Floodland doesn’t feel much like a Seattle brewery. Absent are the vast stainless-steel brew kettles and conicals, the hoses, the kegs, the taps—all those gleaming emblems of industry that offer a backdrop to so many local taprooms.
Instead, in early July, the Floodland space (a 5,000-square-foot basement off Stone Way in Fremont) houses two small towers of empty Hayton Farm’s strawberry flats; beyond them, rows and rows of oak barrels—old wine barrels, bourbon barrels, gin barrels, a foudre—each holding one of the dry, pale, acidic beers that owner and brewer Adam Paysse started making earlier this year. Drinkers familiar with Paysse's Holy Mountain credentials (he was one of the founders, but amicably parted last year) won't be shocked by his tastes. Think saisons, think sour beers made with whole seasonal fruit, think wild-fermented funk. The first of these beers, slowly brewed at low cellar temperatures and conditioned for months after that, likely won’t be ready until November.
But soon, you can buy them anyway, since Paysse isn’t taking the taproom route. Instead he intends to sell as much beer as he can through the Oakworks bottle club: Members pay $200 for a year’s membership and get ten 750ml bottles of beer, a couple glasses, and access to limited releases and private tasting tours at the Stone Way space. When new beers are released, they’re held at the brewery for members, who can come by and pick them up within three months.
While beer bottle clubs are rare to nonexistent locally, wine sellers—like Garagiste, the nationally acclaimed Renton-based wine club— have run similar programs for years, especially with limited-quantity releases. The method is uncommon with local beer in part because your average IPA or pale ale is best drunk fresh, while Paysse’s conditioned bottles take well to cellaring and aging.
“A bottle club is simply the way that I would want to buy beer if it was produced in small quantities,” says Paysse. He sees Oakworks and the tasting tours partly as a way to connect with customers. “People get so psyched to hear the stories behind beer and I love love love talking to people about it, so with the bottle club I feel I can create a little community of people who are really into what I’m doing.”
Signups for Oakworks will begin in early August. If interested, head to Floodland's website and sign up for the waiting list. Paysse will send out an announcement and instructions when memberships actually open.
Paysse says he’ll brew a limited amount of draft beer that he’ll sell to select local bars and restaurants, also. Though since the beer is still months from being done, he hasn’t started signing accounts yet. (Belgian and farmhouse leaning joints like The Stumbling Monk, Brouwer's, and the Masonry would be good bets.)
In the end, he sees the bottle club as part of the brewery’s voice; these are the beers he loves, he'll be selling them in the way he likes to buy bottles, and he'll be doing as much of the artwork and design as possible also. “As more and more breweries open, what’s most interesting to me is to see breweries that reflect the personalities and the passion of the people running them,” Paysse says. “This is the most fun I’ve had making beer in a long time. I hope that comes through in the beers. I hope that comes through in everything."