Lynnwood’s Hidden Gem
The story of Big E Ales (Ellersick Brewing Company) is the story of Rick “The Beer Man” Ellersick. Like many brewers making delicious craft beer in Washington today, Rick began many years ago as a home brewer. Unlike the vast majority of other home brewers, Rick got licensed to sell his beer. He made it in his garage and sold it… legally. Cool.
“When I wasn’t working, it’s pretty much all I’d do,” Ellersick says. “I was brewing at nights and on weekends and had people stopping by to pick up beer all the time.” His brewing processes and brewing system evolved and grew. So did his fan club. Eventually, changes in Rick’s day job (he owned and operated a deli) dictated that he make the big leap and begin brewing for real. It was time for him to buck up and become a real microbrewery. He found a suitable location not far from home and began building his brew house and tasting room.
Rick designed and built his brew house in a non-descript commercial building in Lynnwood that would probably be a transmission shop if it wasn’t a cozy neighborhood pub. The new grain silo outside is the only real outward feature that suggests that this is a brewery.
The pub and brewery is bigger than it looks from the outside. The warm contemporary design is inviting. There are a couple booths and about a dozen pub-height cocktail tables; a tidy bar with five stools; three TVs with sports; and a huge window to the brewery on the back wall. Oh yeah, and a humidor with cigars for sale. When we visited, KZOK was blasting out Molly Hatchet on the stereo. This is the kind of place that working men come for lunch and to relax after work. Although it’s a great place to take off the hard hat and put the boots up, it is easily pleasant enough for women to feel at home too.
The menu is blessedly short and pure dude food. Nary a salad on the menu, only meat and potatoes. As in a cheeseburger, three kinds of chicken sandwiches, BBQ ribs, and wings or fries on the side. Period. Prices are a comfortable $6.50 to $13.50, and pints are $4 with $12 pitchers available (April 2008).
The original brew house featured a self-designed 10 barrel system that has been evolving continuously. Rick is obviously a man of many skills. The brewery, the pub, and his beer have all been produced by his own two hands and a combination of his skill, talent, and passion. Rick is currently planning an upgrade to a larger system. The brewery takes advantage of a walk-in cooler used for lagering and keg storage.
A native of Shoreline, Rick is now the owner and head brewer at Big E Ales. Located in Lynnwood, Big E Ales is not far from his home where it all began. Once the brewery opened, Ellersick’s beers quickly gained more fans. What started out as a tasting room quickly became a neighborhood brew pub with as many as 12 beers on tap, and distribution to pubs from North Lake Union to Granite Falls. The pub is small, but that makes it warm and inviting. The folks all seem to know each other and they all seem to know “The Beer Man.”
Big E Ales also makes it easy to take their product with you. They offer growlers and kegs to go. They have an assortment of jockey boxes (portable CO2 tapping systems) available for loan. They can even refill your CO2 tank, for those of you with kegerators at home. During a visit to the pub, it would not be at all unusual to see Rick helping a customer wrestle a keg into the trunk of a car.
Rick, his family, and Big E Ales are connected to the community. “I grew up around here. Me and my family have always been active in the community. We like to work with local organizations, especially youth athletic programs.” The evidence is on the walls, which are adorned with appreciative pictures and plaques from local teams with whom the Ellersicks have been involved.
He may have started out as a modest home brewer, but do not doubt that Rick Ellersick is a skilled and talented brewer. Big E Ales are true to style and, at the same time, wildly creative. His Blackberry Ale is an inspired and impressive dabble in the delicate art of fruited beers. The LawnMower Lager is a notable and refreshing departure into the world of light lagers. The Scotch Ale is a delicious tribute to a challenging style that puzzles many brewers. The Scotch Ale is one of the most popular beers at Big E, along with the Imperial IPA. After his next brewing system expansion, Rick is planning to start bottling and canning (yes canning) some of his beers, and the Imperial IPA and Scotch will be the first in the cans.
Ellersick Brewing Company’s beers can be found at many locations, mostly in the North King County and Snohomish County areas. “Pretty much anywhere north of Lake Union, including Eastern Washington,” is how Rick describes it.
Find Ellersick Brewery:
On the web
On the street
5030 208th ST SW Ste. A
Lynnwood, WA 98036