– Story by Lynn Sherk, Washington Beer Blog Correspondent-at-Large –
Published October 20, 2014
Here in Seattle, we beer lovers have been spoiled by the frequent openings of new breweries around the city. Now it’s the south end’s turn to feel the love.
Tacoma, get ready to meet Odd Otter Brewing Company.
Founded by a group of five friends, Odd Otter wants to use “the unifying power of beer” to bring people together and build a sense of community – and they’ve already begun making that happen. Earlier this year, their Kickstarter campaign raised more than $19,000, eclipsing their original goal of $15,000.
They also recruited friends to help them with the demolition and remodeling of their downtown Tacoma brewery and taproom space, located at the north end Pacific Ave. near the recently opened Pacific Brewing and Malting Company.
Odd Otter’s building was first constructed in the late 1880s and has hosted a variety of enterprises, including a Sailors and Soldiers Club during World War I and a USO Center that admitted African-American soldiers during World War II. The building’s military ties are particularly serendipitous because three of the founders have military backgrounds. Head Brewer Owen McGrane is an active-duty Army Emergency Medicine physician at Madigan Army Hospital, John Hotchkiss is a former Army physician, and Pablo Monroy is a member of the Army National Guard. The other founders are Pablo’s husband Derrick Monroy and Teresa Smith, who all have backgrounds in corporate middle management.
In addition to the five founders, the Odd Otter family also includes investor and Creative Director Kristina Vanous. You can see her handiwork in Odd Otter’s logos, branding and in their one-of-a-kind bar front.
Their 7-barrel electric brewing system was designed by Stout Tanks and Kettles in Portland, OR. The brewhouse, three fermenters and single Brite tank (each of which has a 14 barrel capacity) were installed mid-summer, but issues related to operating a brewery in an historical building made them push back their planned summer opening.
McGrane, an award-winning homebrewer with a decade of experience, will also have a 1-barrel system for experimenting with new recipes. He’s perfected a smooth, dark, strong ale-barleywine, which he plans to age in Woodinville Whiskey Company barrels. Odd Otter’s opening tap lineup will include up to eight of their own beers depending on when their tasting room opens.
Below is their list of some of the wild things that they intend to bring to fruition:
• Strawberry Blonde Otter – Refreshing, light-bodied blonde ale as fun and tasty as the blonde-haired aquatic mammal for which we named it.
• Cozy Camper Otter Amber – Heartwarmingly malty, caramel, and amber – imagine an otter toasting marshmallows out in the woods. He’s that cozy. And that campery.
• Otter Nonsense Double IPA – How many IBUs do you need? Well, we’ll give you a calculated 151+, and we’ll give you the body you crave in your IPA: full, nuanced, and complete. No heavy-handed hoppy water here.
• Coconut Chai Porter – This stuff is the stuff of heaven: balanced, measured, and perfectly unprecedented. You will never be the same.
• Comrade Otter’s Russian Imperial Chocolate Stout – A hefty slice of double chocolate cake smashed up and poured into a glass: rich, delicious, and dark as night.
• Otter Bacchus Barrel Blonde – The name is evolving, but if you say something like that we’ll know what you mean. We age it in pinot noir barrels. From France. It’s that good.
Coming later (partial list):
• Jolly Otter ESB – Malty, hoppy, English-style Extra Special Bitter (ESB) that is certain to shiver yer timbers.
• Ottermelon Hefeweizen – So you think you’ve had it all, so you? Say it with me: “Ottermelon” …
• Momma Otter’s Pancake Porter – Drink your breakfast: made with real maple syrup (no fake stuff), lots of love, and a hankering for a side of bacon. Drinking first thing in the morning has never been so justifiable. Good morning, your mouth.