After Buoy Beer Company won double gold for its Helles Lager at Sip Magazine’s 2017 Best of The Northwest competition, it started self-distributing beers to a handful of Washington-area accounts. As demand grew in the years following, they decided it was time to create their own distribution company to grow into the market. River Barrel Distributing was established in 2020 to help bolster the presence of Buoy Beer and its sister company, Pilot House Distilling, in accounts throughout the Puget Sound area. Since then, the distributor has been expanding its portfolio with other regional producers. River Barrel’s portfolio includes Buoy Beer, Alesong Brewing and Blending, Zoiglhaus Brewing, Stemma Brewing, Triceratops Brewing, Sig Brewing, Terramar Brewing and Distilling, Single Hill Brewing, Trap Door Brewing, and others. Today, Peaks & Pints offers an in-house flight of five River Barrel clients in a flight we’re calling, Peaks and Pints Beer Flight: River Barrel Distributing.
Peaks and Pints Beer Flight: River Barrel Distributing
Arborist Luke Colvin coaxed client, longtime homebrewer and lager specialist Dan Hamilton to open Buoy Beer Co. with his brother-in-law David Kroening, business advisor Jerry Kasinger and businessman Andrew Bornstein, who had a 90-year-old cannery building in Astoria, Oregon, on the waterfront. The rest, as they say, is history. Buoy Beer makes some of the finest light lagers in the state, including a clean and biscuity Czech Pilsner that’s become a staple all over Oregon, and Peaks and Pints. It hits the nose with grainy biscuit malt and grassy hops — not complicated, but on style. Flavor is biscuit malt, grassy and slightly citrus hops, lemon, hints of honey, and mixed grain spiciness.
In Spring 2020, Duncan Susag, brother Alex Susag and cousin John Samuelson opened Sig Brewing on the edge of Tacoma’s Historic Brewery District, along Tacoma Avenue South in the building formerly occupied by Duncan’s concrete design firm, Studio Make. Head brewer Jeff Stokes has been cranking out delicious craft beers, including The Optometrist’s Delight, a carrot cake cream ale.
In August 2016, Ty Paxton and Zach Turner opened Single Hill Brewing in an old JC Penney Tire Center in downtown Yakima. The two first met at a cider pressing party that a mutual friend was hosting in 2013. Three years later, over pints at Bale Breaking Brewing, the two hatch the idea for a community-based brewery in a town dear to their hearts. Brewed in collaboration with White Pass Ski Resort and Rod’s House, Local Hill is their ideal ski beer. This hazy pale is just strong enough to take the chill off, but light in body and alcohol to make the second pint just as enjoyable.
Homebrewer Rob Horn left New Jersey to become a firefighter at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He and his wife, Kelly, opened Triceratops Brewing in August of 2014. With the last name Horn and three awesome kids, is there really any other name? At first, they brewed out of their home garage. After thriving there for three years they opened a tasting room next to Matchless Brewing in Tumwater. Their RevMo Caramel Coffee Stout, a collaboration with RevMo Choppers & Coffee in Olympia, and grabbed a bronze at the 2023 Washington Beer Awards, is a smooth and sweet coffee stout.
The name Rhino Suit isn’t something the three Alesong Brewing & Blending owners wear to raise awareness and funds, but rather it’s a term dropped by their winemaker friend while Doug Coombs, Brian Coombs and Matt Van Wyk listened to his business advice. The Sonoma winemaker said you must wear a rhino suit every day to battle through walls of negativity. After the meeting, the Alesong owners knew the name of their first beer _ an imperial milk stout named Rhino Suit. It’s aged in freshly emptied Heaven Hill bourbon barrels adding smooth notes of vanilla and coconut to the rich chocolate flavors of the base milk stout. After working your way through the wax-dipped entryway, a strong rush of bourbon with milk hits the nose. On the tongue, expect creamy, milk smooth body with notes of dark chocolate and vanilla, plus some alcohol heat on the finish.