When brewing industry veterans Ron Extract and Amber Watts began looking for a location to build a destination brewery, they sought an area where they could grow everything they needed to make their products.
That search ended when they encountered the fertile Skagit Valley.
“We were thinking, 'If we were to start a new project where in the world would we start it?'” Extract said. “Where is the best place on earth to grow everything that we need to make what we want to make? And that’s what led us to the Skagit Valley.”
Extract said Skagit County is the ideal place to find all the ingredients needed to brew craft beer, cider, wine and mead, which is an alcoholic drink of fermented honey and water.
“When you think about the ingredients you need to make beer, think of grains like barley, wheat, rye. Think about hops, think about some of the other ingredients we like to work with like berries, honey, fruits. All those things grow locally here,” Extract said.
Their operation, called Garden Path Fermentation, is housed in a former industrial building on Port of Skagit property. They received a building permit to renovate in early February, and took a sledge hammer to the walls the very same day.
Watts said they hope to open by the end of March.
“What we are doing is a little bit different than a lot of other breweries in Washington,” Watts said. “All of our products are going to be sourced as locally as we possibly can.”
Watts said their malt will come from down the street at Skagit Valley Malting, the fruit will come from local family farms and their yeast will be grown on site.
The only ingredient they’ll have to bring in from outside the area is hops, Extract said, because there’s no infrastructure to pick and process them locally in bulk.
Watts and Extract got their start in brewing on a ranch outside Austin. That's where they started dreaming of an operation where customers could see the entire production process.
“When we came here, we had the idea of actually starting an estate brewery,” Extract said.
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