Wet Coast Brewing: Firefighting Brewers Making Washington’s Tastiest Beer

By Tony K

Photos by Wild Human

Hometown pubs and breweries are special places. Independent and locally owned breweries across America worked tirelessly through new rules to keep beer flowing while the country was under Covid-19 quarantine. Now that some of those stay-at-home orders are beginning to lift, we’re excited to get back in the taproom and check-in with our beer friends. Wet Coast Brewing in Gig Harbor, Washington is at the top of our list.

Self-taught brewers and owners Bryan Copeland and Aaron Johnson opened Wet Coast Brewing in June 2015. Since its launch, the Gig Harbor community has rallied around this craft brewery and has quickly become a favorite spot for locals.

Western Washington near the Olympic Peninsula and its temperate rainforests is already a wet place. But the name, Wet Coast, really pays tribute to the availability of alcohol in Washington state during prohibition. While much of the country was dry, Washington was wet and flowing with booze thanks to northwest law breakers.

That’s right, Wet Coast Brewing is owned and operated by first responders

Not only do owners Bryan and Andrew consistently brew some of the most delicious beer in Washington, they’re also active firefighters. That’s right, Wet Coast Brewing is owned and operated by first responders. 

Wet Coast has been busy canning and releasing new beer. Our brewing and beer expert, Nathan Whitney, got his hands on three beers that are currently in rotation – Sneak Thief Milk Stout, Single Hop Centennial, and Hi Jack Red Ale.

Sneak Thief Milk Stout

Sweet Stout, ABV 5.2%

Wet Coast makes balanced, clean beers that are well made which is refreshing to see from a newer brewery. Sneak Thief is a perfect example; it is flavorful and balanced with a relatively low ABV that is forgiving. It is not loaded with coffee, or vanilla, or oreo’s, or coconut, or breakfast cereal. Just a simple, straightforward, milk stout that is packed full of flavors of roast, chocolate, and a sweet, creamy mouthfeel from the milk sugar. Yum.

Single Hop Series: Centennial

IPA, ABV 6.2%

I don’t see single hop beers on the shelves as much as I used to which I believe is because of the rise in popularity of hazy, New England style IPA’s. When I noticed that Wet Coast had a thriving single-hop series in its third iteration I was excited to try it.

This beer pours a clear golden color with aromas of grapefruit and fresh pine needles. Sometimes when brewers use centennial with a heavy hand, especially in the dry hop, there can be a Flintstones vitamin character that is off-putting. In this beer, it is all citrus and fir tips, which is fantastic. Springtime in a can.

Hi Jack Red Ale

Red Ale, ABV 5.7%

Wet Coast nails it again here with Hi-Jack. Clocking in at a sessionable 5.7% abv, this beer is insanely balanced for a red. Sometimes with red ales or ambers, the crystal malt can be cloying and can tend to oxidize quickly, but not here. Wet Coast uses a small amount of black malt to reach the red hue without blowing it out with caramel malt flavor. A small amount of Centennial hops provide just enough bitterness and add a pretty good citrus kick. All in all, this is a clean, balanced ale with plenty of flavors that will have you asking for another round.

Nathan Whitney is Wild Human’s resident beer and brewing expert. He’s currently the head brewery manager at McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale, Oregon, and has been brewing professionally since 2011.

Why Wild Human Supports Wet Coast Brewing

Breweries are often some of the most active community stewards and Wet Coast is no exception. If being owned and operated by active firefighters isn’t enough, Wet Coast also partners with their local chapter of Communities in Schools, a non-profit that provides a full range of support services for students in and outside of the classroom. 

Two full-time active firefighters took their love of beer and home brewing and are now creating some of the tastiest beer in Washington. Firefighters and other medical first responders always deserve our appreciation, but Covid-19 means we now owe people on the front lines more than just a thank you. At the time this review was posted, Wet Coast is celebrating their five year anniversary. Unfortunately, Covid-19 canceled their planned celebration. Buying a pint or a pack of Wet Coast beer is a great way to help them celebrate and say thank you.

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