In 2017 we visited several new breweries over the course of the year, and Quirk Brewing in Walla Walla, Washington was the smallest. It was also possibly the most interesting. We visited at the end of July, stopping in amidst visiting several wineries at the end of a family trip. Quirk had only opened that January which means their first anniversary falls sometime this month (although on Facebook they celebrated on December 30).
Located in Walla Walla’s Airport District—which is naturally home to dozens of wineries as well—the brewery and tap room occupies a small-ish “light industrial” looking building (as do many of that area’s wineries). A small patio sits out front and Agapas Mexican Cravings food truck is on site serving up really good Mexico City street food. When we visited, owner and brewer Troy Robinson was behind the bar, and in addition to ordering a sample tray I had a chance to chat with him a bit.
The brewery is one of most DIY-styled operations I’d seen in quite awhile. Robinson repurposed 55 gallon steel drums into kettles, ferments in plastic conicals, and rigged up his own glycol system for fermentation temperature control. The brewhouse capacity is 1.5 barrels, and Robinson brews a wide range of beers. The tap room was constructed from reclaimed wood and was handsome in a rustic fashion.
Robinson started out homebrewing, and had been a homebrewer for 12 years before being hired on at Walla Walla’s Mill Creek Brewpub, where he learned how to brew on a professional scale as well as learning the business side of things. He told me when he was hired on at Mill Creek, he only spent two days with the former brewer before that brewer left, leaving him to figure out the rest on his own!
On that day in late July, there were 13 beers on tap, as well as a guest tap of Blue Mountain Hard Cider, and a tap of house-made root beer. It was an impressive lineup with interesting variety—including a grisette, two saisons, a gose, smoked amber, ESB, and a mild. The usual suspects were there too—except for an IPA! I don’t recall if that was intentional or just how it worked out that day; there were three pale ales on tap however.
Here are the beers I tried, and my (quick) notes from Untappd (plus my Untappd rating):
- Summer Grisette: “Very good and perfect summery beer” (4)
- Field Trip Gose: “A little bit of aspirin sour character” (3)
- The Shadows Dark Mild: “Nicely soft and mellow. Touch earthy” (3.5)
- Control Tower Pale Ale: “Life Savers fruit at first, then bitter hops a bit woody/astringent. Hop heads will like” (3.25)
- Victorious Blond: “Light, clean, touch of yeast spice” (3.5)
The kids also ordered a root beer, and Sherri had a sampler-size glass of the Blue Mountain Cider.
All in all, it was a good, if brief, stop. (We were ultimately heading back to Bend that day, I believe.) It’s always interesting to me to see the small operations like Quirk as much as it is to see the very big ones, and even though it’s a bit off the beaten path in Walla Walla, it looked to be a lively place. And the beers were good, so it’s definitely worth the time to visit!
Enjoy these additional photos from the tasting room: