Connecting The Dots: Baron Brewing > Pillagers Pub > Three Skulls Ales > Northwest Brewing

I suppose it had to happen eventually. Despite all the new brewery activity in the Seattle area since I starting blogging, it was only a matter of time before I would be reporting my first brewery closure. That time has now arrived and it is not altogether bad…

German beer, Seattle style: RIP

The brewery in question was one of Western Washington’s few producers of German-style beers brewed in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot: namely Seattle’s Baron Brewing.

This time last year owner/brewer Jeff Smiley was talking about relocating the brewery to Chehalis; he even secured licensing for a new location, and he was trying to sell his original Seattle brewery as a turn-key operation. Neither the brewery sale or the move ever took place.

Under new ownership: Northwest Brewing

There are however a couple of interesting spin-offs from Baron Brewing: although their German-style beers may be no more, their pirate-themed Three Skulls Ales line has been sold to Northwest Brewing Company of Pacific, thus keeping them alive.

Also, Baron Brewing’s showplace for their ales and lagers is still going strong. I speak of Pillagers Pub at 8551 Greenwood Ave on Seattle’s north side – read my original post.

Baron Brewing recently renewed their State liquor license for Pillagers Pub through August 2013 and I understand Jeff’s wife Kate is the owner/operator. All indications are that Pillagers Pub will continue (even though Jeff’s brewing has ceased).

So it will be interesting to see if Pillagers transitions to a standalone alehouse with all guest taps. Perhaps the Three Skulls Ales will continue to be served there, as guest brews, and maybe Northwest Brewing’s other brews, the former Trade Route/Laughing Buddha lines will pour there too.

As for the new owner of Three Skulls Ales: many long time Seattle area beer fans may be familiar with them even though they may not know it. What is now Northwest Brewing was founded back in 2007 in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood as Laughing Buddha Brewing, known then for their exotic Asian fusions: beers like Ginger Pale, Mango Weizen and Pandan Brown.

Laughing Buddha however soon found themselves on the losing end of a trademark dispute so they changed their name to Trade Route and moved from Seattle to Pacific – read my original post. Finally, presumably under new ownership, Trade Route Brewing became Northwest Brewing.

Hopefully those Three Skulls Ales have taken their place alongside the original Laughing Buddha brews. If so, all in all, not such a bad thing. I wish Northwest Brewing all the best with the former Trade Route/Laughing Buddha and Three Skulls brands and I wish the same for Baron Brewing’s continuing operation of Pillagers Pub (update 2013 – Pillagers Pub closed).

I think return visits to Greenwood and Pacific are in order. 🙂


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