Capitol Hill food+drink | 25 beers and counting, Outer Planet makes first orbit around the sun

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Martins, left, and Stoccardo (Images: CHS)

Martins, left, and Stoccardo (Images: CHS)

The beauty of pulling up a stool at Capitol Hill’s only “nano brewery” is having a front row seat to the beer making action. Show up to Outer Planet just after opening and you may be sharing the bar with an Erlenmeyer flask as the owners dart between pouring beers and making new ones.

As the 12th Ave brewery and taproom puts a cap on year one, owners James Stoccardo and Renato Martins have conquered a steep learning curve and some severe space constraints to turnout an impressive range of handmade beer.

“You start to get to know what you’re doing after 100 batches of beer,” Stoccardo said. To celebrate its anniversary, the brewery kept things low key last weekend with a taco truck and live music.

Over the past year, Outer Planet has rotated through roughly 25 beer styles.
The ESB was a surprise hit, Stoccardo said, and the pilsner experiment-turned-recipe still takes a turn on the menu. The newest brew is Outer Planet’s first attempt at a sour — a German gose. The brewery typically rolls out two new beers a month and keeping beer lovers up to date though social media has been invaluable, Stoccardo said.

In year two, Outer Planet may be making some equipment upgrades to lighten the load for Stoccardo, who is primarily responsible for beer making. Distribution is still a relatively small part of the business, primarily consisting of Stoccardo dropping off kegs around Capitol Hill. The longtime home brewer says he wants to do more, but he will have to expand production first. Meanwhile, expansion could coming in the way of a new outdoor patio later this year.

Bowls of peanuts and a small pizza menu from SODO Pizza has served its primary purpose of keeping customers primed for drinking. Nearby food options expanded in November when Capitol Hill cheesemonger Sheri Lavigne opened Culture Club next door in the ground floor stretch of a microhousing building both businesses share.

CHS first reported on the Outer Planet project in 2014 as Martins and Stoccardo began tackling the challenges of setting up a brewery in such tight quarters. Since opening, Outer Planet has extended its weekend hours and started opening on Wednesdays. For the time being the business will stay closed on Monday and Tuesday.

On the opposite end of Capitol Hill’s brewery spectrum, Redhook Ale Brewery announced it would be opening a new brewpub in the Pike Motorworks project on E Pike between Harvard and Boylston. That will make two Anheuser-Busch InBev involved projects in the neighborhood as the international beer congonmorate bought out Capitol Hill-born Elysian last year. Somewhere between nano and conglomerate brewing lies Optimism Brewingthe tech-powered, 16,000 square-foot brewery that opened at Broadway and Union in November.

Washington’s brewers have a reputation for being a supportive and tight knit bunch, and Stoccardo said that’s been true to rumor inside and outside the neighborhood.

“I was blown away with how forthcoming other brewers are with sharing information and equipment,” he said. “We’ve really enjoyed getting to know people.”

Outer Planet is open Wednesday-Friday, 4:30-10 PM, and Saturday-Sunday, noon-10 PM at 1812 12th Ave. You can learn more at outerplanetbrewing.com.

IMG_0036Capitol Hill food+drink notes

  • Speaking of beer, Mighty-O Capitol Hill’s 12th Ave/Madison location is adding beer and wine.
  • Congratulations to the 2016 James Beard semifinalists working on Capitol Hill:

OUTSTANDING BAR PROGRAM — Canon Seattle​

OUTSTANDING CHEF
Matt Dillon, Bar Sajor ( Sitka and Spruce​, Bar Ferdinand)
Jerry Traunfeld, Poppy Restaurant​

OUTSTANDING RESTAURANT — Lark​
OUTSTANDING RESTAURATEUR — Ethan Stowell, Ethan Stowell Restaurants​ (Staple & Fancy, How to Cook a Wolf, Anchovies & Olives, and others)

BEST CHEF: NORTHWEST
Renee Erickson, The Whale Wins (Bateau​)
Nathan Lockwood, Altura Restaurant​
Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi, Joule ( TROVE Seattle​)

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