The Only Brewery with the Tip of an Airplane on the Wall

, The Only Brewery with the Tip of an Airplane on the Wall

In a business park in downtown Kent, WA sits Airways Brewing Company, a small, passionate group that has as much desire for crafting great beer as they do a witty retort. An unassuming location, Airways has quickly made a name for themselves, bringing fans from all over. Need to go to IKEA? Stop at Airways.

Check out the photo album from our visit on our Facebook page.

I had the chance to sit down over a taster (or six) with owners Alex and Dione Dittmar, to discuss how they fit into the craft beer world. You see, their story is only partly familiar. Like many craft brewers they started small, brewing in a garage before getting help from friends to open their brewery. In this case, their friends included some big names in the NW beer world, like Two Beers Brewing, Diamond Knot, The Red Hot, and The Beveridge Place Pub. And like some, they continued to work their day jobs while trying to get it off the ground.

A former graphic designer and a veteran of radio broadcasting, Alex took his craft beer obsession and turned it into a brewery. Dione left an award-winning career in marketing, for an industry she never expected. But it’s not about where you come from, it’s about where you go. Where they went was into a brewery adorned with the nose of a 747 Alex got off eBay. “I’m sure we’re the only brewery with the tip of an airplane on the wall. I also own a spiral staircase from a 747 but I don’t have room so it’s in storage.”

Using their past lives, Alex and Dione create great beer with names and labels that are born from puns. Their IPA: Sky Hag; an aging, bitter flight attendant just waiting for you to push that damn help button. The Imperial Stout: Final Departure; a plane sitting at a gate, ominous clouds looming; a flight you do not want to take.

, The Only Brewery with the Tip of an Airplane on the WallFor the last three years they have been at this location with a customer base made up of groups from surrounding businesses like Boeing. “The audience is primarily industrial, not a lot of residential,” Alex said. “People tend to work here and not live here.” But the launch of Sky Hag is what helped grow that business.

They started brewing on a pilot system at their taproom, as well as at borrowing space from Two Beers- with the stipulation that they would have to purchase a fermenter — they soon had an audience and had to expand to keep up. And a year ago they added a restaurant into historical downtown Kent. According to Alex: “We went into an area that was not a hotspot. We were the draw. It’s been a slow build, but we are doing really well down there.” Dione adds: “It’s built its own set of regulars, and they have gone from asking for the lightest thing we have to saying, ‘Give me a Sky Hag.”

, The Only Brewery with the Tip of an Airplane on the WallThe location has positives and negatives. A positive is that they are one of only a few breweries in the valley, and they are by far the largest. The water is an issue, though. “I am so surprised how different Seattle water is,” Alex told me. “We have water that has a higher residual alkalinity than what we were used to brewing with in Seattle. That requires a larger adjustment with brewing salts and acid malt additions to bring the water to the proper pH for brewing. It’s that fun science stuff I wished I’d paid more attention to in school, but I didn’t so now my brain hurts.”

Bottle releases are Wednesdays and there’s a cask in the taproom every Thursday. Drop by on Halloween to wish Sky Hag a happy birthday! Dione will be there to make you feel welcome, and Alex will sit and have a laugh with you. This inconspicuous place for a taproom will become your new favorite place to meet up with friends.

Probably after you get that hotdog from Costco.

Check out the photo album from our visit on our Facebook page.

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