Tradition is important. But offering your customers a new experience is also vital to a business. Julie and Dave Pendleton, owners of Dick’s Brewing Company, understand these two concepts very well.
They keep tradition alive – along with the memory of Julie’s dad, Dick Young – by continuing their original brews. The picture on the label of Dick’s Pale Ale is taken from a photo of Dick and his dad at their farm in Newaukum Valley when Dick was a little boy. “It really has sentimental connections for us,” Julie says.
Dick’s Double Diamond Winter Ale is labeled with a picture of Dick at a ski resort. And Dick Danger Ale, one of his first beers, was given his nickname.
A few years ago, the team at Dick’s Brewing Company decided their labels should all have the same look and feel so customers will recognize they’re all from the same brewery. But they made sure to keep those precious pictures on the labels.
Julie estimates they currently have 15-20 different beer labels and, while keeping tradition alive, they also create new beers all the time. Some are only served at their restaurant at Northwest Sausage and Deli and at the brewery tasting room, never to be mass produced. “It has to be worth it in terms of investment in dollars and in time,” explains Julie. For instance, Grapefruit IPA and The Buck were first sold in the deli and tasting room and immediately became big hits, so they were bottled.
Interestingly, alcohol labels can’t just be made up and used. They have to go through an approval process with the federal agency, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). The labels must contain the alcohol content (ABV) number of ounces in the bottle or can, brewery name, town and state of brewery, and the pregnancy warning. For beers such as the Grapefruit IPA they had to add “Brewed with natural flavor.” Complete label designs are submitted electronically to TTB.
If there is anything wrong or missing, the label can be kicked back to be fixed. “We got one back that had just the percent of alcohol in it but didn’t actually say ‘ABV,’” Julie says. Another was returned for correction that accidentally left the Centralia location off.
Julie laughs when she explains how they come up with their beers’ names. “Most names come from just standing around talking or listening to music. Usually when the boys are working on the line, they have music cranked up and get some ideas from there. A lot of names aren’t appropriate so I have to stop that,” she says. They research the names before using them to make sure they aren’t already in-use locally. Dick’s Brewing Company’s latest beer is called “Straight Coastin’ Hazy India Pale Ale,” a moniker also inspired by music.
Other times, simply not being able to come up with a name can actually create the name. For instance, one beer is called Batch 202. “They did a beer called Test Batch and didn’t know what to call it,” Julie explains. “But they served it and it was really good. They tweaked it a little and called it Batch 202.”
With the recent addition of a crowler machine, they decided to do something different for their cans’ look. Working with Brandon Mosby at the Silver Agency, they came up with a rustic chalkboard design. There is a place to write the name of the beer, the date and the alcohol on the 32-ounce can. The company slogan is also on the can: “We drink what we can and sell the rest.”
Julie says one of her favorite parts of their brewing business is taking part in National Women’s Brewing Day as part of International Women’s Day. Breweries around the country, including Dick’s, participate. They invite their female employees as well as Dave and Julie’s moms, and brew away. “It’s just a really great, fun thing to do,” Julie says with a smile. It’s also part of the Pink Boots Society’s Collaboration Brew Day that aims to highlight the role of women in the beer industry and provide educational scholarships for women.
Have no doubt, Dick’s Brewing Company will continue to create new beers every couple of weeks. Just make sure you visit the deli or the tasting room often to taste-test their new creations. If you discover a new one you like a lot, tell all your friends.
And when you go in to try the new “Straight Coastin’ Hazy India Pale Ale” and “Batch 202” you now know what goes into it, from the bureaucratic process to getting the label approved, to the fun way it got its name. Cheers!
Dick’s Brewing Company
3516 Galvin Rd.
Centralia WA 98531
NW Sausage and Deli
5945 Prather Rd. SW
Centralia WA 98531