Company Description

Fair Isle Brewing is taking the brewery model back to its roots, becoming Seattle’s only brewery with a tasting room that is exclusively dedicated to producing farmhouse and wild beers. With Fair Isle, owners Andrew Pogue and Geoffrey Barker are partnering with the highly-esteemed Jester King Brewery (renowned farmhouse-style brewery based in Austin, TX). The new brewery will blend the unique flavors and ingredients of the Pacific Northwest with the operational expertise and reputation of an established operation.

Fair Isle is filling an underserved niche in Seattle’s vibrant craft beer scene. Farmhouse beer is one of the most exciting and fastest growing segments in the beer industry. These special beers are fermented with a mixed culture that includes local, wild yeasts and bacteria; instead of the laboratory-isolated and tightly controlled commercial yeasts that are more typically used today. Farmhouse brewing techniques embrace the local environment. Like fine wines, Fair Isle’s beers are all about a specific place and a specific time.

The brewery will create, sell and market its unique style of beers while also operating a tasting room. A small commissary kitchen will play host to local chefs for monthly pop-up beer pairing dinners and events. Located in the heart of Seattle’s "Ballard Brewery District," Fair Isle will benefit from the synergy of nearby breweries. Additionally, offices for Facebook, Google, Tableau, Adobe and more are located just a few miles away in nearby "Silicon Canal."

The 50-seat front of house (with additional standing room) will be complemented by an additional 50-seat seasonal outdoor beer garden. The Fair Isle design aesthetic will be a marriage of the Northwest farmhouse and Danish modern – clean and simple, with a lived-in natural feel that elevates the beer, fosters community and nurtures a connection with the craft, time and place that the beers embody.

Fair Isle's partnership with Jester King will help catalyze the success of the business. Pogue has been friends with the founders of Jester King since it was launched in 2008 - building their bar, brewing, bottling, and even developing the recipe for Bonnie the Rare, a berliner weiss style beer. The team at Jester King will assist Fair Isle with guidance on operations, best practices developed at its Austin brewery and tasting room, and creative ideas for how Fair Isle can tap into its local surroundings. The partnership also lends Fair Isle a unique competitive advantage through leveraging Jester King's existing reputation and connections within the brewing industry.

In February 2017, the first collaboration beer was released under the name Fair Voyage. A sampling of a brew coined "Ellie" was sent to the editors at Draft Magazine – to which they responded, "Fair Isle is going to be a big deal among beer drinkers come 2018." For a brewery that isn’t in operation yet, they have had some fantastic press.

Jester King co-founder Jeffrey Stuffings with Fair Isle owners Andrew Pogue and Geoffrey Barker

About The Beer

Focusing on the increasingly popular niche of farmhouse beer, the Fair Isle team has refined its recipes over the last several years and developed the house fermentation culture that will define the brewery.

The technique of farmhouse brewing and mixed culture fermentation shares a lot with the process of baking sour dough bread. It uses a unique community of organisms from both commercially available and wild yeasts and bacteria that were cultivated locally from areas East and West of the Cascades. It includes native cultures built up from Yarrow harvested in the Yakima wine region and Elderflowers from the Bastyr Campus and other wild cultures gathered near the Ballard Locks.

It is then patiently aged, allowing the culture time to develop its uniquely complex flavor profile. It simply cannot be replicated elsewhere.

The yeast isn't the only local ingredient in their beers. Plenty of wonderfully delicious fruits and plants grow in the Pacific Northwest that will be integrated into the brewery’s recipes. And while “local” will never outweigh "quality," the team fully intends to take advantage of the amazing ingredients available in the region.

Business Model

Farmhouse and wild beers represent both the old and the new frontiers in the craft beer movement. Although they make up a small part of the Craft Beer market today, the segments are growing rapidly. A recent survey by Nielsen shows a year-over-year growth of 73% in sales for Sour / American Wild Ales and a 38% growth in Saison and Farmhouse beer in 2015.

The vision of Fair Isle is centered around the community of the tasting room and on-premise sales. This will allow the business to have an immediate and direct connection with its patrons and will increase early revenue and profits by reducing the costs and low margins associated with distribution.

Fair Isle floorplan

The 7,500 square foot property is made up of four separate buildings. These will be renovated and adjoined to create a single brewery and tasting room facility.

The primary tasting room will be in the middle buildings and will contain a mix of functional production space and a seating area under a visually interesting trussed ceiling. They will have a 50 seat tasting room with additional standing space. An indoor beer garden will have room for 20 guests and will play host to local chefs for monthly pop-ups and events. The indoor beer garden expands directly into the outdoor beer garden which doubles the seating capacity. Adjacent to the main bar are the oak foeders and the coolship loft; visually connecting the consumer to an important part of the process.

Just as the beers are centered around patience and are specific to the Northwest, the space is being designed with intention and care. The space is not a temporary or stale industrial room but is a place that encourages patrons to stay and welcomes them to return.

