Two veterans of Seattle’s most impressive breweries are about to launch their own project in Magnolia. Bizarre Brewing will focus on beer with lower alcohol levels and create a laid-back gathering space in the neighborhood’s industrial district.
Derek Brown and Colette Boilini will open Bizarre Brewing in early October. The couple met working at Fremont Brewing back in 2014; since then, Boilini’s work has included beer service at both locations of Steve Luke’s endlessly creative Cloudburst Brewing. She also worked at Holy Mountain, where Brown was the first outside brewing hire. He went on to become head of barrel production, overseeing 600 barrels for Holy Mountain’s respected, resplendent barrel-aged beer program.
Bizarre Brewing’s beer might be low in alcohol, but the owners’ combined experience suggests it won’t be scant on flavor. Styles like pale ales, stouts, and lots of lagers will mostly punch in with alcohol-by-volume, or ABV, levels of less than 6 percent.
“For us, it’s about being able to have a few beers with friends,” says Brown. He and Boilini want their brewery to be a genuine community space, offering drinks that let you stay a while (without a scorching headache the next morning). If you look at bars in European countries, says Brown, “a lot of that stuff is lower-alcohol, and a lot of it is built to hang with a bunch of people and continue drinking.”
Plus, he says, “If I have a couple 7-percent beers, I am done.”
Funny enough, brewing low-alcohol beer can present a bigger challenge than something boozy and barrel-aged. Lager especially offers very little in the way of a flavor safety net. “You can’t hide flaws,” says Boilini.
Working at Holy Mountain, Brown got to experiment a lot with building a base that will hold up on lower-alcohol brews. Bizarre will brew both traditional lagers and ones that use modern hops like Citra. Pale ales will showcase regional hops. Methods like spunding will deliver some German-style lagers; “our goal is to also have something nice and dark, all year,” says Boilini.
The taproom at 4441 26th Ave W will have a dozen beers on draft, plus two hand pulls for cask-conditioned ales: English-style beers that typically have lower alcohol levels. At the end of the row of traditional beer taps, a Czech side faucet offers another means of pouring beer. One that's catching on with leading-edge breweries, even if the method itself has a rich history in Europe. The faucet’s long nozzle has a small screen that helps create “this fluffy, soft, foamy head,” as Boilini puts it, and amps up the aroma.
Brown will still do a few barrel-aged beers, ones that will be decidedly not low in alcohol. He can’t resist.
Bizarre Brewing joins nearby Dirty Couch and Figurehead to establish a base of breweries in industrial Magnolia, a spot not too far from—but way more chill than—the beer scene in Ballard. Bizarre’s taproom includes a small patio and a series of long picnic-style tables. It’s all-ages, and plans are afoot for food trucks and popups, but you can also bring your own food.
Granted, none of the beer here sounds particularly bizarre; Brown says the brewery’s name dates back to his home brew days. But this does sound like a place that will nail the details, and give us a relaxed, vintage-style space to catch up with friends. Over multiple beers.
Keep tabs on Bizarre Brewing’s Instagram for more updates on opening day.