We were in a really good mood on the way to interview Kevin. We practically bounced into and back out of the coffee shop on the way there. I could tell you that this is because we were about to do our fifth Different Office story together, and we finally felt like we knew what the heck we were doing together, which is true. But in all honesty, I think our unusually high spirits and excitement were mostly about what Kevin does for a living. Visiting a tiny beer brewery, it turns out, makes both Lori and Daniel very happy.

Lori: What work is done here?

Kevin: We’re a brewery, a tiny brewery, a nanobrewery as it’s affectionately called here. We just make and sell beer from the location, from here. Most of the beer goes out from the tasting area. And it’s a very modest tasting area, as you can see. And we also do a keg here, and a keg there, to a few of the local bars. So we try to stay local, bring in the local people, to make and serve them beer.

Kevin at NWPeaks
Lori: Is nanobrewery a word you invented? Or is there already such a thing, like is that a?

Kevin: It is not a legal term. If you make one drop of alcohol you’re considered at least a microbrewery, in terms of the government. But, as you can see, here this is a completely different feel than the Maritime and Hale’s down the street where they are a larger brewery. It’s kind of a term of endearment, or, you know, a term used to differentiate for the consumers to see and know the feel that they’re walking into. When they go to a nanobrewery, it’s going to be something smaller, like this. It might be just a one or two person endeavor that they just want their foot in the door and want to get their own production and craft out to the public: however small that may be.

as a term of endearment, or of distinction, the consumers call us a nanobrewery. So we call ourselves a nanobrewery.

Lori: Yeah. It’s got a great vibe. It feels like. [Lori sighs] I feel like I’m back in my undergrad days. [Kevin laughs] In a garage, literally, drinking beer. It’s got that, ah, yeah. It’s definitely different than—we took the Georgetown Brewery tour a year or two ago.

Daniel: Couple years ago, yeah.

Lori: It’s a microbrewery, but it’s a pretty big operation. [laughs]

Kevin: It’s a huge operation, and it’s considered a microbrewery. And one would argue that we should not have the same distinction as Georgetown, just because of the size, and the feel, that you’re walking in to. That’s why as a term of endearment, or of distinction, the consumers call us a nanobrewery. So we call ourselves a nanobrewery. [Lori laughs]

NWPeaks sign
Lori: How did this space come to be your work space?

Kevin: Just because of the nature of what we do, we needed a light, industrial space. And I just wanted to get my foot in the door, start up a little nanobrewery. Funds were at a premium. Light-industrial space in 2010 was at a premium. So I just kept looking, and I finally found this location. I think it was available for one day before I signed the lease. It was in a great neighborhood. It was in a great location. And the price was right. And it had all the amenities that I needed. So, I had to go for it. I’d been looking for a long time for just an adequate space, in a good location, just didn’t exist.

So I took it. There used to be no paint on the walls. Used to be pretty much nothing here. No water in here. And so we had to do a little bit, and it’s just been a work in progress ever since signing the lease.

Lori: How did you get into doing this to begin with?

Kevin: I was a home brewer. I got a Christmas gift, my sister picked it out and my parents paid for it, back in 1998. That was my first home-brewing kit. She was a home brewer herself. And so she started me up right with all of the proper equipment up front.

I like beer. And I am a scientist. I like experimenting. And I just kind of like creating my own things.

And I just kind of, ah, enjoy beer. I like beer. [Lori laughs] And I am a scientist. I like experimenting. And I just kind of like creating my own things.

Lori: Yeah.

Kevin: And I just started home brewing and continued from there. I think I got pretty good at it. And then I decided that I wanted to give this a shot.

Lori: So did you leave a day job to do this at some point?

Kevin: At some point I did. [Lori laughs] I came out to Seattle for grad school, to get my PhD. I got that, and I just stayed on as a research scientist. And eventually decided that I wanted to do the science and experiments not in the lab, but rather, in the brewery. So it was a slow transition, a slow transition, but this was after hours. And then I went kind of half-time/half-time. And then this was taking up way too much time, and it was growing, doing great, so I moved into this full time.

Lori: Yeah. How, how, ah—this is just a personal question, since that story sounds remarkably like my own. [We giggle together.] I also got a doctorate degree and then decided “I’m not a researcher. I’m a story gatherer, is what I am. And I want to do it outside of the academic space.”

