Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Congressman Rick Larsen visits Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen

This past Saturday morning, Congressman Rick Larsen of Washington’s 2nd Congressional District paid a visit to Bellingham’s Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen. His mission was to learn more about the craft beer industry, from the actual nuts and bolts of the brewing process to the business and economic challenges facing craft breweries in Washington and across the country.

Just moments after the congressman walked through the door, Will Kemper handed Larsen a printout and explained that it was list of all of the craft breweries in the 2nd Congressional District, which includes the communities of Everett, Monroe, Whidbey Island, Bellingham and others.

Above - Rep. Rick Larsen with Will and Mari Kemper.

Larsen’s hosts, Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen owners Will and Mari Kemper, did an excellent job of articulating the needs and concerns of craft brewers. Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen was born in the summer of 2008, just a few short months before the financial markets began melting down. While the beers and the brewpub have won prestigious awards and have continually grown in popularity, Chuckanut has faced challenges because of the recession. Suffice it to say, it was not (is not) an easy time to be getting a business off of the ground. Representative Larsen seemed particularly interested in this part of the Chuckanut story.

The challenge of making beer when the well has run dry

The conversation included plenty of discussion about the decreased availability of business financing. The growing popularity of craft beer across the nation has created an uptick in demand for craft beer and many of our local breweries are scrambling to keep up. Virtually every brewery we visit is producing beer at capacity and is trying to grow. While some breweries are finding creative ways to finance the growth of their businesses, it has become increasingly difficult to secure funding through traditional means. It’s a theme we’ve heard over and over again: while business loans are not impossible to secure, various forms of private financing have become increasingly common.

Read the complete story, with more photos, on the Washington Beer Blog

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