The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

Location finally set for microbrewery


Justin and Jocelyn Leigh came to Goldendale with a goal in their minds and a dream in their hearts. They were shot down. They felt defeated. They were going to have to move somewhere in a month because their lease back in Chicago was about to expire, and it looked like nothing in Goldendale was going to work.

But they’re back, with a Plan B that turns out to be far better than Plan A ever could have been.

The pair is opening a microbrewery in Goldendale. Their first choice in the city, Burlington Loop, was closed to them by residents opposing the project, thinking it would bring unwanted traffic to their neighborhood. Now the microbrewery is going into a building at 142 Broadway, the corner of Broadway and Grant, the large metal box previously owned by the Schroders, once envisioned as an auto shop, and now soon to be featuring a brewery and tasting room filled with uniquely American—and uniquely Goldendalian—beers.

“Everybody said, ‘Welcome to town—but not here,’” recalls Jocelyn about Burlington Loop. “‘We will definitely stop by if you do it someplace else.’”

“They were mostly nice and reasonable,” says Justin. “They were just concerned. But right after that, we had tons of people jump up and start showing different properties. We had two or three people even like the day after that meeting show us around town and saying, ‘I know this person has this property, I know this one and we can rent you this, sell you that,’ and we are just going to start looking at a lot of stuff. Nothing was quite right.”

The Leighs got in their car to head out of town. As they were leaving, they passed the Broadway building and saw the for sale sign in the corner. Justin called the number. Ten minutes later, they were in conversation about buying the building.

“We needed something that could have three-phase electrical power, access to good water, and the right zoning,” Justin says. Zoning was already perfect, since the building is already in the central business district—which specifically lists microbreweries as a qualified business. The building has a sloped floor on one side, just right for the brewing side, and a flat floor on another side, where the tasting room will be. The vertical space was perfect for the six-foot tanks. In short, it was made to order.

Being in the central business district also means that microbreweries can have a restaurant wine and beer license, meaning minors are allowed, making the Leighs’ location very family friendly. “It’s not like a bar,” Justin says. “You’ll be able to take your family, have a snack, watch the Seahawks game, and taste a couple of beers.”

Jocelyn says this perfect place gets even better. “There is space on the east side where we will have some outdoor seating in the summer,” she says. “We can have some food truck pull up, like a taco truck. They can come park outside, and we can share our business. So we are excited about all that.”

The couple is moving into 142 Broadway slowly, to allow the previous owner to move everything out after closing on the sale. “And really it is fine for us because we have to go through all of our permitting for the building upgrades we have to do,” says Jocelyn. “We have to get bids from contractors, so there is nothing we would have done in the first two or three months anyway.”

Microbrewing is fairly new to the team, and so is their marriage—they’re already up to almost six months as a wedded couple. Justin got interested in microbreweries a few years back. “After college as I was applying to law school,” he recalls. “I was living with my mom, and I kind of stumbled upon people who were home brewing, and it sounded like a really cool thing to do. I have always had hobbies, and I thought I could use a new one, and it quickly developed and grew in to a passion and obsession. I was immediately struck by the sense of community that was surrounding this home brewing thing. A lot of people of all different age groups were doing it and bringing a variety of different back grounds to it and sharing their knowledge with each other. There is very extensive openness and collaboration in that community, and so I started learning about the business side of it and thought this might be something I would want to do.”

Then it was off to law school, where he got involved with a microbrewery and continued brewing at home, honing his skills with professional brewers and then brewing in their brewery. You can’t make lawyer jokes about this attorney—he’s moved into a new field. He and Jocelyn met and started dating. “He had to impress me,” Jocelyn says, “so he had to learn how to make sour beers.”

“Well, you know, it seemed like a good bonding activity,” Justin remembers.

Justin can (and does) go on into vast technical detail about the microbrewing process, and it’s fascinating for anyone interested in the field, though for present purposes we’ll just report that it’s incredibly detailed and requires remarkable attention to detail. It’s just that precision, knowledge, and dedication that makes a good brewer. Add to that the ingredients that only come from Goldendale and its environs, and you have the makings of beers that will help put Goldendale even more on the map.

It seems to be smooth sailing for the Leighs between now and their opening, which they project to be late summer or early autumn next year.


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