How long did it take for you to go from thinking “I’d like to do this for a living” to actually leaving the day job and doing it for a living?

Kevin: Five years.

Lori: Yeah, five years.

It was really tough to pull the trigger, as I’m sure you can imagine, right? And so finally, that one time, you’re just like “I need to do something new!”

Kevin: And it took me a while. It had been in the back of my head for three to four years, and. It was really tough to pull the trigger. As I’m sure you can imagine, right?

Lori: [Laughing] Yeah.

Kevin: And so finally, that one time, you’re just like “I need to do something new!”

Lori: Yeah.

Kevin: And I decided to pull the trigger. It took me a year and a half or two years to actually get my permits. Because I needed to find the space. And I couldn’t find the space at the right price. And it took me a while to get going.

Lori: Yeah.

Kevin: And then after I got going, then it was a year, within a year and a half, I didn’t have the day job anymore, because this was. I wanted to be here.

Lori: Yeah!

Kevin: It took about 5 years, or more from the seed in the head. But once I signed the lease, then it was a year, year and a half.
NWPeaks

Lori: And so you’ve been in the space since 2010?

Kevin:  Yep. We moved in in June and we opened in November. It took a while to get the permits going and get the first batch going so that we could actually sell.

Lori: Yeah. Very cool. I’m kind of tempted to go just completely off script and ask you about your beer. [We laugh together.]

So what beer do you make?

Kevin: We do. Well, I’m still a home brewer at heart. So I like variety and I like doing a little bit of experimentation. So we do a subscription program—the mountainBeers. A growler of the month club, if you will. We do two different beers, and try to brew to the season, every single month. So this last month we did.

Lori: Whoa. That sounds like a fantastic Christmas gift! [Laughs, looking at Daniel] Growler of the month?

Kevin: It is! Perfect timing! [We laugh together.] So this last month we did kind of a theme for the month. We did the Pecan Nut Brown, which is a nut brown base with a pecan flavor and pecan pie spices in it, for Thanksgiving, because that’s in November. And we also did a smokey Scottish for the second barrel of the month. And that was in tribute to the eastern Washington forest fires. So we did a Scottish as a base and then we added some cherry smoked malt to give a really nice, delicate flavor. Well, a lot of people wouldn’t call smoke-flavor delicate but [Lori laughs] a nice smoke flavor.

Monthly seasonal beers!

The previous month we did two fresh hop beers because ‘tis the season. So we continue to do that. And we also have the Redoubt Red and normally the El Dorado Pale, which are two relatively lighter beers. The red’s a little hopier and a little bit darker, but they’re both pretty dry, crisp, and lighter. And we’re trying to brew those consistently.

Lori: Wow.

Kevin: We’re trying to stay on the more drinkable side. So anywhere from 4½ to 5½ percent. Some of them we get up to 6 or 6½ but. We’re trying to make them more drinkable. So you can have several pints and still get up in the morning or a whole growler full and still get up and go to work.

we’re trying to make them more drinkable. So you can have several pints and still get up in the morning or a whole growler full and still get up and go to work.

Lori: What do you have planned next? What’s comin up?

Kevin: What’s comin up? Sometimes I get too busy to actually think about that. [Lori belly laughs] But for December we did a double batch of our winter beer, which is going to be one of the lighter winter beers on the market. But it’s got a little nice, chocolate, roasty character. And then some hops to support it. And then we also did a rye brown ale. It’s a rye base: 33% rye. And the same type of chocolatey character, and we use a different yeast for that. It’ll be less hoppy but very similar but a different type of winter beer.

Lori: Very cool. You know, we have a growler in the car. [We all laugh.] One of the other things I do, I gather photos for the Seattle orchard steward community. Because of that, I was at a lot of cider pressings and tastings the last couple of months, so I actually carry growlers with me wherever I go. [giggles]

What’s one of your best memories from working in this space the last couple of years?

Kevin: It was probably right when I opened up. One of the great things about Ballard is there’s a lot of community events, and one of those is Backfire. It’s a motorcycle rally. During the height of the summer, sometimes we get 600 bikes just lining the streets.

I didn’t know about it. And then one Wednesday, right when I still had the day job–and so I was working off hours–I got here right at four, which is right when Backfire started.

