Hannah Gibbons pours a beer at Penn Cove Brewing Company’s new taproom in Oak Harbor. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Hannah Gibbons pours a beer at Penn Cove Brewing Company’s new taproom in Oak Harbor. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Local brewer taps into neighboring market

Big plans are a-brewing at one Coupeville-based business.

Penn Cove Brewing Co. is holding the grand opening for its new Oak Harbor taproom on Bayshore Drive at 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 3.

The next day, the taproom will host a food truck and beer garden for its Fourth of July celebration, said Mitch Aparicio, one of the owners.

Like the Coupeville operation, the taproom will be family friendly and serve beverages from regional breweries. There is usually a couple of choices in wine from a Whidbey winery as well.

The new location is all part of the Aparicio brothers’ brewmaster plan.

As the new, larger taproom opens in the city, a brewing facility is simultaneously in the works in Coupeville.

Penn Cove Brewing Company started brewing its flagship Madrona Way IPA at Bastion Brewing Company in early 2017.

But the plan has always been to start their own brewing facility in their Central Whidbey hometown and serve the whole island.

The company will soon have a 10-barrel system, which produces 14 kegs per batch, Aparicio said.

The goal is to turn out 1,000 barrels a year, he said.

“That’s a lot of beer,” said Aparicio with a smile.

From left, board of directors member Randy Urquhart, owner Mitch Aparicio, events coordinator Dena Marie and business operations manager Scott Baxter stand outside the new Penn Cove Taproom in Oak Harbor. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

From left, board of directors member Randy Urquhart, owner Mitch Aparicio, events coordinator Dena Marie and business operations manager Scott Baxter stand outside the new Penn Cove Taproom in Oak Harbor. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

He expects to have the fermentation operation up and going by September and have a wide selection of beer available by March 2020.

Eventually, the company will also have another location in the Freeland area, Aparicio said.

In Oak Harbor, the transformation isn’t complete yet. Events and potentially more space are on the horizon, Aparicio said.

Both taprooms currently offer a somewhat limited menu, but Aparicio said he’s open to collaborating with local restaurants in the future. Patrons are welcomed to bring their own food to either taproom.

However, Aparicio admits the menu won’t necessarily be the brothers’ focus.

“Our forte is craft beer,” he said.

Like the IPA, the rest of their concoctions will be named for local landmarks and places. Integrating into the community is important to the company.

The brewery hired Woodinville brewer Craig Dilworth, dubbed “the nutty professor” for his creative and scientific concoctions.

In large letters on the new taproom wall, Oak Harbor is spelled using images of jets, the school district, parks and other locally significant scenes. The interior atmosphere of the building is similar to the Coupeville location, but management expects its clientele to be different.

Coupeville’s taproom is patronized mostly by tourists, although there are a group of loyal resident regulars, said Scott Baxter, business operations manager. In the city, the idea is to capture more of the local population and young Navy families.

“The community really defines the space,” Baxter said.

“The people around it make it their own.”

  • Taproom grand opening, 2-10 p.m., July 3, 780 SE Bayshore Drive.
  • Fourth of July Celebration, 2-11 p.m., July 4.

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