Monday, January 31, 2011

Airways: a unique experience in Kent

   The north end of Kent, WA lies across I-5 from Sea-Tac, and Boeing has a fair-sized plant in the city.  But Airways Brewing celebrates the theme of the commercial flying experience not because of its neighbors but because it was founded by Alex Dittmar, who is a total aviation enthusiast.  While Flyers up in Oak Harbor dips a wing to military aviation's propeller-driven origins, Airways is all about the contemporary passenger's travels and travails in the wide bodied jets. Alex is a pilot but works for Alaska Airlines as a website designer. His brewing operation is in a business park.
When you enter the taproom, the first thing you notice may be the tap handles.
These are actual door handles off a 747 (that is Robbie tending the bar on a Saturday afternoon; Alex was not in town that day).  Alternatively, your eye may be caught by the brewery's icon, the Sky Hag.  Here she is on the classic poster:
 She also graces the t-shirt with the same scowl and the words, "Sit down and drink your beer."  The brewing apparatus in the back sits under a nose cone Alex scavenged from some Boeing jet.
The fun just keeps flying around.  Even the unisex restroom has all the familiar signs from the airplane loos.
    There were about a dozen people there on a rainy Saturday afternoon and the atmosphere was jovial.  Robbie and his wife Debbie were hosting and doing a fine job explaining the various brews.  Interest was high in  Layover in Brussels, a variation on the Sky Hag IPA with a Belgian yeast instead of the regular British yeast.  You would have to taste it to believe what a difference the yeast makes.  Evidently this batch had all the hops of the regular Sky Hag, enough to kick the IBU north of 99, but the yeast let the maltiness come through much better.
     Debbie said an expansion of the brewing space here and a regular brewpub elsewhere in Kent are both in the works.  One can only anticipate how much more airline fun will be unveiled then.
(Visited 1/29/11)

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