Food & Drink: Brother Ass Brewing has saintly inspiration

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Rachel Pinsky

Brother Ass Brewing

11700 N.E. 54th Court, Vancouver. Hours: 4 to 7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays. 360-607-3275, https://brotherassbrewing.com

Wally Wakeman is the first to concede that the name, Brother Ass Brewing Company, raises a lot of eyebrows, especially in the brewing community, which isn’t exactly full of theologians.

“I will call people and say, ‘I am Wally from Brother Ass Brewing.’ And, they will say, ‘Brother what?’ I will say, ‘Ass, a-s-s.’ ” Eventually, he said he shows them “the picture of the monk dragging the donkey” that’s in his logo to explain.

Brother Ass is something Wakeman borrowed from St. Francis, who would refer to his own body and stubborn nature as “brother ass.”

Though Wakeman isn’t Catholic, he did spend some time in seminary and has a fondness for St. Francis. And beer.

Wakeman began as a homebrewer nearly a decade ago, and after retiring from the insurance industry, he thought about opening his own brewing company but was reluctant to take the first step. He tried to get a job brewing beer in Vancouver and Portland, but couldn’t land a job.

“Either there weren’t any openings or people just didn’t want an old guy with homebrewing experience,” he said.

One day, his son, Joel, asked Wakeman when he was finally going to open his own brewery. His answer, “I don’t know if Brother Ass has it in him to do the work.”

Joel and his wife, Miranda, graduates of Rhode Island School of Design, responded by making Wally a card with a mock-up label of Brother Ass Brewing to encourage him to get his Brother Ass in gear and open a brewery.

Many of the names for Brother Ass Brewing’s beers reflect a monkish medieval theme. Sister Claire Peach Blonde Ale is named for Claire of Assisi, a childhood friend and contemporary of St. Francis. I recently tried this beer at the Kiggins Theatre because it was recommended by the bartender. Based on an unfortunate incident involving Peach Schnapps in the 1990s, I didn’t think I wanted peaches in my beer. I was pleasantly surprised at the subtlety of the peach flavor and how well it was balanced with the other flavors in the beer. It tasted like summer.

I guess I am not alone — the owners of Rusty Grape Vineyard in Battle Ground told Wakeman they wanted him to keep making this luscious beer. They said that their customers will be mad if they don’t have it. Fortunately, Sister Claire Peach Blonde Ale is made with a peach flavoring (not actual peaches) so it will be available year round.

Brother Ass Brewing will soon release a specialty fruit ale called Dappled Apple Scruple Ale that has been brewed to taste like apple pie (using apples grown at Wally’s home flavored with cardamom, allspice and vanilla). A double IPA with the ferocious name Warrior Monk (made from four malts, five hops and three dry-hop additions) will appear in taprooms soon. A chocolate-peanut-butter-oatmeal-style beer is currently in the experimental phase.

Brother Ass Brewing’s beer is regularly on tap at Ben’s Bottle Shop and Tap Union Freehouse (for a complete list of bars and taprooms, check the Brother Ass Brewing website). You can also get growlers filled at the brewery in Salmon Creek from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays.

It is worth the trip to Salmon Creek to see Brother Ass Brewing. Visiting Wakeman at his brewery, on a cold rainy fall day, feels like seeking out a monk in his cave.


Rachel Pinsky can be emailed at couveeats@gmail.com. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @couveeats.