You know the story. In 2005, Joel VandenBrink found himself in a disagreement with a friend, so they headed to a local pub to talk it through. After the second pint disappeared, the two friends had an honest conversation. Before that second pint, VandenBrink was putting his engineering degree from Grand Valley State University to use at the Johnson Controls plant in Holland, when he wasn’t exploring the great outdoors. The outdoorsman eventually moved to the great Seattle outdoors, epic solo hikes and, eventually that second pint of beer. After a homebrew starter kit and an inspirational tour of New Belgium Brewing, VandenBrink founded Two Beers Brewing Co. in a 170 square foot ActivSpace facility along Highway 99 in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood in August 2007. While Seattleites gasped when Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and fullback Mack Strong presented President George W. Bush with a Seahawks’ No. 43 jersey, VandenBrink engineered his beer recipes on two burners and two 27-gallon fermenters. In June 2008, VandenBrink delivered his first keg, hauled his 20:20 Blonde into the Park Pub in Seattle’s Phinney Ridge neighborhood. He sold a maximum of four kegs a week to gauge a response from his consumers and the rest, as they say, is history. Two Beers and its sister Seattle Cider Company host an “After Party” for the Proctor Arts fest and Brew Five Three craft beer festival at Peaks and Pints tonight. In conjunction, we present a Two Beers flight we call Craft Beer Crosscut 8.5.17: A Flight of Two Beers Brewing.
5.2% ABV, 27 IBU
In December 2008, after upgrading to a whopping 340-square-foot ActivSpace, and with $17 in his bank account, VandenBrink hired his first employee, Tyler Pickel, a Yakima Valley native and fourth generation hop farmer he met at the annual national Craft Brewers Conference. Two months later VandenBrink purchased his first delivery vehicle — a Chevy Astro Van, lovingly named “Brutus.” He and Pickel deliver then deliver their craft beers 20:20 Blonde Ale, Crooked Belgian Wit and Immersion Amber Ale to Washington state outlets. Immersion Amber is still very much a Two Beers beer. The aroma is sweet malt and mild citrus hops. Caramel malt and burnt sugar play off a mix of floral, citrus, and spicy hops and a bit of tobacco.
4.1% ABV, 41 IBU
Two Beers rebranded Day Hike to be a summer ale releasing the new look at the beginning of this year’s hiking season. Amarillo and Legacy are the hops of choice, collectively adding lemon and grapefruit aromas and flavors with a subtle hop bite. The medium-bodied, low ABV session ale is medium-bodied and well crafted, making the seasonal a great addition to your daypack, and perfect for enjoying at the top of a hard earned summit.
7.5% ABV, 45 IBU
At the heart of Two Beers Jive Espresso stout is a milk stout, sometimes called a sweet stout. The style is known for sweetness and hints of chocolate and caramel. Two Beers’ version follows suite with a full body and soft mouthfeel. Jive Espresso Stout takes sweet stout up a notch with a chocolaty espresso version featuring locally roasted direct-trade espresso from Fulcrum Coffee. Combine with flavorful oatmeal malt, Jive Espresso Stout features layers of flavor — including dry roasted malt and mild old vanilla bean note — with just a hint of espresso lingering on the palette.
6.2% ABV, 70 IBU
“We added a crazy amount of spruce tips to our EVO IPA recipe,” says Eric Willard, director of Operation at Seattle Cider Company and Two Beers Brewing Company. “We were a bit worried that it might have been too much, but I think I turned out well.” Indeed, as it seems that they bought the local Christmas tree lot right out, chopped them all up, and let them steep throughout the whole bloody brew cycle. It smells of spruce, that much is very true, all green and acrid and compelling, with a bit of appropriate dirty earthiness, and maybe a suggestion of some grainy and mildly caramelized malt. The EVO IPA alone hits the nose with pinecones and tropical fruit, as it’s hopped with Yakima Valley Simcoe, Amarillo and Centennial, then aggressively dry-hopped with Simcoe and Columbus. The taste is replete with resinous spruce tree bitterness, tropical fruit and a slight toffee finish. It finishes dry, earthy, spruce needle-y, and faintly grainy.
7.1% ABV, 84 IBU
VandenBrink hiked the 93-mile trail circumnavigating Mount Rainier solo. He dreamed of above 80 International Bitterness Units while hiking through Mystic Camp at 5,570 feet. He believed he could push an IPA close to the alcohol by volume mark of a double IPA as he trudged along the South Mowich River. He drew inspiration mixing strong citrus flavor hops with hops boasting earthy, pine characteristics while traversing along a ridge to Devil’s Dream Camp. Wonderland Trail IPA is the product of nearly two years of recipe development. Featuring a seamless blend of Washington-grown hops, this flavorful Northwest-style IPA is brewed with Cascade, Amarillo, Mosaic and Legacy hops, then dry hopped with Citra and Mosaic hops, complemented by 2-Row, Vienna and Munich malts. On the nose, a slightly sweet aroma of tangerine is followed by a wave of citrus and passion fruit on the palate, finishing clean and refreshing.