Four years after Chris and Anu Elford opened No Anchor, one of the town’s best, and most uncommon beer bars, they’re taking things a step further with their own brewery and a partnership with a beer industry luminary.
The Elfords (a couple with cocktail cred aplenty: Anu’s the longtime owner of Rob Roy; she and Chris also run Navy Strength and Vinnie’s Raw Bar) are planning a brewpub called Here Today at the 10 Clay building, the redevelopment rising adjacent to the brick address most of us still know as the Old Spaghetti Factory. Their partner, and brewer, in this venture is a big deal on the national beer scene: Averie Swanson spent the past three years as head brewer at Austin's hyper-legit Jester King, an operation that helped the nation wrap its brain around farmhouse ales and various wild fermented styles. She’s also a Master Cicerone, one of just 18 people in the world to pass the highest level of beer certification (let me assure you, there are not a lot of ladies on that list). Swanson will oversee the seven-barrel system. As Chris Elford describes it, Swanson will hire a lead brewer to run day to day ops and work with that person to develop beers, not unlike how a chef manages multiple kitchens; she will split her time between Seattle and her cool Keeping Together project with Chicago’s Half Acre Brewing.
The Elfords had considered opening a bar in the building just across the train tracks from Alaskan Way, but it seemed too much to take on. They had met Swanson through mutual friends, and the trio ultimately hatched the brewery plan. "We have a similar ethos and she just loves the Pacific Northwest," says Chris Elford. "I think it's part of the nature of our generation to think about expressing multiple sides of our personality in multiple projects." A fair point for a guy who treads between the cocktail and beer worlds.
Here Today will brew "easy drinking, fresh styles that have a historical link and are meant to be enjoyed," as Elford puts it—more in the vein of lager, IPA, and stout than anything esoteric. And you needn't be plugged into the local or national beer scene to get excited about the massive 40-person patio that looks out on Seattle's waterfront.
The trio is still nailing down details—and raising funds—but are aiming for a late summer opening. Here Today will have a full bar (on brand for the Elfords, clearly) with draft cocktails and wine. Cam Hanin, formerly Mark Fuller's lieutenant at Supreme, now running the buzz-making Guerilla Pizza Kitchen popup, is consulting on a non-pizza bar food menu.
Count me in for a spot that feels like an ideal balance of beer geekery and broad appeal. Late summer's a long way off, but Swanson will be here to lead No Anchor's beer pairing dinner on New Year's Eve. Consider it a preview of sorts.