Penn Cove Brewing Company is coming to Freeland
— Created February 17, 2021 by Kathy Reed
By Alec Brown
Although COVID-19 stunted its plans, Penn Cove Brewing Co. is still opening a new location in Freeland sometime this spring. The new facility will be a renovation of the old barn on 5844 Freeland Avenue behind Island Athletic, and will feature a taproom, outdoor patio, yeast lab and a one barrel brewing system.
“It sits on five acres, so we’ll have a bunch of outdoor patios and different seatings,” said Mitch Aparicio, who owns Penn Cove Brewing Co. along with his brother, Marc Aparicio. “And one of the big differences there is that we’ll have a food truck instead of our own food. We’re working with a food truck vendor to spin something totally different down there.”
The food truck will be named Reasonably Gordon’s, as a part of the brewing company’s collaboration with Gordon’s on Blueberry Hill. The food truck will offer “homemade pupusas and Cuban sandwiches, homemade bratwurst with homemade sauerkraut, weekly specials like gumbo and red beans and rice, and jambalaya,” said Mitch.
Erick Adam, one of Penn Cove Brewing’s three brewers, along with Marc Aparicio and Kyle Magnuson, expressed his excitement with the new facility and the new opportunities it will provide.
“The physical location itself will be really cool,” Adam said. “The whole place will have a rustic farmhouse kind of theme to it. I’m getting tantalizing little details of decorations, bar tops, lots of finished woods, and rusted and repurposed farm gear to make fixtures—it’s gonna look like a really cool spot. We’ll have a great big taproom—the number of taps is still in question but it’s going to be a lot, 15 to 20 was the last number I heard—and we’re going to have a lot of good beer options for people to come in and try things out. I’m personally looking forward to having a really cool bar right there in Freeland.”
Perhaps one of the most exciting features is how the new locations’ one barrel brewing system will allow them to try out new, experimental flavors without committing to inventory.
“The intent is we can use that as a pilot system,” Adam said. “So if we have an idea for a new recipe or if we want to modify an existing thing, rather than having to brew 10 barrels of it, we can make a couple kegs at a time, and put it on tap at Freeland as an experimental brew and let the public decide and see what people like. The successes we can scale up at the bigger facility, and the ones that don’t pan out as well we can just let fall by the wayside.”
Adam is already cooking up devious plans for new flavors.
“There’s a lot of stuff we want to do here,” he continued. “I’m kind of notorious for wanting to come up with off-the-wall ideas and seasonal things…not sure how much I want to give away now. We are in the middle of brewing 20 barrels of a hop lager that will be our launch beer for Freeland. That’s going to be a cool specialty thing that will smell like a hazy IPA, taste like a west coast IPA, and finish clean like a lager.
“I’m a big fan of brewing with spices and vegetables and whatever crazy things you can do to make it interesting,” Adam stated. “Whenever I’m designing a recipe or making a beer, the thing I’m always going for is when someone puts it up to their nose and they go ‘man, I have never smelled anything like that before,’ and ideally when they take a taste, they should go ‘wow that’s amazing and unusual!’ Freeland will let us do more of that. That’s the great thing about craft versus some of the big huge commercial operations. We can do things that are unusual.”
This new location marks an important step forward for the company. They don’t plan on changing how the Coupeville and Oak Harbor locations operate, but they certainly have more plans for the future.
“We laid out a five-year plan, and of course we want to self-distribute on Whidbey,” Mitch said. “We have over 30 restaurants we’re selling our beer to already. Beyond that, we’d like to get on the mainland eventually. Whether that be by buying another facility or merging with another brewery, that could be in the cards down the line, but nothing official. The grander scheme of things would be to have a production on the mainland so we could service the I-5 corridor.”
That doesn’t mean it’s been easy going, though. Constructing a new facility in the middle of a lockdown created its own set of obstacles—which Mitch and the team at Penn Cove Brewing Co. are still pushing through.
“It’s been a challenge. We were hoping to be open this last summer, but a lot of things got put on hold and delayed with the county reviews. The uncertainty made us push it,” Mitch acknowledged. “There’s no guarantees that we’ll be open in the summer, and that’s a little scary. Even though things closed down, we still had the money to do it. We did at least 25 percent of the brewery buildout in Coupeville on our own because the contractors weren’t available.
“The inside, commissioning, putting boards together, installing the gris case, all the piping, the painting, the stuff that isn’t the plumbing and electrical, but a lot of the install,” he described. “We used the internet, put our heads together and were able to keep on schedule.”
The new facility, which Mitch said they hope to open in March or April, is not only providing work to construction contractors, but it will need its own staff as well— for which they are currently hiring. Those interested should reach out to them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Wine people and beer people can rejoice,” said Adam. “We’ve got a little beverage nexus. It’s going to be gorgeous. You can stand out in the fields and look to the left and see the mountains and look to the right and see the bay. It’s going be a beautiful spot to hang out and enjoy a pint.”
“We’re excited for the future despite COVID shutdowns,” Mitch concluded. “Like we say, failure is not an option, and we’re going to keep doing what we love.”