Lori: Uh, huh.

We didn’t have glassware. We didn’t have anything. And people just kept coming in and wanting more beer.

Kevin: And people just started coming in. And we didn’t really have a bonified tasting room, as in, like a bar at that point. We didn’t have glassware. We didn’t have anything. And people just kept coming in and wanting more beer. [Lori laughs] And I didn’t have anything to give them. So I just grabbed whatever vessel I could off this shelf. [Lori laughs] And they are drinking out of mason jars and, like real mason jars, not the ones that are like glasses. And whatever else I could find. We had a few tasting glasses, so I’d fill four of them up for them to have as a pint. [Lori laughs] I, personally, and the brewery, we were completely not ready to have a large gathering and a bunch of people just coming in and wanting beer. So we had to figure out how to.

Lori: Make it happen.

Kevin: Give it to them. Yeah, how to make it happen.

Tasting glassware
Lori: That sounds like fun. Does that happen every year?

Kevin: That happens, during the summer, every third Wednesday. Starts in March. Typically its still a little wet and rainy and dark. It’s a small turnout. Then April, May they’re ready to go again. Pretty much after that it kind of wanes as people are travelling throughout the summer. And it’s been happening every single month.

Lori: What questions are you working on today that you weren’t working on two years ago? What things are you thinking about that you weren’t thinking about two years ago?

Kevin: Ahhh!

Lori: You are always experimenting, it sounds like. [laughs]

Kevin: I am always experimenting. And it’s mostly the questions about the business. There’s always a bottleneck in a brewery. So it’s the same but different question:

Where is the bottleneck and how do we get around that?

Lori: Yeah.

How do we increase everything while keeping the fun still in the nanobrewery? The fun in the brewery for me. The smaller community, the smaller feel, while working on those production increases.

Kevin: Right now the bottleneck is space. As you just kind of look around, you can see kegs everywhere because we don’t have anywhere else to put them. So, the questions are:

How do we increase production? How do we increase our space? And how do we increase everything while keeping the fun still in the nanobrewery?

Lori: Yeah.

Kevin: The fun in the brewery for me. The smaller community, the smaller feel, while working on those production increases.

Lori: That makes me think. Before we started the Different Office Web site, we created an eBook called Different Work, and we gathered stories from people who had moved from “I should” to “I love” my work. And, that reminds me of a story. There’s some guys out of San Francisco called TCB Couriers, and they wanted that. They became couriers for their own neighborhood. And they wanted to stay small. Bike couriers.

Kevin: Mmm, hmm.

Lori: They talked about delivering Nyquil [cough medicine] to people and stuff. And how they grew is that they had so much fun where they were, doing what they were, that other messengers from other neighborhoods called them and said “We’d like to do what you’re doing, maybe use your name, but we’d like to run our own neighborhoods.” And they managed to stay small. That’s been almost a year ago since I talked to them but. They actually managed to grow and yet stay small at the same time, because it was really just other people running their own little things.

Kevin: Yeah.

Lori: So that’s one way I’ve seen it done.

So, Different Office is about self-created, soul-satisfying work spaces. It’s actually about the space that people create around themselves when they are doing work they love.

What would you say that this space gives you now? [pause]

Was that too woo-woo a question?

Kevin: For me, kind of. [Lori laughs] But I can answer it.

It just gives me a place to actually be myself. It’s a blend of several of my hobbies. And I’m trying to bring that and share it with people. It’s a place where I’m trying to put my own touch on it. And be able to hopefully share something that I do, that I like, with people in a way that they want to experience it.

Lori: Yeah.

Kevin: So I added mountain photography. It was my two passions: climbing and beer. And I try to bring those together and surround myself here with it. And have it be a reflection of me personally so that I can share it with you, or the consumer.

Lori: Yeah. That’s cool. So you climbed all these mountains that I’m looking at right here?

NW Peaks on the walls of NWPeaks
Kevin: Yes. And all of our beers are named after mountains that I’ve climbed or routes that I’ve gone on on the mountain. The one right above my head is Redoubt, which is the red that we’re trying to, that will be our first quote-unquote flagship. If you want to call it that at this level.

Lori: Mmmm.

Kevin: That’s the one that’s consistently available here that we’re trying to distribute.

Lori: Where are these peaks that I’m looking at?

