Seven years ago this month, Peaks & Pints was scrambling. As owners Robby Peterson, Justin Peterson and Ron Swarner prepared to open their craft beer and cider bar, bottle shop and restaurant in Tacoma’s vibrant Proctor District, they found themselves dealing with circuit breaker malfunctions, construction delays, Internet issues, software re-installs and other vital components. Their hired staff sat on their couches reading beer and culinary books for six weeks before Peaks & Pints finally flipped on the open switch Nov. 1 2016. This Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, they’ll flip on the switch for year seven with a big party, Peaks and Pints Seventh Anniversary Celebration, featuring the release of their new house beer, Bale Breaker TrailBreaker IPA, their new house cider, 2 Towns Ciderhouse RiverBreaker, and their house band, The Barleywine Revue bluegrass band.
“When people say they want to open a restaurant, this is the stage where they have no concept of the workload, frustration, and expense involved as you pay premium prices for the flurry of activity that leads to completion,” said Ron Swarner as he wrote this story. The project to convert a former movie theater — which over the years had served as five-and-dime store and two bicycle shops — took 18 months before they opened to a packed house.
“Sometimes it feels like the blink of an eye, and sometimes it feels like seven lifetimes,” said Robby Peterson.
If the dog curled up next to you on the sofa ages the equivalent of seven years every 365 days, one busy restaurant year is equivalent to at least 7 human years. It’s a proud accomplishment that Peaks & Pints, which resembles Paul Bunyan’s vacation home inside, made it through the seven-year business cycle. Indeed, seven years ago, Peaks & Pints welcomed its first beer enthusiasts and diners to their giant lodge with 28-taps flowing from a 600-pound Western red cedar log, a 13-door cooler filled with beer and cider from around the world, and delicious sandwiches, salads, soups, and appetizers handmade in a kitchen the size of Bilbo Baggins’ vacation home.
Any time a bar or restaurant turns 7, it’s a cause for celebration. But surviving these past seven years through a pandemic and beer industry fluctuations? That deserves a new house beer, new house cider, and a live bluegrass band.
Bale Breaker TrailBreaker IPA
Peaks & Pints travelled to the Yakima Valley and Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood to brew our seventh house beer, Bale Breaker Brewing TrailBreaker IPA, which will be released at Peaks & Pints Seventh Anniversary Celebration. They toured Loftus Ranches that grew the hops for TrailBreaker, and then brewed the IPA at Bale Breaker’s brewhouse in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.
Like many families in the 1920s, the Loftus family traveled to Moxee, Washington, in pursuit of work on the railroad, but instead began farming a variety of crops and livestock. As Moxee and the greater Yakima Valley transformed into a notable hop growing community, B.T. and Leota Loftus established the family’s hop farm on nine acres in 1932. Today, the family tradition is continued by third and fourth generation hop farmers, Mike and Cheryl Smith and their son, Patrick. In 2015, the family expanded their hop-growing operations to the Lower Yakima Valley, establishing Tributary Hop Farms just across the Yakima River from the town of Granger.
In 2013, B.T. and Leota Loftus’ grandchildren — Meghann Quinn, Patrick Smith, Kevin “Smitty” Smith, and Meghann’s husband, Kevin Quinn — founded Bale Breaker Brewing on Field 41 of the family’s hop farm, while Patrick and their dad continue run the family’s two hop farms, Loftus Ranches in Moxee and Tributary Farms in Granger. With a 30-barrel brewhouse at a 27,000 square foot facility, Bale Breaker crafts seven year-round canned beers, including the widely celebrated Topcutter IPA, and a diverse offering of seasonal beers in cans and on draft. They have two taprooms: one onsite at the Yakima brewery; and in 2021, another in Seattle’s Ballard Brewing District, which also houses the 7-barrel brewhouse that Peaks & Pints helped brew TrailBreaker IPA with Ballard brewer Bobby Buckman. Trailbreaker IPA continues the Peaks & Pints old school IPA house beer tradition leaning toward citrus and pine notes within an orange-ish colored shine. Look for a future story to dive deeper into the making of Bale Breaker TrailBreaker IPA.
