What does an intriguing, crafty and smart bird, with a rich cultural history, have to do with artisan Washington beer? When asking that question about Black Raven Brewery, the answer becomes obvious. The staff at Black Raven Brewery are smart people with a wicked sense of humor, keen business savvy, creative and inquistive minds, and an appreciation for beer history and culture. The Black Raven gives them a rich library of resources when it comes to beer names like Petit la Mort, Trickster IPA, Pour les Oiseux and others.
One of the great adventures at Black Raven Brewery are their cask beers. Wednesday is cask night and at 4pm a special cask is tapped. The cask is usually based on one of their standard beers, with something special from their ingredient stash. Black Raven Brewery is extremely proud of their “ingredient arsenal” that allows them to experiment with cask beers like Katnip Pale Ale and Wise Old Sage. Wormwood was used in the days of yore to bitter beer and at Black Raven it finds its way into a cask on occasion. The most popular cask has been the Citrus and Spice Trickster IPA. The popular casks empty quickly on Wednesday nights so get there early!
Black Raven Brewery hopes to eventually offer two casks on Wednesday nights but like the Raven, they are being smart when it comes to growing their fledgling business. Smart means investing now in fermenters allowing them to double their capacity. In December, Black Raven acquired a new 30 BBL Fermenter and a 15 BBL Bright Beer Tank. Beveridge Place Pub patrons voted for Black Raven Trickster IPA to be the standard IPA on tap for 2010 and the shiny new fermenter from Santa will allow Black Raven to fill that demand. They are cautious not to over commit themselves and you will be more likely to find Black Raven as a special tap at a brew pub than part of the regular line up. Check Taplister to find out which pubs currently have Black Raven on tap or grab a seat at the Black Raven brew pub. You can also pick up a keg or growler of standard Black Raven brew. Special brews are so special that you will need to belly up to a bar or catch them at a brew fest.
Much of Beaux Bowman, co-owner and master brewer’s, early fascination with beer was related to his fascination in exploring “what makes beer”. He brings science and standards from his former career, eight years in process control at Kodak Labs, to precision artisan brewing. He moved to Washington so he could live “where the breweries are” in 2000. He worked as night brewer for Mac and Jack but Beaux wanted to explore beyond just crafting great beer to creating a great beer experience with brew pubs. Beaux worked at Far West when it was a brew pub and then brewed at the Ram before launching Black Raven Brewery.
Working alongside Beaux in the brewery is Andy Lapworth. Andy’s illustrious brewing career began in highschool, when he discovered a Mr Beer Kit, long forgotten in his dad’s closet. The canned malt in the kit was probably 4-5 years old .. He didn’t really like the taste of beer and his first batch was some pretty horrible but the geek in him wanted to experiment His second batch of homebrew was all grain Pale ale and he gained an appreciation for beer because he was with it at the start. He developed a relationship and an appreciation for his creation. He studied at the American Brewer’s Guild, where he met Beaux in 2005. Andy came on in the early days of Black Raven and helped build the brewery. You can check out the photos of their “building the brewery” process.
Beaux and Kat Gillespie, co-owner, laid the groundwork for Black Raven when the LLC was funded in January 2007. It took them 18 months to sign a lease for the brewery, but they were committed to creating their brew pub in Redmond. They lived in Redmond and wanted to create a neighborhood brew pub for their neighborhood. Once the lease was in place, it took only seven months to build the brewery, create the taproom and get the kegs filled and tapped. They have succeeded in creating a friendly neighborhood gathering place that frequently spills into their overflow seating area in the brewery.
The next big beer release for Black Raven Brewery will be Wisdom Seeker, double IPA for late February. This is a big but balanced IPA, headily aromatic with Chinnook, Simcoe, Summit, Centennial hops and Amarillo dry hopped.
Although we are sure that it is every brewery’s life long dream to be our featured brewery of the month, Black Raven has other accolades this month. Black Raven was also featured in the January-February 2010 issue of Draft magazine. Trickster IPA has been the star this year, winning Silver medal at the North American Beer Awards.