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Made in the Northwest: Young Buck Brewing

SPOKANE, Wash. - Cameron Johnson was a few years into his career as an architect when he told his wife, just before the birth of their first child, he wanted to start a brewery.

"It seemed like a good time to quit a steady paying gig with benefits and jump into the entrepreneurial world," said Johnson. "Thankfully, my wife is gainfully employed and incredibly supportive."

The seed for the idea of starting a brewery was planted by the owner of the Luminaria Building in downtown Spokane.

"He approached me with this concept of opening an incubator brewery and an attached taproom, where we could have upcoming breweries brew in the back and develop their skill and local account contacts over a period of about two to three years on shared equipment and a collaborative brewing space," Johnson explained.

And with that, Young Buck Brewing was born. Johnson was in his twenties when he started it. Thus, the name. 

"Now, I'm past that barrier of 30, so we might have to change the name to like Middle Aged Buck."

Johnson doesn't want to compete in the hyper saturated market of standard beers, so Young Buck specializes in barrel aged, sour beer styles.

"I thought it would be easier, and just more fun, to set myself up as a niche brewery to keep a lot of that homebrewing spirit that go me so interested in the hobby," Johnson said.

The only beer Young Buck makes that's consistent from batch to batch is its Gose, a sour German wheat beer.

"It's very easy to drink. Low alcohol." 

It has a series of one off IPAs that vary greatly and an Oud Bruin sour brown ale, which Young Buck collaborated with Bellwether Brewing on, "using roasted pumpkins from his backyard and then sage from my backyard," said Johnson. And then aging the beer in wine barrels.

Using local ingredients is an important part of its beer making process.

"We're able to use them in small batches and experiment with them," said Johnson. "And extract some amazing flavors and aromas out of there."

Young Buck's location in the Steel Barrel Taproom, with its 30 taps, and the attached ceviche restaurant, Zona Blanca, helps with its exposure. So will its new deal with Four Brothers Distributing.

"You're going to see us in more and more places."

Young Buck's goal is to move into its own space in the next year or so and become a neighborhood brew pub. But it won't abandon its roots started here at the Incubator Brewery downtown.

"It keeps us excited and experimental and helps us to keep serving great beer," said Johnson.


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