The Yakima Brewing Company has an impressive history – the first craft brewery in the Northwest can also boast that their brewpub was the first in the country since the repeal of prohibition. The brewery’s founder, the charismatic and outspoken Scotsman Bert Grant is considered by many to be the founder of the craft brew industry in the United States. Starting the brewery in 1982, he was at the forefront of the American microbrewery revolution. True, other micros were around at the time, but Grant took the process to an entirely new level, introducing and helping to popularize many previously unavailable styles of beer. For instance, the definitively hoppy style that we love to feature, India Pale Ale, was only being made in the U.S. by one brewery in the early 80’s. Anchor Liberty, another beer that could be regarded as an example of the style, was not marketed or identified as an IPA. Bert Grant was the first to revive the style, and as noted beer expert Michael Jackson put it, “Grant’s brought back the historic name, and made it part of our beer vocabulary again.”
Bert Grant has always been able to pull off his own interpretation of brews despite what others may have cautioned, and this was reflected in his personality. His first beer was his Scottish Ale. Upon an in person review, Michael Jackson asked, “Isn’t this on
the hoppy side for a Scotch Ale?” “Yes,” Bert acknowledged. “All beers should be hoppier.” (Bert was reputed to carry a vial of hop oil, and add it to glasses of Bud, Miller or Coors when they were the only brews available!) Jackson then continued, “Is it really fair to sell it as a Scottish Ale?” To which Grant defiantly replied, “It is a Scottish Ale because I created it. I am Scottish.” (true, despite leaving Scotland at
the age of two).
In August of 2001, Bert passed away, but his many contributions will remain fixed in the world of microbrew beer culture. After Bert’s passing, Darren Waytuck became the new Brewmaster at Yakima Brewing Company. Darren started with Grant in 1984 as his apprentice. Throughout the years, he has worked his way up from keg cleaner to Brewmaster. A tough act to follow indeed, Darren’s got his work cut out for him – but being trained by the best ought to help! For more information about the brewery and scheduled tours, call 509-575-1900 or check out their web site at www.grants.com.