Combining architecture of historic Washington buildings, the aesthetics of British public houses, and the ever-growing Pacific Northwest microbrew scene, Centralia’s The Juice Box has been attracting a steady stream of customers from Lewis County and beyond since opening its Tower Avenue doors on August 9, 2021.
Partners Michael and Bria Perozzo and Levi and Sarah Althauser first discussed the idea of a taproom two years prior. “I got a call from Levi out of the blue one evening saying, ‘I got this building, and I want to put a brewery in it,'” says Michael. “And that was the first objective. Long story short, that plan didn’t pan out. But that’s when I started talking to Levi about how a brewery is a very expensive undertaking, but at a much lower cost, I think we could do a taproom, and it could be really cool.”
“I had an opportunity to work at two different breweries in 2020, so it was great to see how these different places do things,” says Bria. “I can bring that experience here and decide how to make payments this way, promote beer this way. My job has become manager here, and I do scheduling and organizing the staff, doing the inventory and things like that.”
“When we met, I felt he (Michael) knew more about beer and Sarah and I might be more in tune with where the community was,” says Levi. It’s been fun to watch people come in from opposing sides of politics and everything else and drink beer together, and they all feel like this is their space, a place to feel at home.” Adds Bria: “We’re seeing friends from high school and grade school and church events – people we haven’t seen in 15-20 years, and it’s been really, really great.”
Aside from a love of craft beers, each partner was aligned with the objectives of The Juice Box — an event/activity space and a family-friendly establishment. They wanted a community hub where residents could drop by and socialize without feeling pressured to constantly purchase food and drinks.
“I’ve been here during bingo, and there were probably about 15 to 20 kids here,” Sarah mentions. “So yeah, it has been really fun to share with friends. Like Michael was saying, people don’t really get it until they come here, and then they’re like, ‘Okay, I can bring my kids here.'”
As a way to promote the regional craft beer scene, The Juice Box holds regular events in collaboration with local breweries. Beer Bingo is held every Monday and has brought in brewers and their latest ales from Well 80 Brewhouse in Olympia, Mount Olympus Brewing in Aberdeen, and Centralia’s own Dick’s Brewing Company among many others.
The Packmule Bottle Share, held on the second and fourth Friday of the month, is a great way to meet like-minded beer aficionados. Packmule is a service that picks out craft beers from the area (they also take requests via their website) and delivers them to breweries and taprooms. At The Juice Box’s bottle share, Packmule’s finds are sampled in one-ounce glasses, and people can contribute by bringing a favorite craft beer from their collection or purchasing one from The Juice Box’s cooler. It’s a great way to experience a variety of beers without feeling the side effects the next day.
“With a taster flight, you’re probably doing it five ounces at a time with a flight of four – if you’re 40 ounces in, you’re probably not good to drive,” Michael notes. At a bottle share, it’s just one ounce at a time. You can try 20 different beers, and you’ve really only had a pint.”
Food is available, and nothing complements a freshly-poured beer like a bratwurst. The Juice Box’s kitchen has put their own spin on them, from a Vietnamese sandwich-inspired bratwurst to The Jimmy Pesto (“my favorite,” says Bria), with basil, mozzarella pearls, and cherry tomatoes. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options are available, and the menu also includes eye-catching treats such as Bacon for the Table (served in a pint glass) and the beer float.
The Juice Box has also hosted various other events to great success and sellout crowds, from evening comedy shows to morning “Pints and Poses” yoga sessions. “You’re not drinking while you do yoga,” Michael explains. “The class does a lot of poses in the Beer Hall, and then when they’re all done, a pint is included afterward. Beer is actually a wonderful post-workout beverage — it has some great recovery proteins in it. We have some gluten-free items like cider as an alternative.”
The positive reaction to The Juice Box has inspired everyone involved. “We love the community and want to let them know that this is just the first step,” Levi notes. “We have a lot of events that are in the works, and we’re excited to move forward. This is just kind of like, “let’s get open and start building a community. We’ve already got our regulars now, which is a lot of fun.”
The Juice Box is located at 216 S. Tower in Centralia. For hours and events, check out their Facebook page.