Tucked away in a cramped business park near the junction of Interstate 405 and State Route 520, beer drinkers have found a French Quarter refuge for several years.
Geaux Brewing has spiced up a semi-industrial area with the creole dressings of southern Louisiana since 2013, and has met with such success that owner Jeremy Hubbell has planned a huge expansion to Auburn.
On Facebook last week, Hubbell posted via the Geaux Brewing page that the brewing company will open a second location in fall of 2016.
“It’s been kind of a surreal experience working with Auburn so far,” he said. “They really want this. City leaders are super helpful. The city is removing obstacles to entry.”
Auburn currently has another brewing company — Wet Head Brewing — which is open on Fridays and Saturdays. Hubbell hopes that Geaux’s new location in downtown Auburn will fill in a gap for the rest of the week.
Started as a “brewing company for homebrewers,” Geaux began with just a half-barrel system, one of the smallest systems of any brewery in the country. He had many questions when he began homebrewing, and realized other people would too.
Ultimately the idea proved pretty popular.
“We kept running out of beer,” Hubbell said. “I’d take a weekend and come back and half the beer list was crossed off in the taproom.”
He sold his technology company (the reason he came to the Eastside by way of San Francisco) and upgraded to a four-barrel system, but Geaux has since exploded in popularity and can hardly keep up with demand.
“It prevents us from any real distribution,” he said. “98 percent of the beer we sell is from this taproom.”
Kegs do get out to Bellevue’s Pumphouse, other Eastside bars and occasionally to beer bars like Toronado in the Roosevelt neighborhood of Seattle, but Geaux’s chances for wider knowledge of its beers more or less end at the Northup Way bar.
That’s why the second location in Auburn will more than triple the space for taproom and brewery, from 1,800 square feet in Bellevue to 7,000 square feet in Auburn. Both locations will brew beer, and Hubbell is planning a kitchen in both locations.
He is working with Seattle food truck mavens Bread and Circuses to create a menu even the most snobbish Louisianan would be proud of.
Hubbell, hailing from New Orleans, took some of the chefs to the Big Easy and filled their bellies with cajun classics like po’ boys, beignets, jambalaya, gumbo and boudin sausage.
“I want to have sharable dishes,” Hubbell said. “It’s all about sharing the food with friends and family. This is a major undertaking.”
Bread and Circuses is well versed in the world of craft beer, and has a kitchen at Two Beers Brewing Company in SoDo. The Auburn location will be a chance to mix things up, Hubbell said.
“Auburn really wants to revitalize downtown,” he said. “The building we are going to be in allows for some real growth opportunities.”
The new location, 425 E. Main Street will allow for a 140-seat taproom and the ability to increase production by five times, going up to a 20 barrel system, Hubbell said. Depending on the taproom’s success, Geaux might still be selling the vast majority of its beer in-house.
The brewery location in Auburn will continue to have Geaux’s New Orleans theme, and Hubbell used the opportunity in Louisiana last week to take photos of architecture like the iconic balconies on Bourbon Street.
He hopes to open in Auburn as well as the kitchen in Bellevue this fall. Hubbell hopes that by going to a less-served beer market, he’ll hit on something special.
“It’s tempting to be in Seattle, where everybody else is,” he said. “With 300 breweries in the state, how many communities are open to you walking in with a brewery? I’d wager not many.”