A designer is helping to select the color palettes for the as-yet-unpainted walls, and the kitchen is about 85 percent complete.
Utilities are waiting to be hooked up in the brewery, and the bar is a temporary makeshift of plywood painted black.
Didn’t appear to matter, however, to the people who showed up for a foretaste and look at Geaux Brewery at its soft-opening brunch last weekend, said owner Jeremy Hubbell.
“We got our licenses and permits about a week and some change ago, and we said, ‘People are generally not very picky about walls having paint on them, and we have beer, so let’s go ahead and open up,’” Hubbell explained. “It went great.”
The only problem – nobody expected all the folks who, alerted to the event on social media, showed up en-masse to form a line that extended from mid-restaurant out into the parking lot, all mouths eager to try out the beers and sample a small selection of the food – including southern grits, a Banana Foster Sundae, and Eggs Benedict made with pulled pork marinated in a mesquite, smoked Carolina porter on top of a Southern-style drop biscuit.
Geaux, which has offered its own tasty, home-brewed beers since 2012 on Bellevue’s Northrup Way, is bringing not only a brew house, a New Orleans-themed taproom and a kitchen to the 7,000-square-feet of space between Parker Paints and Cascade Beauty College at 425 E. Main St. but a family-friendly restaurant, too.
Hubbell is shooting to be fully open with all gears meshing by Auburn Days in August.
In the meantime, the soft-opening hours are 3 to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, all day Saturday, and Sunday 11 to 6. The food menu is limited for now but the kitchen is operational.
“We should have things like gumbo, red beans and rice. We have a muffaletta – both a type of round Sicilian sesame bread and a popular sandwich originating among Italian immigrants in New Orleans – and we are actually bringing bread out from New Orleans for that sandwich,” Hubbell said.
Beer is still a-brewing in Seattle for the flagship bar in Bellevue, so suds won’t be a concern.
He expects to have the walls painted in a week or two, and the utilities hooked up soon.
Special, customized bar
And as for that bar?
Well, sometime in August, Hubbell said, patrons will be plunking their brewskies down on a 55-foot, inch-and-a-half-thick, cypress wood- topped bar with a corrugated, rustic metal front.
Cut from an 800-year-old cypress tree that passed the last 200 years of its long life sipping the waters of the Louisiana Bayou, the wood has been drying out in a Louisiana kiln since May. The metal comes off a house in Louisiana that was taken down months ago.
“We wanted it to be something people appreciated and wanted to spend time at,” Hubbell said of the bar.
Stepping into the brewery area, Hubbell pauses at dozens of kegs from the Bellevue bar, all waiting to be washed. Those will move to storage once the brewing system now under manufacture in Portland takes their place.
“What we have is a small system relative to what we’re going to. It will be here temporarily for production use, and eventually that will get switched over to test batches when we are playing around,” Hubbell said.
Geaux’s present Seattle-based brewing process uses 200-to-300 gallon kettles resembling big pots. Their replacements will be squat, 600-gallon vessels topped by cones, each vessel having its own function. Geaux’s brewer will walk up a deck to tend them.
When the beer has been brewed, the liquid, called wort, will be transferred to three production tanks, where the brewer will add yeast and hops. Hubbell acquired these tanks from a closed brewery in Oregon. Each tank holding 40 barrels of beer, and each barrel being 31 gallons, these babies can hold 1,240 gallons of beer.
When the beer is done fermenting it will go into a “Brite” tank for carbonation and removal of any kind of particulates.
Across from the production tanks are smaller tanks capable of holding about seven barrels. These will be used for test batches.
The decor is eclectic. Hubbell found the church-pew seating at a second-hand store in Seattle, and the stand-up tables he nabbed at the auction of items from a bar on Capital Hill that went out of business three years ago.
Bread and Circuses helped design the kitchen and develop the menu to offer such classics as jambalaya, gumbo, po’ boys, shrimp boils, crawfish boils, pretty much anything Hubbell and his crew can get their hands on that will bring the tastes of southeast Louisiana to Auburn.
Founded in 2012 as “The Brewery for Homebrewers,” Geaux Brewing has since produced a number of award-winning beers, including its Wee Y’at Scotch Ale and Vanilla Mint Chai Satchmo Stout.
“This has been a very patient project,” Hubbell said. “What’s cool is the City has been awesome about it, so welcoming, the City Council, all those guys, everybody in permitting and planning, it’s been great.”