Best of Flag, December 2021
Written by Gail G. Collins
They say luck resides at the intersection between hard work and opportunity. That sums up the success of Lumberyard Brewing Company, which attracted voters with their benchmark bar food and veteran brewing skills.
Three decades ago, if you had asked founding owners Winnie and Even Hanseth if they would be brewing beer, they might have seen themselves seated at the table instead of waiting on it. The same goes for head brewer Gary Blazevich with an environmental sciences degree, who enjoyed tipping them back in Issaquah, Washington. Director of brewing operations Gene Almquist fell headlong for brewing after his first effort. At Lumberyard, great ideas and talent triumphed.
Lumberyard has garnered a consistent list of awards over the years at acclaimed national beer competitions, such as the Great American Beer Festival, where Pumpkin Porter won hearts. In fact, the combined slate of ribbons for Beaver Street and Lumberyard breweries totaled 13. Trends also encourage variety, like New England-styled Hazy Angel, a light lager and promising hit.
“It’s an easy-going IPA that’s hop forward,” according to owner Kelly Hanseth, next generation in the family business. The aim is, “brewing true-to-style,” and she added, “The Flagstaff IPA is the most popular canned beer — the number one distributed seller.”
The other standard that beer drinkers order is Railhead Red, an amber and my favorite.
The brewing began in 1994 as a small production facility within Beaver Street Brewery, but the popularity of its craft beer pushed expansion of capacity. When a city proposal for the historic Southside Halstead Lumberyard Building created an opportunity and the Hanseths worked to make Lumberyard Brewery Company a reality.
Of course, an accompanying menu was a must, and the kitchen delivers in elevated snacks, such as wings with signature sauces ranging from mild, like chipotle ranch to sawblade BBQ to dead heat. Or dig into a bowl of yard chili, dip pretzels in beer cheese sauce or try the deep-fried mac ‘n cheese balls accompanied by ranch and Thai angel sauces. A cultural collision formed the Irish egg rolls with corned beef, sauerkraut, carrots, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing and mustard sauce.
A pub crowd demands a proper burger, and Lumberyard’s brewhouse fills the bill. Diners also branch out for niche offerings in the Vietnamese burger with char sui pork, pepper jack, pickled daikon, fresh jalapenos, cucumber, cilantro and sriracha aioli on a bolillo roll. The Utah burger stacks pastrami with fry sauce, cheddar and Swiss cheeses, plus the usual salad toppers on a brioche bun. All are solid sellers.
Sourcing is as sustainable as possible, but Hanseth stresses keeping the price point down. The annual Okto”Beer”Fest, supporting various animal charities, took a hiatus during the pandemic but likely will resume next year. The capacity in the restaurant is near 100% again, and the “interesting year,” as Hanseth put it, is in the rearview mirror.
The local base is steady at Lumberyard Brewing Company, while the distribution of the product brings a brisk tourists trade searching out their usual brand.
“People know the beers, and love being near the tracks,” Hanseth shared. “We focus on great food and great beer and create a great space to enjoy it.” BestofFLG
Lumberyard Brewing Company won Best Bar Food and third place for Best Brewery.