Northwest Military Blogs: Served blog

October 1, 2014 at 1:13pm

7 Seas Brewing and 253 Heart release 253 Pilsner, nonprofits to benefit

7 Seas Brewing and 253 Heart have released 253 Pilsner, a lager with a portion of the proceeds benefiting local nonprofits. Courtesy photo

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Two years ago, Tacoma resident Catherine Masucci brought together two of her creative friends. Turns out, they had a mutual admiration for each other.

"It was on a visit to 7 Seas in early 2012 when I discovered a 253 Heart sticker on one of the brewery's windows. I took a photo and texted it to my friend Steve Naccarato," Masucci explains. "I've always been a fan of the 253 Heart because I feel that it encompasses the love and pride the people of this area have for our great community," says Masucci.

"I thought, why not bring two local favorites together?"

Masucci contacted 7 Seas Brewing co-owner Mike Runion and suggested he meet her friend Steve, torchbearer of the 253 Heart.

The two men met.

The 253 Pilsner is on the street today.

"Even before there was talk of beer, we loved the design of 253 Heart and what it means," says Runion, who owns the Gig Harbor brewery with head brewer Travis Guterson. "It strikes a cord with us. It stands for pride of where you live - a love of place. And beyond the 253, the message is still there: No matter where you are from, it's about caring and having pride where you live."

The day the two men met there was indeed talk of a collaborative beer, but there was also talk of compassion, heart and give back to the community. Craft brewing companies such as 7 Seas Brewing have put the 253 on the map as the place to experience and purchase quality beer as well as support local causes. Now the Gig Harbor brewery will join forces with an even bigger Heart to support the community year-round.

The Heart

Before touring the world with his band, Motopony, artist/poet/musician Daniel Blue lived and breathed Tacoma. On Christmas Day, 2007, Blue doodled 253, turned the paper 90 degrees and saw that it had formed a heart. Over the next three years, the 253 Heart appeared on windshields, laptops, backpacks and anything owned by someone who held the area code close to his or her heart. Blue said the 253 Heart is about love of place. With music consuming his life, Blue passed the emblem to fellow Tacoma artist and friend, Steve Naccarato -  son of Stan, brother of Gordon -  a longtime Tacoman who had put his heart into baseball, acting, consulting on a primetime television show, opening restaurants including Shake Shake Shake, producing records, producing concerts, letterpress artistry, photography and the torch bearer of the 253 Heart. Naccarato has taken his second heart to heart commissioning artists to design products that showcase the creative energy and spirit of Pierce County, with a portion of the sales benefitting local charities.

Naccarato's Heart and heart beat harder after meeting Runion. Runion, a big presence with a heart to match, agreed their collaboration should have a strong charitable presence. A second meeting inked a mission to contribute $5,000 of 253 Pilsner sales to a revolving door of 501(c)(3) status nonprofits. The inaugural nonprofits were chosen based on current relationships. Naccarato believes strongly in Ben Warner and his Alchemy Indoor Skatepark and Education Center, the Tacoma-based organization striving to improving the relationship between skateboarders and the greater community - "to provide a free, dry, and safe place for local skaters to practice and develop their athletic, social, and educational skills," according to Warner.

"Ben is helping reshape the skateboard community here," says Naccarato. "He has such a passion for skateboarding. But, he has a big mountain to climb, with laws and perception. Resources are critical, and that's were we hope to help."

7 Seas Brewing chose Peninsula Hands On Art, an organization they believe in and have donated to in the past. Founded in 2003 by parents and local artists, the organization serves approximately 2,700 students in grades K-5 across six schools.

"Peninsula Hands On Art provides elementary schools with hands-on art projects taught by local artists around a particular curriculum. The money we raise will go toward purchasing materials," explains Runion.

Runion says the Peninsula art program is in place, but resources are crucial. He can see the program branching out from the peninsula and spreading across the 253.

