For humanity there is nothing crueler or reassuring as time. It's the measurement for which we use to validate our past, present, and future. Time can be measured in seconds, minutes, hours, or even years. Time can be factual, artificial, and yes sometimes foster superstition. Celebrating the loss of a loved one ? You validate that loss with time. Wonder how it was you got that parking ticket? Yep, that was time - or you didn't pay for parking.
For those of us who support the craft beer initiative, we often recall when we had our first beer. But for the breweries that provide us with pints of 'cheer' they recall when their first beer was poured.
For the Seattle's Big Time Brewing Company, that first pint was on December 7th, 1988. Which is why this writer is validating the existence of time, by confirming that Big Time Brewing Company is 25 years old. This also means that if you were born in 1988 you are legally allowed to drop by the alehouse and pick up a pint of Prime Time Pale or Coal Creek Porter.
In the beginning there was … only a few beer choices.
Unlike today, the options from B.T. Brewing weren't as vast. In fact the very first beer to pour from the iconic taps was Prime Time Pale Ale, followed by Atlas Amber, and Coal Creek Porter. Soon after beers like Old Rip Oatmeal Stout and Bhagwan's Best IPA, would join the fray - but not until 1989.
In 1988 when the Big Time opened they had only 3 beer taps and pints cost just $1.75. In the early 90's they started adding taps and now have 11 beers pouring, 1 apple cider and a english cask engine. Drew Cluley recalls, "I remember visiting Seattle in 1990 shortly after making my first batch of homebrew. I tried Bhagwans Best IPA for the first time and I was blown away by the delicious complex flavor. I was especially impressed with the cask version of Bhagwans. That experience was defiantly influential in leading me to a brewing career." The Big Time makes about 35 different ales during the year, specializing in IPA's.
Today the brewery releases different beers almost monthly all from the mind of one Drew Cluley. And would you believe that Drew is barely the 5th brewer ever to lug a bunged keg of Bhagwan's Best?
Well someone had to brew this stuff.
Back in 1988, when the brewery's owners needed a brewer they sought out Ed Tringali from Berkley's Triple Rock. From 1988 to 1993 Ed conceived, brewed, and maintained the brewery before hiring Pike Brewing's Dick Cantwell - in 1993. If the name Dick Cantwell is familiar then you have enjoyed one of his many beers at Elysian Brewing Co.
For two years Dick continued brewing beers for Big Time and even hired a brewer from Pike Brewing named Bill Jenkins. Eventually Bill would move onto brewing abroad in 1997 as a brewer in Ireland.
With Bill's departure came the arrival Kevin Forhan, who would remain at 4133 University Way NE until 2003, when Bill Jenkins would resume duties as head brewer. By the way, did you know that Scarlet Fire was conceived by Dick Cantwell, Bill Jenkins, and Kevin Forhan?
Finally in 2011, Bill would move on as head brewer - but not before hiring another Pike brewery alum in Drew Cluley.
All this brewer history is making me thirsty. But I haven't even mentioned all the Assistant brewers that spent time at Big Time. Without their assistance guys like Dick, Bill, Drew or Kevin, would cleaning mash tuns and probably retiring much sooner.
In rapid fire, here is a list of assistant brewers, as recalled by the folks at Big Time Brewing.
Eric Jefferts (now at Lassen Ale Works, California), John Haggerty (now at New Holland Brewing, Michigan), Skip Madsen (now American Brewing Company), Frank Helderman (now at Terminal Gravity Brewery, Oregon), Kelly Wiese (now at Sound Brewing), Carter Camp (now at Port Townsend Brewing), Bradley Zimmerman (now at Toe Yard Brewing, Indiana). Greg Maddrey (formerly of Hales Brewing Co) is currently filling the talented assistant brewer position.
Get you’re a** to Big Time brewery tomorrow!
Starting at 11:30am the brewery is asking you to come by, enjoy a pint of a classic (including Prime Time Pale, Atlas Amber, Coal Creek Porter, Bhagwans Best IPA and Scarlet Fire IPA), or one of the seasonal beers like Icculus IPA, Lollipop Weizenbock, Yulefest Christmas Ale, Old Rip Oatmeal Stout, Lift Ticket Winter Ale, Old Wooly Barleywine - and from the archive a keg each of Whiny the Complainer triple IPA, Decade 2.5 double IPA, and Mammoth Pilsner.
Please join me in congratulating Big Time Brewing Company by raising a pint tomorrow December 7th, 2013.