CRAFT is revitalizing our community

The craft movement is helping to bring brewing back to Tumwater—the home of Olympia Beer for more than a century.

Redevelopment of the former Olympia Beer brewery in Tumwater is a City priority. Supported by a broad cross-section of the community and facilitated by many partners, the City of Tumwater has led efforts to move toward the vision of a revitalized brewery and district. The strategy has been to break the project into smaller elements (bite-sized pieces), remove barriers, and catalyze investment and reuse of the industrial complex that sits in the heart of our community. The entire site encompasses over 1 million square feet with historic, cultural, and industrial significance. Here’s an update on a few of the many moving parts to the brewery redevelopment project.

Our strategy

The Brewery Action Plan is a strategy developed in 2011, based on extensive community visioning, which has been updated regularly to reflect accomplishments and changes in conditions relating to infrastructure, ownership, priorities, and funding opportunities. Find it on the City website at

Preserving our heritage

trail-and-brewhouseOne of the most iconic structures in Washington State, the Old Brewhouse is a landmark that stands as a reminder of our brewing and industrial roots. The structure itself was donated to the City earlier in the year. A group of volunteers is working on plans to install emergency protections—roofing and window coverings—to weatherize it and reduce the rate of decay. The City has applied for grants in order to fund a portion of the first phase of rehabilitation. Additional monies will need to come through other grants, foundations, and private sources. The total cost to restore the Old Brewhouse is estimated to be $6.5 million.

Creating public access and trails

Trails bring recreation opportunities and add options for getting around the community. The City is actively seeking funding to build the Deschutes Valley Trail to connect Pioneer Park to Historical Park and eventually the brewery site. A section of the trail through Historical Park was completed this year. An additional section will be constructed next year. An easement across the historic brewery site was acquired this year as well, providing one more connection for our future regional trail system.

Paying homage

Brewing was the lifeblood of Tumwater for decades. The craft beverage movement is the future. The Craft Brewing & Distilling Center will support the growing craft beer, cider, and spirits movement. The  “hub” will provide education and training for aspiring entrepreneurs and their staff, business incubators to help more business launch, and complimentary business that connect elements and expand the supply chain. Follow the stories and activities of partners on our website at See how we’re helping to bring brewing back to Tumwater.

Teaching “craft” — South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) has developed programs to teach brewing, distilling, and cider-making, as well as skills to grow strong businesses. These emerging craft beverage industries are in need of specialize training, and what better place than Tumwater, known for almost a century of brewing. SPSCC will work with private developers to build a teaching facility in Tumwater. The location will be announced in the coming months. For now, you can register for a wide variety of recreational and introductory classes. Check out their website to register.

Business incubators — Thanks to a grant from the Washington State Community Economic and Revitalization Board (CERB), a consultant team is helping evaluate a business incubator project to facilitate start-ups and scale-ups, specifically for makers of craft beer, cider, and spirits.

Stay tuned as this story continues to unfold…

What wine can teach us

How a five hour drive to wine country is helping us expose the critical role of education in craft beverage making.

img_2433We recently traveled to Walla Walla, Wash., for a chance to meet with representatives from Walla Walla Community College’s Enology & Viticulture program.  A staple in the explosion of the region’s wine industry since 2001, Walla Walla Community College (WWCC) offers degree programs for wine enthusiasts and future vintners and viticulturists, and has become an inspiration for the craft brewing, distilling, and cider making programs in the works at South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC).

Thanks to our WWCC hosts Melissa Thiessen and Jess Gilmore, our thirst for knowledge was quenched at College Cellars, the college’s tasting room and home of the Enology & Viticulture program.  We walked away with the confidence that we’re making the right steps at SPSCC—and with three key lessons that we’re ready to put to work in Thurston County.

1. Introduce non-credit classes before degree program launch to gauge community interest.

img_2424WWCC was quick to identify the importance of offering non-credit classes to see what level of interest the community has in different areas of craft beverage arts.  For example, WWCC offers certificates and degrees in Wine Business, Fermentation Sciences, Viticulture, and transfer AAS degrees.  But they also offer wine appreciation and wine tasting classes to community and visitors to the region.  Our hosts recommended offering 2-3 non-credit classes per quarter, a good fit for them, and that non-credit courses involve a chance to taste the beverages and have a lot of fun.

