Sketched Oct. 17, 2013
In Seattle’s beer alphabet, “R” is for Rainier. But the beer hasn’t been brewed or owned locally since 1999.
Another ‘r’ – this one lower case – brands the new toast of the town: Reuben’s Brews.
In only three years, owner Adam Robbings has gone from concocting beer recipes in his garage to crafting and bottling ales that are winning gold medals in international tasting competitions and filling the shelves of more than 50 stores in Western Washington.
Robbings, a 39-year-old cheerful British accountant who quit his day job last April to brew full time, still seems surprised by the accolades. He’s been told that he has the best asset a brewer could have: a sophisticated palate that lets him play with multiple flavors until he finds the perfect recipe. He doesn’t even drink that much beer. “I just want to taste it and move on,” he said as I watched him sniff and sip his Imperial IPA. He described the taste as a mix of “dank citrus, passion fruit and a little pine.”
Jason Call, a Marysville homebrewer I met at the tap room in Ballard said Robbings’s path to success is an inspiration to local craft brewers. “He is showing us it can be done.”
Robbings said he was blown away by the variety of beers in the Pacific Northwest when he moved to Seattle a decade ago. He still remembers the first two brands he tried: Manny’s and Mack and Jack’s, and says the craft beer industry in Seattle is 20 years ahead of England.
Reuben’s operation is a family affair ran by Robbings, his wife, Grace, and his brother-in-law Mike Pfeiffer, who moved to Seattle from the Midwest to help them out — you can see him helping a customer in this sketch. The most important member of the team, however, hasn’t even reached drinking age yet. That would be the fellow the brewery is named after: Adam and Grace’s son, Reuben, who is 4 years old.
The microbrewery is located in the heart of the Ballard industrial district, a block away from the Bardahl Manufacturing Corporation. Just like Woodinville has seen wineries concentrate in its “warehouse district,” Ballard may be experiencing the same type of boom for breweries. Robbings said several have opened nearby since they leased space in this warehouse in August of 2012.