Made in the Northwest: YaYa Brewing Company

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. – Jason and Chris Gass are beer lovers who were big into home brewing. And during Christmas 2016, the brothers hatched a plan.

“Over a couple of beers, decided to get YaYa Brewing Company going,” recalled Jason. “That was our first real, concrete decision to move forward.”

YaYa might sound like a funny name for a brewing company, but there’s a deeply personal story behind it. It’s the nickname of their late sister, Lara.

“When I was much, much younger, I could not pronounce her name properly,” explained Jason. “I could only get out YaYa. I couldn’t say Lara. And so, that was just kind of a family nickname that stuck with her throughout her entire life.”

Lara, or YaYa, was killed in a tragic car accident. But she now serves as the inspiration for everything her brothers do.

“Every time I make a beer, the quality of the beer, it has to empart part of her personality,” said Chris Gass. “It has to really represent what she meant.”

Chris said YaYa’s flagship beer is named Angel IPA for her.

“It has a floral and kind of citrusy aroma and kind of represents her beautiful personality and how she lived her life.”

YaYa even started the Angel Wings program for sales of the Angel IPA in their taproom.

“So a portion of all proceeds of that beer go to local charities within the Pacific Northwest,” said Jason.

Business in YaYa’s taproom was bustling. But then, in March, COVID-19 hit. And while the company is back to 50% seating capacity, they can’t wait to have the whole place full again.

“We’re obviously really excited to be shoulder to shoulder in here again,” said Jason.

“I think back to pre-pandemic days when we had this tasting room packed out and everyone was here with their friends and having our beers and enjoying their time with each other,” added Chris.

Just before the pandemic, YaYa made plans to sell its beer in four packs of 16 oz. cans. And Jason said they’re a big reason the company has been able to stay afloat.

“Cans have been excellent for us to be able to move product and continue to operate as a functioning business.”

In fact, YaYa has already exceeded its goal for its first year in business.

“We had the goal set at 250 barrels for the first year. And right now, we’re working on about 400,” Jason noted.

And while YaYa does hope to expand into Idaho and Oregon at some point, Chris said its immediate goal is very simple.

“Honestly, it’s just making sure that people are happy with the beer and never losing sight of why we’re here, which is to honor our sister, to have the best quality beer in Spokane.”

And having a guardian angel certainly doesn’t hurt.