Big Al Brewing will close its doors this weekend after an eight-year run. Which, at this point, practically makes it an elder statesman—or at least a seasoned upperclassman—in Washington's craft beer industry.
Founder Alejandro Brown says the city's plethora of new breweries has eroded business. For smaller breweries, selling beer directly to customers in your taproom or brewpub is critical to stay afloat (higher margins, a more assured customer base). "Our tasting room is tiny and it's in White Center," says Brown. The area has seen an influx of young families, the type prone to liking craft beer, but there are also more proper bars in the area—good ones, that serve food.
Brown's Facebook message announcing his decision, and thanking his wife Noelle, might make you sniffle a bit. Brown says he just "didn't have any gas left in the tank" to seek loans or new partnerships, or do the other things breweries can do in such situations. What happens to the brewery—and to Brown himself—isn't yet clear (national brand Lagunitas just opened a taproom in the home of another recently closed brewery, Hilliard's, in Ballard).
Big Al Brewing will be open tomorrow, Saturday January 14 from 1-10pm, for its final round. The tasting room opens an hour early for the Seahawks game; expect things to get a little crazy.