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Bringing Sequim a new brew
by ROSS COYLE
When Tom Martin moved to Sequim from Seattle, he knew exactly what to do with the small building on the side of his home. “I saw that detached garage and said, ‘That’s the place for my brewery.’”
Martin owns Sequim’s only microbrewery, Fathom and League, based out of his home on Old Olympic Highway. He acquired a business license on May 5, 2009, in commemoration of a very special date. On that same day more than 200 years ago, Capt. James George? Vancouver landed on Diamond Point. He and his crew brewed a batch of beer.
“I’m carrying on the tradition of the mariner brewers of 1792,” Martin says, “I brew beer to lift the spirits and provide nutrition to my fellow beer drinkers and to carry on the discovery of new flavors of great beers.”
His operation is still small in the cramped 240-square-foot shack, where he’s crammed a kettle, masher, kegs and everything else needed to start brewing one barrel per month. “I’m pretty sure it’s one of the smallest breweries in the world,” he says, clapping a hand on the kettle, “I’m still just barely breaking even, and when I do, that money goes back into this.”
Staying local is important to Martin and he tries to use completely local ingredients. He grows hops in his backyard on a 20-foot tall trellis and imports Canadian malts from across the strait.
Martin says that Nash’s Organic Produce has been working on producing a brewer’s malt, but it’s not yet ready for commercial use. “As soon as I figure out how to malt grains, I’ll start malting them here,” Martin said.
Brewing in the Northwest can be challenging, as different beers need different conditions to ferment.
Instead of trying to work around these limitations, Martin turns them into trademarks. During the winter, when the cold dark months prevent him from growing hops, he switches to maltier beers that can ferment in the cold temperatures.“I’m putting the stamp of the peninsula on my beer,” he explained.
Suds on tap
Fathom and League currently produces six brews. The Raingold Pils, Mastodon Scotch, Krabbin’ Kolsch and his Olympic Pale Ale are produced in the late spring and summer. The winter months see the production of his stouts: Four Leaf Irish, Discovery and Smoked Oat.
In the winter, Martin enjoys kicking back with a Discovery Stout.
“It’s a winter warmer, it’s got a lot of everything. A lot of malts, a lot of hops. I even put a bit of honey in it. It’ll warm the cockles of your heart.”
During the summer, he prefers his Mastodon Scotch ale, named for the Manis Mastodon, for its maltiness and peat-smoked flavor.
Martin has made his name known around Clallam County over the past two years by getting his beer into several restaurants in Port Angeles and Sequim, as well as selling 32-ounce growlers at The Red Rooster Grocery.
He also offers his beer to support nonprofit events like Nash’s Harvest Dinner and the 5 Acre School’s Barn Dance.
“I like to do nonprofit stuff because it’s my way of giving back,” he said. At these events, he provides a kegerator and pouring services for free, and sells the beer at reduced prices for all nonprofits he works for.
Martin hopes to expand out of his house to move in with Olympic Cellars, which he says hopes to have both a brewery and winery in its operation.
“In Sequim, there’s definitely a hole in the map for a brewery,” he said. With Fathom and League’s Raingold pilsner winning two first-place awards at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup, he’s on track to fill that hole as Sequim’s microbrewery.
Reach Ross Coyle at email@example.com.