It seems like only yesterday that Will and Mari Kemper made their triumphant return to the local brewing scene and opened Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen on Bellingham’s waterfront. Then again, it seems like it was much longer ago that I first enjoyed Will Kemper’s beer. It was. Below I share a bit of history along with the press release from Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen announcing the fourth anniversary.
Will and Mari Kemper have a place in craft beer’s earliest history. The majority of the people who follow this blog probably do not remember when Thomas Kemper was a brand associated with beer and not with soda pop. Others of us are old enough to remember the “blueberry beer.” Sadly, today’s consumers only know Thomas Kemper as a brand of soft drink.
A Bit of History
Will and Mari Kemper teamed up with Andy Thomas back in 1985 and Thomas Kemper Brewing was born in Poulsbo, WA. Each year Thomas Kemper provided beer for the local Oktoberfest celebration. They decided to create a root beer for the kids. Not surprisingly, the root beer was very good. That is how they began making soda pop.
So how did Thomas Kemper become known as a soda pop brand instead of a beer brand? Here is a heavily abridged version of the story. Sometimes the beer business is more business than beer and in 1992 Thomas Kemper merged with Hart Brewing Company, which went on to become Pyramid Breweries. It was one of the first mergers in the modern craft beer era. Following the merger, things got messy. A lot of water has passed under that bridge. In the end, Thomas Kemper beers disappeared forever. Eventually the soda company, which was separate from the beer company, became part of Pyramid. But this is a beer blog, so enough talk of soda pop.
When the proverbial stuff hit the fan in the early 90s, Will and Mari Kemper hit the road. Will Kemper helped build and launch several breweries around the world, some here in the United States and some as far away as Turkey. Eventually the Kempers decided that they wanted to open their own brewery again and they returned to Washington. As the press release below states, Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen began winning medals for its authentic German-style beers almost immediately. For those of us old enough to remember the early days of the Washington craft beer scene, Chuckanut’s success is a kind of sweet satisfaction.
Congratulations to the Kempers and to all the people who helped in their triumphant return and the brewery’s successes thus far.
CHUCKANUT BREWERY CELEBRATES 4 YEARS OF CHUCKANUT BEER
Chuckanut Brewery& Kitchen at 601 W Holly St, Bellingham is poised to celebrate the anniversary of their opening four years ago. The brewery remodeled the old Hertz Rental Equipment Center into a restaurant and brewery using the old garage for the Kitchen and the showroom for the Brewery. Just a year after opening in 2008 Chuckanut won national recognition as the Best Small Brewpub of the Year 2009 from the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. It was the first time a small brewpub won the title with all lager beers. Chuckanut Brewery is known for its traditional European style lagers and ales and the Kitchen for its localcentric Fresh American menu. Two years later the brewery won again at the national Great American Beer Festival the title Best Small Brewery of the Year 2011. This year on July 17 join Chuckanut Brewery in celebrating with $3.50 pints all day.
After receiving the first national title Chuckanut was at capacity and needed to expand. Funds were found and 5 new fermentation tanks arrived in June 2010. With the growth of accounts (with 50% more beer) Chuckanut signed Click Distributing for their Seattle market distribution in January 2011 and Dickerson Distributing in March for northern Puget Sound. After receiving the second national title Chuckanut Brewery needed to expand again. In February 2012 additional funds were secured to order another 5 fermentation tanks which were received in June. Those tanks have been installed and are now operational. This addition will give the brewery another 50% capability in production. The Kitchen continues to spotlight beer pairing and a creative local food menu. The locavore menu changes monthly to highlight local food producers paired with Chuckanut beers.
The future for Chuckanut Brewery looks promising as one of the only traditional lager breweries in the Northwest. With an eye towards bottling and canning their product to make it more readily available to its customers Chuckanut Brewery expects to continue to grow. Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen, located at 601 W Holly St, Bellingham, is proud to be a brewery and restaurant for all ages offering a full-service menu with European style award winning Lagers and Ales. Monday $3 Pints, Kolsch Night Tuesdays and HoPPY Hours Sunday to Thursday are weekly specials held at the brewpub. Dart boards out back in the covered patio offer an additional new activity at the Kitchen. Find out more about Chuckanut Brewery & Kitchen at: www.chuckanutbreweryandkitchen.com