Kevin: They’re all in the north Cascades.

Lori: In the north Cascades.

Kevin: Yep.

Lori: Beautiful. So you took these shots too?

Kevin: No. John Scurlock, who’s a pretty well known, accomplished photographer. They’re all from the air. That’s kind of a blend of his three hobbies: mountains, aviation, and photography. And these are all winter photographs from nice days in the winter, which are few and far between.

Lori: Yeah.

Daniel: Those four photographs took six years. [We all laugh.]

Lori: Yeah, Daniel does a lot of outdoor photography too, so he knows. “We’re going to the coast this weekend! To take pictures of (sigh): nothing at all.”

That was an outstanding answer for you saying you didn’t know how to answer it. Ok, my favorite question.

What suggestions would you give someone considering leaving an unsatisfying job to pursue doing work they love?

Kevin: Go for it! Make sure you think things out first, but go for it. And have a plan, make sure it’s going to work, and you’re not going to get trapped. But, I would go back to go for it! [We laugh together.]

Lori: Yeah.

Kevin: Create your own environment that you want to be in. And just do it, whether that’s your own place or whether that’s doing something with somebody else. Just in a place you want to be.

Kevin Laughs
Lori: Yeah. I think one of the themes that’s coming out across these stories is that. Not necessarily that it’s easy, but that it’s worth it. And also that it takes a while. Five years is a number I’ve heard before. [laughs]

Kevin: It doesn’t have to be five years if you plan and do your due diligence up front. I would have done this completely different. I’m happy where I’m at. But I would have gotten here a lot different, and I would have gotten here a lot faster, if I would have done that up front. So, maybe spend some more money up front, but make sure you’re going to be able to make that back down the road. That’s why I say do your due diligence and plan it out.

But go for it.

Lori: And did you—that got me thinking of some of our other stories, people who managed to do it a little faster—did it as a group.

Did you do this by yourself?

Kevin: I did this as myself. A lot of people come in and say “I want to do this! I want to own a brewery!” I talk to a lot of people that want to do this. And I tell a lot of them, you know, what I just said. That I would do it differently. I go into a little bit more details, because they’re looking at this specific type of operation. And one of the first things I tell them is that it’s great to have partners. Share the load of responsibility. Doing, having, a small business, a small operation like this is a lot of work if you’re going to wear all the hats. So, I wish I would have had a group to go in with [Lori laughs] to share those responsibilities, but I didn’t. And I’m ok with that as well, but yes, it does help to share the burden.

Lori: I was just thinking of several people over the last year that we’ve interviewed have done so with a spouse, or with a girlfriend, boyfriend, friend, and at least one person is trying to leave the day job. You know, Martina was talking about that for the two of them. You’re financially both there to help as well. One person decides, all right, I’m just going to leave the day job and do this full time. That’s useful.

Kevin: I know, a lot of breweries started out that way. Georgetown, that you brought up earlier, Roger and Manny. I don’t know the details but somebody was going to buy a house, and instead, they bought a brewery. [Lori belly laughs] Roger kept his day job for a long time, and floated the company and Manny was the brewer up front. And then as soon as things started taking off, Manny did the beer side, Roger did the business side, so they kind of had that division of labor, and that financial support. And still had the day job to float both of them.

Kevin practicing what he preaches

Lori: Yeah. I think you spoke to this right at the beginning but…

Do you consider yourself part of a culture here, or part of an emerging culture…

Kevin: Absolutely.

Lori: And what do you call it?

Kevin: I do. There’s two things. Are you referring to a brewery culture or as a community culture?

Lori: Both. All.

It’s a great time to be a beer lover in Seattle and in the Pacific Northwest! And I hope that I’m adding to that, and I think I am.

Kevin: I don’t really know how to call it, but I think its both. In the brewing culture, all of these nanos are popping up. And all these larger than nanos are popping up. And it’s just kind of a. It’s a great time to be a beer lover in Seattle and in the Pacific Northwest!

And I hope that I’m adding to that, and I think I am.

And then in the community I think Ballard as a community wants to stay small and local. And so they’re here wanting to support the small businesses in their community. Keeping it a distinct and nice community, unlike some of the other areas around Seattle.

Lori: Yep.