2 Towns Ciderhouse RiverBreaker Dry Cider
Peaks & Pints travelled to Corvallis, Oregon, to make their third house cider, 2 Towns Ciderhouse RiverBreaker Dry Cider. Actually, 2 Towns Head Cidermaker Dave Takush made two potential Peaks & Pints house ciders for the Peaks team to pick, which they did during the cidery’s massive annual Harvest Party in Mid-October.
In late 2010, Corvallis homebrewers Aaron Sarnoff-Wood and Lee Larsen filled a gap in the college town’s drinking scene — cider. The duo opened 2 Towns Ciderhouse crafting unique ciders brewed with the traditional English and French-style’s tannic apples, Oregon grown, of course. Named after the cities of Corvallis and Eugene (Larsen’s a Beaver; Sarnoff-Wood a Duck), their childhood friend, Dave Takush, joined the company and his master’s degree in fermentation science at Oregon State University helped him eventually become 2 Towns head cidermaker. Now the number one independent cidery in the country, 2 Towns has more than 100 employees and is dedicated to producing quality craft cider from 100-percent fresh-pressed Pacific Northwest apples. While 2 Towns Ciderhouse sources many of its cider apples from the Yakima area, some varieties are grown at Takush’s family orchard.
The Peaks crew chose a McIntosh apple-based dry cider over a Cosmic Crisp version. The McIntosh cider is rich and complex, reflecting the balanced sweetness and acidity of this historic apple. The aromatic McIntosh — with its distinct white flesh and vinous flavor is coveted for fresh eating and cider production — was discovered in the early 19th century when John McIntosh noticed a young apple tree growing on his property in Ontario near the U.S. border. Delighted by the delicious fruit produced by the tree, he sold seeds to his neighbors hoping to popularize the new type of apple. It took him years to realize that apples do not grow true to seed and that varietal propagation could only be achieved through grafting. Today, the McIntosh is commonly grown in New York, Canada, New England, Michigan, and the Pacific Northwest. Look for a future story to dive deeper into the making of 2 Towns RiverBreaker Dry Cider.
The Barleywine Revue
The Barleywine Revue bluegrass band will perform at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1 at Peaks & Pints Seventh Anniversary Celebration. Peaks & Pints co-owner Ron Swarner fell in love with bluegrass band The Barleywine Revue when he was publisher of Tacoma’s alternative newsweekly, Weekly Volcano. Swarner followed the band reviewing their shows and hanging at the band’s after parties. Before opening Peaks & Pints, Swarner asked Barleywine Revue band leader Forest Beutel if he’d write the craft beer bar’s house song. He did; “Peaks & Pints” is the second song on the band’s 2016 T-Town Hoedown album, which Swarner attended the recording Mountain House Recording Studio in Tacoma. The self-claimed newgrass band has performed many times at Peaks & Pints filling the giant space with songs of current loves, past loves, journeys, whiskey, and, of course, Peaks & Pints.
Peaks & Pints Seventh Anniversary Celebration
Join Peaks & Pints on Wednesday, Nov. 1, as they celebrate their seventh anniversary with the release of their new house beer, Bale Breaker TrailBreaker IPA, the release of their new house dry cider, 2 Towns Ciderhouse RiverBreaker, and music by The Barleywine Revue bluegrass band. Peaks & Pints will tap a few other Bale Breaker and 2 Towns delights, as well as many treasures from their cellar, beginning at 6 p.m. There isn’t an admission fee for this event. Come celebrate seven years with Peaks & Pints.
PEAKS AND PINTS SEVENTH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION, 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1, 3816 N. 26th St., Basecamp Proctor, Tacoma, no cover