Robyn Schumake sterilizes equipment in preparation for a new 15 barrel batch at the recently opened Stoup Brewing.
Stoup Brewing combines science with beer
By Shane Harms
A throng of thirsty patrons arrived Wednesday Oct. 23 ready to taste and celebrate the opening of Ballard’s ninth brewery, Stoup Brewing (1108 NW 52nd St).
Owners, brewer Robyn Schumacher, PR person Lara Zahaba and head brewer Brad Benson poured beer and chatted with patrons as more and more of Seattle’s beer enthusiasts arrived.
“I’m from the Northwest but all my brewing experience is on the east coast. I followed my now wife to New York and she got a job in the wine industry, and so I brewed in Manhattan and New Jersey,” Benson said.
The start for Stoup began when Benson and Zahaba (married) were looking for a change in careers, and they considered brewing
“I worked as a professional brewer for about six years, and then I got out of it about a decade ago and went back to my regular career as an environmental chemist. I wasn’t enjoying that too much, so my wife and I were talking about what we should do next and she kind of elbowed me a bit and said, ‘Why don’t we do a brewery?’” Benson said.
Business partner and brewer, Schumacher, who has a background in biology, brewing and is Washington’s first female certified Cicerone, met the couple in the midst of her own career change.
“We met Robyn at the same time, and she was talking about doing the same thing, so we put a plan together,” Benson said.
With their backgrounds in science and Lara’s eighteen years experience in the wine industry, the three collaborated under a credo of blending the “art and science of beer.”
They secured and constructed a brewery at an old garage in the industrial area of Ballard at 1108 NW 52nd St. Stoup is just a couple blocks from Reuben’s Brewery and even closer to long-time Ballard icon, Bardahl’s.
“The interior aesthetics are very much inspired by the neighborhood. We love that we are in an industrial zone that meets a residential neighborhood. We were definitely looking to create an industrial sensibility but we also wanted a comfortable, interesting tap room ... a place for neighbors to hang out,” said Lara.
The space has a modern industrial aesthetic, and is wide open so that patrons can see the large tanks and other brewing equipment directly from the bar. There is also a wide garage door in front for access to outdoor seating and a food truck.
Now that the brewery is up and running they plan on producing batches steadily in their 15 barrels-per-batch operation.
Benson explained their process in deciding what to brew and when: “We just kind of talk about what we want to brew and we decided we want to brew what we want to drink, which means right now we’ve got a robust porter, a Northwest IPA, an ISA, which is a lower alcohol but still a hoppy beer. We are actually filtering a Northwest Red, and there’s a German style hefeweizen on the way. So there will be some German stuff, there will be some Northwest stuff, and we will probably dabble in a little Belgium style here and there. So really just a little bit of everything.”
Future plans for different varieties are in the works as well, including sours or oak-aged or wood-aged programs. Eventually, they intend to self-distribute to local taverns and shops with growler filling stations. Bottling, they say, is another decision they’ll have to make down the road.
Being the ninth brewery to practice in Ballard, Stoup has a simple vision in how they fit into the Ballard brewing community.
“Our niche is really just making good solid beers that we like to drink. I’m not the type of guy that likes to brew with a lot of spice or pumpkin, and I lament the loss of more of the Octoberfest and the other types of harvest ales. There are a lot of great beers that come out in the fall but I miss the more traditional styles.”
Stoup Brewing is open Wed-Thurs, 4-8 p.m.; Fri, 4-9 p.m.; Sat, 12-9 p.m. and Sun, 12-8 p.m. For more information about Stoup, visit www.stoupbrewing.com
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