My friend, mentioned below, has been trying to motivate our island community to
“transition” from a crumbling infrastructure to a sustainable one for at least a decade. Along the way, as you’ll learn, he found himself face to face with the ultimate question: “Can I make a decent living and feel good about myself, and my impact on the world and my community, at the same time?” If you struggle with this question, I believe Cliff’s answer will inspire and reassure you that, “Yes, you can.” This article was also published in our island’s printed paper, The Loop.
Now-a-days, most folks have a pressing sense that they need to be “doing something.” The world is descending into all sorts of troubling conundrums, and the pressure to “be the change you want to see in the world” is familiar to the majority of us. So, what does that mean? Invent a machine to clean up the world’s oceans? Discover cold fusion? Get money out of politics? Stop Climate Change? With such ginormous goals, feeling overwhelmed is more than understandable – it’s practically inevitable! Until you remember one thing.
Everyone needs to eat and drink. Wait a sec, you say? What does that have to do with anything? Well, to put it simply, “life must go on.” Whether we are destroying our planet or rebuilding it, the basic aspects of life remain. Raising the question, “can we do the basics in a better way, too?” That is exactly what Vashon Brewing’s Community Pub is all about. Doing food & drink better, and as you’ll soon learn, this is no accident.
While VBCP has become a family & friends effort, it all began with Cliff’s lifelong love of beer. Sounds funny, to the non-beer lover, but for those of you who brew…and those of you who love to drink what other folks brew…you get it.
Brewing isn’t a casual hobby. It is art, science, endless curiosity, attention to detail and passion all bottled up together. After years of commuting to an accounting job in the city, Cliff was ready to fully live the island dream! This meant a change of career, no commute, a sustainable way of living that could also pay the mortgage, increased community connections, and following his passion. Enter, stage left, Vashon Brewing a la Farmer’s Market!
Funny, how discoveries are made. As most scientists, and artists, will attest – accidents, mistakes and failure can be epic tools of success. While Cliff & Cara deeply enjoyed their years at Vashon’s Farmer’s Market, the experience drove home a singular fact: selling locally crafted beer on Vashon Island at wholesale and the Farmer’s Market could pay for a hobby but not a mortgage. As Cliff told me, over a cup of locally roasted coffee, “I needed to upscale my operation, and my big vision had always been a world where beer was local. That you weren’t buying from multi-national conglomerates that dominate 70% of the worldwide beer production.”
As Cliff looked into expanding his business, the reality he came up against was that those 70% producers dominate every aspect of the industry. And, if you think buying a micro-brew will avoid this, think again. Once small brewers hit their own production ceiling, most get bought out and the “cute, indie label” is maintained simply to boost sales. Customers think they’re getting local, but they’re not. What’s a small, island brewer to do?
Keep dreaming, that’s what! People had been asking Cliff to create a local storefront venue for six years, but the main thing that enabled him to say yes was the interest and enthusiasm of his son-in-law. “He had the aptitude to produce amazing brews. Brewing is not an easy thing. So, when my son-in-law displayed such obvious interest and ability, it freed me up to focus on the equally challenging role of business developer, owner and creator. Finding the best of partners, who shared my passion and endless interest in talking about this, thinking about this, dreaming about this…led to the creation of something far better than any one of us alone could have built.”
Okay, I know. You’re hungry and thirsty now, right? Very well…
Vashon Brewing’s Community Pub had its “soft opening” on Saturday, May 19th, and it will have its Grand Opening (with ribbon cutting ceremony & everything) on Saturday, June 2nd. Open from 12noon – 9pm, Thursday through Monday, VBCP offers something for everyone! I asked Cliff about where he got his ideas. “The experience that I love about Europe is that whole feeling that you aren’t rushed. The local pub is a family-friendly, social experience. This is why we don’t use a wait staff. This is a specific decision because in our culture, a waiter creates a set of expectations, which is linked to being rushed along or pressured to order quickly, make a decision, etc. We want an ambiance of relaxation. What you want, when you want it.”
Beer is served as Flight Trays (4 drafts @ 5 oz each), Pints, 1/2 Growlers (32 oz) or you can bring your own Full Growler & fill ‘er up! But, it’s not just beer. VBCP offers other island drinkables, such as: Palouse Wine, Dragon’s Head Cider, Behesht Kombucha, Nashi Orchards Cider or Perry and Vashon Brewing’s own non-alcoholic root beer. After years of studying Transition Town models of living, Cliff was clear that whatever he did, it had to increase community connections. Consider Vashon’s collaboratively drafted “Sip Brochure.” Visitors who try a Cider or Perry at Vashon Brewing’s Community Pub will be encouraged to head on over to all the other tasting rooms where they can enjoy a wider variety of island-crafted beverages.
And then there’s the food. Pure YUM of the vegetarian, sausage loving, dessert, peckish & hungry variety is prepared regularly by an island chef in a local, commercial kitchen with a focus on utilizing island sourced ingredients “where we can, with an eye on keeping the menu prices reasonable for customers.”
Whether you want to relax with your kids, meet up with coworkers, go out for a romantic date or quietly read a book on the patio, Vashon Brewing’s Community Pub’s friendly and relaxed atmosphere & staff await! For an intentionally created, cooperative (versus competitive), relaxed (versus rushed), bright (versus dim), fresh (versus internationally transported), “yes, we know your name” experience…just head to VBCP!
Pub is north of town center, across from the library, in the Vashon Village.
And here is the website.