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Big move for Slippery Pig Brewery
POULSBO — Slippery Pig Brewery began moving into its new downtown Poulsbo location this month — a location that will not only expand its brewing capacity, but establish a new local attraction in more ways than one.
Slippery Pig wants to tap into the local music scene, give it a home in Poulsbo, and serve it alongside its brews.
“We can’t wait to get in there,” said Dave Lambert, owner and head brewer of Slippery Pig. “We’ve been working on this since October and it seems like such a good fit to be downtown, right in the thick of things.”
The downtown brewery will produce Slippery Pig’s one-of-a-kind brews and have a tasting room, but it will also serve as a venue for the region’s musicians.
“There’s not really a great place in the area to have live music,” Lambert said. “A lot of folks in town are doing live music and doing it well, but there is no venue where live music is a natural fit. We want to be a spot in the Northwest for bands to come and play.”
He added, “We love bands that are original. We lean more toward rock. But we want to be able to showcase the many bands out there that seem like they get crammed in a corner in a bar, that’s not a good venue. There’s a lot of young bands in Kitsap that are fantastic and they don’t have a place to play around here.”
The brewery and venue will set up shop at 18801 Front St.; Himalayan Chutney Restaurant and Bar recently moved out. Lambert aims to open the new Slippery Pig this summer, June at the earliest.
“We definitely want to turn the inside into a kind of modern-farm-meets-old-Poulsbo kind of feel,” Lambert said. “My roots in Poulsbo go back to 1882, so I’ve got a lot of history here. Over the past 25 years, it seems like we are embracing our old Poulsbo roots more. We’re proud to be here.”
The former location, a farm at 932 Slippery Pig Way, where it has brewed for three years, will no longer serve as the base of operations. The site worked well as the brewery began its venture, but a combinations of factors pushed the business to the new location.
“For the last two years we’ve really needed to make a lot more beer. It’s demand,” Lambert said. “We needed a bigger brewing system and it won’t fit here (at the farm).”
The farm also had difficulty accommodating the brewery’s popularity during the summer season, and proved to be too far out of the way during the off-season.
“In the summer time, we’ve had just a lot of traffic through here and our little place here is on the edge of not being able to handle it,” Lambert said. “We have a single-lane drive way, and in the middle of winter, when the wind is blowing, we have the opposite problem.”
Lambert said he expects the cycle of business to be the same downtown, but not as severe.
County zoning codes also proved to be hurdles that Slippery Pig could not leap. The farm is considered a residential use, and a brewery is a commercial use.
“We’ve been working with (the county) over the last couple of years, according to them our zoning doesn’t fit with what we are doing,” Lambert said. “We saw what we were doing as under agricultural, as far as we were concerned that’s what we were doing. But there was some disagreement.”
He added, “This (move) takes that completely out of the equation.”
The new location offers the brewery an opportunity to expand, and Lambert is keen on taking it.
“We have a brewing system that is three-times the system of what we’ve been working with now, and we’ve been looking for a home for it since October,” Lambert said.
“We’re going to maintain what we’ve always brewed with locally produced ingredients where we can,” he said. “I’ve got a few things I’ve been holding out for opening day. When I put them on tap they will probably be gone the first day.”
One such treat is a barrel aged version of the brewery’s flagship rhubarb beer. Lambert’s wife Shawna has also been preparing a batch of barley wine for the big opening.
Slippery Pig’s move, and expansion, is also the latest development in Poulsbo’s expanding brewery scene. Poulsbo also boasts Valholl Brewing, based in its downtown. Sound Brewery, at the other side of Liberty Bay on Viking Avenue, has expanded its own operation into a larger building across the street with aims to produce more of its brew.
“The Poulsbo beer market is growing so much,” Lambert said, noting that not only is there plenty to go around, the beers are exceptional. He said that he tours the beer scenes in places like Seattle and Portland and often finds the beers to be very similar to each other. In Poulsbo, though, beer has a local flare.
“Everybody is doing great beers,” he said. “And nobody in town is doing the kind of bland boring, beers you find in a bigger market. We are all doing very unique beers.”
“Slippery Pig always gets nailed as being very unique,” Lamber added. “But Sound’s beers are unique, too, when you compare them to other markets. Between the three of us, it’s pretty unique here.”