We traveled en masse, as men in their early-20s often do. Me, Ted, Pete, Mike, Joe, Chris, Doug and likely some others. It was not opening night for the Big Time Brewery and Alehouse, but I think it was their first Saturday night. Something like that. I remember drinking my first pints of Atlas Amber and Prime Time Pale Ale. We sat at the big table up front, at the window, on the left as you walk in the door.
That was the first time I visited Big Time Brewery and Alehouse on Seattle’s University Ave. It was December of 1988. I was an avid homebrewer in those days and had friends working in the emerging craft beer industry. In other words, they worked for Redhook. Who else was there to work for in the craft beer industry back then? My friends and I were excited that a brewpub was opening in Seattle, even though we only vaguely understood the meaning of the term brewpub. After all, it was 1988 and you could count the number of breweries in Washington on your fingers.
For me, the memory of that adventure is clear and still has significance. Remembering stuff like that, quite literally, is part of my job. For my friends, it has little relevance to their lives today, and I bet they’d struggle to remember that night. It’s not like I’m stuck in the past (really, I’m not), it’s just that the Big Time is one of the things that marks time for me. Color me nostalgic. I could tell you so many stories, but I won’t. I’ll leave it to the Big Time to tell its own story, to continue writing its own history with beer.
This Saturday, the venerable Big Time celebrates 25 years. If you are headed to Washington Winter Beer Fest, stop in before or after the festival and pay your respects to the first brewpub to open in Seattle since prohibition. They’ll have some special treats on tap and will also be serving birthday cake throughout the day.
Happy birthday, Big Time Brewery and Alehouse, you are still just as beautiful and beloved as the day you were born.
Big Time Brewing Co 25th Anniversary Party Saturday Dec 7th, 2013
The Big Time Brewing Company is celebrating their 25th Anniversary on Saturday December 7th. Washington’s oldest brew pub first began selling pints of Prime Time Pale Ale, Atlas Amber and Coal Creek Porter on that December day back in 1988. Old Rip Oatmeal Stout and Bhagwan’s Best IPA soon joined our tap lineup in late January and early February 1989.
The Big Time was conceived and is owned by Reid Martin who along with his brother John Martin started Triple Rock Brewery in Berkeley California in 1986.
The first head brewer was Ed Tringali, he was hired away from Triple Rock. He commanded the brew deck until 1993. Ed selected Dick Cantwell then a brewer at Pike Brewing Co to replace himself when Ed left to start an international brewing consulting firm. Soon Dick hired Bill Jenkins to be his assistant brewer (also a Pike alum), and Bill was promoted to head brewer in 1995 when Cantwell left to start the Elysian Brewing Co. Bill left in 1997 to take a head brewing job in Ireland and tapped Kevin Forhan, (also a Pike employee) to fill his brewers boots. Bill returned for a year in 1998 as Kevin’s Assistant Brewer, and then he returned once again to be head brewer in 2003 when Forhan moved to Spain. Jenkins left in April 2011, and choose Drew Cluley (you guessed it, at that time Cluley was head brewer at Pike Brewing Co), to stir the mash at Big Time.
The Big Time has also had its share of talented assistant brewers;
Eric Jefferts (Lassen Ale Works, California), John Haggerty (New Holland Brewing, Michigan), Skip Madsen (American Brewing Company), Frank Helderman (Terminal Gravity Brewery, Oregon), Kelly Wiese (Sound Brewing), Carter Camp (Port Townsend Brewing), Bradley Zimmerman (Toe Yard Brewing, Indiana). Greg Maddrey (formerly of Hales Brewing Co) is currently filling the talented assistant brewer position.
In 1988 when the Big Time opened they had only 3 beer taps and pints cost just $1.75. In the early 90’s they started adding taps and now have 11 beers pouring, 1 apple cider and a english cask engine. Drew Cluley recalls, “I remember visiting Seattle in 1990 shortly after making my first batch of homebrew. I tried Bhagwans Best IPA for the first time and I was blown away by the delicious complex flavor. I was especially impressed with the cask version of Bhagwans. That experience was defiantly influential in leading me to a brewing career.” The Big Time makes about 35 different ales during the year, specializing in IPA’s.
On tap for Saturday December 7th will be their 5 year round ales, (Prime Time Pale, Atlas Amber, Coal Creek Porter, Bhagwans Best IPA and Scarlet Fire IPA), as well as Icculus IPA, Lollipop Weizenbock, Yulefest Christmas Ale, Old Rip Oatmeal Stout, Lift Ticket Winter Ale, Old Wooly Barleywine – and from the archive a keg each of Whiny the Complainer triple IPA, Decade 2.5 double IPA, and Mammoth Pilsner. Birthday cake will be served several times during the festivities.
The Big Time is located in the U-District at 4133 University Way NE. Map
Hours are 11:30am – 2:00am.