Kevin: And again, we’re tiny. We’re small. We’re trying to. There’s two of us here. I’ve got an intern. So if you come in here, you’re always going to see the two guys makin’ the beer. And it’s a really small community operation. And I don’t live in Ballard, per se, but I live over in Greenwood, really close, and so, I’m now in Ballard all the time, and I consider Ballard almost my home.

Lori: Yeah. Yeah, very cool.

Kevin: And in the beer community in Ballard there’s another one with a combination of those two. There’s like 8, 10, breweries here in Ballard now.

Lori: Really?

Kevin: Most everything but Hale’s and Maritime are new.

Lori: Wow.

Kevin: So there’s NWPeaks. Hilliard’s is about 4 months younger than us. Ruben’s Brews is about 6 months old now. Urban Family Brewing on Ballard Avenue. They’re not brewing yet, but they’ve got the equipment.

Lori: Wow! [palpable excitement at learning all this new information]

Kevin: Populuxe is, got their permits. They’re still going through the build out. And the Peddler is in the old Jolly Roger’s space, and they’re building out right now.

Lori: Wow. It’s a fun time to be in Ballard!

Kevin: It is! [Lori belly laughs] So there’s tons of bike or walking brewery tours just in Ballard, where you can walk to six or seven breweries on a Saturday afternoon.

Lori: Very cool. That reminds me of, I was in a coffee shop in our neighborhood, right in the Pike/Pine corridor. And this little local coffee shop had a card on their counter. A lot of businesses have a punch card: buy 10, get one free.

Kevin: Mmm, hmm.

Lori: But their card had a different. You had to go to like 10 different coffee shops to fill out the card. That totally reminds me of. You guys could do that. The little breweries.

Kevin: Yeah. I want to start. I’m too busy to actually head this up, but I want to have, you know, a 6-punch card. If you get a pint at all 6, or something, 5 of the 6, then you get a commemorative glass. So each bar, brewery, is going to have the glassware, and then all the breweries will split the cost on the glassware. That’ll just promote people going and coming down and getting something for coming through Ballard.

When you’re little like this, we’re not competitors, we’re collaborators. We all sort of rise and fall together.

Lori: That’s such a good idea. Because we’re not, yeah. When you’re little like this, we’re not competitors, we’re collaborators. We all sort of rise and fall together. I, um, one of the things that I’ve done, as a writer this year, is I turned our home into a community coworking space. So there are coworking spaces all over Seattle, places for digital workers to go instead of working at home. Office Nomads being the oldest one. They’re the grandfather: they’re 5 years old. They’re so old! [Kevin laughs] Everybody else is like a year old, two years old. The same sort of thing. We have the Seattle Collaborative Space Alliance now. And, yeah. It’s the same sort of thing. We aren’t competitors. It’s good if all of us are full. And if we all know each other we can send people to, like well, you go to Office Nomads because it’s more this kind of person likes that place, and this kind of person might like that place.

Kevin: Mmm, hmm.

Lori: Yeah. It’s fun to stay small enough so that you can do that and not have to see the other spaces as competing with your space.

The macro-breweries still have all of the market share. And let’s work together as a microbrewery community and try to nibble away at that market share.

Kevin: I know, it’s great. It brings people in. It kind of makes it a destination. So, people are going to show up here because of the destination. For this industry as well, we’re all trying to steal that tiny, tiny, tiny percent from the big guys. The macro-breweries still have all of the market share. And let’s work together as a microbrewery community and try to nibble away at that market share.

Lori: And that’s kind of how the people who run coworking spaces, and me at least, sort of feel too. The other coworking spaces aren’t our competitors. Our competitors are the big corporations where people are working in cubes and hating their day jobs. We’re gonna get some of them! [We laugh together.]

You said that this was a small space. But you still must have a favorite part.

What’s your favorite part of this space?

Kevin: I don’t know, because each part is used for many different things.

Lori: The multitasking nature of the space.

Kevin: Yeah. So if you notice, all of these tables are on wheels so that when we’re brewing and the brewery is in operation, we roll these up against the walls and get them out of the way. That bar, if it stayed there, we would not be able to move anything in and out of the walk in fridge. So that’s kind of one of my favorite, I don’t know, not locations here but things about the brewery here. We’re trying to maximize the efficiency and every square inch.

Lori: Yeah.

We’re strapped on space, but it’s kind of fun figuring out how to deal with the space.