Strategically, we’re on track and doing most of this already.  Upcoming non-credit classes with community partners are helping us fine-tune program details and curriculum, including ‘So You Want to Start a Brewery?’ with Top Rung Brewing Company, ‘Brewing Science for the Home Brewer – Dark Beer’ with Fish Brewing Company, and ‘The Language of Whiskey’ with The Whiskey People.  We also take advantage of meeting more local brewers, distillers, and cider makers and learning what they’re looking for from future employees.

2. Maintain strong relationships with community partners and other college programs as for-credit educational programs develop.

 img_2428A great part about a community college launching a craft beverage program is that it already offers programs that closely relate to and support the new program.  WWCC shared the close relationship between their Culinary and Enology & Viticulture programs for dinners paired with their wines.  They also shared the importance of connecting to community agriculture and statewide alliances and guilds, and having a strong and active advisory committee.

From business to science to culinary, there are many obvious intersections between existing SPSCC programs and upcoming Craft Brewing, Distilling, and Cider Making programs.  We intend to leverage the outstanding cuisine of our Culinary Arts students with the craft beverages we develop in our new programs, offering paired dinners, tastings, and events for our community.  We also value the relationships we’ve been developing with local brewers, distillers, and cider makers, as well as the Washington Brewers Guild, the Washington Distillers Guild, and the Northwest Cider Association.  Finally, we’re lucky to have passionate staff and faculty that are ready to see this program to a successful launch with the help of community connections and our partners with the Craft Brewing and Distilling Center.

3. Education is critical in preparing a region for tremendous growth and economic impact.

img_2420WWCC received grants in 2006 and 2011 to evaluate the economic impact of the industry on the regional economy, totaling an impressive $96 million in 2011.  Currently conducting another study, the college’s economic impact projections are pointed at upwards of $300 million.

WWCC shared this—and we share this now—because it is important to have the data that identifies the areas of growth.  We strongly believe that the impact WWCC made in its region can be replicated in Thurston County in craft brewing, distilling, and cider making.

In fact, a recent feasibility study estimates that the creation of a craft brewing and distilling center in Thurston County would create 662 jobs and put $101 million into the local economy.  But it starts with the education that SPSCC will provide through its new programs and education will be the backbone of the growth.  We’re proud to be the ones serving the community in this capacity.

Learn more about our progress

Stay up-to-date on program development and additional milestone achievements.  Follow this blog and receive email updates when we’ve got something great to share.

Brewing an industry through innovation and partnership

How does a community create a dynamic and vibrant economic sector that enables local businesses to thrive, provide jobs and opportunities, and puts itself on the map as center of excellence, attracting visitors and customers from around the region and world? Create a unique business ecosystem to foster growth and innovation in a focused industry.

The Thurston Craft Brewing and Distilling Innovation Partnership Zone (Craft Brewing IPZ) was created in 2015 to help this community do just that. A designation through the Washington State Department of Commerce, the IPZ helps the region create an environment to grow the craft brewing and distilling industry. A number of partners – Thurston Economic Development Council, Washington State University, South Puget Sound Community College, City of Tumwater, Port of Olympia, as well as several local existing brewers and distillers and other community partners – have joined forces to foster a world-class industry right in our own backyard.

The partners have created a ten-year vision for IPZ activities, which include:

  • Establishing a craft brewing and distilling center
  • Creating training certifications and/or curricula in craft brewing and distilling at SPSCC
  • Establishing a cluster of successful producers and marketers of craft beers, ciders and distilled spirits
  • Fostering a network of local producers and farmers who grow the raw ingredients used in the products

The goal of the partners that participate in the IPZ is that these activities will help to create a nationally and internationally recognized regional brand for craft beers, ciders and spirits that rivals “Florida Oranges” or “Swiss Cheese.”

