A shakeup is occurring in the Seattle beer world, with Ballard’s Stoup Brewing set to buy Capitol Hill’s Optimism Brewing in what amounts to a friendly takeover. The deal, which will be final in August according to a press release, means that Stoup will become the operator of Washington State’s largest tap room in terms of both square footage and draft beer sales.
Optimism was founded in 2013 by married couple Troy Hakala and Gay Gilmore, who ambitiously bought a 16,000-square-foot century-old warehouse and turned it into a brewery. As noted by the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog, the space was innovative in many ways, including its gender-neutral bathrooms and a kids play area that made it especially welcoming for families.
Stoup was also founded in 2013 and has become an anchor of Ballard’s brewery district. Though its space isn’t nearly as big as Optimism’s, it has become known for its IPAs and won many awards, including Large Brewery of the Year at last year’s Washington Beer Awards. Stoup has a second location in Kenmore, but this deal will massively expand its footprint in Seattle proper.
It will also mean an effective end to Optimism as a brand. Though Hakala and Gilmore will maintain ownership of the building housing the taproom, Stoup will be making minor tweaks in order to rebrand the taproom as part of Stoup, and taking over the production facilities as well.
Optimism currently has 21 full- and part-time employees and according to the press release will try to retain as many as possible, though it seems that this merger might result in some lost jobs. “Gilmore and Hakala said they were purposeful in giving their own staff ample notice before the transition and in providing severance pay to those who will not continue with Stoup,” the release says.
On the customer end, the taproom experience shouldn’t change much, though Optimism fans will surely be sad about Gilmore and Hakala stepping back. But it sounds as if the couple were satisfied that having grown a successful, profitable business, they could sell it to another set of brewers who shared their inclusive values.
“We’ve reached a plateau and logical transition point. We’re happy this opens doors and opportunities for Stoup to grow,” Hakala said.