The story of The Beer Junction’s 11th-anniversary collaboration beer took shape nearly a year ago. In fact, there are two beers involved in this story, with two brewers collaborating on each. The breweries involved? Otherlands Beer of Bellingham and Wayfinder Beer of Portland. Both beers release this weekend at The Beer Junction in West Seattle.
A Very Special Anniversary
The Washington Beer Blog and The Beer Junction are like children of a common mother. The blog was still getting its sea legs when The Beer Junction opened 11 years ago. Over the years, our businesses grew on parallel trajectories, as did the world’s interest in craft beer, and the craft beer industry in general. More than business acquaintances, The Blog and The Junction are friends.
My heart sank when we lost Morgan Herzog, the founder of The Beer Junction, in early 2020. Allison, his wife, endured a lot in 2020, fighting to keep the business afloat as she wrestled with grief. I am overjoyed that things are moving forward for The Beer Junction and for her. So before I become verklempt, let’s talk about The Beer Junction’s anniversary beers, both of which drop this Friday, June 26th.
One from the north, one from the south
“Our former employee, Hippie John, had moved near Bellingham and mentioned how much he loved a new brewery that had just opened,” explained Allison Herzog, owner at The Beer Junction.
The new brewery was Otherlands Beer, which was building out its space in Bellingham when the pandemic hit. In the face of untold challenges, the brewery moved forward and opened last summer. Almost immediately, it was embraced by the beer nerds in Bellingham, who quickly learned to appreciate both the beer and the food. Here on the blog, we told you about Otherlands Beer not long after it opened. Read that story.
“In August 2020, I drove my van to Bellingham and visited Otherlands to pick up a keg for The Beer Junction based on Hippie John’s recommendation,” says Allison. “After stopping for a pint and dinner, I fell in love with their beer and instantly asked to buy another keg to bring back with me.”
Thus, a friendship was born. Over the months, someone from The Beer Junction trekked to Bellingham on occasion and returned with treasures from Otherlands.
“When we were planning our 11th Anniversary beer, we approached Ben and Karolina at Otherlands, hoping they could brew us a lager in 16-oz cans. While that wouldn’t work (Otherlands hasn’t done canning), we started talking about doing a Saison collaboration and bottling it.”
“Meanwhile, we still wanted to release a lager for our 11th anniversary,” says Allison. “And of course, we thought of Wayfinder Beer, known for their lagers. Kevin, the head brewer of Wayfinder, is a former West Seattleite and was a frequent patron of The Beer Junction. He’s also a very talented brewer, having worked at Firestone Walker and winning multiple awards at Gordon Biersch, including a Gold Medal at the World Beer Cup. We were delighted when Wayfinder agreed to brew our anniversary beer.”
Ben, the owner/brewer at Otherlands Beer in Bellingham, used to work at Wayfinder Beer in Portland.
“With Ben and Kevin being former coworkers and friends, it came together for us to do a three-way collaboration for The Beer Junction’s 11th Anniversary.”
First up, Kevin Davey and the crew from The Beer Junction headed north to Otherlands to brew a saison. Then, two weeks later, Ben and the Beer Junction crew headed south to Portland to brew a lager at Wayfinder.
Allison adds, “I’ll say two things about this year’s anniversary. First, I am honored and humbled that this collaboration came together. Otherlands Beer opened during the pandemic and still has thrived.”
“Ben and Karolina have worked long hours to grow their brewery and restaurant, and, looking back at the time Morgan and I put in our first year (the long hours, checking the bank account each day), I am grateful that they took extra time to do this collaboration with us. Wayfinder is a large and well-regarded brewery, so we weren’t sure they would do a collaboration with a small bottleshop. They hosted us with humor and kindness. This is the most excited I’ve been for a beer release in a while.”
“Second, it was just good to get away. During our two road trips, the TBJ, Otherlands, and Wayfinder teams bonded over the ups and downs of 2020 and 2021. Sometimes, especially when things are tough, it takes physically stepping away from your day-to-day life to clear your head. I enjoyed driving and reflecting over the last year, and also the last eleven years. What a ride it has been.”
The Beer Junction releases both beers on Friday, June 25th, on draft and in bottles/cans — the saison is in bottles and the lager is in cans. Though they cannot yet throw a big party, Allison invites you to stop in for a pint and some beers to go in the coming weeks.