brewery tour

First Look: Optimism Brewing, Opening 12/5

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All photo credit: Erica Baze

All photo credit: Erica Baze

Optimism Brewing has set a date for their official grand opening and they could not have picked a more fitting day. The highly-anticipated Capitol Hill brewery will be open to the public on December 5, the anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment and repeal of Prohibition.

Despite two years of construction and several delays Optimism Brewing founders, husband-and-wife team Troy Hakala and Gay Gilmore, have lived up to the name of their business, overcoming bumps along the way with a positive attitude and creative approach.


The 16,000 square foot space at the corner of Broadway and East Union Street was slated to be developed for a mixed-use apartment building when it caught their eye. Luckily the deal fell through and Hakala and Gilmore were able to preserve and rebuild the space to house their 20-barrel brewhouse and spacious taproom.

The couple opted to use reclaimed wood found onsite to create the bar top, all of the tables, and the benches that that encircle the brewery located at the heart of the building. The effect of the wood and steel is remarkably warm and cozy for such a large space.
Optimism Brewing will open with eight different beers on draft, with the intention of adding more as they grow. Hakala and Gilmore are purposefully choosing to not categorize their beers by established styles. Instead, they describe each beer with a few choice words indicating flavors and ingredients. By eliminating labels and style designations, consumers are encouraged to break away from stereotypes and explore flavors in beers they might not nomally try based on name, color or simple misunderstanding.

“There is something for everyone” says Gilmore as she pours several beer samples from the shiny new taps, citing several examples of wine drinkers falling in love with barleywines and people who shied away from bitter, resiny IPAs discovering a whole new world of citrus and tropical fruit-forward hoppy beers.

Although Optimism Brewing will start out with a lineup of more traditional styles, Gilmore anticipates adding experimental varieties down the line, including kettle-soured beers and a barrel-aging program. For the opening, Optimism Brewing’s offerings will include two Kölschs brewed with different yeast strains, an ESB, a Stout, an Imperial Stout, two IPAs and a Winter Warmer ale.


DSCF2680Opening beers:

Gold- Honey, lemon, refreshing. 4.5% ABV.

Yellow- Crisp, honey, lemon. 4.5% ABV.

One- Toffee, English tea, hoppy (brewed w/East Kent Golding, Target, and Challenger hops). 5.3% ABV.

Black- Roasty, bold coffee, cocoa nibs. 4.5% ABV.

…Before The Dawn- Espresso, dried figs, dark chocolate. 7.7% ABV.

Help, I Need A Name- Clementine, grapefruit, sweet grass (brewed w/Cascade, Citra, and Amarillo). 6.5% ABV.

Moxee- Pine needles (brewed w/Amarillo, Chinook and Columbus hops) . 7.4% ABV.

Cheer- Allspice, molasses, dried cherry. 5.5% ABV.

When it comes to their plans for year-round offerings and seasonals, the patrons of Optimism Brewing will decide says Gilmore. Tucked into the back of a mezzanine floor overlooking the taproom and brewery is a sensory analysis room, something she is very excited about.






Both Gilmore and Hakala come from software backgrounds and plan to use methods such as AB testing, usability testing and a scientific approach by inviting the public to participate and provide feedback on beer flavors and local style preferences. “We tend to drink seasonally,” says Gilmore of their planned beer offerings, “but the market will decide what the flagships are.”

The brewery’s beers will only be available on draft in the taproom for the first year, and will be the only type of beverage provided other than Optimism Clear, a house-made carbonated water (non-alcoholic). The taproom does not have a kitchen, but will partner with food trucks and patrons are welcome to bring their own snacks or take out. The taproom will not accept cash or check, only debit and credit cards.


Optimism Brewing is located at 1158 Broadway, Seattle, WA 98122 and will officially be open to the public starting December 5th. Opening Hours: Thursday & Friday 3-10pm, and Saturday & Sunday 11-10pm.

A recent beer geek transplant to the beautiful state of Washington, Erica has spent the last six years working in the craft beer industry in Oregon and Northern California, most recently at Mikkeller Bar SF. With parents from Belgium and the Pacific Northwest, drinking good beer is in her blood. When Erica isn’t talking about beer, she is…well, sleeping probably. Follow her on instagram and twitter @its_beerica. For tips or leads, contact: erica@newschoolbeer.com

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