People looking to start in this industry, and businesses wanting to grow, will find a plethora of support activities – non-credit classes and curriculum through SPSCC, a partnership-based communications strategy and platform to share the stories of our success, technical training for businesses to improve their operations, an identified supply-chain for local grain producers, as well as many other things. To learn more about the Craft Brewing IPZ, please contact the Thurston Economic Development Council at 360-754-6320.

Grains conference focuses on local agriculture, west of the Cascades

Great grains are the key to premium craft products. The Cascadia Grains Conference brings together farmers, processors and end‐users, as well as investors, researchers, brokers and local government officials to support rebuilding a grain economy west of the Cascade Mountains in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. The two-day conference will explore value-added enterprises, including brewing and distilling, baking, and other food uses, as well as animal feed. The 2017 Conference is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, January 6 and 7.

Day 1: Friday, January 6, 2017cascadia field trip 2016-2.JPG

The afternoon field trips feature three tracks: brewing & distilling tours (including the historic Olympia Beer brewery), baking, and an equipment track. Registration will be open soon on the event website.

Day 2: Saturday, January 7, 2017

Attend workshops, networking activities, and experience great foods and craft beverages that showcase Cascadia grains. There are special sessions designed specifically for brewers and distillers.

  • Farmers learn about grain production, connect with scale‐appropriate buyers, and learn strategies on increasing demands for cereals used for poultry and livestock feeds, artisan breads, brewing, and distilling.
  • Processors and end-users get an inside look into grain production, quality, and brokering relationships to get the grain you want and need.
  • cascadia-grains-postcardInvestors, brokers and local government officials get the scoop on rising investment and policy opportunities.


Registration is now open for the 5th annual Cascadia Grains Conference,  held at South Puget Sound Community College. For information and to register, go to:

Together, we tell the stories of CRAFT!

Amazing things are happening in our community and across the State to advance the craft beer, cider, and spirits movement. Washington is poised to use this CRAFT movement to create a ripple effect that grows jobs, return on investments, and thriving communities. Together, we’re doing our part to support that growth by creating a Craft Brewing & Distilling Center. This hub builds on Tumwater’s legacy of brewing to benefit our Thurston County community and CRAFT.

We’ve created a BLOG (and website)—that you can follow—to keep up with the exciting activities, investments, programs, and events that grow CRAFT and the hub. We’re telling the stories of real people in our community and beyond, that are taking amazing and innovative actions to make great craft beverages, to grow heritage grains and specialty agriculture, create new markets, expand entrepreneurial jobs and to connect their communities through CRAFT.

Private business and public agencies—South Puget Sound Community College, Thurston Economic Development Council and the Center for Business & Innovation, and the City of Tumwater, for starters—will share stories about how CRAFT and the Craft Brewing & Distilling Center are making a big impact that ripples across the economy. Revitalizing the former Olympia Beer brewery and restoring the iconic Old Brewhouse in Tumwater are the genesis of the partnership and those stories will be shared here too.

Follow the BLOG

Visit our website at and follow the BLOG to learn how you can be a part of growing CRAFT and help our community continue to thrive.

Distill, My Brewing Heart

Building education in craft brewing, craft distilling, and cider making

In 2015, South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) and numerous community partners recognized a huge opportunity for regional growth—we have the potential to become a nationwide leader in the craft brewing, cider, and distilling industries.  With more than 250 craft breweries and 100 micro distilleries in the state, we’re already right at the top for concentration of breweries and distilleries nationwide.

Washington state—and Thurston County in particular—is uniquely positioned to have a meaningful impact on all aspects of these industries.   You’ve probably already heard talk of renovating historic buildings and constructing new facilities, but the first—and arguably most important—step is to ensure that our community is educated in the business, craft, and potential reach of these industries.

Enter SPSCC: already a trusted resource for Thurston County’s educational needs.  SPSCC has been part of the conversations since day one and we’re ready to share the behind the scenes work we’ve been doing to ensure that our community is educated for the rise of distilling and brewing in Thurston County.

What we’ve been learning

In order to provide the needed education, we had to learn quite a bit ourselves.  Let us share some of what it will take to make this a success in our community.

