The Story of
For many years, we had planned to someday start a brewery in order to share our lagers with an ever-growing band of family and friends. On a post-harvest road trip in 2015, Nick envisioned a particular type of lager brewery, something small, resembling a craftsman’s workshop. We would brew seasonally, in a way that fits with the agricultural cycle of winemaking life. This is a labor of love for us in every sense, and our motto is to keep it fun.
So, Nick, along with fellow brewery engineer friend Jared, and metal-wizard Trevor, designed and built a custom, steam-fired, 4-vessel brewhouse from scratch.
Reflecting an inclination toward the uncommon arts, Hanabi Lager brings a winemaker’s agricultural perspective to brewing beers that reflect the place where human artistry intersects with nature.
For a long time now, we’ve brewed Hanabi Lagers for the enjoyment of fellow winemakers, mentors, and comrades. We began brewing together in college, and Nick worked for several years at our local Boundary Bay Brewery, before moving to California to make wine. We continued brewing, and slowly over time this side-project progressed into something more serious. For years, we’ve assembled seasonal “brewing parties” to supply shift-pints to our fellow thirsty winemakers. And while we’ve experimented with many different styles of beer, our winemaking palates eventually led us to the best traditional lagers of the world from Germany and Czechia for their complexity, energy, and balance. Thus inspired, for the last 10 years, we have focused exclusively on exploring lagers, honing a style that’s informed by traditional brewing methods, but heavily influenced by our winemaking philosophy.
And what’s in a name? Why Hanabi Lager? Among his peculiar passions, at age 12, Nick became an apprentice to a lifelong master fireworks builder and practitioner of traditional Japanese style fireworks (hanabi) displays. Still deeply involved in the craft, today, Nick designs and directs one of the biggest Japanese-style fireworks display in North America, which annually takes place on Lopez Island, Washington. Every year, we make the pilgrimage north to help bring this show to life.
The Japanese hanabi (fireworks) aesthetic has always resonated with Nick. Carrying a very different connation than fireworks do in the United States, there they evoke a deep cultural respect for the craft, and are named after the natural phenomena such and flowers, trees, weather, and the cycles of life that they are meant to symbolize.
These three endeavors—brewing lager, crafting traditional fireworks, and winemaking—are bound by a common thread. We are working with nature as a partner in human artistry, embracing the ephemeral, coaxing out the underlying patterns and rhythms that turn us on. The imagery of hanabi, like the antique paintings from which our labels are inspired, represent the essence of the feeling to us.
Through Hanabi, we hope to approach lager brewing from a perspective that ultimately brings more attention to the agricultural roots of brewing, and elevates the notion of what can be achieved with these four noble ingredients: Barley, Hops, Yeast, and Water.
We look forward to sharing this adventure with you.