Trade Route Brewing Co. opens in Pacific
By MARK KLAAS
Auburn Reporter Regional Editor
October 8, 2009 · Updated 3:40 PM
Inspired by time-honored brewing traditions of the world, a local group is expanding the beer frontier and fermenting something new for savory suds buffs.
Five complementary businessmen decided to join forces, try the ultra-competitive brewery market and tap into some innovative beer.
The uniquely produced microbrew lineup of ales, lagers and weizens at the newly opened Trade Route Brewing Co. & Taphouse in Pacific is worthy of a taste-bud exploration.
Ever try the distinct taste of a pleasant Ginger Pale Ale? Or perhaps a fresh Mango Weizen? What about the Midnight Ale, a smooth, dark and nutty brew?
"We are not afraid to challenge the brewing dogma, be a little adventurous and have a lot of fun at the end of the day," said Joe Valvo, master brewer and one of the owners. "We're doing some really unique beer."
And the taste comes directly from home.
Customers can stroll in, pull up a bar stool and enjoy a pint of crisp ale while they watch the brewery do its thing. The spacious taphouse, part of the 4,000 square-foot plant, provides a front-row seat to the mix, stir and ferment operation.
These days the company is busy producing 1,500 gallons of beer each week.
"It's the freshest place where you can get a beer," said Chris Castillo, general manager and partner. "Here, when we make beer, there's no automation. It's hand crafted."
It's a small but manageable operation for the proprietors, who found a suitable location off busy Stewart Road to brew, serve and distribute the latest creations.
Castillo and Valvo joined three partners from Lake Tapps – James Baker, Derrick Focht, Jeff Boulet – to open the microbrewery that straddles the King-Pierce county line.
"It's more than I envisioned it to be," Castillo said. "It's much better than what we had at South Park."
First located in the Seattle Industrial District, the operation was known as the Laughing Buddha Brewing Co. before Castillo and the group decided to move the operation out of a city rich in competitive breweries. They wanted to start anew in the developing Green River Valley and carve a niche with signature beers.
For Castillo and Valvo, the business is a dream realized and a passion practiced.
They formed a partnership as Bellevue Community College classmates who experimented and brewed micros for friends and parties. They enjoyed the task.
Eventually, they went their separate ways. Castillo, a Washington State graduate, went to work for Microsoft as a technical consultant. Valvo, a University of Washington graduate, worked in microbiology research.
Both, however, wanted to try something different, something creative. That urge led them to back to microbrewing and the challenge of blending different ingredients and developing new recipes.
Eventually, they perfected the exercise.
In such a short time, Trade Route microbrews have acquired a following. The ales and lagers can be found in many bars, restaurants and stores locally and regionally.
The ambitious plan is to become a leading, recognizable beer in a region filled with heralded brands and flavors – from Red Hook to Pyramid, from Mac and Jack's to Diamond Knot.
"We want to be the beer for South King and Pierce counties and eventually be the top beer in Washington," Castillo said.
Trade Route currently has a small menu of beers, including two flagship labels – the Chieftain Amber Ale and Jet Stream Lager. But plans are afoot to expand the possibilities, introduce new tastes and return seasonal brews.
The company plans to premiere its latest flavor-packed IPA – India pale ale – at its Oktoberfest grand opening next Saturday.
The idea is for customers to come in, watch, learn and enjoy the process.
"They can come experience it first hand [from the ones] whomade the beer, and they can ask questions," Castillo said.
"It's been fun. We're very happy about it," he added. "You can watch us brew the beer while you have a pint."
- Business: Trade Route Brewing Co. & Taphouse
- Partners: Chris Castillo (general manager); Joe Valvo (master brewer), James Baker, Derrick Focht, Jeff Boulet.
- Location: 1091 Valentine Ave. SE, Pacific
- Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday
- Specialty: In house-produced microbrews, including flagship brands Chieftain Amber Ale and Jet Stream Lager. Kegs, growlers, cases to go.
- Grand opening: Oct. 17-18, Oktoberfest, with live music and food.
- Information: 253-987-5680 or www.traderoutebrewing.com. firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-253-833-0218 (ext 5050).