About a week ago, my pal Ward Parkway and I had the opportunity to visit Seattle's equivalent of Boulevard. Granted, this brewery is not working at the capacity of Kansas City's hometown favorite, but it's off to a fantastic start. Think Boulevard circa 1995-ish?
Let me back up just a little bit. I've wanted to find something similar to the Boulevard tour in KC while I'm residing in the Pacific Northwest. So far, I haven't found anything like it. I've been trying to get over to Redmond, Washington to check out the Redhook brewery and the Mac and Jack's brewery, but haven't done that yet.
A few months ago when I was perusing the Georgetown Brewery website, located not far from my house in downtown Seattle, I noticed that they didn't have any way to check out or sign up for a tour... So, I sent an email, and was promplty contacted by a staffer, who offered me a date several months out. Apparently they only give tours once per month, and the tours only allow for 11 people max. I booked two spots and sat, impatiently, for two and a half months until my tour date arrived. ("Hey Georgetown: check out KC's really cool Tour Tool! ... http://www.blvdbeer.com/tours/)
The visit was nice. I can imagine it must have been similar to Boulevard's tour back in the early days of development. The brewery is small, and there is a tiny little gift shop/sampling station where there seemed to be a limitless amount of "tastings" for the 11 people in our group. That was a pleasant surprise, indeed! Our tour guide, one of the sales reps, did an incredible job of going into the history of the company without delving into what could be some very tedious material... We enjoyed our stay in the gift shop, sampling beers while our guide lectured. It was informal and quite interesting, eventhough we had a few beer-nerd-douchbags on the tour who didn't hesitate to consistenly add their own two cents at EVERY. SINGLE. OPPORTUNITY. So, we headed back to the bar for a fill-up while they endlessly gabbed.
Our guide gave us directions to the second half of the tour at the NEW (yes, new and very shiny) brewing facility for Georgetown. They have outgrown their current space and have purchased an enormous warehouse half a mile from their current location. It's being renovated and is presently functional, but it still has no gift shop and lacks some of the items needed for a proper public tour (such as a gi-normous bar and/or tasting area)... But the tour was informative and we were able to see up-close how they fill, empty, and clean the tanks, how they prepare, clean and fill the kegs, and how they package the beer for shipping.
Currently, Georgetown only sells within the state of Washington, and to a few place in Idaho. Hopefully, they will someday branch beyond the NW region so that the good folks of Kansas and Missouri will be able to sample some Pacific heaven! Currently on tap: Manny's Pale Ale (the Flagship), Rogers Pilsner, Bob's Brown*, Chopper's Red, and 9-Lb Porter.
You really can't go to any bar in the Seattle region without finding Manny's Pale Ale on tap. It truly is the equivalent of finding Boulevard Wheat on tap in nearly every bar back in KC.
Hopefully, as the new facility is retrofitted with the expanded gift shop and tasting area, more tours will be offered to the general public. I know what an important tourist attraction Boulevard has become to Kansas City, and maybe one day in the near future, the Georgetown Brewery Tour will look similar.
All in all, we had a great time, and we sure have become quick fans of this local gem of a brewery! Cheers to Manny's! And cheers, of course, to our hometown favorite, Boulevard!
*Bob's is only on tap for a few days on and after May 14 each year. Bob was a company friend who passed away from cancer, so they release this beer every year on his birthday, May 14, and 100% of the proceeds goes to charity.