Kevin: We’re strapped on space, but it’s kind of fun figuring out how to deal with the space. And trying to maintain the tasting room and the brewery. And everything else in the operation. And just be able to have it be so you can set it up, take it down, and move things around. As you need.

Lori: Cool. My last two questions are. A lot of people end up telling us a story from their childhood. This happened when I was young, and that’s why I’m here doing this. Do you have a story like that? Do you [stops and laughs] I suppose beer brewing is a little different than other things. [Kevin belly laughs.] “I had beer when I was 4 and it made all the difference in the world to me!”

Kevin: My parents just gave me the beer in the bottle! [Lori belly laughs. Kevin laughs.]

Kevin: No, it happened more here in Seattle.

Lori: Or maybe you already told it, getting the home-brew kit.

Kevin: That was one. Getting that kit, I never thought I’d start my own brewery. It only happened when Gilligan’s brewery on the Burke-Gilman. It was out of a garage, an Active Space. He was right on the Burke and. I thought “Really? You can actually make a brewery in this

Lori: Little

Kevin: Little space?” That’s when things, when the seed got planted in my head. That I could do that. So yeah, probably a combination of those two. No specific childhood event. It was these other eye-opening experiences of “Hey! You can actually do this?!”

Lori: Well, I don’t know, the two of us sitting here. It doesn’t look good for academia long term, does it? [We belly laugh together.] Ah, yeah. For me it was, what I couldn’t get around in academia was how “expert” you had to be before you could say anything. I like to learn as I go. I like to tell stories as I go. And it always felt in academia like you you’ve got to be such an extreme expert, all by yourself. And then you have to publish as if you know SO much. And I just struggled with that. And just couldn’t, in the end, do it.

Kevin: Yeah.

Lori: It seems like storytelling is just [sighs] fun, easier, and more accessible to more people, and yeah, so.

Kevin: I agree. For me as well, it was, it became political.

Lori: Mmm, hmm.

you had to be cut-throat and fight, fight, fight if you wanted to keep moving up and actually do what you wanted to do when you started. It became NOT fun.

Kevin: As you move up, and I was going in for an altruistic, I’m going in to study cancer, the knowledge, hopefully maybe go into pharmaceuticals and maybe do something good. Find a vaccine, whatever. And then, as you learn more and more and more. There’s issues with money. There’s issues with this. And there’s power issues between the different labs.

Lori: Yep.

Kevin: At every single different level. And you had to be cut-throat and fight, fight, fight if you wanted to keep moving up and actually do what you wanted to do when you started.

Lori: Yeah. Yeah.

Kevin: It became NOT fun.

Lori: Yep. And the reason I asked you the question about “Do you consider yourself part of a culture and what do you call it?” Is that—our partners, Bas and Simone, and us—we feel like we’re part of an emerging culture, but we have absolutely no idea what to call it. The people who are, looking at the old institutions and the old way of doing things and are like.

Kevin: [to Daniel, who was about to take a photo of a beer growler] Let me get you another growler. That one is display only with no handle.

Daniel: Great! It looked like a perfectly legitimate growler to me. [Lori laughs] A perfectly good beer-holding growler.

Kevin: It would but you wouldn’t be able to pour it very easily!

Growler with handle

[To Lori] So, you wouldn’t know what to call that, ah, not cult, but movement.

Daniel: Oh, I’m going to call it a cult!

Lori: Ok, we’ll call it a cult. [laughs]

No, we’re part of an emerging culture, and there’s no word for it. We don’t know what we are. So we’re trying to gather words that describe people who make the choice to walk away from. I walked from Microsoft, for example, you from the university. People who walk from a cushy job, with a cushy salary, to do something they love. So we’re gathering words. That’s why we ask that question. Because we’re trying to figure out what the hell this is that we’re part of.

My last question is an easy one. Just.

When you hear the words “self-created, soul-satisfying work spaces” who else do you think of?

Kevin:  I think mostly of artists. And that’s, kind of, where I would go. Ballard Metal Arts, right by Fred Meyer down there. It’s a collaborative. Six artists that are sharing a studio and they’re just doing what they want to do. Their art.

Lori: So they’re all metal artists?

Kevin: Yep. And they do a couple other things as well. Some are ceramics and whatnot.

