Joe Walts is one of the newest brewers in town â€” literally.
Walts is the head â€” and currently the only â€” brewer at Narrows Brewery Co., which opened its doors at 9007 South 19th Street on July 12. The engineer-turned-brewer moved to the South Sound from Wisconsin just a month ago to take the job, and, in a matter of weeks, he had crafted a pale ale, golden ale, and IPA for the brewery and taproom’s opening.
“We have a superstar brewer,” said Scott Wagner, an owner at Narrows Brewery. “We did a national search. We received hundreds of resumes. He’s the perfect blend of an artist and scientist. ”
Walts is helping bring the vision of Wagner and five of his friends to fruition.
Twenty-two months ago, Narrows Brewery was just an idea. Six friends, two of whom own the Narrows Marina and many of whom were home brewers, thought about what they could do with the mill building. A brewery and taproom made perfect sense to Wagner.
“There’s no over-the-water brewery around,” he said.
Working with fellow marina owner Gordon Rush’s Rush Commercial Construction, the visionaries converted the 101-year-old building that once operated as a boat storage locker into a taproom and brewery.
The two-sided taproom offers views of the Narrows Bridge on one side and a look into the brewery through windows on the other.
The bridge provides a motif for the venue, which opens at 11:02 a.m. seven days a week â€” the time at which the bridge collapsed in 1940 â€” and photos of the bridge dawn the walls of the taproom.
Wagner’s hoping to draw in boaters, who will be able to tie down at a new dock with more than 800 feet of side-tie that opened in June. Docking will be free for those who stay less than three hours and visit the taproom and brewery or Boathouse 19.
Beyond beer, the taproom also serves wine, $3 bowls of snacks, and offers a special menu from Boathouse 19, featuring beef burgers, hot dogs, street tacos, and pulled pork, fresh roasted turkey and barbeque chicken sandwiches.
Since opening, the taproom has added a stout and Belgium blonde to the mix, and it will introduce an imperial red and rye bitter this week. For now the beers are unnamed, but patrons might see names like Sturdy Gerdy in the future, manager Mary Asami said.
The brewery can fill growlers, but looking ahead a few months, the owners plan to start filling kegs and distributing to local bars, eventually expanding their footprint down the West Coast.