"We wanted to find nonprofits where the money was really going to be used," Runion continues. "We wanted to work with nonprofits where five thousand dollars can make a huge change. If you want to make change happen, sometimes it just needs to happen from within. People who live in this community and want to make our community better can't expect others to come in and do it for us. The change has to come from within. That's why we want to give back, and work with nonprofits that are just getting off the ground."

"Money is so tight out there right now, and you can do only so many auctions and car washes," says Naccarato. "It's incumbent for the private sector to partner with the community and make it a better place to live."

The 253 Pilsner will have a dedicated section on the 253 Heart website explaining why the two businesses joined forces, why they love the area and detailed information about the beer.

"It's where you can find out about projects related to the beer, follow the progress of the nonprofits, what happened to the funds, who will be the next nonprofits and a chance to nominate other nonprofits," says Runion. "And it's not just Tacoma, but Gig Harbor, University Place, Lakewood, Puyallup - It's the whole 253 area zone."

The Beer

A proponent of cans, due to the evils of sunlight and recycling costs of glass, 7 Seas Brewing will release the 253 Pilsner in gold cans.

"The 253 Pilsner can was produced by notable craft brew design leader Blindtiger - and it's striking," says Naccarato.  "We wanted to pay homage to the Tacoma brewers from a hundred years ago. Therefore, the can is old-school gold. 

"Not a lot of local brewers make Pilsners, but they did in the 1800s," continues Naccarato. "This Pilsner best represents the 253, its history - and 7 Seas has brewed a pale lager Pilsner better than the beer brewed back in the day."

"It took a while to put the whole project together due to the cans, but we strongly believe this is the way to do it," adds Runion. "We really wanted to bring back the old-school style, the gold can. We studied the old cans - the fonts, the colors, the styles. But, luckily, it won't taste like old tin cans."

Modern cans are coated in a water-based coating specially made to protect the beer.

7 Seas was the first microbrewery in Washington to can their beers. In 2008, weeks away from production, a fire destroyed their operation. They re-opened in a new Gig Harbor location and produced their first 7 Seas label key in July 2009. In 2012, the year they began producing canned beer, 7 Seas moved into an 11,000 square foot space in downtown Gig Harbor, which included a large taproom with 24 taps - with one tap devoted to a guest beer from a Washington brewery. Runion is a huge proponent of supporting the Washington beer industry.

Why a collaborative Pilsner?

"It's a nod to Tacoma's brewing history. Those breweries of yesteryear - the Hiedelbergs, the Columbias, the Olympias - produced old school light lagers," says Runion. "Lager take a lot longer to brew than ales. That's why craft brewers brew the ales. In two weeks, an ale is done. For a lager, it's more like six to twelve weeks. Sure, the financials are better to do ales. You can turn two to three times as many ales than lagers. But we have the space to brew lagers right now. And we always wanted to make a lager."

7 Seas Brewing co-owner and head brewer, Travis Guterson, brewed more than five test batches, with different hops and different malts, to try find the recipe they liked.

"Travis settled on Sterling and Cascade hops. It's a Northwest interpretation of a Pilsner," says Runion.

Hand-crafted with Northwest Pale and Pilsner malt, the 12-ounce gold can will go down easy at 5.2 percent alcohol by volume.

"We're super happy with the result," says Runion with a smile.

The 253 Pilsner will be delivered to distributors Tuesday and in stores beginning Wednesday. It will be available at bottle shops and independent grocery stores. In the spring, after the resets, the beer will find its way to the grocery store chains. The 253 Pilsner will be distributed up and down western Washington through 7 Seas' distributors.

A release party for the 253 Pilsner will be held at Shake Shake Shake in Tacoma's Stadium District, which is owned by Naccarato and his business partner, Robert Stocker. A date hasn't been nailed down, but expect nonprofits to be on-site to discuss their missions, and plenty of good beer to drink.

According to these two men, the whole idea is a charity first, and a beer second. They believe true fulfillment never comes from financial or material success. Happiness and deep sense of connection is their goal. Runion and Naccarato, and their cohorts, sit on the same mountaintop. Money comprises the base, but idealism, balance and good vibes more than tops the peak.

It just so happens the beer is delicious.

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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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