[photo by Jim Henkens]
How do you become one of the largest breweries in one of the most beer-loving states in the country these days, and not sell a single drop to drink in your taproom? The incredible growth of Seattle's Georgetown Brewing Company, and the way they've done it, could leave a lot of beer lovers and business owners scratching their heads.
And yet, Manny Chao and Roger Bialous have successfully zigged when everyone else has intentionally zagged. Bodhizafa IPA won gold at the Great American Beer Festival in the most-entered category, yet remains relatively unknown outside the Pacific Northwest. It wasn't even until 2017 that Georgetown beers were sold in anything other than kegs. At a time when beer enthusiasts decry the death of flagship beers, Manny's Pale Ale remains more than two-thirds of production for the 17-year old brewery.
All this might seem odd, but there's more. Situated among other warehouses in an industrial section of Seattle, the taproom was still consistently busy when I visited this past fall. People waited to buy cans and growlers to go and as I sat down with Roger to talk about the brewery, I admittedly did not know the extent to how much what he'd say would surprise me. It's easy to get locked in on what's common and successful in today's beer industry, not so much to recognize just how special some histories and business plans can be.
This is Roger Bialous, co-founder and owner of Georgetown Brewing. Listen in.