The taproom is now open seven days a week, with indoor and outdoor seating.
The taproom is now open seven days a week, with indoor and outdoor seating.

There’s something sour brewing in the northeast corner of Magnolia, and the timing of its release is a critical step in Dirty Couch’s slow and thoughtful beer-making process.

Dirty Couch Brewing officially opened the doors of its new brewery and taproom, a stone’s throw across the Fort Bridge, earlier this month.

Frank Swiderski, Rob Nelson and Jon Cargille spent a few years home-brewing before they took the next step and opened Dirty Couch Brewing in a 750-square-foot facility in Ballard back in 2016.

“It was a little tight to do anything in there,” Swiderski said, and more expensive than the Dirty Couch Brewing owners could afford. “We basically got priced out of Ballard.”

The new Dirty Couch Brewing facility is 3,800 square feet, counting the second floor, which will eventually be remodeled and opened up to customers, Swiderski said. Less than 2,000 square feet is dedicated to producing the barrel-aged, mixed-fermentation sours, but he said the high ceiling leaves room to grow.

Making a good sour beer takes time, good barrels, nontraditional yeasts, controlling acidity and the right ratio of fruits, Swiderski said.

“For ours, for the most part we fruit very lightly,” he said. “That’s not always going to be the case.”

Dirty Couch will be kegging a strawberry sour next week.

“I want a beer to still be recognizable as a beer,” Swiderski said.

The sours varieties are aged for a year on average, mostly in whiskey and wine barrels. Dirty Couch recently acquired some gin barrels from OOLA Distillery used for a saison.

The concept of starting a brewery was crafted during a bachelor party in Portland and exposure to the sours at Cascade Brewing. Cargille suggested the three start a brewery, and Nelson was passionate about sours.

They all met at their day jobs, Swiderski and Cargille being software engineers at Google, and Nelson an electronics technician. For the first two years, they staffed DCB themselves, and then tapped Sean Lindorfer as head brewer. Swiderski said he’s a legend in the industry, though sometimes a little messy. He previously worked at Urban Family, Cellar Homebrew and Über Tavern, all places where Swiderski had frequented and gotten to know Lindorfer.

For those not into sours, DCB also carries bottled ciders and some beers made in collaboration with other local breweries.

“We’ve done a couple collaborations, and we plan on continuing to do that, and we’ll do some in-house ones for the taproom only,” Swiderski said.

There are some summer-focused beers on the way, and DCB has a few seasonal contracts with stores and restaurants. The taproom will stick to bottles over growler fills, Swiderski said, because it takes a certain method to maintain the quality. He said he believes the bottled beers taste better than the draft, and waiting a few months for a second fermentation in the bottle enhances the flavor for those willing to wait.

A number of beers at the brewery have waited long enough, and DCB is hard at work bottling them in order to make room in its barrels for new batches.

“All of these barrels are full,” Swiderski said. “We have maybe eight or nine things that we have never released that are sitting, waiting to be packaged.”

DCB recently began opening its doors seven days a week. Swiderski said there’s still work to be done on the taproom side, but for now there’s outside seating and a few community tables inside. Queen Anne and Magnolia are family-oriented neighborhoods, Swiderski said, and DCB wants to attract that crowd to its taproom. All three owners have kids of their own.

“We’re kid-friendly, we’re dog-friendly; I don’t think we’ll change that,” he said.

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