Bolt Minister and new partner Charlie Hutchins’s new 54-40 Brewing (54°40′) in Washougal, Washington, is shaping up nicely for a Grand Opening on Saturday, October 24th. The new production facility with attached tasting room has came together on as smoothest and on-time transition as I can recall since we wrote about them in March of 2015.
Owner/Brewmaster Bolt Minister has–in addition to the coolest name in beer–a track record that includes Old Town Brewing, Walking Man, Pyramid, Rock Bottom and Astoria Brewing. 54-40 Brewing is his first endeavor on his own, but he has brought along a friend and fellow brewer from his time at Rock Bottom Brewing in Portland, Charlie Hutchins. Though they have both been brewing in Portland for a decade or more, Bolt lives in Vancouver, WA and Charlie relocated just down the road. Washougal is just 25 minutes outside of Portland, and for a small quiet city already has Amnesia Brewing and the year old Doomsday Brewing.
54-40 Brewing is located not far out of downtown Washougal, down a roadway and into a business park that looks abandoned on the weekends; it’s a bit hard to find. You would also never expect to find as warm and friendly an environment as the tasting room is in a cold metal paneled warehouse and office complex. Nevertheless, they have built and carved out a high ceilinged, wood paneled tasting room directly out of the one room warehouse building the brewery occupies. Inside the big glass windows bathing the room in sunlight is a space replete with a centerpiece stone fireplace, taxidermied elk heads and horns, vintage and new beer photography, a canoe, an antique hop basket, old lumber saws, and quite a bit more still to be hung. My favorite element may be the huge cast iron antique dinner bell that hangs above the bar–passed down through generations in the family-that will be rung for new beer tappings.
Even the tables and chairs look like beautiful sturdy wood antiques from a country home. Continuing with the down-to-earth county home feel, the music will come from a record player and there are board games for the families and dart boards for adults. Bolt wants the tasting room to be an inviting space for the community and for those commuting in and out of the Columbia River Gorge.
The warm tasting room interior is at quite a contrast for the cold, open, and breezy brewery, easily visible through a multitude of windows. It’s a pretty great space for a brewery–there is plenty of room still to grow the production, though its not like this brewery is starting like a nano. The three vessel, 15bbl brewhouse–four vessel if you count the massive hop back, the largest I have seen for this size of a brewery–is spec’d for 23 barrels itself. On a recent fresh hop brew that’s still in the brite tanks, the brewers ran through so much fresh whole leaf hops they lost 3 barrels! The hop back is a very cool feature; many brewhouses these days can only handle pelletized hops, but both Bolt and Charlie are a huge fan of fresh hop beers and want to be able to use more whole leaf hops.
A keg washer and cans are in place for the beer production machine to startup with distribution through General Distributors in Oregon and Washington, and bottles and cans on the way. A row of three 30bbl conical fermenters run parrel to two 30bbl brite tanks, with room for a whole lot more.
The 54-40 Brewing guys are big fans of cans, believing them to be far the superior packaging. However, with the delay in just starting up production and getting a mobile canner in, they will start up with 22oz bottles of the two flagship beers–Broken Record IPA (5%Abv 60 IBU) and Käscadia Kölsch (4.8%Abv 20 IBU). They hope to begin canning with NW Craft Canning mobile service by next spring and would like to have their own in-house canner soon. In the tasting room there is a Crowler, the new hand cranked single canning machine that’s taking the beer world by storm. So, from day one you will be able to take home a 32oz can of anything they have on tap.
Back to the tasting room–it will open to the public officially on Saturday, October 24th, with five housemade brews on tap, plus two additional collaboration beers brewed with Buoy Beer and Vertigo. There will be a hard cider on from Portland’s Cider Riot, and for kids there will be Crater Lake Root Beer and milk. Food is extremely limited, with Popcornopolis popcorn, Yeti Pretzels, and Tim’s Cascade Chips, along with applesauce for kids. Minors are allowed until 10pm.
Opening Hours: Thursday & Friday 3-10pm, Saturday 12-10pm, Sunday 12-8pm
54°40′ Brewing Company
3801 S Truman St, Suite 1
Washougal, Washington 98671
Caps n’ Taps Launch Party
Friday, October 23at 6:00pm
337 NE 4th Ave.
Camas, Washington 98607
Grand Opening Party
Saturday, October 24at 12:00pm – 10:00pm
54-40 Brewing Co
3801 S Truman Rd.
Washougal, Washington 98671