Originally published in June 2017
Three friends, an old taxidermy shop and a dream.
When you break it down, that pretty much tells the story of Valley Brewing Co., a new brewery and taproom set to open this summer on River Road.
Joe Daily, Korey Shroyer and Ethan Frenzel — each 25 years old and a graduate of West Valley High School and Central Washington University — had always talked about starting a business together.
They knew they wanted to brew beer but didn’t have much of a startup budget. They also needed a location that was properly zoned and that they could afford.
But one day when the three buddies were out driving around, they came across a potential diamond in the rough at 3215 River Road: Leonardo’s Taxidermy School.
The price was right, and that’s how the dream of Valley Brewing Co. became a reality last fall.
“We’ve all worked in construction and we were willing to put in the work — some sweat equity — to save money so we could be successful,” said Shroyer, who works with Daily at Olympic Fruit in Moxee. (Frenzel works for John I. Haas Inc.)
For the past seven months, the three business partners have committed their evenings and weekends to renovating the facility and taking care of the necessary licensing requirements.
They have also had to invest significantly to connect the building to the city’s water system.
Barring any unforeseen problems with that capital project, Valley Brewing hopes to officially introduce itself to the Yakima beer community this summer.
“We’re only a month behind schedule, which is pretty good compared to stories we’ve heard from other small breweries,” Shroyer said. “We’ve got our licensing done and we’re getting close to finishing the interior. We’re shooting to open in mid-August, but you never know.”
The cement-slab bar is in place and the brewing and fermenting rooms are nearing completion. The building has been painted charcoal gray and a crafted wood sign was mounted on the south side of the building exterior (fooling some potential customers, the owners say).
They’ve also brewed a few batches, receiving rave reviews.
Right now, Valley Brewing is perfecting three India Pale Ales, an imperial IPA (higher alcohol content, more hops flavor), and a lighter beer called Blonde Bite.
They served their Twisted Citrus IPA at the 40th anniversary party for Tri-Ply Construction in May, and it was a hit.
“We were pretty nervous about it, but it went over really well,” Daily said. “People who we didn’t know were saying how much they liked it. That gives us confidence that we can compete against the big boys.”
Only a few years ago at CWU, the three business partners were still drinking light, mass-produced beer.
Their tastes slowly evolved toward craft beer, and then along came Bale Breaker Brewing Co., the Moxee-based company that has taken the Northwest beer scene by storm since it opened in 2013.
“We all loved the taste of their beer, and that’s where the idea of opening our own brewery came from,” Shroyer said. “It wasn’t long before we turned an old keg into a beer kettle and started making 5-gallon batches. When that experiment worked and our friends liked it, we thought, ‘let’s go for it.’”
While Daily, Shroyer and Frenzel are relative amateurs compared to the folks at Bale Breaker, they believe they have something new to offer in a Yakima market that is becoming more competitive by the month.
Offering new beers unique to the Yakima Valley is one of the primary objectives. But the guys at Valley Brewing believe they will be filling a need by introducing a taproom in west Yakima, a place where there aren’t a lot of choices nearby (the only other one is the Yakima Craft Brewing tasting room a few blocks down on River Road).
“We think the location is going to be great because it’s closer to people in West Valley and Naches, and we’re right off the freeway,” Shroyer said, referring to the 40th Avenue exit off U.S. Highway 12.
“And once people try our beer and realize they can get it in bottles, too, the whole thing is just going to explode.”
The bottling side of the business is already in the works, and Valley Brewing Co. has been working with another West Valley grad, Seth Austin, on the logo and label designs.
‘Putting It All On The Line’
As the owners invest all of their energy into getting the taproom ready to open, Valley Brewing likely will only sell pints, growlers and kegs for the first few months.
They also want to spend more time perfecting their recipes so they are ready in time for events like Blues & Local Brews in August and the Fresh Hop Ale Festival in October.
“We’re hoping to have three main beers ready for the grand opening,” Shroyer said of the Twisted Citrus IPA, the Dirty Roots IPA and Blonde Bite. They are also working on a sour beer, a recipe that is new to them.
“We want to stay diverse and give people some different choices,” Shroyer added.
Despite working 100-hour weeks for seven months and spending all of their income on their new venture, Daily, Shroyer and Frenzel have no reservations about their big career decisions.
They believe they have learned a lot and they are ready to share their newfound expertise with the world — the Yakima Valley, at least.
“Now that we have our license and the pub is almost done, a lot of our fears went away,” Daily said. “We still have some liabilities, like the water line project, but we are confident that we have built something people are going to like.”
Valley Brewing Co. regularly updates their Facebook page, and they plan to post an official opening date when they decide on one.
Don’t forget, the three entrepreneurs all work 40-plus hours a week at their jobs.
For now, they are going to continue pouring all of their leftover youthful energy into their exciting new venture.
“We’re just three young kids putting it all on the line,” Shroyer said. “It’s been a ton of work, but we’re almost there. Now we’re getting excited for the end goal of opening this place.”