The surprisingly similar stories of several new breweries — Triplehorn Brewing Co., Dirty Bucket Brewery and Brickyard Brewing — show how quickly Woodinville’s brewing industry is growing. The owners of these three breweries say they turned a hobby into a profession and have been rewarded with dramatic growth — and there’s room for more breweries in the town’s friendly, collaborative beer industry.
Steve Acord opened Dirty Bucket Brewery with his wife, Sharon Acord, in April 2012, after hearing about other brewers’ successes.
“The original plan was, my brother and I wanted to start it. We’d been competitive home brewers for a long time,” he said.
After talking to other brewers who had expanded from homebrewing to professional, he realized “the only difference was that these guys went for it and did it.
At the beginning, Acord worked 90-hour weeks and brewed double batches of beer every night to keep up with demand. Last month he and his wife hired their first employee, a taproom manager, who has “been a godsend.”
For Joe Montero, Brickyard Brewing was the latest of several businesses he’s started, including an office equipment company, an IT company and a bar.
Brothers Rich and Ray Nesheim used to work in the construction industry, but a few years ago, decided that their hobby might be more profitable and founded Triplehorn Brewing Co.
“When the construction industry took a turn for the worse, we started looking at our options,” Nesheim said. “Desperation kind of forced our hand.”
The risk paid off.
Triplehorn, which will celebrate its first anniversary at the end of August, has expanded from three fermentation tanks to six, and quadrupled its production from once a week to four times a week.
“Anywhere we go, we don’t have enough,” Rich Nesheim said. “We keep running low on IPA in particular.”
The other breweries have also “grown hugely,” as Acord said.
Dirty Bucket originally produced 10 gallons of beer per batch; now, with more equipment, Acord can brew 120 gallons at a time — and he still brews two batches per night to keep up with demand.
Brickyard Brewing expanded from one barrel to 15 barrels, Montero said.
“We’re all selling to capacity, so there’s room for everybody,” Montero said.
The other owners echoed that sentiment, saying that the atmosphere among Woodinville breweries is collaborative rather than competitive.
“We all want to see each other succeed,” said Acord, who chose to open Dirty Bucket in Woodinville because it had established foot traffic for the brewing industry.
The camaraderie among breweries extends to wineries as well, Nesheim said. Triplehorn’s first customer was John Patterson of Patterson Cellars, who was waiting with his “nose pressed up against the glass,” Nesheim recalled.
Breweries and wineries draw customers to each other’s businesses, and the staff trade bottles of wine for growlers of beer.
Triplehorn is even aging one of its ales in a white wine barrel, which will blend the flavors of the wine and the beer.
All three breweries see room for growth. Brickyard Brewing, which opened less than a year ago in October 2012, is increasing its distribution to Bellingham and Vancouver, Canada this month, Montero said.
In September, it will begin bottling its beers to sell in Whole Foods and other grocery stores, and in 2014, Montero and co-founder Ean Forgette hope to open a brewpub.
Dirty Bucket and Triplehorn also envision opening brewpubs in the future, and Triplehorn may begin bottling
its beers as well. But despite the brewery’s growth, Nesheim is more concerned with serving beer to his hometown than external measures of success.
“I’m not out here to take over the beer world,” Nesheim said. “We’re here to just make people happy and comfortable in our community.”