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April 19, 2014 at 12:44pm

Top Rung Brewing Company opens in Lacey

Jason Stoltz, top, and Casey Sobol, bottom, celebrate the grand opening of their Top Rung Brewing Company today. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

After the grain has been shoveled from the mash tun, after yeast has been pitched, after the farmer has hauled away the trailer, there is water everywhere, and a half hour more of work to do before they can go fight fires. Yes, they woke up at 4:30 a.m., it's now 3 in the afternoon, and soon one will turn his waist-high boots for knee-high boots and a red ax.

Thurston County firefighters Casey Sobol and Jason Stoltz's four-year journey to open their brewery official ends today when their Top Rung Brewing Company celebrates its grand opening from 2-9 p.m.

The career firefighters - 20 years for Sobol and seven for Stoltz - have been dialing in their recipes in the garages between shifts at the McLane/Black Lake Fire Department. It became real when the duo's Hosechaser Blonde grabbed the Dick's Brewing "Beer for a Cure" homebrewing contest top prize in 2012 - and they began to shadow Dick's brewer Parker Penley.

"Just as the firefighting community is an open, friendly brotherhood, so is the beer community," says Sobol. "I could be in Boston and any firehouse would take me in as one of their own. The local brewing community is similar."

Wingman Brewers in Tacoma brought back two whiskey barrels from Kentucky for Top Rung Brewing.

"It's a shame Wingman celebrates three years the same day we celebrate our grand opening," says Sobol. "Those guys are great."

Those who didn't drop by Top Rung's soft opening last Saturday can check out the new 10-barrel brewhouse and spacious taproom at 8343 Hogum Bay Lane in Lacey today. The duo pays tribute to their main job, with ladders suspended from the ceiling, firehouse décor and the iconic fireman's shield front and center on the Top Rung logo. Otherwise, the high-ceiling space resembles other taprooms, with concrete floors, modern lighting and long wooded plank tables, which Sobol crafted. Sobol runs the house side.

Stolz runs the brewing. The beers pay tribute to firefighting, with the award-winning Hosechaser, Prying Irons IPA and Scout Stout on tap today. The IPA has recently been altered with added bitter and aroma hops. It's delicious. The Flashover Red is written on the board. A Cascadian Dark Ale is in the works, as well as a seasonal pumpkin ale, Oktoberfest and a secret Thanksgiving release that will be on many beer enthusiasts' Santa list. 

Sobol, Stoltz and their 10 investors have a business plan that calls for slow, steady growth. Food can be brought in from surrounding businesses, which are listed on a hanging board. Strong beers are not part of the plan right now. In fact, a three-maximum pint limit has been instigated in the taproom. That's the firefighter in them.

In addition to the beers today, a local barbecue company will be cooking out front. Beer flights are available.

TOP RUNG BREWING COMPANY, 8343 Hogum Bay Lane NE, Suite B
Lacey, 360.239.3043

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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