Icicle Brewing opens its doors in Leavenworth
April 26, 2011 - 2:02 PM-- by Kendall Jones, Washington Beer Blog --
Of all the towns in Washington, the Bavarian theme park that we like to call Leavenworth seems perhaps the most appropriate place for a brewery. It has been 10 years since Leavenworth Brewery merged with Fish Brewing Company and consolidated operations in Olympia. (Leavenworth beers are not brewed in Leavenworth.) Since that fateful day, the town suffered an identity crisis: a German-themed town without a brewery. Leavenworth without a brewery is like Disneyland without Mickey Mouse.
Last weekend we had two reasons to head east to Leavenworth. First, we wanted to check out the Leavenworth Ale Festival (see our report). Second, and perhaps more significant, it was the opening weekend for the Icicle Brewing Company. Hallelujah! Leavenworth once again has a brewery.
A New Brewery
The Icicle Brewing Company stands across the street from the Leavenworth Festhalle in a building specifically designed and constructed for its purpose. Inside and out, the brand-new building is beautiful and fits seamlessly into the Bavarian-themed surroundings.
Out front there is a large patio replete with heavy wooden tables and benches. While the space inside might seem a bit cramped when the doors are shut, the intention is to have the entire front of the taproom open to the patio. They designed the space to be cozy during the cold winter months and wide open for the rest of the year.
Inside, the taproom overlooks the entire brewery. It is a big and beautiful brewery. The pictures do more justice than my words.
Icicle Brewing was pouring guest beers exclusively. The fermenters and conditioning tanks were full and the beer should be pouring soon. Obviously, with the taps ready to pour, it made sense for Icicle Brewing to open on the same weekend as Leavenworth Ale Festival, even if it was to pour other beers.
Know the Players
About the same time the Leavenworth Brewery was moving out of town, Oliver and Pam Brulotte arrived in Leavenworth. They built and operate the München Haus just a few blocks away. For those who do not know, München Haus is a great place to get an authentic German sausage and a good beer. For Leavenworth it is perfect: a marvelous beer garden with great bratwurst. Operating München Haus opened the Brulotte’s eyes to Leavenworth's glaring lack of a brewery and the whole Disneyland without Mickey Mouse thing.
Oliver Brulotte is not exactly new to the world of beer. His family has deep roots in hop farming, going back four generations. In fact, you can tell that Oliver is from Moxee, the town near Yakima, by the way he pronounces it. Most of us pronounce it MOCK-see. As in “You’ll go far, Kid. You’ve got a lot of moxie.” People actually from the farming village pronounce it mock-SEE. It is not a subtle difference. Beautiful old photos from the Brulotte family collection adorn the walls of the taproon at Icicle Brewing: timeless photos of barns, hop kilns, women harvesting hops the old-fashioned way, and even one of Oliver’s grandfather.
Oliver’s wife, Pam Brulotte, seems to be tireless. While we were driving to Leavenworth that morning, Pam was running a marathon. And we thought a two hour drive over a mountain pass was ambitious. When we finally caught up with Pam she was pouring beer at the festival and later working the crowd at the brewery. Maybe it was the endorphin rush, after all she’d just completed a marathon, but Pam’s good spirit is infectious. After talking to people at the brewery, we determined that Pam is a person of boundless energy—all of it positive. She’s awesome. I’m pretty sure she never slows down and is always smiling.
To brew the beer, Pam and Oliver enlisted Dean Priebe, a local home brewer with an outstanding reputation in the homebrew community. A year ago, the Glen Hay Falconer Foundation awarded Dean one of its scholarships to the World Academy of Brewing at the Siebel Institute of Technology. As part of his continuing education, Dean has brewed collaboratively with Big Al Brewing, Pike Brewing, and Walking Man Brewing. (Which, not coincidently, are the guest taps currently pouring at the brewery.) At the Leavenworth Ale Festival, Dean poured Glen Hay IPA, a beer he brewed with Walking Man. It won my vote for Best in Show. We look forward to tasting more of his beer.
Icicle Brewing intends to brew a selection of German style beers alongside a couple of northwest style ales. They’ll also produce seasonal offerings. The regular lineup is expected to include: Munich Helles, Kölsch, American-style Hefeweizen, Märzen, IPA and Porter.