Heavenly Hops

By Jessica Voelker December 27, 2008 Published in the August 2008 issue of Seattle Met

Joel VanderBrink intended to work as a pastor after earning his master’s degree in divinity, but then he moved to Seattle and found his true calling: beer. Following in the wee footsteps of Schooner Exact brewery in West Seattle, and the even tinier tootsies of South Park’s Laughing Buddha Brewery, VanderBrink recently introduced pint-size Two Beers Brewing Co. to the local ale arena—filling kegs and growlers out of a diminutive Fremont garage near Woodland Park Zoo.

Originally from Michigan, VanderBrink has a BA in engineering, and that education informs the exacting process he employs to mix consistently delicious brewski batches. But it is VanderBrink’s spiritual leanings that explain his monklike devotion to creating the perfect beer—Belgian witbier fans should rush to get a taste of his Crooked wit, a smooth coriander-and-citrus concoction, before VanderBrink phases it out for the winter. Though he’s given up his clerical aspirations for the moment, the brewer now sees operating a small business as a way to contribute to the community he’s come to embrace over his five years here, one that’s always ready to sip on some new suds. “There’s a culture around it,” he says. “When people here go to a bar, they want to have a beer they haven’t tried before.”

Two Beers currently has three brews in rotation: an easy-drinking, citrusy blonde called 20:20, the witbier, and Immersion, an amber-style ale. When VanderBrink developed Immersion, he wanted to distinguish his amber from the usual suspects—Fat Tire, Alaskan, and Mac and Jacks—so he held back on the malt and added more hops. He calls the result the “perfect barbecuing beer,” and we say amen to that: With its orangey aftertaste and hints of burnt malt, Immersion manages to at once celebrate summer and welcome in the fall. It’s just the drink to wash down those last backyard burgers of the year. —Jessica Voelker

Call ahead to order kegs and growlers from Two Beers Brewing Co., located inside the Activspace building at 819 N 49th St, Ste 107, Fremont, 206-274-9353; Two Beers’ 20:20 Blonde Ale is currently on tap at Nana’s Soup House, 3418 NE 55th St, University District, 206-523-9057;, and Park Pub, 6114 Phinney Ave, Phinney Ridge, 206-789-8187.

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