MEAD, Wash. - The Deitz family has been farming their land in Green Bluff, which features a big, red barn, for years. Craig Deitz had been home brewing for years. Then one day, he combined the two, starting Big Barn Brewing.
"Got licensed in April 2012. And then, we've been brewing and growing ever since," said Deitz.
Deitz and his wife are both retired educators who aren't really retired.
"We're wondering why we didn't start our independent business when we were young, because we're working harder than we ever have," he laughed.
The goal at Big Barn Brewing is to be self-sustaining, using hops, grain and produce from their own farm.
"The fact that I'm putting my hops into my beer, my fruit into my beer, trying to be as local and self-contained as possible is where my passion is," said Deitz. "We love the fact that we're a farm based brewery."
Big Barn grows more than two acres of hops in five different varieties. Deitz and his son, Eli, harvest the hops themselves.
"In our beers, 75 percent of my hop usage is from the hops that I grow on the farm. I challenge anybody else outside of the Yakima Valley to beat that."
After the hop cones are stripped from the vines in the Hopster machine, the cones are laid out on rows of screens to be dried.
Deitz says it takes 12 to 14 hours per batch to dry.
The hops are then pressed into pellets and are ready to be used in beer. Big Barn even sells its hops to others brewers.
The beer is brewed in tanks inside the barn. But most of it is poured a few feet away in its taproom, which also has that farm feel.
"There are a lot of folks that like the ambiance not only that we provide here at Big Barn, but that Green Bluff in general provides," said Deitz. "It's a nice community."
Of course, they also come for the beer, like the Blackberry Porter or the Mead Honey Lager. And Big Barn is extremely proud of the medals its beers have won.
"There's a lot of beers that go into these contests every year. To pick up a medal suggests that you're doing something right," said Deitz.
And while this farm based brewery has grown into one of the Spokane area's biggest beer producers, Deitz doesn't see it getting too big.
"I think we could even be to a point where we maintain status quo for a while. That would be okay."
But what he'd really love is for some of his other kids to join him, his wife and Eli in the family business of farming and making beer in the barn.
"To me, that would be a dream come true."
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