Think about craft beer. Go ahead, just think about it. Think about your favorite craft beer being poured into a pint at the right temperature. You may notice the aroma first or, perhaps, the way light reflects through the liquid’s golden color. Think about the first sip, the touch of frothy head and rush of effervescence, the flavor balanced between sweet and bitter notes. Bags of grain are piled in the corner and kegs are stacked in another. In front of you, a stainless steel tank holds thousands of gallons of this precious liquid. This is a transcendent experience, one that you will measure all other experiences of drinking beer against. You have tasted the fruit off the vine.
Now, look up. You’re in Dick’s Brewing Co. and some dude is doing a crazy version of the Chicken Dance to a roaring cheer from hundreds of Lewis County faithful. The Eclectics lead singer Ron Bates Sr. serenades scores of pretties. A plethora of worthy prizes blanket tables. A steady line aims toward the taps of Dick’s Danger Ale, Dick’s Summer Time Rye, Dick’s Grapefruit IPA, Dick’s Klaber Fair Beer and on and on. Folks shell out coin with dreams of taking home a row of stadium seats or the Kegerator full of Dick’s beer. Dick’s sales executive Aaron Wayne hands out Chicks Heart Dick’s stickers to every female in the massive warehouse/taproom. Women dance with women as Ron Bates Jr. cranks out Philly Soul, Rolling Stones and Santana oh his wooden crosscut guitar. Last year’s Dick’s Homebrew Competition winner Pete Hausman signed autographs. Dick’s owner Julie Pendleton juggles tasks and thank yous while dodging my camera. Dave Pendleton, brewery manager and head brewer, discusses fly-fishing with the masses in the outside beer garden. Every so often someone would point up to the motorcycle above the main office and tell a story about Dick “Danger” Young, the beloved craftsman, motorcycle-riding rebel who took his homebrewing passion pro in 1994 when he opened Dick’s Brewing Company in Centralia. The 56-year-old entrepreneur died from an aortic aneurysm in 2009.
The joys of sipping craft beer inside a brewery and the zaniness of an annual celebration collided for the sixth time at Dick’s Brewing Co. yesterday. With threatening rain lurking, Beer For A Cure Homebrew Competition and Fundraiser consumed the Centralia brewery, overflowing into the outside beer garden and overflowing with generosity. Again, American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life of Lewis County was the beneficiary of the raffle and silent auction.
The rich homebrew history that launched at Dick’s Brewing inspired the Beer for a Cure event. Earlier in the afternoon a panel of professional brewers and craft beer industry folks judged 45 homebrew entries. At 7:30 p.m., the five winners were announced: Ben Thompson grabbed fifth place with his Belgian Saison; Daniel Patten’s lager took fourth; Graham Wilken scored third place with his Belgian Wit and Eric Chavez’s American Wheat took second. The 2016 Dick’s Brewing Co. Beer For A Cure Homebrew Competition winner was Josh Sparkman whose Blonde Coffee Stout will be brewed on Dick’s brewing system for a future release.
So next time you’re thinking about a beer head to Dick’s Brewing Co. They have been brewing craft beer in Centralia for 22 years, and they have the party to prove it.