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Pacific brew crew taps into market, thinks big

Northwest Brewing Company’s  Chief Executive Officer Greg Steed, left, and its Chief Operating Officer, Dan Anthony, hope the nearly half-century of beer marketing experience between them pushes sales of the Pacific-based brewery’s beers through the roof.  - Shawn Skager/Auburn Reporter
Northwest Brewing Company’s Chief Executive Officer Greg Steed, left, and its Chief Operating Officer, Dan Anthony, hope the nearly half-century of beer marketing experience between them pushes sales of the Pacific-based brewery’s beers through the roof.
— image credit: Shawn Skager/Auburn Reporter

If you haven't yet heard of Pacific-based Northwest Brewing Company, your days of ignorance are numbered.

Originally founded as Trade Route in 2008, the craft beer maker, which recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of its switch to Northwest Brewing, is poised to make a splash in the competitive craft brewing market, in the state and beyond.

A year ago Greg Steed and Dan Anthony took over the struggling Trade Route.

"This brewery was broken, it was a mess," Steed said. "They weren't selling very much beer. The beer wasn't real well received."

They immediately got to work, using their almost half-century of experience as beverage marketing and sales guys to build a solid foundation for the brewery's future.

"Dan and I are interesting," Steed said. "I ran the Seattle Anheuser-Busch wholesaler for the last 13 years, and I was with them for 25 years in the wholesale beer, wine and spirits business. And Dan worked with Miller. So we're kind of like Coke and Pepsi."

With Steed and Anthony holding down the business end, the duo hired head brewer Greg Fleehart and bought his former brewery Three Skulls. They surrounded Fleehart with a strong core of local brewers to help guide the development of the brand's beers and ales.

"Our expertise is the marketing and sales," Steed said. "Neither Dan nor I are brewers. We understand the brewing process well, but we're really sales and marketing guys. The other guys around here, they just love beer."

Today Northwest Brewing is riding high on the success of its flagship brew, Hoppy Bitch.

"It's the one that has taken off," Steed said.

The brewery is waiting on approval from the Federal government to begin producing 16 ounce cans of Hoppy Bitch, in addition to the bottles and kegs it already produces.

Northwest is also preparing for the roll out of a new beer, Local Ink.

"We're going to have local tattoo artists from each city we put that beer into do the background art for that label," Steed said. "We'll drop the logo over the top of that art and put the city name on it."

Steed said his brewery boasts a strong presence in Washington and Oregon and will launch in Idaho, Colorado and Alaska in the upcoming months.

"We're trying to sell beer," Steed said. "We make a very good product, and our expertise is how to get it to the consumer. We've got some pretty edgy stuff. Our vision statement is making craft beer bold, fun and sexy."

In addition to its beers, Northwest Brewing operates a tap room at the brewery at 1091 Valentine Ave. SE, Pacific.

"It's a great little local gathering place," Steed said. "It's a local watering hole with live music every Saturday. It's a funky little spot, it's fun."

Right now, Northwest Brewing produces about 5,800 to 6,000 barrels a day.

Steed hopes eventually to quadruple that output.

"We're ambitious, we want this to be a 25,000 barrel brewery, which would put us in the top 10 in Washington state," Steed said.

Northwest Brewing Company launches its Local Ink brew at the tap room on March 1.

For more information, visit www.northwestbrewingcompany.com.

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