In Mount Vernon, Washington the city’s officials have been working to reimagine and revitalize the downtown business district. This is a step in the right direction; two new breweries opened in the past few months. Both opened in the city’s downtown business district, they both serve food at their taprooms, and they both opened in the middle of a global pandemic. Similarities, yes, but also some differences. (All photos from Facebook and the web.)
District Brewing is now open in the building that once housed the Lyric Theater and more recently served as an antique shop. The beer is brewed on a 10-barrel brewhouse that feeds 10- and 20-barrel fermenters. The brewery’s two founders are no strangers to the beer industry.
Mark Shintaffer has worked on the distribution side of the beer biz for 17 years. In fact, his family has operated Sound Distributing, a distributorship in Whatcom and Skagit counties, since 1950. His co-founder, John Kochendorfer, has worked as a brewer in the local beer industry for many years, most recently as a lead Brewer at Elysian Brewing. Prior to that, he worked as a head brewer for Diamond Knot Brewing.
The first batch of beer was brewed back in April when the world was shaking. Then there were openings, closing, reopening, and so on, due to the shifting landscape created by the pandemic. As of this moment, they are open and operating in accordance with state guidelines, offering indoor and outdoor seating. The food menu focuses largely on pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven, but also offers some pasta options, salads, and more.
The location is hard to beat: right across the street from Riverwalk Park, the home of the Mount Vernon Farmers Market. Basically, the brewery opens onto a pedestrian-only, riverfront plaza.
In formulating a business plan, Mark and John say that they recognized that Mount Vernon is something of an underserved community when it comes to breweries, taprooms, and brewpubs. A statement from the brewery says, “District Brewing was founded on the principals of providing superior craft beer, a memorable family dining experience, a meeting location for friends and business people, as well as a community gathering space available to everyone in the Skagit Valley region.”
520 Main St
Mt Vernon, WA 98273
Temperate Habits Brewing
The brewery’s two founders, Katie King and Brooke Bosserman, come from outside the beer industry. The cousins, both Doctors of Pharmacy, are realizing a shared dream of applying their knowledge of chemistry to the production of delicious beer. The name comes from an adage that suggests a pharmacist should be a person of good moral character and temperate habits.
Temperate Habits Brewing opened in mid-August, serving guest beers (beer from other breweries) while they set up and dialed in their brewing system, which is now functional and cranking out beer. Old-timers like me might recognize the location as the former home of the Empire Ale House at the corner of 1st and Gates.
As of right now, they are open, offering indoor seating and some outdoor seating. Of course, the pandemic creates an ever-shifting landscape. Along with the beers, the taproom serves up a selection of salads, burgers, sammies, and apps.
At Temperate Habits Brewing the beer is brewed on a what appears to be a 3.5-barrel brewhouse that feeds 3.5-barrel fermenters (waiting for confirmation). That is smaller than what they use around the corner at District Brewing but big enough to qualify as something bigger than nano brewery, which usually denotes a brewery making less than three barrels of beer per batch.
“We never compromise our product or our customers,” says an introduction on the brewery’s website. “In a time when microbreweries seem to be on every street corner, we encourage you to demand more from breweries, because competition leads to innovation and product quality improvement. When you feel overwhelmed with choices for craft brew, just remember that you as the consumer are the driving force behind the Craft Beer Movement. And for that, we thank you!”
“Our mission is to provide clean, tasty brews in a warm, relaxing and fun atmosphere. We also want to provide customers with education on the brewing process. We hope to be able to provide you with a chance to come in and watch our process, or even volunteer if you would like! Who knows? Maybe you could start your own brewery!”
Tempered Habits Brewing
500 S. 1st St.
Mount Vernon, WA 98273