Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Brewery Profile - Big E Ales in Lynnwood, WA
The story of Big E Ales (Ellersick Brewing Company) is the story of Rick “The Beer Man” Ellersick. Like many brewers making delicious craft beer in Washington today, Rick began many years ago as a home brewer. Unlike the vast majority of other home brewers of his day, Rick pursued a license to sell his beer. He made it in his garage and sold it… legally. This may not seem so uncommon these days as nano breweries pop up regularly, but back when Rick did it he was a pioneer.
“When I wasn’t working, it’s pretty much all I’d do,” Ellersick says. “I was brewing at night and on weekends and had people stopping by to pick up beer all the time.”
His brewing processes and brewing system evolved and grew. So did his fan club. Eventually, changes in Rick’s day job (he owned and operated a deli) dictated that he make the big leap and begin brewing for real. It was time for him to buck up and become a real microbrewery. He found a suitable location not far from home and began building his brewery and tasting room. The pub and brewery opened in January of 2006.
Manly yes, but the ladies like it too!
Rick designed and built his brewery in a non-descript commercial building in Lynnwood that would probably be a transmission shop if it wasn’t a cozy neighborhood pub. The grain silo outside is the only real outward feature that suggests that this is a brewery.
The pub and brewery is bigger than it looks from the outside. The warm contemporary design is inviting. There are a couple booths and about a dozen pub-height cocktail tables; a tidy bar with five stools; three TVs with sports; and a huge window to the brewery on the back wall. Oh yeah, and a humidor with cigars for sale. When we visited, KZOK was blasting out Molly Hatchet on the stereo. This is the kind of place that working men come for lunch and to relax after work. Although it’s a great place to take off the hard hat and put the boots up, it is easily pleasant enough for women to feel at home too.
As for food, the menu is blessedly short and pure dude food. Nary a salad on the menu, only meat and potatoes. Expect a burger, a chicken sandwich, or wings and you will not be disappointed.
A Renaissance man
The original brew house featured a self-designed 10 barrel system that has been evolving and growing continuously. Rick is obviously a man of many skills. His own two hands and a combination of his skill, talent, and passion have produced the entire brewery, the pub, and his beer.
Rick is a native of Shoreline, with roots firmly planted in the local community. Located in Lynnwood, Big E Ales is not far from his home where it all began. Once the brewery opened, Ellersick’s beers quickly gained more fans. What started out as a tasting room quickly became a neighborhood brew pub with as many as 12 beers on tap, and distribution to pubs from North Lake Union to Granite Falls. The pub is small, but that makes it warm and inviting. The folks all seem to know each other and they all seem to know “The Beer Man.”
Big E Ales also makes it easy to take their product with you. They offer growlers and kegs to go. During a visit to the pub, it would not be at all unusual to see Rick helping a customer wrestle a keg into the trunk of a car.
A fixture in the community
“I grew up around here. Me and my family have always been active in the community. We like to work with local organizations, especially youth athletic programs.”
The evidence is on the walls, which feature plenty of appreciative pictures and plaques from local teams with whom the Ellersicks have been involved.
He may have started out as a modest home brewer, but do not doubt that Rick Ellersick is a skilled and talented brewer. Big E Ales are true to style and, at the same time, wildly creative. His Blackberry Ale is an inspired and impressive dabble in the delicate art of fruited beers. Lawn Mower Lager is a notable and refreshing departure into the world of light lagers. The Scotch Ale is a delicious tribute to a challenging style that puzzles many brewers. The Scotch Ale is one of the most popular beers at Big E, along with the Imperial IPA.
Away from the pub, look for Ellersick Brewing Company’s beers at pubs and bars in the North King County and Snohomish County areas. “Pretty much anywhere north of Lake Union, including Eastern Washington,” is how Rick describes it.
Big E Ales – Ellersick Brewing
5030 208th ST SW Ste. A
Lynnwood, WA 98036
Courtesy of The Washington Beer Commission at www.washingtonbeer.com