7 Seas Brewing

7 Seas Brewing

For 7 Seas Brewing, pirates might as well have raided on the eve of their first opening. Just six weeks before they were ready to commence brewing, a space heater in an adjoining business caught fire and their brewery burned down. Since then, they have made their third move in seven years, circumventing a total of 100 yards to open most recently in a former huge grocery store space.

The newest 7 Seas Brewing is so cavernous, within their new 3,000 square foot tasting room and 22,000 square foot production brewery, they’ve built a replica of their former 180 square foot taproom opened at their second location after the fire. Located just a few blocks off Puget Sound in Gig Harbor, Wash., the town has taken to their craft beer like sailors to water.

There is a lot to like about 7 Seas Brewing. The brewery features up to 17 beers at any time across the spectrum of styles, including seasonals.  It’s a challenge to pick a favorite.  Standouts include: Oatmeal-Raisin Imperial Stout, Cutt’s NW Amber Ale (named after a local island), Port Royal Export Stout (with seven malts and two hops) and Rude Parrot IPA. Partners Travis Guterson and Mike Runion describe their beer as “audacious, yet technically well-executed.”

“We both found an appreciation for better beer pretty early on,” said Runion who studied entrepreneurship at Washington State. “We envisioned a craft brewery with a tasting room set up for socializing—community and families,” he explained.

To that end, there are no televisions in the taproom and the seating is family style around long rectangular tables built from reclaimed timber. If visitors want to watch something they can see the beer being made in the 25 and 8.5 -barrel system through a glass wall.

It’s a business plan that has paid off well, according to Runion.

“The new taproom has done much better than we expected,” he said, as a steady stream of customers came in and out with growlers. He notes that 7 Seas sells 25 percent of its beer on site with the other 75 percent shipped out mostly in kegs and some cans. He added that 7 Seas was the first craft brewery in the state to utilize cans.

“Every community wants a brewery,” said co-owner Guterson during a brewing break. “A brewery adds a new dimension to a community, a social place. We have many regulars, who’ve become our friends and family.”  This sometimes includes Guterson’s father, David, the award winning author of “Snow Falling on Cedars.”

To be a gathering place, a craft brewery must not just make good beer, but also have a well-trained crew. To accomplish this level of expertise, the two owners arrange and conduct sensory classes for their staff on dozens of different craft beer styles. Plus all staff is required to have Cicerone Certified Beer Server training.

“Travis and I are very committed to brew school for our people,” said Runion. “We want them to be able to form their own opinion so they can talk intelligently about our craft to our customers.”