Locals and visitors will be able sample quality microbrews made on Orcas Island, starting Sept. 21.
In 2010, after many successful brew sessions in the backyard, Becca Gray, Nate Schons and Jim Parker decided to share their love of beer with the island by opening “Island Hoppin’ Brewery.”
Schons started brewing in 2002 while living abroad in New Zealand. He returned stateside and increased his knowledge by hauling kegs and gleaning brewing tips while working at Cashmere Brewing in eastern Washington.
Grey moved to Orcas in 2000 to join her sisters Shyam and Katie Gray and brother Paul Spencer. When she met Schons in 2007, they started brewing their life together.
In 2009, Parker joined in on one of their garage brew days and the rest is history in the making.
Last year, Island Hoppin’ received its microbrewery license. After many successful pulls and an increase in demand, they moved to a new location: the old “Orcas Heating and Sheet Metal” building at 33 Hope Lane, off Mt. Baker Rd. next door to Orcas Auto Tech.
They have since acquired three 125-gallon custom-made fermenters and installed a walk-in cooler to keep the beer cold. With a six-tap tasting room to match, it was time to brew.
The first batches brewed were IPA and an American Wit. They have 80 kegs and rising for wholesale distribution, and in two years they hope to be distributing to all the islands and throughout Washington state.
Currently, Island Hoppin’ brews can be enjoyed at Chiladas, Doe Bay, the Lower Tavern and West Sound Cafe. In addition, “Growler” (64-ounce jug) refills can be purchased at Ray’s Pharmacy for take-home enjoyment.
The Island Hoppin’ Brewery Tasting Room will have its grand opening on Friday, Sept. 21 from noon to 9 p.m. with five exclusive small batch beers along with a guest tap of cider. Island Hoppin’ apparel and take home Growlers will also be available.
Tasting room hours are Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 9 p.m. through October with winter hours to be determined.