All photos courtesy of Populaxe
Pete Charbonnier, Amy Besunder, Jiri Zatloukal, and Judy Scarcia.

New kids on the brewing block

Populuxe Brewing opening soon

By Pete Treperinas, UW News Lab

Ballard’s brewing community will have a new member in a matter of weeks.

Populuxe Brewing, located in the 800 block of NW 49th St, is set to open in early February.

Ballard residents Pete Charbonnier and Jiri Zatloukal and their wives, Amy Besunder and Judy Scarcia, purchased the building last July. It had previously housed both a cabinet shop and Oddvar’s Automotive. In recent years, however, it has been, as Charbonnier described it, “raw space.”

All four of the owners have day jobs, but nonetheless have been busy adding plumbing and tailoring the 850-square-foot building to accommodate brewing.

Populuxe’s brewhouse is just a barrel and a half in size, giving Charbonnier and Zatloukal the ability to brew about 45 gallons at a time. Their small setup is known as a nano-brewery.


But keeping it small-scale is what Charbonnier and Zatloukal are used to. The two have been home brewing in Zatloukal’s garage for years and have even entered local competitions.

“We’re just general beer nerds,” Charbonnier said.

The two had thought about opening their own brewery for years, so when the location on 49th St NW opened, it was the perfect opportunity.

Even though there are several brewing companies within about a two-mile radius, Populuxe’s group is confident that its knowledge of beer and ties to the neighborhood will lead to success.

“This is our community,” Besunder said. “Pete and I have lived in Ballard for 15 years so we wanted to stay here and we wanted to stay connected with our neighbors.”

Kevin Klein, owner of Northwest Peaks Brewery, located at 4912 17th Ave NW in Ballard, said he gladly welcomes Populuxe to the Ballard brewing community. He has been in business for just over two years and understands what is associated with being the new guy in the neighborhood.

For Klein, the other Ballard brewers made it easy. He anticipates the same for Populuxe.

“The brewing community is just a really good one to be a part of,” Klein said. “So it’s good to have another contact in the area for collaboration and sharing materials and insights.”

Like other Ballard brewing companies, Besunder hopes to create a grassroots experience for Populuxe’s customers. Each month the work of a local artist will be on display inside the facility. And local food trucks will have the opportunity to park in front and sell to Populuxe’s patrons.

“We don’t have a kitchen,” Besunder said, “but we have access [for food.”

The mainly industrial feel of Northwest 49th Street hasn’t discouraged Populuxe’s owners. Across the street, Domanico Cellars has created a destination for people to taste and buy wine.

And despite being a little removed from residential areas, Charbonnier doesn’t think it will be hard for people to find out that Populuxe is there.

“It’s a quiet street here on 49th, but I’ve really been impressed with the amount of walk-by traffic,” he said.

In terms of types of beer that Populuxe will brew, Charbonnier and Zatloukal won’t limit their creativity. Zatloukal’s Czech background will likely inspire a Pilsner, while Pale Ales and IPAs will likely also be brewed.

“To the curious beer drinker, there will always be something new here,” Charbonnier said.


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