by Kirby LindsayIn looking for empirical, unequivocal data to show the breadth of the success, so far, of Fremont Brewing Company, their Chief Strategist, Sara Nelson, struggled. The company only started selling beer in July 2009 – which would skew any comparison between sales last year and this one. Finally, Head Brewer Matt Lincoln came up with the simplest and most-telling of data – “in January and February  there were weeks we weren’t brewing at all,” he explained, “now we are brewing every day.”
“We have our standards always on tap,” at their Urban Beer Garden, open every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nelson pointed out. The Universale Pale Ale and Interurban IPA can always be sampled during the popular neighborhood gatherings at the brewery – made more attractive since both kids and dogs are welcome, in true Fremont fashion.
Matt Lincecum, the driving force behind the brewery (and husband of Nelson,) proudly stands behind the consistent quality of all the beers his company brews. “My passion is in quality, every-day beer,” he explained, “beer you can drink every day.”
Yet, Fremont Brewing also has a strong ethic of creativity and collaboration among its collection of skilled beer fanatics. “The guys who work here are craftsmen,” Nelson said, “It’s an art to them to experiment, to try new things.” Lincecum admitted that the opportunities to be creative, and stay challenged, have attracted quality employees to Fremont Brewing. As Nelson bragged, “Matt Lincoln is a rock star in the brewery world. He is an artisan.”
Visitors get the best glimpse of the experimental side of the company at the Urban Beer Garden. Beyond serving two standard session beers (“good beer you can come home to,” explained Lincecum,) they also offer a seasonal brew on-tap – right now it’s the Harvest Ale (a Belgian-style ‘Saison’) – and one of their beers on nitro. Additionally, they will have on-tap two or more small-batch beers, recently that was the the Summer Solstice, a beer crafted using lime and grapefruit zest, and simcoe hops.
“When we do something experimental, it’s in a small batch,” explained Nelson. If the brewers like it, “they’ll make it in fifteen barrels and put it on tap for the beer garden.” Often visitors to the brewery, “they’re getting things that may never happen again,” Nelson acknowledged. Not all experimental beers will make it even that far; such as the mint Porter Lincecum mentioned, “not a good idea,” with a shake of his head.
They also do cask beers. “Our Little Woody, aged on medium American Oak, started as an experimental,” Nelson described, “people liked it,” in the beer garden, “and it became a standard here.” Eventually, restaurant and bar owners asked for it, and it can be found in a few special locations.
“Originally we thought ‘we are a wholesale shop’,” Nelson explained, but “the locals were interested in being able to drink here.” So they developed the beer garden, and as people encounter Fremont Brewing beer at their favorite bars, they come by to check out what else is available. Now, in the first half of 2010, they’ve already produced 3,500 kegs of beer, or 1,800 barrels and, Nelson admitted, “The two lines of business reinforce each other.”
Growler sales also continue to build, and Nelson wants to expand their retail hours, as well as the beer garden hours. Grocery stores have begun putting in their requests, she explained, so canning will come soon. Lincecum also continues to actively support the production of organic hops grown in Washington State.
Lincecum also has looked at ways to increase the size of the brewery, while remaining in its current location. Brewing ‘a beer to come home to’ has brought success, but Lincecum chose to name it ‘Fremont,’ and this will remain that home.
- Fremont: Center of the Beer Universe, Too?
- by Kirby Lindsay, February 18, 2009 in the North Seattle Herald-Outlook
- Accidental Wine Makers Deliberately Plan To Grow In Fremont
- by Kirby Lindsay, February 26, 2010
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.