Timber City Ginger Beer
What They Feed:
small batch ginger beer with less sugar more spice
Where You Can Find Them:
Farmers Markets: Phinney Ridge (Friday), Madrona (Friday), Magnolia (Saturday), Mercer Island (Sunday), West Seattle (Sunday), Ballard (Sunday)
Retail: Northwest Liquor & Wine, Central Co-op, Full Throttle Bottles, Husky Deli, Beer Junction, West Seattle Liquor, West Seattle Tap Station, The Growl Store
Feeders They Supply: The Unicorn, Lowercase Brewing, Schilling Cider House, Good Bar, Local 360, Chuck’s Hop Shop, Hecho, DeLaurenti, Rory’s of Edmonds, Thrive Cafe, Milk Glass Mrkt (Portland)
Seeders & Feeders They Support:
Collins Family Orchards, Lone Tree Farm, Hayton Berry Farms, Kirsop Farm, Rockridge Orchards, Growing Washington, Martin Family Orchard, Lyall Farms, Starvation Alley Farms, World Spice Merchants
Timber City Ginger Beer all started with a recipe. In 2014, Kyle McKnight was working as the chef at The Unicorn in Capitol Hill and started playing around with making ginger beer for the bar. It turned out the spicy brew was a hit and Kyle started making ginger beer more than he was cooking. After years of working in restaurants in Colorado, New York and Seattle he was excited about the possibility of getting out of the kitchen and saw this as an opportunity to start something new. So he took a sample of the ginger beer to his friend Kara Patt. Kara had many years of experience in food, managing, serving in restaurants and wine buying; she had a good handle on the craft beverage world. With a Masters of Food Studies from NYU she also loved the idea of starting a business and felt confident she could succeed. The two set out to start a ginger beer company that filled a gap they saw in the market: a dry (not-sweet) product that really tastes like ginger.
“It all started with a recipe” – Kara Patt, Co-founder
Timber City Ginger Beer went to their first farmers market at Phinney Ridge (North Seattle) in Spring 2014 and received a great response, selling out in just an hour and a half. That was confirmation enough for Kara and Kyle to dive in – they took care of their licensing requirements, quit their jobs and started making 10 gallon batches of ginger beer out of a kitchen space on Pioneer Square. Each week they would brew and go to the farmers market with their “OG” ginger beer (made with loads of ginger, water and sugar) and a seasonal brew using herbs and/or fruit from fellow farmers market vendors. Kyle would get creative with the recipes: Cedar Rhubarb, Douglas Fir Tip, Apple Honey Mint and Watermelon Lemongrass.
Business grew and it became more and more apparent that brining a 10 gallon stock pot to boil on an electric range was holding them back, so they took their brewing on the road. Each week they would travel out to Kara’s father’s property in Sequim (on the Olympic Peninsula) with a propane burner. While this was wonderful for the adventure and inspiration in nature, they needed to figure out a way to do multiple brews at once. They started looking around at breweries to work out of in Ballard and Fremont but everyone they spoke to said no. But they remained persistent and eventually connected with a new, small brewery at the Phinney Ridge Market. They got a maybe at first, and then Chris, the brewer at Lower Case Brewing, said yes! They started in their “community shared brew space” at Lower Case in South Park in August 2014 and it has helped them grow enormously.
Timber City Ginger beer is available in 32 oz “crowlers” (large format cans) that are hand-canned and available retail and at the markets. They also fill growlers at the farmers markets. Timber City Ginger is the only small batch ginger beer company in the country that kegs their product, available in 1/6 barrel, 1/4 barrel and 1/2 barrel sanke kegs that work on a regular tap system, available retail and wholesale.
Timber City Ginger Beer’s focus has grown beyond just farmers markets and they now sell to retail locations and wholesale, including bars around Seattle. The bartenders loved the strong spicy brew for cocktails. In 2014 they did a year round market in West Seattle through the winter and then launched into seven farmers markets in 2015. Kara and Kyle now have a few employees to help with markets, but continue to do their own deliveries and brewing.
In late 2015 the two traveled to Hawaii to find a domestically grown source for their ginger. With a little leg work, they found a farmer on the Big Island that now supplies them the majority of the year.
Business continues to grow and Timber City Ginger Beer has now taken over more space in Lower Case Brewing. Their goal is have a presence is not just the Seattle market, but throughout the Pacific Northwest, and beyond. They are currently experimenting with recipes for an alcoholic ginger beer. In the future, they hope to grow herbs and other ingredients they need on Kara’s father’s property in Sequim, keeping it all as local and sustainable as possible.
Advice to New Feeders:
“It’s scary to invest in yourself – be brave and persevere and stand behind your product”
“Plan for Success” – advice from Kara’s dad – you’re going to think about failure, but plan to not fail
What Seeders & Feeders Inspire You?
Starvation Alley Farms (fantastic practices, amazing energy, smart, cool people), Wade at Rockridge Orchards (he works his butt off and is always super positive, willing to give advice, which is invaluable), Lower Case Brewing (they’re amazing – one of the reasons we’re still ticking. Wouldn’t be able to make this work without them. Plus they’re young like us and we’re growing together)
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