Washington State already has a successful model: Walla Walla
What wine has done for Walla Walla, craft brewing and distilling can do for Thurston County.  Since its inception, the Walla Walla IPZ Wine Cluster has generated more than 2,000 jobs in wine production and wine tourism and more than $230 million dollars in regional earnings, and has grown overall employment in the region by 11% at a time when the state as a whole saw only 1% job growth.  They did it by starting with a strong educational program led by the Enology and Viticulture programs at Walla Walla Community College and Washington State University, adding in a collection of community partners who had common interests (through shared supply chains, labor pools, and inter-industry trade), and a focus on taking actions that benefited the entire industry cluster.  The result? “Walla Walla = Wine.” It is a critical part of the region’s identity.

Thurston County will see a significant positive economic impact
DSC05497“Olympia = Beer” doesn’t just have to be a notion of the past.  Thanks to a rich history of brewing success, strong agricultural roots (especially grains and hops), a booming food production core, demonstrated community support for entrepreneurship and business development, ever-increasing tourism, and a robust supply chain of everything from barrels to graphic designers, Thurston County would need to outsource very little and would enjoy a tight local network to support this industry.  In fact, a recent feasibility study estimates that the creation of this regional cluster would create 662 jobs and put $101 million into the local economy.  With those results, Thurston County could cement itself as a world-class hub for these small businesses to share ideas, build their businesses, and build their workforce.

How SPSCC is moving forward

While we’re excited about the impact we’ll see once this industry growth is actualized, there’s a lot of work that goes into development, funding, and educating the community.  SPSCC is moving rapidly developing the needed education.

theexperienceweb-32While we haven’t implemented for-credit education quite yet, SPSCC is offering a wide array of non-credit classes. Classes are presented in partnership with local craft brewers and distillers.  These businesses have stated that demand for their products is far out-pacing their ability to supply it.  They’re getting involved so they can be part of educating the next generation of brewers and distillers, office staff, machinists, and food scientists that will soon be members of their teams and industry community.

SPSCC is rapidly moving forward with planning for curriculum, instruction space, and staffing for our craft brewing, cider, and distilling education options.  Brewing and Cider programs are forecasted to launch in fall 2017 and Distilling will follow one year later, all pending State Board approval.

To align with a fall 2017 program launch, SPSCC is actively considering locations for lab-focused course instruction.  We’re looking for facilities that are close to the heart of Thurston County and meet the size and equipment requirements to house these programs.  Our longer-term vision, however, is to build or renovate facilities on campus or in combination with community partners through the Craft Brewing and Distilling Center.

Learn more about our progress

Stay up-to-date on program development and additional milestone achievements.  Follow this blog and receive email updates when we’ve got something great to share.

Master Distiller sees value in Craft Brewing and Distilling Center education program

“As a professional distiller and the proprietor of a single malt whiskey distillery in Seattle, I’ve experienced first-hand the challenges in acquiring the necessary knowledge to improve my work; I had to leave the country to get that education. In my opinion, the Craft Brewing and Distilling Center has the potential to not only service the thriving brewing and distilling communities in the Pacific Northwest who wish to push themselves to the next level, but provide educational opportunities that rival or even exceed the caliber of the existing global programs.”

—Matt Hofmann, Master Distiller, Westland Distillery

City of Tumwater

The City of Tumwater is a founding partner of the Craft Brewing and Distilling Center, with primary interest in catalyzing redevelopment of the former Olympia Beer brewery located in the heart of Tumwater. The City continues to convene partners to advance local and regional efforts to revitalize the brewery, create a resilient economy around craft beer, cider, and spirits that benefits communities beyond Tumwater.

