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Kenmore's first brewery celebrates city's unique history
Kenmore was a hub for alcohol distribution and those looking to socialize with a good drink during Prohibition. And while the city has changed greatly during the past 80 years, many still thirst for a friendly place to get a good brew.
“We had some of the best known speakeasies in the area,” said owner Derek Wyckoff, who has a great respect for Kenmore’s history. “We had about 30 in a couple-block area. We are just picking up where history left off.”
According to the Kenmore Heritage Society, Wyckoff became a part of Kenmore’s history on May 22 when he opened the doors to the city’s first ever brewery - 192 Brewing Company and The Lake Trail Taproom.
But Wyckoff, a Kenmore resident, incorporates that history into 192, including naming one of his beers Kenmore Gold, having live jazz and blues music to harken back to Prohibition and is going to use the well water from Kenmore’s Bastyr University in his new Seminary Stout and other beers.
“Tribes in the area had a great tradition of smoking salmon and we want to be able to do that as well,” Wyckoff said. “Everything we do, we try to research the local traditions.”
The Brewery sits just on the south side of the Burke-Gilman Trail, across Bothell Way from the Schnitzelbank Building at 7324 N.E. 175th Street. Many of his regulars come in off the trail while on a bike ride or out for a walk. He said that his limited parking has not been a problem.
Wyckoff said that one night he had tongue-in-cheek discussion with regulars about what excuse they used to get to the bar.
“One guy said, ‘don’t tell my wife, I am out walking the dog,’” Wyckoff laughed.
Lucky for the patron, dogs are just as welcome as people at the watering hole. Wyckoff even sells dog treats.
“We have had no problems with the dogs. The owners are really good and we don’t even have to pick up after them,” said Wyckoff, who has worked previously in the restaurant and hotel industry for 25 years.
The homey atmosphere has become an attraction for some customers.
“Our ambiance is ‘neighbors’ backyard’ and I think we hit it,” said Wyckoff, who began brewing his own beer in 2006 in his backyard. The mayor of Kenmore agrees.
“It is unique in that it is very warm and welcoming,” said Mayor David Baker, who admitted that beer is not his favorite beverage but tries to support local businesses. “In most places you have a table and four chairs. There, you are in with everyone. You just mingle and it is set up that way.”
Wyckoff said that Baker and the City Council have been some of his biggest supporters. The first year 192 participated in the Washington Brewer’s Festival, at St. Edwards State Park, Wyckoff was surprised at who welcomed him to the event.
“The mayor shook my hand and greeted me at the gate,” said Wyckoff. “It was kind of nice to be one of the hometown heroes. He has been overwhelmingly supportive.”
Wyckoff now has six different brewing recipes: Kenmore Gold, Hoppin’ Madrid, Vanilla Stout, Sassy Granny Apple Ale, Seminary Stout and the newest, Strong Scotch Ale. Wyckoff said he wanted a Scotch Ale because Kenmore is named for a Scottish town.
Wyckoff, his two part-time employees and his girlfriend Rachel Jagger, who all run the business, returned to the 2012 Brewer’s Festival and won the Beer Toss competition, for which he proudly displays the trophy.
But even without support, Wyckoff would have been just as determined to make his dream a reality.
“I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit I can’t control,” said Wyckoff. “I always knew what I wanted. I had this long vision and wanted to open on the trail.”
Wyckoff said he had to wait two years to get the location, which had just 450 square feet of space finished enough to use … but he opened anyway.
“I was talking to a guy in Renton about Derek and I said ‘think of a guy who spent $20 on paint, rolled it on and opened the doors,’” said friend and owner of Twelve Bar Brews in Woodinville, Kirk Hilse.
And the mayor was there for the opening.
“We decided to just open and posted it on Facebook,” said Wyckoff. “The mayor was here within five minutes. He wanted to be the first to buy a beer.”
Wyckoff joked about the opening and the kegs being in buckets of ice: “It was kind of like a college kegger.”
His business is such a work-in-progress that he recently finished and opened the new bathroom. He is also in the middle of remodeling the rest of the building. He worked this summer with just the 450 square feet and 1,800 square foot outdoor beer garden. But he plans to have
the 3,000 square foot interior ready for the winter.
“I think we will carry this eclectic mismatch setting inside,” said Wyckoff, who also plans to expand the beer garden and parking area.“We will also have a fireplace lounge.”
He also plans to expand the kitchen and menu.
Because of Wyckoff’s limited space to brew, he brings in local beers from the area, including Twelve Bar Brews, to keep on tap. Most of 192’s beers run out within four hours of being tapped. But with expansion he will ramp up capacity three fold.
The Brewing Company was not the first name of the business. For that, Trouble Brewing, Wyckoff was threatened with a lawsuit. Instead, he went with a more local concept. “The shed in my back yard where I brew the beer is 192 square feet,” Wyckoff said. Wyckoff will hold his first October Fest on Oct. 6-7, hoping to eventually replace the Washington Brewers’ Festival at St. Edwards Park, which moved to Marymoor Park in Redmond. And the mayor said he will be there too.
“The city is more than willing to work with him on it,” Baker said.
“He has asked me to dress up in Lederhosen and I am willing to humiliate myself for a local business.”
192 Brewing Company is located at 7324 N.E. 175th Street in Kenmore. Visit the business online at www.192brewing.com, on Facebook or call (425) 424-BEER for hours.