Brewery Showcase | Geaux Brewing (Bellevue, WA)
The history of Geaux Brewing starts, innocently enough, with a pizza party and a Whole Foods run.
The year was 2011, and Jeremy Hubbell was planning his weekly Friday pizza party in a business park in Bellevue, Washington. Every Friday, Hubbell would order a few pizzas and pair them with a selection of solid beers purchased from the local Whole Foods down the road for his coworkers.
“I would go to [Whole Foods], get four, five or six bombers and I would walk out and go ‘crap! I just paid 60 or 70 bucks for a beer’,” Hubbell laughs. On this particular Friday, after signing off on the steep bill, Hubbell took those bombers back to his coworkers – a few twenty-somethings – and proposed an idea. They were all resourceful, smart. They could make it themselves.
After a run to the homebrewing store and a small bit of convincing Hubbell and his coworkers were on their way to their first IPA. Not long after, they had their first batch.
“God, it turned out awful. It was absolutely awful,” Hubbell laughs. Perhaps it wasn’t the outcome that they had been hoping for, but it did get Hubbell thinking.
“I’ve always been, in my career, an instructor. I got it in me that there was people like us. People that think they know what they’re doing, or have no idea what they’re doing, and they’re making guesses and screwing up royally,” Hubbell says, mentioning the endless forums and websites that homebrewers take to for advice. He thought that a real life version would be better. “Come here and we’ll figure it out. We’ll make mistakes. We’ll brew good beer, we’ll brew crappy beer and we’ll make it better.”
And that’s how Geaux was born – about two years after that first batch of beer.
Geaux still sits in the same business park where Hubbell hosted those Friday night pizza parties all those years ago. This being said, it’s unrecognizable. Step a foot into Geaux and you’re out of Seattle and, instead, on Bourbon Street in New Orleans – Hubbell’s hometown. Everything from the colors to the decor were all inspiration from the city.
“I went down to New Orleans one holiday, took a bunch of pictures of buildings I thought interesting, printed those out,” Hubbell says. “And replicated what I had taken pictures of. I felt like that was the best I could do to give [Geaux] a French Quarter feel.”
The look of Geaux isn’t the only thing that’s changed in the past few years. The pain points are vastly different from that first batch of beer, and not knowing how to brew. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Just shy of three years after first opening, Geaux is biting their nails over a new location, bigger systems, and continuing to create and maintain a balance in their Louisiana taproom. But, of course, those are the best problems to have as a new brewery.
“When we first opened up this place we had no idea to the success that we were going to have,” Hubbell says modestly. “We didn’t think that we were going to have an issue from a production standpoint.”
But there is an issue these days. Geaux’s taproom is filled to the brim on weekends and holidays, with beer and parking being in high demand as patrons make their way to the taproom.
“If you come here on a Thursday, Friday night, it’s insane. We’re getting destroyed,” Hubbell says. “It’s a good problem to have, but at the same time the last thing you want to do is go into a place and the beer you expect to have isn’t there. We had to walk the fine line of having beers always on tap and then letting stuff fall off.”
Queue that balance. To create a happy medium, the brewers at Geaux are constantly experimenting. “We’re always trying to do new stuff, always trying new things,” says Hubbell. “We’re experimenting constantly because we’re trying to find styles that other people like, but styles that we like.”
They’re currently keeping their eyes and ears open on how they can continue to expand, Hubbell mentioning that he’s not opposed to an additional location. He says that though he would like to stay in Bellevue, many factors are being taken into consideration. A few questions he’s asking himself? What’s the cost per square foot in the new taproom? Will they be serving some wholesome New Orleans grub with their beer in the new digs? Where’s an ideal spot for continuing to bring in new and old patrons? Where will they be getting their water from?
Though Geaux is focused on those big, next steps, they understand that getting their is dependent on one thing: Their product. And they are not disappointing in any way, shape or form, on that front. We suggest you going into their taproom to try a few.
ABV: 6.9% IBU: 73
“A trip here wouldn’t be complete without trying the IPA,” says Hubbell. “That’s more or less been our signature.” This beer is an IPA for the books – with six different hop additions in the boil with dry hops added in later to top it off. It’s got a bit of spice, a bit of citrus, and a whole lot of flavor. Geaux is constantly tweaking this recipe to make it the best that it can be, and we think it’s almost there.
ABV: 6.5% IBU: 29
The Poydras Porter is one of the beers that plays off of Hubbell’s wine appreciation and his time in Napa Valley, as it uses oak barrels as a key, special ingredient. These oak barrels are thrown into every keg that they serve, and the vanilla flavor that comes from the porter is largely from that oak. It’s a cannot miss beer on Geaux’s consistently stacked lineup.
Baton Rouge Red
ABV: 5.5% IBU: 48
This ale is almost always on Geaux’s lineup. It’s a dryer red, with more hop flavors than you might expect from a traditional Red Ale. This being said, we’re not complaining.
As an outsider looking in – and after speaking with Hubbell – it’s safe to say that Geaux has celebrated great successes. The great beer is enhanced by the colorful ambiance. That ambiance is enhanced by its constant clientele. The clientele is enhanced by Hubbell’s cheerful and unwavering enthusiasm, and passion.
“We’re not setting boundaries for ourselves, and we’re taking the customers on a ride with us,” says Hubbell.
And, coming from the customer, it’s safe to say that this ride is one for the books. We’re not getting off anytime soon.
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