Brewing company celebrates anniversary

Moscow Brewing Company went through two re-openings before becoming community staple


BONNIE JAMES | The Daily Evergreen

Andy Serverson, an owner of the Moscow Brewing Company, describes when he realized he and his co-owners, Leah and Aaron Hart, could brew better beer at home than what was offered in stores. The team is interested in retracing the brewery’s history.

MARCUS STEPHEN COX, Evergreen reporter

The Moscow Brewing Company will celebrate its brewing heritage with an anniversary event this Saturday at its taproom.

According to its website, the original Moscow Brewery opened its doors in the hamlet of Moscow in 1882. The brewery served the growing community not only by providing locally produced beers, but also by serving as a community center.

As one of the few businesses to carry ice in the area, the brewery was also able to stock the icebox refrigerators. This ended when arson destroyed the brewery in 1908.

Lucas Rate decided to revive the long-lost brewery 105 years later in the modern town of Moscow, co-owner Andy Severson said.

“[Rate] reopened in 2013 to revive some of that historic spirit of the Moscow Brewery and the hometown local brewery [and] to tie in some of the farmers and other producers into a local product,” Severson said. “When he retired, we decided to take up his mantle and keep it going.”

Severson, along with co-owners Leah, who is also his sister, and Aaron Hart, closed the brewery once more and reopened again a year ago.

One way the new Moscow Brewing Company tries to embody the spirit of the original brewery is by strengthening relationships within the community through a variety of charities and events.

“We try to foster relationships where we can give back to the community or host things that enrich the quality of life in Moscow and add value to some of the other great things happening,” Severson said.

While the original brewery may be lost to history, Severson said he still tries to uncover as much of that brewery’s legacy as possible.  He said they have been in contact with the Latah Historical Society and hope to discover some new information that could fill in some of the history of the 1882 brewery.

“Even knowing the background, and say the ethnicity of the original brewer, would help guide what those recipes were really like,” Severson said. “You assume in the late 1800s, they are immigrants or descendants of immigrants, so if they’re German or [from] other Scandinavian countries, or where ever they are from, they’ll bring beers of those styles with them.”

Severson expressed interest in discovering some of the original beer recipes to strengthen a heritage between the modern brewery and its predecessor.

“The beers people drank, really even before Prohibition, are different than the same … style [of beer] now,” he said, “so to be able to brew stuff like that would be really fascinating.”

Severson’s journey to becoming a brewer began when, after attending college at Lewis-Clark State College, he moved to Pullman for work. He realized he could not find suitable craft beers in stores and that he could brew better beer on his own. So he and his co-owners started home brewing.

“I would always have on tap the beer that I would like to buy,” Severson said.  “That way if I want raspberry wheat, I [can] just make my own.”

Taking what they learned from home brewing, the Moscow Brewing Company created a brewing philosophy that, to them, is truly representative of their region.

“At the heart of it, our beers are Northwest-style beers,” Severson said. “We like to brew beers that use local ingredients, we like to brew beers that use local or regional hops, and we like to brew beers that are in the style of the Northwest.”

Severson said a point of pride for Moscow brewing company is the opportunity to talk to customers who are interested in learning about craft beer. He said having someone to guide you through the tasting process and explain the flavors in the beer adds more value to the experience and gives people a better appreciation.

“Which is really what we want,” Severson said, “to encourage people to explore craft beer and to guide people through different beer experiences.”

According to the Brewery Anniversary Party event page on Facebook, the celebration will be held from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Moscow Brewing Company and will feature live music from local band The Intentions at 5 p.m.

Severson said the event is open to the whole family.

To kick off the celebration, Moscow Brewing Company will be unveiling its new Black India Pale Ale to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the reopening of Moscow Brewing Company, and to celebrate their 100th brew day.

The event will also have fresh barbeque for purchase, provided by local butcher Hog Heaven.

As for the future of Moscow Brewing Company, Severson said their ambitions remain community-based.

“Our plan is not world domination,” he said. “What we would like is to be a productive member of the community and to add value to it.”