Washington State

Washington State Department of Commerce designated a Craft Brewing & Distilling Innovation Partnership Zone (IPZ). This partnership was developed to advance craft brewing, distilling, and cider-making in the region. It is strong on education and workforce development, entrepreneurship, industry, research, and public partners to accelerate economic advancement and innovation. Spearheaded by the Thurston Economic Development Council (EDC), plus South Puget Sound Community College, School of Food Science at Washington State University/University of Idaho, the City of Tumwater and a platform of local brewers, cider-makers, and distillers. The application was supported by the cities of Olympia and Lacey, and the Port of Olympia. The work of the IPZ is based in industry. Programs are developed around customized industry needs, and more importantly, the business behind it. Find more about Washington State’s Innovation Partnership Zones.

WSU Extension

For over 100 years, Washington State University (WSU) has been connecting with you, your neighbors, and your community through our Extension programs. Every day, Thurston County Extension works to extend the university’s knowledge—addressing real-world issues to help find new opportunities for our farmers, natural resource managers, families, young people, and business leaders to become successful and thrive. WSU Extension Thurston County is the agricultural advocate for the Craft Brewing & Distilling Center Hub.

WSU Extension Thurston County provides research-based information and educational programs to farmers, consumers, decision-makers, and others involved in the South Puget Sound food (and beverage) system. WSU Extension is a founding partner in the Craft Brewing & Distilling Center Hub in Tumwater and Thurston County, Washington.


Thurston County’s farmland is rapidly disappearing. Between 2002 and 2007, the acreage of actively farmed land has dropped nearly in half – from 74,420 acres to 38,718 acres. Since the mid 1950s, when Thurston County was primarily farmland, the County has lost over 75 percent of its working agricultural lands.Though the land area dedicated to agricultural activities has been steadily eroding, agricultural production it is still of significant importance to the County’s economy. The total market value of agricultural production in Thurston County is about $118 million from 1,288 farms, with crops accounting for approximately 42% of the total and livestock and poultry the remaining 58% (U.S. Census of Agriculture). These figures are greater than that of all adjacent counties.

Programs and Classes

Find all the local initiatives like farmer workshops (topics such as hoop house construction), craft brewing and distilling barley trials, a rotational grazing research initiative to co-manage for critical species and livestock production, farm nutrient management planning, and more on our website. WSU Extension Thurston County was a key partner in developing the Cascadia Grains Conference, hosted in our community since 2015.


For updates, you can sign up for our e-newsletter contact ), or visit our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/thurstonextension/) or visit WSU Thurston County agriculture program website at http://extension.wsu.edu/thurston/agriculture/.

Stephen Bramwell, Extension Director and Agriculture Faculty
(360) 867-2161

Brewers Guild supports the Craft Brewing and Distilling Center

What’s happening in the craft brewing industry? Who’s helping to lead the way? Washington Craft Brewers Guild president Sara Nelson, co-founder of Fremont Brewing assured our team that the “craft” movement is growing. The entrepreneurial climate of “craft” creates jobs, strengthens local economies, and makes neighborhood gathering places. “Craft has revitalized communities around the country,” she said.

The Washington Craft Brewers Guild supports the Craft Brewing and Distilling Center in Tumwater. Here’s what they had to say:

“The Washington Brewers Guild is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of Washington craft breweries and strengthening the community of brewers in our great state. The Washington craft beer industry has experienced tremendous growth in recent years and continues to grow thanks in large part to the support the industry has received from the Legislature. Our state has 315 licensed breweries and Washington is second in the nation for total breweries. Between 2011 and 2014, Washington craft breweries increased production by 63 percent. In 2014, Washington craft breweries generated over $1.6 billion in direct economic impact in Washington State and employed 14,782 full-time employees with an average wage of over $44,000.

Over a quarter of our state’s breweries opened their doors in the last two years. In our home state market where the vast majority of beer produced in Washington is sold, it’s estimated that WA craft beer constitutes 10 percent of the 20 percent craft beer market. Not only will we see new breweries continuing to open in Washington, existing breweries will be increasing brewing capacity to meet consumer demand, adding living wage jobs and growing Washington’s reputation as a world-class producer of craft beer.

Washington’s Craft Brewing and Distilling Center will provide critical training, education, workforce development, business innovation and expansion support, and promote tourism for our industry. WA craft beer’s continued success hinges on access to a trained workforce, an emphasis on quality standards and heightened consumer awareness of the WA craft beer industry. The Center will further all of these goals, while paying homage to the proud history of Washington beer by bringing back life to the iconic Olympia Brewery.

-Annie McGrath, Executive Director
Washington Brewers Guild (February 15, 2015)

Top Rung Brewing bottles up success


As full-time firefighters in Thurston County, Casey and Jason Stoltz, co-owners of Top Rung Brewing know the importance of safety and excellence. When it comes to brewing beer, fortunately, these self-taught brewers and business owners made some good decisions and recently celebrated their second year with a market share that warrants bottling for distribution.

Casey and Jason have been active participants in the resources available to new businesses in Thurston County. They have worked closely with the Center for Business and Innovation in Lacey, a collaboration between South Puget Sound Community College and Thurston Economic Development Council to provide support for entrepreneurs that want to thrive. And have recently tapped into the Scale Up program to help prepare for success with the new expansion of their business.

When asked about the Craft Brewing and Distilling Center, Casey had a few words to share, “We can’t think of a better place than in the backyard of the former iconic Olympia Brewery site! Our industry has a significant need for education that is centered and focused on the complex needs of brewing, distilling, and making cider with specifics on the business side, regulatory compliance, brewing processes, and quality assurance.”

Find Top Rung Brewing at http://www.toprungbrewing.com/


Get close to history with a Brewery Tour on May 21

Have you ever wondered about the history of the Old Brewhouse in Tumwater, or wished you could see inside this iconic building? Come join us for a unique opportunity to visit this local treasure that has remained a central part of Thurston County and its rich tradition of brewing. On a walking tour of the building and surrounding landscape, you’ll hear about the story of the Schmidt family, where they came from and why they settled in
Tumwater, and learn about the City of Tumwater’s efforts to partner with entities to spur the redevelopment and growth of the area and the Craft Brewing and Distilling Center hub.

The tour guide will be Paul Knight, who began his brewing career in 1961 at the Olympia Brewing Company and moved up through the years to become a brewmaster and serve in leadership positions for the Master Brewer Association.

These tours and other classes provide a connection to our brewing history and experiences into craft beer, cider, and spirits. South Puget Sounc Community College partners with the Thurston Economic Development Council to help brewers, distillers, and cider-maker businesses thrive. And we’re building supports for elements of this industry through programs that strengthen agriculture, culinary, operations, logistics, regulations, and more. Register and find more at https://spscc.edu/brewing