Eight years after it was founded, Bothell’s own Foggy Noggin Brewing has been faithfully pumping out unique beers, and Reporter readers have selected it as the best brewery and taproom for 2018.
The brewery opened in 2010 and was founded Jim Jamison and his two children, Matthew Jamison and Stephanie Schisler, all of whom are co-owners. This family-owned and operated model has helped the brewery avoid a common fate of micro operations, which often go under or are bought by larger breweries.
“If you’re going to do it, you’ve got to do it right,” Jim said.
Foggy Noggin focuses on English-style ales, making a range of brews including all three rating levels: bitter, special bitter and extra special bitter. These beer ratings correspond to increasing levels of alcohol levels, and in old English law, different taxation levels. Generally, these English-style ales have lower alcohol content with less carbonation, but Jim’s brews run the gamut from around 3 percent alcohol content to more than 8 percent.
On a recent morning, Jim poured out a flight of beer tasting samples, pointing to different brews. It’s the start of Foggy Noggin’s fresh hop season, which starts around a month after other breweries. Jim has three different styles of fresh hop beers on tap — one of which is brewed cask-style with no carbonation. A replica brew of the first milk stout beer is on tap, as is the brewery’s signature Skittles beer, which is brewed with pounds of the candy in each batch. Jim’s philosophy is to make sure everything blends well together, from the variety of hops to the barley selection and even the Skittles.
“Everything I design is about balance,” he said. “Why put that ingredient in there if you’re not going to taste it?”
The brewery and taproom are on the same property just outside of Bothell city limits. Jim’s garage doubles as an eclectic taproom, where awards, knick-knacks and photos can be found hanging from the ceiling, walls and plastered on freezers and walls. A large sliding glass door fridge showcases bottles of beer for sale, ranging in price from $5-80, depending on the vintage.
In the well-manicured backyard, Schisler was hard at work brewing a batch of Bit O’ Beaver beer, an English-style bitter. The humble 200-square-foot brewery produces between 80 and 110 barrels a year for the taproom, which is open every Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. and one Friday a month. Jim showcased some of the barley he imported from the United Kingdom, as well as some of the British Fuggles hops which he poured into the mash.
The brewery also uses American varieties of hops, including some they grow onsite, and some they get from KISS Farm in Redmond, which is used in their fresh hops brews.
The taproom itself only has room for 20 people, with space for plenty more outside when the weather is agreeable. Despite its hours and lack of a television, especially on game days, Jim said they always pull a crowd. The taproom is also kid and dog friendly and Jim said the atmosphere ends up encouraging people to actually talk to each other.
“We miss that in America nowadays.” he said. “Everybody is glued to the TV.”