Beer from around the world

Do you know where the word honeymoon comes from? Or that it had anything to do with beer?

Look no further than Greg Hampton for your answer. Mead, which is a beverage made from honey fermented by yeast, is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages.

According to an ancient tradition, fathers provided their daughters with a month’s, or moon, supply of mead, as a dowry. Mead is just one of the many beverages that Greg and Dru Hampton will offer in their new location on Whidbey Island.

Today, June 30, downtown Oak Harbor will welcome the opening of Whidbey Beer Works, a retail beer store which furnishes its shelves with an array of more than 140 beers from 40 different breweries, 10 types of hard ciders, and seven types of mead. Whidbey Beer Works will be the only store with a large selection of microbrews. The Hamptons will carry import ales from England, Germany, and Belgium. Greg and Dru Hampton believe that Whidbey Island has potential for a good customer base.

“The Navy brings in a lot of people who have been overseas and tasted good beers that they wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else,” Greg said. “There’s a lot of little breweries around, like Flyers in Oak Harbor,” but the nearest retail beer store is Bottleworks, in Seattle.

Whidbey Beer Works is the brainchild of Greg, who pitched the idea as a fictitious business proposal for his marketing class at Embry-Riddle, where he graduated with a degree in aeronautics and a minor in management and safety. “My professor said, ‘When does it open?’”

“I think once the word gets out we’ll be alright,” said Greg, who noted that there has been a buzz about town regarding the new store. Upon attending a motorcycle licensing class a few weeks ago, he said a friend began to tell him about a new retail beer store opening in Oak Harbor. Curious who the new owner was, Greg’s friend inquired, to which Greg responded, “You’ve just met him.”

While the store’s liquor license doesn’t permit serving beer, two-ounce beer tastings are allowed. The Hamptons will offer beer tastings every first and third Saturday of the month, featuring a different style of beer every week, with a $5 tasting fee for six tastes. In addition to specialty beers, Whidbey Beer Works will also sell cigars ranging from $2.50 to $17 each.

“There’s plenty of foot traffic, hopefully people will want to walk in and buy something, a cigar or a beer,” Greg said, pointing out that the location of Whidbey Beer Works is well placed for exposure with new businesses like Frasers, Nibbles, and the Bay Leaf across the street.

Greg and Dru have lived on Whidbey for 10 years and are excited to offer Whidbey Island’s first retail beer store.