Ale House opens kegs, doors on Bainbridge | Kitsap Week

Doors are now open at the Ale House on Winslow on Bainbridge Island. - Kevin Fry Photography
Doors are now open at the Ale House on Winslow on Bainbridge Island.
— image credit: Kevin Fry Photography

Travis Samson had his dream job. After intense study of the craft of brewing in Chicago and Munich, he was tending to mash tuns and kegs at Kitsap’s Silver City Brewery.

But no longer.

What could take Samson from his dream job? A bigger dream.

“It’s a place that specializes in beer,” Samson said. “It’s all about beer here. We have wine and cider and mead, but we are all hardcore beer guys.”

The Ale House on Winlsow is the newest home for brewing aficionados. It aims to be the region’s capital of beer with 16 taps, that are constantly changing, and up to 25 bottled varieties. It also serves wine, cider and mead. Customers can also order up a growler, or a half growler, to fill and take home.

“On a busy day the tap list will change like three times,” Samson said. “There’s no back ups for any kegs. When a keg blows, something new comes on. It’s always changing. Our bottle list is always rotating.”

“It’s a unique place on the island to get new and interesting beer,” he said. “We are trying to evangelize good beer.”

The Ale House began late last year. Samson was approached by friends Zach Eller and Michael Camden, who had an idea brewing. Along with another co-owner Augusta Butlin, the three asked Samson to join them in a new venture: a place for beer lovers.

The four searched the area for a location and found a home at the new Gateway complex on Winslow Way, also home to a bakery, shops and the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. The location is steps away from the ferry, at the head of downtown Winslow’s main drag.

After months of preparation and construction, the Ale House on Winslow opened July 4. It’s a bastion of beer. A place for enthusiasts to meet and greet, and taste beer varieties rarely found elsewhere.

But more than an ale house, the new business presents the ambiance of a hang; a place to wait for the next ferry, sit at the bar with a book or newspaper, or even enjoy a night out catching up with friends. And it is dog friendly for friendly dogs, Sampson notes, and to which the Ale House’s resident bulldog Daisy can attest.

The Ale House doesn’t serve food, but allows people to bring their own bites. Neighboring businesses Bainbridge Bakers provides food to-go, and That’s A Some Pizza will deliver a pie directly to your table.

The initial response to the brew shop has been favorable, Samson said.

“It’s been super crowded, and we already have regulars,” he said.

With the response, they are learning that the brew scene is larger than even they expected.

“It turns out, people drink a lot of cider,” Samson said.

“It’s new and blossoming, the cider industry,” he said. “Part of it is the gluten free aspect, but also, craft cider is starting to get some traction. We are selling much more than we thought we would.”

Samson notes that the Ale House is currently in the midst of a “soft opening” as the business continues to come online.

“The soft opening means the hours will be a little weird,” Samson said. “If something comes up like a construction thing, we will have to close and fix it.”

The Ale House plans to have a grand opening around Aug. 1. Until then, the business continues to work up to full speed, and even has plans to eventually provide access to the building’s rooftop patio on fair weather days.

“It will be open seven days a week, and it will probably be noon to midnightish, and the weekends will be noon to midnight or later,” Samson said. “That’s what we are testing with the soft opening, what hours people like.”

The other test is finding out what people like to drink. They are open to suggestions for what to put on tap.

“If people want certain kinds of beers and we hear enough of it, we will bring it in,” Samson said.

But the new venture that the four beer enthusiasts doesn’t end at the Ale House. This is just the beginning.

“Now we’ve opened this place to get a beer culture going,” Samson said.

“In a few months from now, in the middle of winter, we will open a small brewery somewhere on the island and feed the ale house our beer,” he said.

The Ale House will serve as a proving ground for beer recipes. If all goes well, the Ale House’s brewery will grow into a much larger operation, and the region will have another brewery to boast.

In the mean time, the Ale House is open and welcoming anyone, whether they be the smartest brewer on the block, or new to the scene.

“Some people who come in know a lot about beer, and some don’t so they can talk to us,” Samson said.

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