Northwest Military Blogs: Served blog

June 17, 2014 at 6:28am

Heather McClung: From Curtis Jr. High to Schooner Exact Brewing Co.

Heather McClung photographed in her Schooner Exact Brewing Co. taproom. Photo credit: Richard Baker

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Former University Place photographer Heather McClung is rapidly becoming Seattle's Baroness of beer. As co-owner of Schooner Exact Brewing Co., she had never tasted a beer until she entered college. She is presently president of the Washington Brewers' Guild. Running a business can lead a person to drink, especially if the business is a brewery. Difficulties with personnel, equipment, inventory, payroll, taxes, customers, are just some of the problems a small businessperson encounters. Heather accepts the challenges with a smile and seems to relish the turmoil of business ownership along with the great joys.

Before her dip into beer, Heather developed an interest in photography while attending Curtis Jr. High, in University Place. Because of a great eye, her skills grew quickly and while still in the ninth-grade she entered a photograph she had taken with a borrowed Hasselblad camera into the 1998 Washington State Photographic Competition to outshine 2,998 participants and win "Best of Show." Since she leaned toward art, owning a business never entered her head, not even in college.

>>> Heather McClung's 1998 Washington State Photographic Competition "Best of Show" photograph

At U.P.S. she studied art with an emphases in photography and after graduating she landed a job as a photographer with a dotcom company. Unfortunately the glamorous and creative life of a photographer did not follow and she spent most of her time photographing car parts. She moved into teaching but found that job equally unrewarding. It also led her to brewing beer. She never enjoyed sweet, fizzy drinks and beer was a natural alternative. Beer helped fulfill some of her creative tendencies since she could experiment with different mixes and techniques.

Following her very short teaching career, where she met Matt, who was also brewing his own beer, she moved into supermarket management. Everything she learned along the way eventually helped her become a successful businessperson - her artistic knowledge, working with people, especially children, and her management skills.  When she and Matt decided to get married, they brewed all the beer for the wedding. Because the beer was a big hit they started brewing larger batches and eventually bought a half-barrel system they set up in the living room.

>>> Schooner Exact Brewing Co. brewery room. Photo credit: Richard Baker

>>> Schooner Exact Brewing Co. taproom. Photo credit: Richard Baker

Their reputation for great beer spread quickly and pubs, restaurants and taprooms started featuring everything from Profanity Hill Porter and Gallant Maiden Hefeweizen to 3 Grid India Pale Ale. Brewing was becoming a full-time job so they both quit their jobs and expanded the brewery from living room and garage to a business in South Park. Business grew quickly, however, as word of their beer spread, so they moved again to their present location at 3901 First Ave. S., Seattle.

Last year they sold 5,000 barrels of beer and, after landing a recent contract with several chain grocery stores, should increase production for a record year.

>>> Heather McClung's artwork hangs at Schooner Exact Brewing Co. Photo credit: Richard Baker

Heather maintains a relaxed atmosphere at the brewery and insists that the freshest ingredients be used in all the restaurant food. The storefront patio, adjacent to a Vespa shop, has an almost European feel. Her artwork and photographs decorate the walls and she has just bought a new Cannon camera.

Schooner Exact maintains an intimate relationship with its customers and offers various brewing activities. They now arrange field trips to a hop farm in Toppenish where participants enjoy a special lunch prepared by top chef Warren Peterson, and harvest hops for their own personally brewed beer.

As president of the Washington State Brewer's Guild, Heather spends time working with legislators in Olympia. The Guild is dedicated to educating Washington state policy makers about the advantages of small breweries, building a strong community of brewers, and fostering a balanced view about the benefits of moderate beer consumption.

Heather sees small breweries growing in Washington to meet the thirsty needs of residents and beer aficionados.

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BEER HERE

Wednesday, June 18

Fort George Brewery in Astoria has, once again, brewed its 3-Way IPA, a collaboration with Block 15 and Boneyard breweries. In celebration, its showing the IPA and its other beers the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Its 2014 IPA Odyssey tap takeovers tour will set up fort at the ParkWay Tavern (313 N. I St., Tacoma) beginning at 5 p.m.

Located in an historic 1992 warehouse in downtown Bellingham, Boundary Bay Brewing Company have been brewing beers since 1995. In fact, last week it began brewing its 5,000th batch of beer. The BBBC makes its way south for a 6-9 p.m. brewer's night at the Puyallup River Alehouse (120 S. Meridian, Puyallup). Expect Boundary beers, giveaways, raffle prizes and dollar tacos.

The Swiss Restaurant & Pub (1904 Jefferson Ave., Tacoma) hosts Double Mountain Brewery out of Hood Rover, Ore., for a brewer's night and raffle 6-9 p.m.

Pint Defiance (2049 Mildred St. W., Tacoma) welcomes Deschutes Brewing Co. from Bend, Ore., for a brewer's night and raffle. Expect Not the Stoic Quad, 2103 Abyss Imperial Stout, Fresh Squeezed IPA. Twilight Summer Ale and other beers on tap 5-7 p.m.

Thursday, June 19

208 Garfield (208 Garfield St. S., Parkland) will be pouring summer shandy samples 6-9 p.m. for $6. Beer Geek Erick Swenson will be pouring half-beer and topping them off with lemonade, ginger ale and orange soda.

Pint Defiance pulls a double-header with Deschutes June 18 and Boulder's Avery Brewing the next night 5-7 p.m.  Rub elbows with the Colorado team and drink White Rascal Wit, Karma Belgian Pale, Avery IPA and a rare keg of Out Of Bounds Stout. Raffle prizes o'plenty.

Wednesday, June 25

Puyallup River Brewing hugs it out with visiting Narrows Brewing Co. over beers, giveaways and raffle prizes from 6-9 p.m.

A Pucker Party will go down at Pint Defiance featuring special sour beer draft releases 5-7 p.m.

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About this blog

Served, a blog by the Weekly Volcano, is the region’s feedbag of fresh chow daily, local restaurant news, New Beer Column, bar and restaurant openings and closings, breaking culinary news and breaking culinary ground - all brought to the table with a dollop of Internet frivolity on top.

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