Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Flying Bike Co-op: off to a flying start

   Greenwood Avenue in August: already a great beer block between 85th and 87th thanks to Naked City Brewing.  I stroll up past their outdoor beer garden, tables all full on the pleasant afternoon, and am duly amazed by what I see in the very next building.  It's the Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery, and it has just signed up its 1649th member.  I study the tap list at the bar, noting that a number of the brews have someone's name written at the bottom of the white tile they are written on.

Ryan, tending the bar, says the Storm Cycle CDA was the home brew chosen by a panel of members and brewed as a collab with the new Counterbalance Brewery down on the south end of the city.  This I had heard about at the Everett festival a few days ago.  "So how does this member input thing work?" I asked him. He started to explain, then broke off to wait on a new customer.
  "Member?" Ryan asked.
   "Four-fifty-three," the guy said, ordering a pint of the Penny Farthing Wheat Ale.
   "Members get a dollar off our pour price, four to seven," Ryan said after filling the pint.  "They get a dividend at the end of a year, like at REI, if we make a profit.  And, if they home-brew, we must have several hundred who do, they can enter a brew in one of the events we put on, every two or three months. The winner, chosen by a panel of members, gets his or her recipe made by our head brewmaster back there."  Ryan indicated the back of the building where a gleaming new 7-bbl system sat.

 This equipment, made at the Bridgetown factory in Oregon, is operated by Kevin Forhan, a well-credentialed veteran of the Seattle craft scene (stints at Pike Brewing, Big Time, Elysian, and the RAM chain), head brewmaster and mentor to the many home brewers among the membership. The guy whose CDA recipe won the last taste-of got to load the grain in the mash tun: his excitement at working with eight hundred pounds of malted barley instead of the ten or twelve pounds in his home system is captured on a vimeo in the Co-op's website.
   A bit later, member # 114 (or somewhere around there) pulls in with his backyard hops harvest--from Lynnwood, about twenty miles north of here.  In this picture, our Lynnwood farmer and Kevin Badger, chairman of the co-op board, get ready to grab some buds--the tasty kind!  The energy in here is impressive; the wall art consists of dozens of bike handlebars, mounted like elk antlers on wood plaques.  Ashley tells me that she and about six other members who don't brew got together to create this unique bit of decor.

(Visited 08/20/15)

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