July 6, 2011 - 12:07 PM--by Kendall Jones, Washington Beer Blog--
In late 2010 rumors began to surface about the return of local brewing guru Skip Madsen. He’d been off screen for a while and everyone in the beer community was excited to hear that he would soon again be crafting delicious beers. In early 2011, American Brewing Company opened its doors and began brewing beer with Skip captaining the brewhouse.
American Brewing represents the meeting of two minds. One is familiar to Washington beer lovers, while the other brings fresh energy to the local beer scene. One of the Northwest’s most revered and decorated brewers, Skip Madsen's awards include 10 Great American Beer Festival medals, 15 North American Beer Awards medals, and three World Beer Cup medals. His work experience includes stints brewing for Pike Brewery, Big Time Brewery, Boundary Bay Brewery, and most recently Water Street Brewing. His recipe book includes beers like Breakaway IPA, Queen Nina’s Imperial IPA, Boundary Bay Imperial IPA, Panama Red, and Big Phatty Imperial Red.
The new brew-blood at American Brewing comes from business owner Neil Fallon. This is his first venture into the world of brewing. A Tacoma native, Neil is a real estate developer looking for a new challenge and a new business adventure.
“I’m a residential real estate developer and I was looking for a new opportunity,” Neil told me at the brewery in Edmonds. “Someone suggested that I consider getting a sports bar. I talked to a broker and looked at some stuff but I didn’t want to deal with owning a bar, working until 2:00 a.m. and all that, but I looked at the bar—the bottles, the beer—and I thought maybe that’s what I should do. So I started to look at getting into the brewing business.”
“I manufacture things,” he says. “I find property and source materials; I build homes and then deliver them to people. Making beer is the same process.”
It’s a bit of a stretch, but I understand his point. Whether you’re making houses or beer, at the end of the day you have produced and delivered something to people—something that they want and/or need. There are a lot of things you can do in life to make a buck which do not involve producing and delivering something so essential as beer and housing. Philosophically, I get it.
When Neil decided to pursue the brewery business, he made a few key contacts around the beer business. He quickly learned that getting a top-notch brewer onboard was imperative. Neil contacted the Washington Beer Commission, which helped spread the news that he was looking for a brewer. He also contacted Jeannie McWilliams, a well-respected writer for the Northwest Brewing News, and asked for her advice.
“Jeannie told me that with Skip as my brewer I couldn’t go wrong.”
Building the Brewery
“Neil looked at some places in Fife, but he wasn’t getting anywhere,” says Skip. “I’ve had my eye on this location for a while now and had already talked to the city about building a brewery here, so it was pretty much ready to go.” All indications are that Edmonds is happy to have American Brewing come to town.
Neil and Skip built the brewery themselves along with help from some carpenters and other specialists. For those of you familiar with the Edmond’s waterfront, the brewery is directly across the train tracks from Arnies Restaurant in a business park that houses a variety of different types of businesses. They actually share the building with Gallagher’s Where U Brew.
The Breakaway Room
Located across the street from the Port of Edmonds Marina, the Breakaway Room started pouring beer in January 2011. It is a tasteful and subdued bar with windows to the brewery. It is a bit tricky to find, but the outstanding beers make it worth the effort. Expect to see fishermen and businessmen mingling with marine mechanics and retirees. They do not serve food but a nearby pizza joint delivers right to your table. Lunch pails and picnics are welcome, minors are not.
The Breakaway IPA is probably the beer you are most likely to find at pubs around Seattle. Not surprising given Skip’s award-winning skills when it comes to brewing heavily hopped beers. Also look for Ed’s Red, a delightfully hoppy version of this often under appreciatated beer style. Crisp, clean and light, American Blonde is well suited for a warm summer day or any beer drinker looking for something refreshing yet flavorful. The Breakaway Caboose Stout is rich and dark oatmeal stout made with six different malts. It is rich, complex and delicious.
American Brewing Company
The Breakaway Room
180 W. Dayton St.
Edmonds, WA 98020