Business

Whidbey supply store brews up award-winning success

Whidbey Island Brew Supply store owner Robbie Skillin stands in front of the list of his beer recipes available for purchase.  - Photo by Janis Reid/Whidbey News-Times
Whidbey Island Brew Supply store owner Robbie Skillin stands in front of the list of his beer recipes available for purchase.
— image credit: Photo by Janis Reid/Whidbey News-Times

Robbie Skillin said zymurgy is addictive.

And if you know what zymurgy is, then you’re probably hooked on the process of brewing beer.

“That’s the fun part,” said Skillin, Whidbey Island Brew Supply owner. “Making it to taste the way you like it.

“That really brings a bigger addiction than drinking the beer. Drinking the beer is just a bonus.”

Whidbey Island Home Brew Supply celebrated its second anniversary in August along with some substantial brewing awards for a few of its customers earlier this year.

The Whidbey Island Zymurgy Association won the 2013 Washington Spirit of Homebrewing Club of the Year from the Washington Home Brewers Association.

Skillin’s partner Jeremy Allison, who is currently on deployment with the Navy, won the 2013 Washington Homebrewer of the Year 1st Runner Up trophy.

The business simply started as a hobby, according his wife, Robin Skillin. “Now he has a store in his garage.”

“As a young sailor, it was about saving some money and drinking some beer,” said Skillin, who is still active duty with the Navy.

In 2008 was when Skillin met Allison and they “really got into brewing,” sharing recipes and ideas.

Shortly before the time the store opened in 2012, the Whidbey Island Zymurgy Association was created by Skillin, Allison and some other local brewers.

Skillin said he now has nearly 1,000 customers on his email distribution list, comprising beer brewers, mead makers and wine creators from around the area.

Skillin said be believes that the community of brewers and wine makers was already there, but the club, and then the store, have given them a place to come together.

The club has had competitions that have pushed their creative abilities, like their breakfast food challenge, which yielded bacon beer, oatmeal stout and Captain Crunch blond ale.

Club members also make, meads, wines and even ciders, which Skillin said are “super simple to make.”

The store features more than 50 types of grain and their recommended recipes are award winning, Skillin said.

For about $150 a newbie brewer can get started with supplies. Once a brewer has all the necessary equipment and recipe, the price per bottle comes down to simply the cost of ingredients.

“At first the drinking was the fun part about it, but now it’s the flavor and complexity… the creative side of it,” Skillin said.

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