Meet the Brewer-Stoup Brewing
Brad Benson: Co-Owner, Brewer at Stoup Brewing, Seattle
Hometown: Brad was born in Iowa, where his parents ran the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory, a summer research center for the University of Iowa and Iowa State University. The rural setting provided Brad with a 100-acre oasis of lakefront, streams, trails, beaver dams, ant hills and poison ivy. He spent a good chunk of his childhood running through the woods. That is where he fell in love with nature and the sciences.
Just before starting middle school, his family moved to Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho. After graduating from Gonzaga University with a B.S. in Chemistry, Brad moved to Seattle.
Favorite Beer: Of all the beers he’s brewed, Brad points to Stoup Robust Porter as his favorite. Porter has always been one of his favorite styles, so when he saw it losing favor and disappearing from store shelves, he was determined to make a good one and add it to the brewery’s year-round lineup. The beer has now won some impressive accolades, including a medal at the World Beer Cup just a few months after Stoup Brewing opened, which is something Brad says he won’t soon forget.
Beyond the Beer: Not surprising given his upbringing in Iowa, Brad says he really loves being outdoors. He’s especially fond of bicycling, whether it be on the road or on a trail in the woods. He also loves hiking and snowshoeing.
Brewing pedigree: While biking around the San Juan Island during his college years, Brad had an epiphany while enjoying a Redhook ESB. That’s what started his love affair with good beer.
Brad was an avid homebrewer, but when he and his wife relocated to New Jersey things took a turn toward the pro side. “We lived next to Maxwell’s, the famous music venue in Hoboken, and when I heard that it was becoming a brewpub, I walked in and offered to help.”
While working there, he continued his beer education by passing the BJCP (Beer Judging Certification Program). He then moved on to a brewing positions at High Point Wheat Beer Company, which is the inspiration for Stoup Brewing’s Bavarian Hefeweizen. He also brewed at Heartland Brewing in New York City, and at Cricket Hill, a brewery in New Jersey that he designed and opened.
His Story: In 2003, Brad and his wife Lara returned to Seattle, where he resumed his career in environmental chemistry, leaving the brewhouse behind. The two were married and started a family. It didn’t take long for the brewing bug to bite again. Feeling unfulfilled by their day jobs, Brad and Lara decided they should be doing something they loved. So they took the big leap, cashed in their retirement accounts and really put everything on the line to open the brewery. It was during this time that they met Robyn Schumacher, their eventual partner at Stoup Brewing, and discovered that she shared the same goal. In 2013, Stoup Brewing opened in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.
“Our favorite choice of names at the time was Critical Juncture Brewing until friends told us we may as well call it Mid-Life Crisis Brewing,” says Brad. “Maybe that’s what it was, but we wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. If we could go back and change anything, we would have done it earlier.”