Seattle is a land of microbreweries, and it seems everyone knows someone who home brews. Phinney-Greenwood resident Christopher Engdahl has taken his home-brewing passion and turned it into a teeny-tiny nano-brewery called Lantern Brewing, in the basement beneath The Chocolate Shoe Box, 7410 Greenwood Ave. N., Suite B.
Lantern Brewing is located on the lower level of this building on Greenwood Avenue and North 74th Street.
Engdahl quit his computer job to focus full time on Lantern Brewing. He found the unfinished basement last summer and spent about six months fixing it up. He started producing beer in January.
“I saw so many awesome bars and restaurants here, and I wanted to bring hyper-local, fresh, delicious beer to the neighborhood,” Engdahl said.
He began toying with home brewing while in high school and college 20 years ago, but became more serious about it in the last 10 years.
After traveling in Europe, he decided to focus on Belgian and French style beers, which are less hoppy, more spicy and fruity, and flavored by yeast and malts rather than hops. He propagates his own yeast from an original strain from a Belgian monastery.
“I saw a lot of focus on Northwest style, hoppy brews, and I wanted to do something a little different,” he said. “Myself, I love a really yeasty, active beer.”
Chris Engdahl examines some of the yeast he propagates.
He hopes to eventually source everything locally. He uses Northwest hops from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. But, his roast barley is from the United Kingdom because he can’t find it locally. He said he may eventually buy local barley and roast it himself.
He bought two oak wine barrels from Phinney Ridge winemaker Leroy Radford, who owns Flying Dreams Winery, because he’s interested in seeing what oak aging does to flavor some of the beers.
Currently the only place to purchase Lantern Brewing’s beers is at the Phinney Farmers Market, which opens for the season on Friday afternoon. Engdahl is still finalizing pricing, but said he’ll likely sell 22-ounce bottles for $8-10 a bottle, depending on the style. Lantern Brewing currently brews a pale ale, stout, white ale, brown ale and golden ale.
He said he’s taking a slow approach to producing and marketing because he doesn’t want to overcommit himself or decrease the quality of the beer. He eventually would like to have Lantern Brewing beer served in neighborhood restaurants and pubs. And he doesn’t plan to turn his brewery into a tasting room.
“It’s not the best ambiance for the public,” he said with a smile. “However, as a microbrewer, I have had a few tastings here.”
Chris Engdahl with the 26-gallon tanks where he mixes his grains and hot water to create “mash.”
He and his wife have two daughters in elementary school. Engdahl said his wife is fully behind him quitting his computer job to focus on brewing beer.
“She’s extremely supportive of this lunacy,” he said. “I grew up with computers and just got tired of it. Beer is much more historically interesting.”