Upon entering the doors of Spinnaker Bay Brewing, you’ll immediately be drawn to the brewery’s striking mahogany bar. This bar, complete with wood-paneled mirrors and a Prohibition-era panic button hidden under the ledge, was recovered from Chicago’s Gingham Hotel in 1929 and is rumored to have hosted the gangsters and celebrities of that age. You’ll also find raw brick walls, wooden furniture, and Bert Grant tap handles to complete the brewery’s post-Prohibition ambiance.
“Bert Grant was the reason I started brewing Scottish ales,” explains co-owner and brewer Janet Spindler, referring to the Scottish founder of Yakima Brewing, which is widely regarded as the first post-Prohibition brewpub in the United States. Originally from Michigan, Janet has been homebrewing for over 20 years and comes by it honestly – her great grandparents were brewers in Michigan, and the tasting room houses a 1907 family photo in which family members are arranged around a barrel of homebrew.
In the words of Janet, she eventually “won enough awards homebrewing to get cocky” and decided to pursue her dream of opening a brewery. She and her partner Elissa Pryor, the brewery’s co-owner and general manager, combined forces to open Spinnaker Bay in the Hillman City neighborhood in south Seattle. Spinnaker Bay is the first brewery located in the Rainier Valley and Janet and Elissa are aiming to become the area’s local brewery. “We want to keep the camaraderie of the neighborhood bar experience while reviving the area”, explained Janet. “I’m a real beer person, and beer people come to beer people.”
To start enticing beer people and neighborhood residents alike, Spinnaker Bay Brewing will initially offer Janet’s award-winning porter, Scottish strong ale, and English pale ale along with a rotating tap for seasonals or guest brews. They plan to open their doors by March 1st and the tasting room will be open on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings as well as Saturday afternoons. Stay tuned to American Craft Beer’s Event Calendar for updates and information on Spinnaker Bay’s grand opening.
Spinnaker Bay’s website poses the question, “What is home without beer?” and as I sat sharing beer with Janet and Elissa, I reflected on the ease with which they welcomed me into their new home. With charming décor and prizewinning brews, Seattle’s first female-owned brewery will quickly become the ‘home’ brewery of Hillman City residents and beyond.