A grand (and long-awaited) new brewery is opening up this weekend at the corner of Union and Broadway. Optimism Brewing Company is a new venture between husband and wife—and former Microsoft employees turned entrepreneurs and now turned brewers—Gay Gilmore and Troy Hakala. The official opening is December 5, but it looks like beers are already quietly being poured.
Hakala, who spent 20 years brewing at home, wants his beer to be accessible. So much so that Optimism doesn't describe beer by traditional style names, which Gilmore says can be "confusing, or even unappetizing." For example, the beer most people would describe as a kolsch is simply—and aptly—named Yellow. It is smooth and crisp to taste, and indeed yellow in color. The menu will have an image of the drink, and flavor descriptors, which in this case include honey and lemon. Other hypersimplified beer names include One, Moxee, Black, Zest, and Before the Dawn, the darkest beer in the house.
The couple hopes this approach will remove the boundaries that prevent casual beer drinkers from explore craft beer.
Optimism's beers are generally light in alcohol to encourage lengthy drinking sessions—and to prevent customers from getting sloshed right off the bat. The brewery will continually rotate its taps and add new experiments.
Beer will be served in true pints, glasses are designed to accommodate the flowing head of beer while still pouring a full 16 ounces. “They’re just too small," says Gilmore of typical pint glasses. "It’s too easy to underpour your guests."
There's no kitchen here, but customers can bring their own food, and a rotating lineup of food trucks will soon be parked in a convenient onsite courtyard. The taproom has a dedicated dining area.
The space occupies a prominent spot on Capitol Hill. While it's designed meticulously to make brewing the centerpiece, it's also a memorable place to hang out. The bar and the long community tables are all hand crafted specifically for Optimism from materials salvaged on site, keeping patrons close to the stainless steel and brewers hard at work.
Optimism owners are joining some prominent restaurateurs in doing away with tipping. Also the taproom will not accept cash; it’s card only. Hours are 3pm–10pm Thursday and Friday, noon–10pm Saturday and Sunday. Optimism's website has more details.