Even for those of you old enough to remember Thomas Kemper beer, not just the soda, you may not have known that there never was a Thomas Kemper. Instead the name came from the family names of the two founders, Andy Thomas and Will Kemper, who began brewing on Bainbridge Island in 1984 and soon after moved the brewery to the small town of Poulsbo, Washington, on the Kitsap Penninsula. My wife and I visited the brewery on our honeymoon in the summer of 1996. That was four years after it had been sold to Hart Brewing (later Pyramid Brewing). Initially ales were made under the Pyramid label and lagers under Thomas Kemper. For a trip down memory lane, check out their old labels at Corey and Nate’s Beer Labels website. Rande Reed, in fact, was the brewer there early on but later moved to Pyramid and then Snoqualmie Falls Brewing, before returning to musical pursuits.
But I was never sure what happened to the founders after their involvement ended. In turns out Will Kemper became a brewery consultant, helping launch such breweries as Philadelphia’s Dock Street, Seattle’s Aviator Ales, Capital City Brewing in D.C. and Denver’s Mile High Brewing. For the last year or so, Will and his wife Mari have been in Turkey, building a brewery in Istanbul called Taps. Now that the Taps project is completed they’ve returned to their home in Bellingham, Washington with plans to open a new brewery there this spring. It will be located in the Old Town part of town and have a capacity of 1,000 barrels, with expansion to 5,000 possible if successful. The new name will be Chuckanut Brewery & Kitchen, and the plan is to have six different beers and a lunch and dinner menu.