Flanking the tasting room on the left is the 1,300 SF barrel house which provides ample conditioned space for maturing beers in oak barrels. On the opposite side (far right) is the 3,000 SF production building; holding the 30bbl stainless steel fermenters and brewhouse - the first step of the beer production.

The business projects a first-year sales volume of 800 barrels of beer (one barrel is equal to 31 gallons). Production growth is anticipated to increase at a healthy 25% annual rate and reaching capacity at around 3,300 barrels (bbls) annually. Initial sales will focus primarily on on-site sales with an anticipated 50% of production being sold on-premise in draft and bottles to-go.

As production grows and outpaces the consumption from on-premise sales, the business will expand with bottle and limited keg distribution. Gross revenue is projected to increase from $1.2 million in the first twelve months to $3.3 million in Year 5. Fair Isle’s partnership with Jester King will help to open doors with potential distributors and retailers.

Geoffrey Barker at a tasting event.

Location Analysis

The Fair Isle brewery and tasting room will be located at 936 NW 49th St, Seattle, WA 98107.

Located in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, this area is known as a maritime-centric enclave – a hip foodie hotspot and the center of the "Ballard Brewery District." Seattle Met Magazine rated Ballard as #6 of the Top 25 neighborhoods in Seattle (2018).

This location is in an urban corridor in an area known as an IBU (Industrial Buffer Zone). This is a city zoning designation for property that buffers the commercial and residential zones from the light industrial zones. “Silicon Canal” is also located less than 2 miles away, home to offices for Facebook, Google, Tableau, Adobe and more.

This offers a balance of a great WalkScore (91) and solid bike score (77), proximity to other bars, restaurants and housing, while taking advantage of the lower real estate prices and larger buildings of the industrial zones.

Within a 3-mile radius of Fair Isle, the median income is approximately $115,600 and the population of college educated individuals exceeds 67%. There's also a dense population in the area, with over 200,000 residents. Median age is 37 compared to the national average of 42. Demographics mainly comprises of upper-scale urban singles, urban singles with moderate income and mobile singles living in the city.

Market Analysis

Despite Seattle’s #2 ranking in the nation for percentage of Craft Beer drinkers (38%), Washington state brewers are behind in embracing the trend for farmhouse brewing. Washington state currently has only a few dedicated farmhouse breweries and a handful of other breweries that commit a portion of their production to farmhouse beers. Despite the average Seattle consumer’s strong focus on local food and beverage, the Seattle farmhouse drinker currently has few options for locally produced farmhouse beer.

Compare this to Oregon’s twelve highly successful and well-regarded breweries which consistently produce farmhouse beer (six breweries are exclusively farmhouse). Oregon currently produces 7 times more Farmhouse beer than Washington.

The Pacific Northwest holds a number of delicious ingredients that are favorable for the craft beer business. Washington barley grows just north of Fair Isle, and the majority of US hops are grown three hours east. The team is also excited about access to fresh fruits farmed in the area as well as access to wild ingredients (berries, flowers, and etc.) that can be foraged in the Cascades.

Fireweed local to Washington state was used in the production of Fair Isle’s first collaboration beer, Fair Voyage.

Meet the Team

Andrew Pogue

While living in Austin in 2008, Andrew met Jester King Brewery partners Jeffrey Stuffings and Michael Steffing just prior to their first brew day. He lent a hand with the brewery from 2008-2011. Andrew designed and built their bar and assisted with brewing and bottling operations. He also inspired and developed the recipe for Bonnie the Rare, a Berliner Weisse.

His vision for Fair Isle is an intersection of farmhouse beers, rooted in the Northwest, in an aesthetically pleasing place, with on-site sales directly to the patron; creating a destination like only a few breweries across the nation have achieved.

Andrew has built an architectural photography and videography business in Andrew Pogue Photography, developing client bases in Seattle, Portland and Austin. He works with architects and industries of various types, weaving visual stories within marketing and branding campaigns.

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Geoffrey Barker

Geoffrey has spent the last 32 years honing his skills in the IT world. Since starting his own consultancy in 1998, he has worked long-term engagements in large and small businesses in several industries including venture capital, restaurants, healthcare, tech startups, and fire services. Geoffrey brings an unquenchable curiosity about how things work.

Running a production brewery is not just about making and selling beer. Being able to apply concepts, skills and ideas from multiple disciplines frequently results in better, more creative solutions. Geoffrey is, among other things, a skilled (though not certified) welder, electrician, plumber, carpenter, potter and jeweler. His varied interests, strong troubleshooting abilities, and technical skill will be of considerable value to the brewery.

In addition to his broad background, Geoffrey built a large, sophisticated 1bbl, 3-vessel electric pilot brewery from scratch - closely mimicking the processes of a large commercial brew house. In fact, many small (nano) professional breweries start on a system this size. Fair Isle will benefit from this pilot system. It will be used to test new ideas, recipes and ingredients in small batches before committing to a full-sized batch.

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