Last October, a couple of local buyers from Whole Foods came to Adam Robbings’ warehouse and wanted to know when he would start bottling his beers because the grocery chain wanted to carry his beer, any beer, since they love them all.
At a beer festival this winter, a rep from Tom Douglas also inquired. So did PCC Natural Markets.
These things aren’t supposed to happen to a guy who had a day job at T-Mobile and who was, just four years ago, brewing out of his garage in Ballard — as a hobby.
His expectation was so low when he opened last summer that, “my only plan was to make sure we didn’t run out of money before the brewery opened,” the 39-year old London native said.
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Now, his microbrewery, Reuben’s Brews, has grown so fast that he quit his finance job this spring so he could brew enough beer to keep up with demand. He’s even looking for another warehouse to expand.
At watering holes and beer festivals, I often ask beer geeks and brewers which up- and-coming talents to watch. They often mention the British guy who runs Reuben’s Brews in Ballard.
They’re raving about his Belgian Imperial IPA that won gold at the Washington Beer Awards this year, talking about his American Rye or his American Brown, which he can’t brew fast enough. (Sold out but expected back on tap at his tasting room by early October.) And my favorite, the Roggenbier, a rye Hefeweizen with hints of cloves and banana.
Unlike many startup microbreweries, Reuben has a strong portfolio, about a dozen rotating beers on tap, in addition to supplying beers to Whole Foods and PCC stores in the Seattle area.
With notes of tangerine and orange peel, his suds tend to be hoppy, but they go down easily nonetheless. He also does a deft job of masking the high alcohol in his beers (up to 9 percent). All signs of good craftsmanship.
Robbings, his wife and his brother-in-law do most of the brewing and delivering. It’s a mom-and-pop operation, but there’s such a cult following that the tasting room is often loud with folks crammed around the tanks and brewing gear.
It’s not the most comfortable place to drink, lacking the homey feel of other microbreweries. That said, you should still come because Robbings makes some of the most exciting beers in the state now.
Reuben’s Brews, 1406 N.W. 53rd St., Suite 1A, in Seattle, opens Thursday and Friday from 3-9 p.m., Saturday noon to 9 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.; beers from $4-$6 (reubensbrews.com).
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle