If you find yourself in Leavenworth, WA, a small town in the Cascade mountain range, make sure you make a trip to Icicle Brewing Company. For those of you familiar with California’s Solvang in the Santa Ynez valley, Leavenworth, WA may be a familiar site. Like Solvang, it’s a tiny town turned tourist hub complete with themed building facades, restaurants, and antique shops. But where Solvang is Danish, Leavenworth is modeled after the Alpine villages of Bavaria. Cool! Original planning and architectural concepts were even thought out by the same Petersen family. More on Leavenworth history here
Leavenworth has always been a special place for me. Growing up I remember visiting frequently during the winter time and cross country skiing with my family, staying at the Icicle Inn, sledding in giant snow pants, and even going to the Baren Haus, the restaurant location of my father’s incredible, and still unexplained, magical disappearing butter knife trick, which he used to baffle my cousin Patrick and I when we were just kids. Still don’t know how he did that…
But we are here today to talk about beer, not butter knives! Enter Icicle Brewing Company, the brand new, state of the art, brewery in Leavenworth. Having opened in mid-April 2011, they’ve been brewing for just about 8 months and have been serving up some very, very tasty German style brews, which my wife and I were able to try during our time up there. The staff was great, the beers were delicious, and the facility was incredible. Shortly after our arrival we started our tour with Barbara, who up until her time at Icicle Brewing, worked at Full Sail. The facility was built from the ground up and modeled after a classic Bavarian farmhouse. Tall ceilings, automatically driven temperature controlled venting windows, a massive cold storage room, offices, and quaint tap room are just a few of the features. The brewing system is an impressive 25 BBL capacity, which feeds several 50 BBL striated 3-tier glycol fermentors, and 6 huge serving tanks being pumped directly to the bar taps. These craft brewers are serious about beer.
The tour covered basic brewing procedures, facility amenities, and a bit of history about the brewer and the business owners Pamela and Oliver Brulotte, who also own a very classic Bavarian grill and beer garden restaurant down the street called Munchen Haus (GO THERE!). As it turns out, Oliver comes from a family of Hop Farmers, so the beer business has been in his blood for a while. Their planning phase spanned two years, which culminated in the start of their one year constructing phase and hiring their head brewer Dean Priebe. We didn’t have the opportunity to meet Pamela, Oliver, or Dean, but it’s very evident from the atmosphere at Icicle Brewing and the quality of beers that they take the craft seriously. Barbara also mentioned Icicle’s efforts to help the community and give back. Community-driven business is very important to them, and it looks like they have frequent events sponsoring green non-profits, musicians, artists, and nature preservation groups.
After our tour we headed upstairs to the taproom portion of the brewery where we met Carla the taproom manager and the assistant taproom manager, Tessa. They ran us through the full lineup – Khaos Kolch, Colchuck Wheat, Bootjack IPA, Lokal Lager, Freund Festbier, Priebe Porter, Dunkelstiltskin, and my favorite Woody Goomsbock, an oak aged dopelbock. Each one of these beers was a pleasure to drink and were all brewed very clean and to style. Judging by the amount of people I saw bringing in growlers to be filled, we weren’t the only ones that enjoyed the beer.
The Bottom Line: Icicle Brewing Company is awesome. It’s a great family owned brewery, much like the small family run breweries near Los Angeles – Eagle Rock Brewery, the Bruery, and Ladyface Ale House to name a few. It’s obvious that there is a lot of love and respect poured into the business. You aren’t going to find crazy experimental beers here (yet), but what you will find is well made German/American classics, great company, and you seriously won’t want to leave.
Icicle Brewing Company
935 Front Street
Leavenworth, WA 98826
(509) 548.2739 (BREW)
– Kip B.
Los Angeles Ale Works™