Islanders who brew big…elswhere

Former Bainbridge resident Mike Hale is following a long tradition of talented beer-brewing islanders who live their brewery dreams off-island.

Hale, one of the pioneers in the microbrew movement, recently announced plans to establish a brewpub in Poulsbo sometime this year. Read all about it in North Kitsap reporter Derek Sheppard’s story, here. The brewpub will likely employ 40 people and draw some of the clientele that crowd into Silverdale’s Silvercity Brewery.

Hale established his Hales Ales in 1983 and operates a brewpub in Frelard. He was brewing his first batches at the same time as former islander Will Kemper, who started Thomas Kemper brewery on Bainbridge in 1984, but quickly moved the operation to Poulsbo. Eventually, the Thomas Kemper company was sold and split into a soda company, which still bears the Thomas Kemper name, and a beer operation that was later folded into the Pyramid brewing company of Seattle.

Will Kemper recently decided to open a brewpub, but not on Bainbridge. Instead, he chose Bellingham, where his Chuckanut Brewery & Kitchen offers six site-brewed beers and an upscale ethnic-fusiony food menu.

Seems like that would have gone over quite well on Bainbridge, where islanders pack the local pub and generally spend a fair amount of money on good food and drink.

Enter Travis Guterson, an upstart brewer who’s trained under some of the county’s best beer-makers. Raised on Bainbridge, and still a resident, Guterson will later this year haul his collection of industrial vats down to Gig Harbor to open 7 Seas Brewery. He tried to find a spot on Bainbridge, but Gig Harbor proved the right fit.

Ah, to think what could have been….

(P.S. – I’ve caught wind that Bremerton (yes, Bremerton) is to get a microbrewery in the coming months)