In Conversation With Drew Cluley – Master Brewer At Beardslee Public House


For fans of the Beardslee Public House, where award-winning master brewer Drew Cluley’s 10-barrel lineup of craft brews, complemented by a local-inspired menu, has put `scratch-casual’ on the cuisine map of Bothell, here is a closer look at the man behind your favorite Bastard Grain Pale Ale and Greenleaf IPA:


Q: When Did You First Discover Your Passion For Beer?

A: I discovered beer, like most kids do I suppose, in high school in 1983. It wasn’t an obsessive passion though. I liked beer and drank it, but it wasn’t until I received a book about home brewing as a Christmas gift from my sister in 1989, that I got seriously interested in the subject. I acquired the necessary equipment and began home brewing in February, 1990.

I was drinking lots of different styles — Bass Pale Ale from England, Canadian imports, European beers, etc – and when I started brewing, I emulated the styles I liked.


Q: How Did Beer Turn From Hobby Into Profession?

A: I moved from Syracuse in upstate New York to Seattle where my sister was living with her boyfriend (later, her husband). He was a brewer at the Pike Brewing Company, and I started hanging around the Pike premises quite a bit. Under his tutelage, I began home brewing again with a renewed enthusiasm.

During Thanksgiving in 1994, Rande Reed, who was head brewer at Thomas Kemper at the time, got to taste some of my brews.

Impressed by what he tasted, Randy told me about Pyramid Brewing Co, a new brewery opening near the Safeco Field stadium who were hiring brewers. Based on Rande’s opinion of my home brews at the Thanksgiving dinner, he suggested I should apply for a position.

So I did, and got hired at Pyramid to be one of their original brewers in February 1995.

I brewed for about a year-and-a-half with Pyramid, when I got an opportunity to go to Japan to consult on a project in the summer of 1996. The Japanese brewery, Oh! La! Ho, was located in the Nagano Prefecture, about 2 hours west of Tokyo where the Winter Olympics were held in 1998. It was a very interesting experience, teaching the Japanese how to make beer.

When I returned home, I didn’t do any brewing for about two years. I took a hiatus, and just enjoyed tending bar until 2000, when I returned to the fold as brewer for the Big Time Brewery in Seattle.

I was with Big Time for a few months, before I got hired by the Pike Brewing Company. But I returned to Big Time in April, 2011, as their head brewer, until John Howie approached me with the idea of opening Beardslee Public House in 2014.


Q: What Attracted You To The Beardslee Project?

A: After having worked with 50-barrel systems (Pyramid), 25-barrel systems (Pike Brewing) and 15-barrel systems (Big Time), I was intrigued by the idea of Beardslee’s small, 10-barrel operation. Plus, I would be in charge of designing a brewery from grounds up, and have a lot of say in equipment and facilities.


Q: What’s Special About The Craft Brews You Make For Beardslee?

A: I design my craft brews to go well with the scratch-casual food we offer at Beardslee. I make easy, accessible beers. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, with wild experiments like a white stout for example, or a cloudy IPA, I like to keep my beer unpretentious and classic.

This philosophy works well with the grassroots identity of Beardslee Public House as well. The history of Bothell, the town where Beardslee is located, is deeply influenced by the logging industry, and our food and ambience has a strong, nostalgic connection to that bygone era.

Our beers are named after classic timber/logging terms or after leading Bothell residents from the past. Our ingredients are locally sourced and everything from bread to charcuterie is made in-house. Even the look and feel of the space, with tables and chairs carved out of a giant red sequoia tree that had to be felled when we built the public house, maintains strong roots in Bothell’s local history. Our craft brews had to match the food and ambience we were promoting and share the same characteristics, so pairing is always easy!


Q: What Are Your Personal Favorites?

A: My favorites styles are IPAs and Belgian Style ales.


Q: What Does Drew Cluley Do When He’s Not Brewing?

A: I read a lot, and I like photography and camping.


Q: What Are Your Future Plans?

A: Keep making beer, of course!