May 18, 2011 - 9:49 AM--by Kendall Jones, Washington Beer Blog--
NOTE - updated January 2013. Skookum Brewing has now moved to a new location near the Arlington Airport. Entertaining so many brewery visitors became problematic at the old location. In other words, the neighbors didn't like it. If you read the story below, you'll get a sense of peaceful, country living. As the brewery became more popular, it infringed on the peace and quiet that the neighbors expect. Unfortunate but understandable.
Skookum Brewing is now located at:
17925A 59th Ave N
Arlington, WA 98223
Click for MAP
Wednesday and Thursday: 2:00 - 7:00
Friday and Saturday: 2:00 - 8:00
Sunday 2:00 - 5:00
closed Monday and Tuesday.
Our original story:
Most people know nothing about Skookum Brewery. It is as mysterious as the name. In Chinook jargon (a local native/English dialect), Skookum is the name of a mythical woodland beast. While Sasquatch sightings seem to be increasingly rare these days, Skookum Brewery is more frequently venturing out of the forest. Last year at the 2010 Washington Brewers Festival, many people got their first glimpse of Skookum. This year the brewery will once again venture out of the woods and reveal itself at the annual festival on Father’s Day weekend.
Truthfully, Skookum Brewery is not very far off of the beaten path. You have likely driven past it dozens of times and never realized it as you traveled north or south on Interstate 5 near Arlington. This delightful brewery is welcoming and provides a nice rest stop between Seattle and destinations north.
Travel with Purpose and Confidence
Let’s start out by getting you there. To find Skookum Brewery, which is approximately one hour north of Seattle, you need confidence and faith. The brewery is not exactly in plain view--quite the opposite, actually. At the end of this article we provide precise directions. You might think you have made a wrong turn because there are no signs to guide you, but you are not lost. Trust the directions. Have faith in your map or GPS. Skookum might be a bit hard to find but a visit to this brewery is very much worth it.
Relax and Soak in the Country Livin'
Set in the woods, this is one of the most relaxing and peaceful breweries we have ever visited. The buildings—engineered and built by owner/brewer Ron Walcher—are beautiful. The tasting room and brewery is reminiscent of a mountain lodge, with river rock and beautiful timbers.
Across the way, you’ll notice a large and beautiful old barn. Ron and his wife relocated and rebuilt the historic barn piece by piece. In its previous life, it was a dairy barn in Marysville. In his previous life, Ron worked in construction. Judging by the buildings here, he was very good at it.
When we arrived, we found all of the doors wide open. People were scattered about, indoors and out, enjoying Ron’s beer. We parked ourselves at a large, heavy picnic table just outside the brewery’s garage door, though the patio furniture in the woods looked like a nice option as well. Within moments a woman approached us and offered us beer.
Inside the brewery, you'll find a 10-barrel system that Ron uses to brew his selection of Skookum beers. His beers are solid. The Jackass IPA is perhaps his most popular brew, along with the Olde Tom IPA. The beer selection includes plenty of choices, including an Amber, a Belgian-style Pale Ale, and an Imperial Stout. There’s more; you’ll just have to see what Ron has on tap when you arrive.
Bring Your Pooch
We quickly realized that this is a dog-friendly establishment, which made our two dogs very happy. Just as quickly as they fetched our beers, our hosts brought treats and a bowl of water for our dogs. Not long after we arrived a man approached us with a camera and a large, framed poster. He showed it to us--a collage of dogs. “I’m the photographer,” he told us. “We do a Dogs of Skookum calendar every year, so we need to go take pictures of your dogs.”
He led us to a grassy area next to the barn where he takes a few pictures and explains that they sell the calendars at cost. They just do it because they love animals. Turns out, the photographer is Ron Walcher’s brother-in-law.
This is a friendly place. The service is outstanding, not because they have any deep drive to provide you with top notch customer service, but because they are happy to see you. Everyone seems genuinely glad you’re there. I didn’t ask, but I feel safe in assuming that the three women who were waiting tables and pouring beer are part of the family.
When we arrived, they had just opened for the day. There were already a handful of people scattered about. As time went on, the crowd grew steadily: guys on Harleys, young men in pickup trucks getting kegs, neighbors carrying empty growlers needing satisfaction, and other wide-eyed beer hobos like ourselves.
Once you visit Skookum Brewery you will not believe that you’ve never done it before. It is an awesome place. Friendly and relaxing. Welcoming and peaceful. Country living just five minutes from I-5.
What, Exactly, is Skookum?
The word Skookum is Chinook jargon. That is, a native American word that has been interpreted and bent into having meaning in English. Skookum has a couple of meanings. First, it is a word with positive or strong connotations, used synonymously with words like good, powerful, and ultimate. “Holy cow, this beer is skookum!” Second, Skookum is a name given to a mythical woodland beast. A Sasquatch, basically.
Getting There and Other Info
- From I-5 take exit 208 (the Darrington/Hwy 530 exit) and head east on Highway 530.
- After approximately .25 miles (a quarter mile) veer right onto Smokey Point Blvd.
- Head south for 1 mile and turn right onto 200th Street NE. This road goes over the freeway.
- Follow this road west (200th Street NE, a.k.a. King Thompson Road) for approximately 1 mile and turn left onto 17th Drive NE.
- Yes, it looks like a private road. You will think you’ve made a wrong turn, but you haven’t. Follow the road, slowly, to its end at the Skookum Brewery. In order to appease the neighbors, who are less than thrilled to have a popular brewery and tasting room up the road, there are no signs to guide you.
19529 17th Drive Northeast
Arlington, WA 98223
Tasting Room Hours
Thursday 3:00 - 7:00 PM
Friday 3:00 - 7:00 PM
Saturday 2:00 - 5:00 PM