Tumwater’s Brewing Legacy Moves Forward

To understand the rapidly changing nature of the craft brewing and distilling industry, consider these statistics: First, a new craft brewery opens in Washington State every week. Second, Washington ranks third in the nation for the number of craft distillers. Finally, Washington State is the number one craft cider producer in the country. In fact, production cannot keep up with demand.

These statistics framed the conversation on Feb. 1 held at the historic Schmidt House in Tumwater as part of the Olympia Tumwater Foundation’s History Talks series. ‘Tumwater’s Brewing Legacy Moves Forward’ was the title of the talk and attendees heard from the City of Tumwater’s City Administrator John Doan, Communications Manager Ann Cook, and South Puget Sound Community College Dean Dr. Valerie Sundby-Thorp.

Doan, Cook, and Sundby-Thorp discussed how the City is bringing brewing back and they focused on three areas:  Growing the Industry, creating a Center for Excellence, restoring the community’s brewing heritage and landmark.

Develop an area to grow

Deschutes Landing is a light industrial area near the Olympia Airport in Tumwater and is home to South Sound’s newest craft brewing destination. Matchless Brewing and Triceratops Brewing both opened last year, and Tart Hard Cider recently joined the group. While an area zoned ‘light industrial’ is an unexpected place for craft brewing tasting rooms it is also a growing trend nationally. The City of Tumwater is doing all it can to encourage these craft breweries and help ensure their success With a marketing campaign for the “Warehouse District.”

Create a Center for Excellence

South Puget Sound Community College and a private developer are teaming up to create a new facility in an area located off Capitol Boulevard they are calling the ”Craft District.”. The College’s building is currently under construction, but when it is complete, hopefully in January 2019, it will be home to anchor tenant Heritage Distilling Company—known for their Brown Sugar Bourbon as well as an SPSCC campus devoted to craft brewing, cider-making and distilling classes and training. The State of Washington is contributing $500,000 to the project for classroom equipment. Students looking for an associate’s degree in brewing can attend classes there, but they’ll also open it up to the community for evening enrichment programs.

Restore our Brewing Heritage

The third leg of the brewing legacy stool is restoring the 1906 Brewhouse, a treasured landmark for the City and the community.  The State of Washington awarded the City a $506,850 grant from the State of Washington Heritage Capital Projects Fund and now the City must match $2 to each dollar of State funding. City staff are seeking major donors interested in reaching matching fund goal of $1.1 million.

Once the City reaches its funding goal, they can begin to renovate the structure. Future uses may include a restaurant and brewery. An artist’s rendering imagines a beautifully renovated Brewhouse surrounded by walking trails—whether this vision comes to fruition depends on funding and future investment.

With many partners and these industries, Tumwater is working to #BringBrewingBack.