No visit to Whidbey Island is complete without a stop at Flyers Brewery in Oak Harbor. They make some great beers, and whenever I’m lucky enough to find them on tap here in Seattle it is tough to pass them up. I recently caught up with owner and brewer Tony Savoy to see what’s happening these days.
1) I just saw that you are now putting some of your beers in 22oz bottles. Will it just be the IPA, or will other styles be available? Will we see these in Seattle?
Yes there will be more to come, we have the labels done for the Pacemaker Porter also. We are contracting at Skagit River now and we don’t yet have a firm schedule for production so the Porter will be a little later. We have art for the Humbles Blonde Ale also but that is way down the line as of now. Click Wholesale received their first pallet (60 cases) on October 1st, so yes by all means look for it and ask for it in Seattle and beyond.
2) You’ve made some great specialty beers over the years, including Sick Duck Imperial Stout and the Bottleworks VIII Anniversary 140 Schilling Strong Scotch Ale. As a beer geek, we obviously love to see these types of releases. Is it tough to balance keeping up with demand for the regular lineup along with specialty beers? Any special beers we should look for in the future?
Yes it has been a little difficult mainly for these high gravity beers because of how long I let them age before serving them. 3 to 6 months or more for the one you mentioned. In fact I haven’t even brewed The Duck since 2008. The contracting at Skagit is going to free up some tank space for these types of beers though, if I am producing all of our IPA and Porter there then I can have more “fun” here at the pub. We brew a couple of seasonals now: Spitfire Best Bitter, and the new Proptoberfest, our take on an Oktoberfest style beer fermented with a “Steam Yeast”. As for some big beers we also did the Kentucky Uberwine for the Uber Tavern that was a bourbon/oak monster Barleywine. I do have plans for “Twin Engine Red” which will be an Imperial Red, and “Hop Duster” which will be an Imperial IPA
3) At one point, Flyers was looking at opening a pub in Mt. Vernon last year. Is this still being seriously considered, or any other type of expansion?
No that project has been put on the back burner for now, we are happy with the growth of the brewery side right now and we are focusing on that part of our business. We are expanding our brewery production through the before mentioned contract arrangement we have with Skagit River Brewery in Mt. Vernon. We bought a 20 bbl fermenter that will go into the Skagit’s brewery and we also bought 100 ½ bbls and 60 1/6 bbls. The tank will give us at least another 480 bbls of production per year on top of our 700 bbl capacity at Flyers in Oak Harbor. It’s also never too early to start planning for future expansion beyond what we have now, either in more tanks at Skagit or a Production Brewery of our own.
4) Other than Flyers, what is one other Washington brewery that you really admire and are inspired by?
There are a couple, Boundary Bay is one because I remember going there when they first opened and I had just started in the brewing industry myself. I am inspired by their consistent growth over the years. Elysian is another. I really like the combination of brewery growth and distribution sales paired with a solid brewpub expansion to multiple locations, the fact that they have grown through contracting is also inspiring because of our current plans for growth, it shows me that it can be done this way with great success.
5) So, the Seahawks are off to a 2-1 start (this is obviously a bit dated now). I know you’re a fan. Do you really think they can keep this up and get back to the playoffs?
I really hope so, they have some consistency issues especially on the road but it would be nice. I am not going to lie sometimes they are great to watch and other times I want to throw things at my TV. But being a Seahawk fan, you come to expect it win or lose the are still my team. Go Hawks!