It was home-brewing uncle Dave off in California who seven Christmases ago mailed Arthur Cohn a basic starter kit for German ale.
A simple extract. A recipe. Do this, do that.
Arthur did, the beer was good – and he was hooked on brewing.
So he kept at it, researched, dived into home brewing sites on the web, learned how to handle yeast, how to extract grain, all the while making his own beers, gathering skill as he went along.
“It took over more and more parts of the garage,” Cohn recalled with a chuckle of his home-brewing operation. “It was just three or four batches in when I thought, ‘I can do this, I can do this pretty well, and I’m getting better.’”
Wondering whether he could make a business out of his love, he hit the books again. He drew up a business plan and pitched it to his parents, who took scant convincing to get on board.
“We had to get mom’s approval first,” Arthur said with a wry smile.
Cohn and his father, Jim Cohn, began visiting breweries, many of them in Seattle and Tacoma, hopping up their excitement.
“We looked around for a while to find a suitable place in the valley, in Kent, Tukwila, down toward Sumner and Puyallup. But when the economy took off, it got harder and harder to find the kind of place we were looking for,” Arthur Cohn said. “Our broker showed this place to us. When we were looking at it, Evergreen Market — a recreational marijuana dispensary — was building out next door. They had just got the spot and hadn’t started yet. They wanted us be part of it as a whole rejuvenated block.”
At 3 p.m. on April 25, two years after they began taking those initial steps, Arthur and Jim Cohn opened Scamp Brewing Company at 402 16th St. NE, next to Hibachi Buffet, where they serve up a variety of homecrafted brews, a hoppy ale here, a darker stout there.
“I try to do an array so I can find something for anybody who comes in,” Arthur Cohn explained. “We’ve already heard from a lot of people in the first few days. Someone may say, ’I don’t like this type,’ so I’ll direct them to the Belgian Amber; it’s not quite as aggressively hopped, and the feedback’s been very positive on that one.”
“People seem to be kind of one camp or the other on the really hoppy ones,” added Jim Cohn, who once managed video stores. “One lady really liked the oatmeal stout, which is quite dark.”
Arthur Cohn expects to add Schilling Cider, an Auburn product, to the menu in the coming weeks.
Now to that name, “Scamp” Brewing Co.
Well, look to the painting on the right as you walk in. That’s Arthur’s beloved cat, Scamp, atop a beer barrel. Scamp’s furry chum, Gustavo, whose name graces one of the homemade brews, and who himself was named after a character from TV hit “Breaking Bad”, finds a place at the base of the barrel. Behind the bar, a painting of another pet, a dachshund elongating its lithe, sausage-like body to guzzle a mouthful of water.
Red-bearded, soft-spoken, pet-loving Arthur Cohn is a shy man, but passion bubbles up when he talks about beer. A bit of a far cry from the computer science degree the 1999 Auburn Riverside High School grad later earned from Western Washington University.
“I like the process. I don’t like the word foodie, but that’s what my uncle and I were. So we would talk about cooking, and he did that too, and he thought this would be a good thing also since we both like to create something that’s good,” Arthur Cohn recalled.
Business hours are 3 to 10 p.m., Wednesdays to Fridays, and noon to 10 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays.