THE TWO THAT TOOK OFF
When Grace Robbings bought her husband Adam a homebrew kit just weeks after welcoming their first son, she never imagined brewing would change their lives forever. Fueled by family, fascinated with fermentation and driven by his Londoner roots, Adam turned his passion for brewing “bloody good” beer into a family-run, award-winning brewery: Reuben’s Brews.
As a homebrewer, Adam used Wyeast Smack Packs to create local and nationally recognized brews that won multiple awards, including a medal at the National Homebrewers Competition. Quickly recognizing his hobby could become his livelihood, Adam decided to further his brewing knowledge, attending the University of California Davis where he studied Intensive Brewing Science.
In 2012, less than three years after receiving his homebrew kit, Adam leaped into the commercial scene, opening the brewery he named after his son Reuben who Grace (Adam’s wife) will say, inspired it all. Now, after experimenting with more than 17 Wyeast cultures, winning numerous commercial brew awards and undergoing its third expansion, Reuben’s remains a family-owned business in the same Ballard district of Seattle, where it began just 6 years ago.
What Makes Reuben’s Great:
- Quality-over-quantity standards
- Creative recipes
- Family owned & operated
- Loyal Wyeast customer since inception
Q&A with Reuben’s:
Tell us a little about yourself Adam.
- Hometown: Seattle, Washington. It’s the longest I’ve ever lived in one place my whole life! But I was born in London, England.
- Go-To Beer: It’s usually the most recent beer we’ve put on tap, I like constantly trying new beers. But right now I’m in a lager phase – so currently it’s either our Pilsner or Festbier.
- If not a Brewer, what? I was previously running a couple of finance teams at a large telecoms company — quite a different job to the one today!
- Never loses site of: The customer. We exist because of the awesome customers we have, and we constantly want to further improve their experience.
- Reuben’s plans when he grows up: Right now he’d love to be a professional baseball player!
- Acclaim/Proudest moments: We’ve had many on our 6 year journey. Let’s see… winning medals at GABF is always amazing! A young couple came in to the brewery to purchase a little Reuben’s Brews onesie for their new baby – they named him Reuben because they had their first date in our taproom. We have a dog in the neighborhood named Crikey after one of our IPAs. And we have raised over $100,000 for local non-profit organizations through our Thank-You Thursday charitable giving program.
At Wyeast we recognize Reuben’s to be a quality-over-quantity operation, where creativity continues to shine through in your beer. Would you agree this is a priority?
We started back in 2012 with a small space, 1400 sq ft, and a 5BBL system. Since about 6 months in we’ve always been at capacity. When we started I had no sales plan, we focused on the beer – making it as good as we could – and hoped the rest would fall into place. We got wholesale accounts because buyers would come into the brewery try our beers and ask for kegs – we had no sales team! So we really did just totally focus on quality, on the beer itself, and trusted that everything else would follow if we prioritized the most important thing – what’s in the glass.
We see Reuben’s as a parallel to Wyeast in regard to being a family-owned operation. How many family members are part of your every-day operations?
4. Grace (our co-founder) runs the taproom, Liz Pfeiffer (grace’s sister) is the office manager, Mike Pfeiffer (Liz’s husband and our brother in law) is Production Manager, and then there’s me, the Brewmaster! And as we grow the Reuben’s family grows too – we now have 22 people, and fostering a togetherness and family atmosphere amongst the whole team is very important to us.
Has Reuben’s younger sibling inspired any new Robbings endeavors?
With a brother having a brewery named after him, we have to make sure we’re fair to his younger brother Warren! We’ll have to figure out how we can have something equitable for them both.
Reuben’s has been a loyal customer of Wyeast since its inception and we’d like to thank you for choosing us as your liquid yeast provider. Tell us about your early brewing days and how that experience has transformed into your commercial operations.
As a homebrewer I always used your smack packs when I was homebrewing–I even won a silver medal at 2012 NHC with Wyeast yeast! So it was a natural choice to use Wyeast as we grew into a commercial brewery. We still have those first few Wyeast commercial pitch labels stuck to our wall in our commercial brewery from 6 years ago!
Reuben’s is known in the brewing industry as a good, under-spoken, quality brewing operation. Why do you think this is?
We let the beer do the talking, and want to be approachable. We want to be a comfortable space for people to come and try new beers, in a relaxed environment. For us – we concentrate on making the best beers we possibly can, from glass back to ingredients. We recognize yeast as the primary driver of flavor in a beer – so we don’t homogenize our recipes to one yeast strain, we use multiple. We resist production efficiencies if that doesn’t make the beer better. And we’re proud that our beers have won more awards than any other brewery in the state since we opened in 2012 – proof we’re on the right track at least!
A Toast To Reuben’s:
At Wyeast we know what it’s like to meld work and family and maintain the quality that customers expect. That’s why we raise a glass to partners like Reuben’s Brews, who have achieved success without losing site of what’s important. Because there’s nothing more valuable than having supportive family and a loyal community by your side. CHEERS!