Lori: We’ve not been over there yet. Ballard Metal Arts.

Kevin: And actually, I kind of enjoy where I’m at right now because I’m surrounded by them. [Lori laughs] There’s a co-op right across the street: Ballard Woodworks.

And it’s a co-op, and it’s group equipment, and they just pay for a bench and then they can use all the equipment. And then if one woodworker or artist needs another machine, they go in together or he buys it, donates it to. It’s his if he’s going to move on, but he puts it out so that everybody can use it. And that’s right across the street.

Ballard Woodworks

EcoBalanza, that’s right across the street. They are kind of a little place like this where they do all recycled or all sustainable or recycled materials to make furniture: futons, couches, chairs. And then there’s Slab woodworking right across the street. Again, it’s just their own personal art gallery with their woodworking. So I actually feel right in the middle of it.

I actually feel right in the middle of it.

Lori: Wow. Yeah.

Kevin: They’re all mostly artists. And that’s who. I tend to associate these types with that question.

Lori: The last one was called what?

Kevin: Slab Art. And they’re all right in that little pocket.

Slab Art

Lori: Yeah. One of the things I’ve learned. Because I started working from home, and then started the coworking space out of our home. Is that when you stay small like that you have more time to notice all the cool things that are going on around you. Because I lived in the Central District for many years when I was full-time Microsoft, and getting a Master’s degree, then getting a doctorate degree. And I didn’t know any neighbors. But it’s only been since I decided, all right, no. I’m going to do this. I’m going to work for myself. That I started, to be, “Wow! There are some really amazing writers in my neighborhood. Really amazing artists in my neighborhood. Within a block from my house. And I had no idea!”

Kevin: You take time to smell the coffee, and look around, and notice what’s going on around you in your community. Whether it’s at home or at work: one and the same.

You take time to smell the coffee, and look around, and notice what’s going on around you in your community. Whether it’s at home or at work: one and the same.

Lori: I started small thinking, well, if I like running a coworking space out of our home, maybe I’ll run a bigger coworking space. Start a coworking space somewhere else. I have since decided I like to float too much. I like to float from your space to this space to this space.

Kevin: Yeah.

Lori: And I like having a little coworking space. We’re open on Wednesdays. One day/week we’re there. And if other people want to work with me on other days, they just text me and we work together. But I don’t think I want to be a full-time, 7 days a week, property owner and space holder, because I like to float. So that’s a nice thing about staying small. You get to really learn more about what you like and what you don’t like to do.  

Kevin: Yeah. And here you have the leeway to change that, and move towards what you like to do. Whereas if you’re in a big company, that’s not necessarily all that possible.

Lori: Like on my last. When Bas and I started working together—our partner in the Netherlands—did our last book. The stories were great but our photography was crap. And we’re like “Well, your spouse is a photographer and my spouse is a photographer.” [We laugh together] “Maybe we should start working with them. Because it would be a whole lot better. And yes, Different Office, and the photography for Different Office is

Daniel: Better.

Lori: Exponentially better! [laughs] I’m such a writer that I went to interviews, and I would forget to take my camera out and take a picture of the person. So, yeah. We’ve now expanded our two person operation into a four person operation. It’s been good for us.

Kevin: Yeah, and looking at the Web site, not extensively, I couldn’t quite figure that out. Because it was four of you from all over the globe it seemed like. Seattle and the Netherlands, anyway.

But how did you get hooked up with?

Lori: With Bas?

Kevin: Bas.

Lori: We both have individual blogs. We’re both writers. And we both had. He especially had a day job as a project manager. But we found each other’s blogs. I was writing about. It’s just like anything else: like finding another beer you like. I don’t remember who found whose blog first, but it was one and a half years ago: summer of 2011. And, yeah. We hit it off, and we decided almost instantly we should be working together. And since we’re so far apart, our first project was to create an eBook, which we did, Different Work. And then this is our next project: Different Office. And we have a bunch of other things—because it’s so much fun to work together—we have now a bunch of other things in the works. Writing other eBooks, journals. I want to do a coloring book. [We laugh together.]