The City of Tumwater holds the vision that the Craft Brewing and Distilling Center hub offers a unique opportunity to grow and celebrate the art of craft of brewing, distilling, and cider-making in a collaborative environment, at a location where Northwest brewing earned its reputation for quality over a century ago. The pinnacle of this hub will reside in the beautiful and historic heart of Tumwater where the cascading falls of the Deschutes River meet the southernmost tip of Puget Sound. The site is adjacent to Washington State’s Capitol with visibility and access from Interstate 5. The hub is positioned to generate:

  • A talented and innovative workforce and new jobs
  • An expanded craft beverage industry that benefits the local and regional economy
  • Sustainable local farming opportunities
  • Economic development and museums to support cultural and eco-tourism
  • An attractive destination that honors history and culture of indigenous people, American settlers, and the evolution of craft beer, cider, and spirits
  • Infrastructure and environmental enhancement to revitalize and restore the core of Tumwater

Visit our website:


John Doan, City Administrator,, (360) 754-4120

Heidi Behrends Cerniwey, Assistant City Administrator/Brewery Project Manager,,  (360) 754-4128


South Puget Sound Community College

Center for Craft Brewing and Distilling

South Puget Sound Community College is a founding partner in the revival of the region’s craft brewing and distilling industry.

Graphic that describes the economic impact of the brewing and distilling industry in Thurston County. The graphic includes agriculture, business, education, retail, travel and entertainment, finance, transportation, manufacturing and construction, and wholesale. The total impact is the addition of 662 local jobs and 101 million dollars into the local economy.For SPSCC, this opportunity is rooted in providing education to build the workforce that will be the backbone of this growth. This means not only developing ground-breaking curriculum that is specific to the science and art of brewing and distilling, but also leveraging existing curriculum in fields such as business administration, entrepreneurship, manufacturing, and more to support every aspect of this industry.

While continually working with local and regional stakeholders to ensure a strong infrastructure, supply chain, and job opportunities are in place, we are primarily focused on developing state-of-the-art curricular offerings that will position our graduates to not just work in the industry, but to lead the industry.

This program will lead to long-term, living-wage jobs for hundreds of people in our local community and thousands throughout the region.

What is SPSCC currently doing?

spscc-doing-1    spscc-doing-2    spscc-doing-3


Summer 2016

  • Development of minimum space requirements and assessment
  • Establish advisory committee for program(s) development

Fall 2016

  • Prepare Program Approval Request (PAR) for the State Board (SBCTC) for Brewing, Cider, and Distilling programs

Winter/Spring 2017

  • Develop for-credit Brewing and Cider program curriculum
  • Recruit faculty for Brewing and Cider program

Fall 2017

  • Launch for-credit Brewing and Cider programs

In 2018

  • Develop Distilling program curriculum*
  • Launch for-credit Distilling program*

*Contingent upon SBCTC approval of the Program Approval Request

How you can get involved now

SPSCC currently offers classes that introduce people to craft brewing and distilling through partnerships with local craft producers.  These classes help people to connect with the legacy of brewing through tours of the Old Brewhouse site and create recreational opportunities to educate consumers about craft beer, cider, and spirits, and the art and science of the craft.  Find these classes on our website at

SPSCC provides training to a talented, creative, and diverse workforce across trades and disciplines.  Through a partnership with the Thurston Economic Development Council, we operate the Center for Business and Innovation and offer business development training, mentorship, and services to entrepreneurs. SPSCC work closely with industry partners to establish and customize programs in to meet the needs of those industries.  We are part of a college network in Washington State with 34 partners that collaborate and share resources to strengthen today’s and tomorrow’s workforce.


Noel Rubadue
Dean for Corporate & Continuing Education
(360) 754-7711 ext 2011

Thurston Economic Development Council

The Thurston Economic Development Council (EDC) provides regional services to enhance the economic fabric and vitality of Thurston County. The Thurston EDC provides a mix of programs and projects that supply entrepreneurs, small businesses, firms, and partner organizations with comprehensive and innovative services to support their growth and the strengthen diversity of the local economy. The Thurston EDC administers the Innovation Partnership Zone (IPZ) that connects local brewers, distillers, and cider-makers with connections to workforce development, industry-specific training services, and research institutions to grow strong businesses and markets around craft beer, cider, and spirits. Through the Center for Business & Innovation (jointly operated with South Puget Sound Community College), local entrepreneurs are supported with services and resources to achieve their first success – or their next success.

Center for Business & Innovation (CB&I)
Celia Nightingale, Center for Business and Innovation, Director
(360) 754-6320

Thurston EDC
(360) 754-6320