Gail G. Collins
They say luck lies at the intersection between hard work and opportunity. That sums up the success of Lumberyard Brewing Company, which has won over voters with its benchmark bar food and seasoned brewing skills.
Three decades ago, if you had asked founding owners Winnie and Even Hanseth if they brewed beer, they might have seen themselves sitting at the table instead of waiting for it. The same goes for head brewer Gary Blazevich, an environmental science graduate, who had fun sending them back to Issaquah, Washington. Brewing operations manager Gene Almquist fell head over heels for the brew after his first effort. At Lumberyard, big ideas and talent have triumphed.
Lumberyard has won a steady list of awards over the years at acclaimed national beer competitions, such as the Great American Beer Festival, where Pumpkin Porter has captured hearts. In fact, the combined list of ribbons for Beaver Street and Lumberyard breweries totaled 13. Trends also encourage variety, like New England-style Hazy Angel, a light lager and promising success.
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“It’s an easy-going IPA that’s going strong,” says owner Kelly Hanseth, a new generation in the family business. The goal is to “brew true to style,” and she added, “Flagstaff IPA is the most popular canned beer – number one in sales dispensed.
The other standard that beer drinkers order is the Railhead Red, an amber and my favorite.
Brewing began in 1994 as a small production facility within Beaver Street Brewery, but the popularity of its craft beer prompted the expansion of capacity. When a city proposal for the historic Southside Halstead Lumberyard building created an opportunity and the Hanseths worked to make the Lumberyard Brewery Company a reality.
Of course, a side menu was a must, and the kitchen offers elevated snacks, such as wings with signature sauces ranging from mild, like chipotle ranch to dead heat saw blade barbecue. Or dip into a bowl of garden chili, dip pretzels in beer cheese sauce, or try the deep-fried mac and cheese balls with ranch and Thai sauces. A cultural collision formed Irish spring rolls with corned beef, sauerkraut, carrots, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing and mustard sauce.
A pub crowd demands a good burger, and the Lumberyard Brewery fills the bill. Diners also branch out for niche offerings in the Vietnamese burger with char sui pork, pepper jack, pickled daikon, fresh jalapenos, cucumber, cilantro and sriracha aioli on a bolillo. The Utah burger piles pastrami with frying sauce, cheddar and Swiss cheeses, plus the usual salad toppings on a brioche bun. All are solid sellers.
The supply is as sustainable as possible, but Hanseth insists on keeping the price low. The annual Okto “Beer” Fest, which supports various animal charities, took a break during the pandemic, but will likely resume next year. Restaurant capacity is close to 100% again, and “the interesting year,” as Hanseth put it, is in the rearview mirror.
The local base is stable at Lumberyard Brewing Company, while distribution of the product brings in a vibrant trade of tourists seeking their familiar brand.
“People know the beers and love being near the slopes,” Hanseth explained. “We focus on great food and great beer and create a big space to enjoy it.”
Lumberyard Brewing Company won best bar food and third place for best brasserie.