By Laurelle Walsh
Old Schoolhouse Brewery (OSB) has made the decision to stay small and focus on quality, said co-owner Casey Ruud. “Our next step would be to build a production brewery, but we’ve chosen not to take that on,” he said.
The rewards for staying small have been a series of awards at beer competitions around the United States, including two gold medals from the recent North American Brewer’s Association competition, and a gold and bronze at last week’s Washington Beer Awards, where OSB was named Small Brewer of the Year in 2013.
“It’s really spectacular to have won those awards,” said Ruud. “I’m really proud of the guys for producing such high quality beer.”
“The guys” doing the brewing have shifted recently, since former brewmaster Blaze Ruud stepped down from that post in March to take a job at Yakima Chief, one of the world’s top hop producers. “They hired him for his nose,” reported his father. Blaze Ruud’s main function at Yakima Chief is to “breed better hops,” Ruud said.
“Blaze is still on our team,” his dad explained. “He’s responsible for getting us the best hops,” which may mean personally delivering the Mosaic variety that helped the Renegade IPA win a gold medal last week, or gaining insider access to the not-yet-released Equinox hop that flavors OSB’s new Biggie Smalz Session IPA.
Stepping into the brewmaster role is Kyle Koger, who comes “Blaze-certified” after two-and-a-half years assisting Blaze Ruud. Koger’s assistant brewmaster, Nick Allgood, is “Kyle-certified,” according to Ruud.
OSB is currently looking for a part-time assistant in the brewery, Ruud said.
An upcoming shift will be the departure of longtime front-of-house manager Stephanie
Rodriguez, who will be leaving OSB at the end of the summer to join Blaze Ruud in Yakima. “We’re currently trying to hire somebody to replace her,” Ruud said. “It won’t be an easy thing to do.”