Welcome back to Pints of Interest, a column from Jake Uitti that features bartenders and brewers pouring some of the best beer in Seattle.
Snoqualmie Pass's newest watering hole, the Dru Bru brewery and tap room, focuses on German and Belgian-inspired beer as well as the lighter styles of the spectrum. Their session ales are crisp and bright and made with clean mountain water. This combination makes for a perfect pint after a long day on the ski slopes. Eater had the chance to chat with owner Dru Ernst, who offered some insight about the challenges and joys of starting a brewery, which foods he thinks his beers pair best with, and why he decided to open up on the Pass.
Can you tell me some of the challenges you experienced opening a new brewery?
Well, this really depends on what day you were to ask me this question. There have been challenges at each phase of our start-up venture; capitalizing the business, managing the construction, getting used to a new brew house, establishing a sales presence, and more. I think the greatest challenge has been adapting to the many "hats" you have to wear when starting a new brewery. You have to be a construction manager, brewer, outside salesmen, taproom beer server, and even a janitor. Luckily our passion for beer swells up and conquers all challenges; we must never lose our passion.
What are the best parts about opening a new brewery?
For me this one is easy. It's the satisfaction of seeing your beers enjoyed by customers who are having a great time socializing in the taproom (or at other bars). Our mission is to bring people together through beer so this experience alone makes all the blood, sweat and tears well worth it.
Why did you choose Snoqualmie Pass? What is the significance of some of your beer names/styles?
Snoqualmie Pass is an incredible location filled with fun-loving locals and tourists alike. We really wanted to bring a brewery to a location that didn't have one and we thought The Pass was the perfect place. We are also fortunate enough to be part of a new community, The Pass Life, which was built to develop a community center up at The Pass. Our visions of bringing people together overlap in so many ways so it's great to be part of a like-minded venture.
On top of that, the local water source (in my opinion) is the best I've ever had. It's soft, but has an incredible natural mineral flavor that really lends itself to beer making. The water is also not chlorinated so we just take it right from the faucet and put it into the beer.
At Dru Bru we focus on session beer and strive to offer a variety that can quench all flavor preferences. Our beer recipes and styles were developed to showcase a wide range of flavor. We will also offer seasonal beers and plan to dedicate those to our surroundings. Currently we have a Pass Life Pale Ale on, which was brewed to celebrate the opening of the Pass Life community. As we get more ingrained into the culture up here we plan to brew more beer in tribute to our amazing surroundings.
When was the moment the light bulb went on and you knew you wanted to run a brewery and tap room?
Honestly, I can't think of a single moment; it's more of a decade of experiences that built-up to where we are now. Everything from trying my first home-brewed beer, to brewing my first batches with my business partner Eric, to having my first friend try one and say, "Wow, you really got something here." As these experiences continued to occur and as our close friends and family encouraged (and even volunteered funding) we really started to understand what we could create.
Favorite foods to pair with your new beers?
This is a great question for Dru Bru. Since we focus on Session Beers most (if not all) of our styles are great to pair with food. Our beer is flavorful, yet not heavy or "palette blasting" so it's a perfect companion to many dishes. Our Wit beer is excellent with most fish and salad dishes. I love the Kolsch with Eggs Benedict as its carbonation and flavor compliments and cuts the richness of that dish. Our Alt beer can stand up to most big-flavored entrees like a burger or a steak. The caramelized and nutty flavors really sing when accompanied with caramelized fat. Our Schwarzbier is awesome with BBQ or any other blackened dish. The roasty and coffee-like flavors blend so well, yet the light body and carbonation clean off the palate before taking another bite. I could go on and on, but I think you get the gist.