Founded by Crayne and Mary Horton, Fish Brewing opened for business in Olympia, Washington, in October of 1993 with The Fishbowl Pub and the original brewery on Jefferson Street. In 1996, the brewing operations moved across the street into 15,000 square feet of warehouse space. A bottling line and additional tanks soon followed, while the vacated space became additional seating for the Fishbowl Pub. In 2001, Fish Brewing purchased the Leavenworth Brewery’s brands after brewing operations at Leavenworth were discontinued. With the addition of the Leavenworth brands, production soon reached its maximum capacity of 8,000 bbls in 2002.
Environmental Activism / Organics
Brewed in a building that housed the regional headquarters for the Civilian Conservation Corps in a previous incarnation, it seems appropriate that Fish actively supports a number of conservation organizations, many of which focus on protecting the region’s fish and waterways.
Fish Brewing is committed to the preservation of our important water resources, so that future generations may continue to enjoy wild Pacific salmon, craft beers, and quality of life in the Northwest. A program donating proceeds from sales of Wild Salmon Pale Ale sold to the Save Our Wild Salmon coalition (S.O.S.) raised more than $10,000.
Consideration for the environment even comes into play when planning their product distribution. "At one point we decided to pull out of California all together. We just did not have enough beer for all of the distributors we were working with. Fortunately, our pro-environmental strategy helps in decisions such as this. If we need to reduce the number of distributors carrying our products, we simply begin by eliminating those at the furthest distance -- that is, those which need the most fuel to get the beer to market," says Crayne.
Proceeds from Thornton Creek Ale similarly benefited the Thornton
Creek Alliance’s efforts to protect Seattle’s salmon streams. Fish has since directed these efforts to support their organic beer programs, part of the rationale being that it helps prevent pollution from entering the water systems in the first place.
Supporting organizations such as the <a hrefhttp://www.pccnaturalmarkets.com/farmtrust/>PCC Farmland Fund was a natural move for Fish Brewing as much of the work being done by the fund to preserve organic farmland is indispensable to organic producers such as Fish. Fish also actively supports a number of groups through donations of beer and auction items for fundraisers. "Thank goodness it is legal in Washington State to give free beer to qualified nonprofit organizations. For a company such as ours, this is the ideal form of marketing, involving no direct cash expenditure. Effectively, we are placing Organic Fish Tale Ales into the hands of our core demographic group -- and receiving their grateful appreciation in the process. Everybody wins in this situation, and I am certain that over the years we have gained many loyal Fish Tale followers through these donations," says Fish’s Crayne Horton.
Other groups Fish has been involved with include Trout Unlimited,
Sound Keepers Alliance, Nisqually Delta Fund, Climate Solutions, Wild Olympic Salmon, Lake Pend Oreille Idaho Club, Rock Creek Alliance, Progressive Animal Welfare Society, Seattle Aquarium, and Wolf Haven.
(Author’s Note: I have an affinity for wolves, and had heard of WH years ago but forgotten about them. Check out this interesting organization at <a href=www.wolfhaven.org> www.wolfhaven.org)
Fish also has a good relationship with organic meat producers
Whispering Springs Farms from Rochester, WA. The farm uses spent grain as animal feed, while the brewery uses their meat in the pub and the brewery staff regularly frequents the farm’s booth at the Olympia Farmer’s market. The owner of Whispering Springs also joined Crayne Horton as one of the delegates to the Terra Madre Slow Food convention in Torino, Italy.
Fish Brewing Company is by volume one of the world’s largest brewers of organic beers, producing approximately 3,000 barrels of their organic brands this year. The other major producers are Wolavers, Butte Creek, and Pinkus in Germany. In 2000, Fish debuted their line of organic beers with Fish Tale "Certified Organic" Amber Ale. The beers are brewed with certified organic malt and hops grown without the use of harmful fertilizers and pesticides that could damage nearby fish habitat. The organic beers from are Certified Organic by the Washington State Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture, in accordance with the new National Organic Program.
Fish’s non-organic line has fared even better in terms of scoring on Ratebeer, particularly the Barrel Aged versions of Leviathan and Poseidon, and the Detonator Doppelbock, all of which have scores in the 97th percentile or higher.
Fish Tale Organic Amber Ale 4.0% ABV / 1.056 OG
This ale is brewed with organic pale, Munich, and crystal malts
organic Hallertauer hops. The Amber Ale is a medium-bodied beer with an amber hue. Ratebeer Score: 3.27
Slikwilly: "When it comes to fish tales I’m an automatic fan this one isn’t an exception to that very nice dark amber color, small to no head what so ever. Malty sweet aroma with a small spiciness and a definite hop presence, and a slight hint of fruit as well… mild fruit tones with a strong presence of hops that just leap out at you… a slight sweetness to this brew that fades to hops quickly, leaving you with a slight spicy, citrus, hop after taste."
Fish Tale Wild Salmon Organic Pale Ale 4.0% ABV / 1.048 OG
Named for the majestic creatures, which embody the proud spirit of the West, Wild Salmon Pale Ale is light bodied and a beautifully balanced pale ale. Its gentle malt sweetness is nicely matched by late additions of Organic Yakima Cascade hops. The Certified Organic hops come from a small farm in Yakima, Washington, which in 2002 apparently released the first commercially available organic hops grown in the USA. Ratebeer Score: 3.27
Beermatrix writes, "Smokey peach color. Lots of sustaining carbonation streams. Compact parched white foam reaches slender height. Keeps a moderate haze on top once it shrinks. Large and patchy lacing morphs into cob webbings. Nose… nominal amounts of caramel, lightly zested citrus, and softly entwined fresh spruce cuttings… first span of flavor where semi citric tones of dullish grapefruit and lemon slide into a grassy realm towards the hind quarters. Mild and clean. Smooth, sweet malt sugar backing holding balance. A peek of toastyness makes its way around the edges where the grasses bend. good Ol’ fashioned
Fish Tale Organic India Pale Ale 5.5% ABV / 1.060 OG
Fish Tale Organic India Pale Ale is a medium-bodied beer with a rich golden color. The organic pale and crystal malts provide the backbone for an aggressive hop profile. Our IPA features a unique organic hop grown in New Zealand called Pacific Gem. The moment the Fish brewers sampled this pungent and resinous new hop, they knew it would be perfect for their Organic I.P.A. Ratebeer Score: 3.23
Eyedrinkale: "Nicely balanced aroma, which I don’t find often… taste is also a teeter-totter of malt and hop all blending nicely with a bit of grapefruit. Hearty, rich, sweet and sticky this stuff has a bit of a punch to it. Piney, apricot and bready"
Fish Tale River Run Organic Rye Ale 4% ABV / 1.050 OG
River Run Rye is a light bodied, golden hued ale with a thick creamy head that lingers long on the sides of your glass. Brewed with certified organic pale malt, and organic torrefied rye malt. The rye’s fruity and spicy flavor accents the sweetness of the pale malt. Certified organic Hallertauer hops provide a gentle bitterness and spicy aromatic finish. Ratebeer Score: 3.3
Gusler: "a hazy "Organic" yellow orange color, the head portly in
size, creamy in texture and the color a very light tan, with the lace a thick covering sheet to seal off the glass. Malt aromas weigh heavy in the nose, earthy, with a certain mustiness that is common in organic beers, crisp and fresh, and a real treat for the schnozzle. Begins malt and lightly sweet, the mouth feel is middling, the finish has a light hop spicy bite"