So, yeah. It was just. When you write for a living, and the web is your publishing source, it’s kind of interesting what happens. Like my core community, you know, another writer who’s in Maine, one in Indiana, in the Netherlands, Jordon. And then the coworking space helps me have a close local community too. Because working for yourself from home can also be pretty isolating. You can forget to shower for a week. [Kevin laughs. Lori laughs.] It can go downhill fast. I also work one day a week now at Office Nomads: I work at another coworking space one day a week. So, yeah, float around a bit.

Thanks for asking that. I don’t get to tell my story often.

So that’s it for the interview unless. Is there’s any tour you’d like to show me? Or are we looking at the tour?

Kevin: We’re looking at the tour! Are you familiar with beer production?

Lori: Daniel is. I’ve been on the Georgetown Brewery tour.

Kevin: It’s the same thing, just in a smaller space.

Lori: They gave us a lot of beer on that tour: I don’t really remember details. [laughs]

Hot side

Kevin: So you’ve got the hot side, where you do all the cooking. And the cold side where you do all the aging. So this is where we cook everything. We use three different vessels. So that’s the hot. And then we move the beer to here into the fermenters, that’s these over here.

[To Daniel] We can move anything out of here if you want a better angle, or less crap [We laugh together] in the picture.

Daniel: I prefer actually how it is.

Lori: Yeah, we like how it is.

Daniel: How people actually work, and how they accommodate the space and respect the space or what it gives them.

Kevin: Ok! And so these are double batch. These are brand new. They’ve seen beer once. Kind of exciting. We just tripled our production with that.

Daniel: Nice!

Kevin: Brand new, double batch fermenters. So we brew twice and add the double batch into those. And they just tripled our capacity, which is nice. And these are new to us, used. I think they’ve been in four different breweries. And, they’re single batch fermenters. So after we brew, it ferments in these. It’s chilled. And then it goes into brick tanks, that’s in the walk in. And that’s where it gets carbonated. And it comes out and we package it into kegs or growlers, depending on the beer. Depending on what we’re doing with it. So right now our bottle neck, like I said, is space. The walk-in space, because we only have space to put 14 kegs. That is about 14 kegs. So we need to empty that and sell those kegs before we can move on to the next one, so that’s the bottleneck that we’re dealing with. What I’m thinking about now compared to previously. Previously it was like “How do we make more beer?” [Lori laughs] “How do we ferment more beer?” And now we have that, so now it’s

Lori: Where do we put it?! [laughs]

Kevin: Where do we put the beer?! We need some tasters in here. People that want to take it. So that’s pretty much the tour. And like I said, this is ah, Gabe, over at Ballard Woodworks, actually made these two tables, the bar and the table. And when we’re brewing this just gets moved over and just these two, end to end, fits all the way along this wall.Kegs

 

[The clinking of glassware is heard as Kevin sets out tasting glasses.]

Lori: Oh yay! We get to taste beer!

Kevin: That’s the ReDoubt Red. And this is the Blewitt, which is going to be the smokey Scottish ale. Then we’ve got the Pecan Nut Brown. And then the Cave Ridge Rye, which is a fresh hop pale ale. So we got hops overnighted. Wet hops. Threw them in right at the end. And that’s what gives this a little piney character on top of the rye.

Lori: [To Daniel, who is shooting a photo of the beer.] Hurry up! I want to taste it! [laughs]

Kevin: You’re more than welcome to go ahead, taste it, and we can get a second platter for pictures if you want.

Daniel: It smells good!

Lori: Wow. That’s good.

Kevin: It’s unique. It’s unlike most reds out there. People say “I don’t like reds.”

Lori: I like this!


Kevin: Even for those that don’t like reds, I think.

Lori: Is that the one that’s going to be your flagship one?

Kevin: Yeah.

Daniel: Yeah.

Lori: I can see why! Yum.

So if just a regular person wants to get a growler, or a couple of growlers, at holiday time, is it something that you can just come in and do? Or should you call ahead?

Kevin: You can come in. Our tasting room hours are—unless it’s a weird week—Thursday and Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 2 to 8 p.m. And depending on where holidays fall, different hours are up on our web site for Facebook. So, for Thanksgiving I was open pre-Thanksgiving on Wednesday, from 4 to 8 and then Friday I had family in town, so I just did 3 to 7. Pushed it up so I could have dinner with parents in town.

Lori: I ask because we’ll be coming back for some of that one for Christmas. [We all laugh.] Awesome.  

Philosophy

 

Damn good beer