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Nationally, the craft brewing scene has recently experienced tremendous growth. The city of Aberdeen has cashed in on this trend with the addition of two breweries to the downtown corridor. Not only are beer enthusiasts craving a one-of-a-kind beverage, but they’re searching for an environment that varies from the all too familiar chain restaurant or bar experience. Aberdeen currently offers two great locations to sample local brews that tie in the surrounding Pacific Northwest flare while creating an environment that's special to the region.
After a 70 year absence of a local brewery in Aberdeen, Steam Donkey Brewing jumped at the chance to bring the trade back to Aberdeen. Today's current owners and founders, husband and wife duo Stefanie and Jon Bennett, noticed the opportunity to bring something incredible in their hometown. “If you would have told me five years ago that I would go on to open a small business in Aberdeen, I may have thought that you were crazy,” explains Stefanie. “Looking back today, Jon and I are so happy with where we are both personally and professionally.”
The start of this dream came to Jon and Stefanie in 2011. After acquiring some home-brewing equipment and learning the ropes, the two cashed in their retirement savings and began the process of opening up their very own small business. After discovering the perfect location in 2016 that proved to be large enough to hold their newly purchased brew system, renovation officially began. Just one year later, the dream became reality and the first brewery in the city in decades served their very first customer.
Two years later, the family-friendly space has grown from four beer taps to eight featuring their own unique products. They now also offer cans of beer on demand in addition to being able to can 16-ounce cans of any beer, making for the ideal beverage to take on the go. “We’ve recently added a lot of additional services including a barrel program and release barrel aged bottled beers a couple of times a year,” explains Stefanie. “We also rent out our space for local events and have increased our distribution to several local bars and restaurants around Grays Harbor and Olympia.”
One of their favorite aspects of owning Steam Donkey is the opportunity that it’s provided them to give back to the community in so many meaningful ways. “Our brewery has been an amazing resource to help raise awareness for many local non-profit companies who provide beneficial services to Grays Harbor,” says Stefanie. “We often host a Charitable Suds event that combines what we do with what others are doing to better the area. We’re happy to have gotten to attach ourselves to fantastic events, auctions and organizations who make a difference on the Harbor.”
As for the next few years, Jon and Stefanie are eager to expand their services and product line. “Expansion, at a reasonable rate, is something that we are always discussing,” states Stefanie. Whether that means an additional brew space or expanding their reach with distribution, Jon and Stefanie are excited to continue growing for many years to come.
The newest brewery to open in Aberdeen is Mount Olympus Brewing Company. The idea for the brewery began with a single sip of craft beer back in 2006. Over the course of the next few years and dozens of home-brew experiments, head brewer Orlando Maldonado and assistant brewer James Lundgren decided to move forward with their vision. After seeking out investors to assist in making their business the real deal, the two quickly created an all-star team of enthusiastic brewers-turned-great friends, all who have a passion for the industry while sharing the same vision for the future.
“The City of Aberdeen was chosen as the location of Mount Olympus after we all discussed the huge potential for growth in this town,” states Orlando. “Being born and raised in Aberdeen, I constantly noticed the potential to bring new life to downtown.”
Orlando’s love of the Pacific Northwest helped inspire many aspects of the business. Even before the brewery space had been chosen, James had decided on the perfect name. “The Olympic Mountains are a place where my dad, Audel Maldonado, and I spend a lot of time hiking, hunting, camping and fishing,” expresses Orlando. “We really just love the area. It’s like visiting the land of the lost where everything seems untouched by man.” With the great outdoors fresh in his mind, James used that as the inspiration for the name of the brewery as well as many of the beers. Local tourist destinations and recognizable Grays Harbor attractions also grace the menu as beer names, for example, the Hawaiian Chieftain double IPA is named after the tall ship that visits the Harbor each year alongside the famous Lady Washington. Some of the IPA’s on tap are also named after James and Orlando's favorite songs and musicians that are always playing loudly in the background during the brewing process. After a major remodel to what was formerly a retail store, today's industrial interior design features pops of color in the spacious, open concept layout.
The future of this new business is bright, as a detailed plan has already been laid out for the next couple of years. “Our hope is that we will be able to build a large outdoor space for our customers to enjoy,” says Orlando. “We also have a goal to install a small canning line that will allow us to feature our products in more stores in Washington. It also won't be long until our kitchen will be pumping out delicious food that pairs well with our beers.”