obsession with Point Break (1991). The history of Bob’s Brown Ale has been repeated so many times I could recite it the first year I worked here. But Manny and Roger? Honestly most of what I know is from a Seattle Met article from 2012 (it’s a good read, you should check it out).
Why can I not come up with a history of the brewery that doesn’t sound so. freaking. boring.
History Repeating Itself
Maybe the reason I’m having trouble is because these guys NEVER toot their own horn. It is always heads down, make good beer, make people happy, support the community. It’s never about them as individuals, it’s always about advancing beer and the people in their sphere. I’m pretty sure Roger would rather hand you a pint of Georgetown beer to enjoy, than to talk about when he used to clean kegs after a day of harvesting eyeballs. And I know Manny would rather get you excited about how much money our Bob’s Brown Ale raised for Ronald McDonald House than talk about the early days of selling kegs of their new Manny’s Pale Ale around town.
So, here’s the history of the brewery - two guys that liked beer a lot and hated working for other people came together to start a brewery. Between the time they brewed test batches of pale ales and purchased a 15 barrel system from a defunct brewery in North Carolina in 2002, to now when they support over 70 employees and are the largest independent brewery in Washington State, a lot has happened. How about you come down to the brewery and we’ll tell you all about it over some beer?