Back in July we reported that a new brewery was opening in Shelton. We are now happy to report that the Grove Street Brewhouse (GSB) opened for business a couple of weeks ago. Last Saturday afternoon we paid them a visit. The short version? We pretty much liked everything and everyone.
Located in downtown Shelton at the corner of South First Street and Grove Street, the brewery and pub is on the main drag through town (Hwy. 3). A recognizable curved glass block wall helps the building stand out. The real estate caught the eye of eventual owner Jeff Thompson some years ago. “I’d been driving by it for years and the building just seemed to be crying out to me,” he tells us.
(Note – Complete address and hours are at the end of the story.)
The building has been home to a number of different businesses over the years and was originally a Pontiac dealership. Architecturally, it’s easy to imagine it being an old school car dealership. It’s an interesting building with good bones but was in need of some TLC when Thompson spotted it. The old place is certainly in loving hands now and you can really feel the life-force starting to pump through its long-neglected soul.
“We’ve been in contact with a woman whose husband built this building,” Thompson says. “She’s 91 years-old and plans to come to our grand opening celebration.” There’s no exact date for the grand opening celebration yet.
“She tells us that her husband would be very happy with what we’ve done and would be very glad that we’ve brought the place back to life,” says Thompson. “We sometimes feel like he’s here with us.”
Don’t let the ghost story scare you. The atmosphere here is very welcoming. There was an impressive Saturday afternoon crowd on hand when we visited. Some folks seemed like regulars already, others seemed to be coming in for a test drive.
While construction continues in other parts of the building, the pub is open and the brewhouse is pumping out some tasty ales. The kitchen is functional but not yet complete. That describes the food menu as well. The final touches are underway and they hope to have the kitchen, as well as the rest of the cafe, completed soon.
As for the beer, now that’s a different story. There is nothing “under construction” about the beers produced by Adam Orrick. You would never guess that this is Adam’s first gig as a professional brewer. His ales are rock solid. Not too surprising, really, when you learn that he is a graduate of the World Brewing Academy in Chicago, as well as Doemens Academy in Munich.
“Before I headed to Munich, I was able to work with Shawn Loring at Lazy Boy, just to make sure that working in a brewery was what I wanted to do,” Adam says. “He let me hang around, wash kegs and stuff, and basically see what it was like to work in a professional brewery.”
We can’t say enough about the quality of beer that they are brewing in Shelton. We were surprised and impressed, not only by the quality of the beer but by the quantity. They had nine beers flowing when we were there. Adam seems to have a real sensible approach to beer. While there is nothing too surprising on the menu, everything is well done. Sure, seasonal beers and other such fun stuff might be waiting down the road, but Adam knows he needs to first nail down his starting lineup.
I was particularly fond of the GSB ESB, a particularly well-balanced and clean bitter – very true to style and quaffable. The wife was particularly fond of the brown ale, also a very well-executed representation of the English style. Another beer that stood out was the Limerick Ale, which is a light bodied ale brewed with just a touch of wheat to lend character without sacrificing approachability. While it is well-suited for introducing Shelton’s light beer drinking populace to the world of craft beer, the Limerick Ale is not simply a thoughtless nod to the yellow beer crowd. Like the rest of the line up, it is memorable and –dare I say without risk of it going to a young brewer’s head- flawlessly executed.
Despite his training, Adam knew there would be a sizable learning curve. Brewing is, after all, as much art as it is science. “It was a bit daunting, stepping in as a brewmaster right off the bat,” he says. “There’s a lot to learn, but I’m happy with the way things have been working out. A bit amazed, actually.”
They’re new, no doubt. There are a lot of questions that cannot yet be answered with any certainty. For example, when will they make it out to one of the beer festivals? We’ll see. Are they going to distribute? We’ll see. For now, Adam Orrick is just happy to be making beer and pouring it for the locals and for intrepid beer travels like us.
His boss, Jeff Thompson, tells us that he really didn’t have reservations when he hired a young and relatively inexperienced brewer. “It’s nice having someone young come in here to work with me instead of having someone come in and tell me what beer they are going to make,” he says. “I’m actually able to have some say in the direction we go.”
Whatever direction they are headed, it seems to be the correct course. While the pub is currently open and fully functional, they are building out the rest of the space to be more like a cafe. In addition to serving up top quality beer, they will also specialize in tea. We are not talking about your run-of-the-mill Celestial Seasonings tea. We’re talking about real tea. The good stuff.
The Grove Street Brewhouse is certainly worth selecting “Choose Alternate Route” on your GPS the next time you are headed out to the coast. Heck, if you’re a serious beer enthusiast you should make a special trip to Shelton. Right now, the kitchen is serving up munchies and snack-ish grub. Eventually, this is going to be a great spot for lunch and lighter fare. Not a fancy dinner house, but a place where you can count on getting a good meal, a good beer and a good cup of tea.
Here’s the official info:
Grove Street Brewhouse
233 South 1st Street
Shelton, WA 98584
Mon – Thrs: 2:00 til 8:00
Fri – Sat: 2:00 til 10:00