Back in 2013, I was living in an old, crooked house off Nickerson Street in Seattle. I worked at a job that was only a few blocks down the street so, naturally, I walked to work every day. I had awesome roommates, cool neighbors, and we even had a yard to have friends over and play games. I was 25 years old and was just discovering who I was and the things I loved. A local convenience store was only a half block away from my house and they always had great craft beer on the shelves. I remember sitting on our back porch one day enjoying contentment with life, taking a sip of a perfect Pale Ale, and for the first time thinking, “It’s official. I love beer.”
The alleyway behind the convenience store was my quickest route to work on foot. Coming home for a lunch break, I noticed a man spraying water on the ground inside of a little run-down garage. There were large silver pots on the ground, which made me curious, so I asked him what he was doing. He responded, “I’m brewing beer! We’re opening up a brewery right here in a couple of months. Rooftop Brew Co.”
“Huh. Well that’s awesome,” I thought. “I love this neighborhood.”
His name was Craig Christian, and he was working hard to get his beer ready for the grand opening. Craig’s original team consisted of only four other people: Craig’s wife Jessica, Parker Wittman, Parker’s wife Angela, and Tyson Carlson. I was curious about how they came up with the name “Rooftop,” so I asked Craig what it was all about.
“Parker and I were home brewing in my driveway and discussing future plans. I told him of my idea to start a small craft brewery, as we had been brewing a coffee porter that was getting a lot of attention. A few years before, I tore the roof off my house and built a deck. Parker told me that he was skeptical that I would do something so crazy as to take on such a huge construction project on my own – so my rooftop deck was sort of an inspiration that we should all follow our dreams. Parker decided that our brewery idea needed the be called Rooftop, to honor the idea that we should follow our dreams.”
A few months later they had their grand opening. And it was just that, pretty grand. People were packed in as tight as could be, with a line working its way down the alleyway. Seeing the look of pride on Craig’s face as he and his team worked so hard to serve every person at the brewery is something I’ll never forget. That was also the night I had my first blissful sip of the “Stargazer IPA.”
The initial operation itself was small. With a 1-BBL (31 gallon) brewhouse with 8-BBL of fermentation capacity, Craig and the gang could only crank out so much beer at one time and sometimes found it difficult to keep up with the demand. Their famous Cascadian Dark Ale (CDA, for short) is great example of a Rooftop beer that disappears quickly.
The brewery had to close their first location in October 2014 after their one year lease was through. They had already been looking for new locations for quite a while at this point though, and after only a couple of months of closed doors they found a great space just blocks west on Nickerson Street. After some remodels, Rooftop re-opened at their new location on August 13th, 2015. People poured in the doors and, much like the first grand opening, filled the outside patio (which is, in fact, on a roof) to the brim. Since then, Rooftop has been a staple neighborhood brewery, earning more and more popularity.
Now with a new head brewer, Kyle Feldman (one of three Kyles who work at Rooftop), a 15-BBL brewhouse, and a 135-BBL fermentation capacity, Rooftop is serving more Seattle residents than ever before. You can find their beer in many bars around town, and they’ve recently begun to bottle some special limited-time brews. Rooftop is growing every day, and Craig, Parker, and the team deserve every bit of the success.
At PicoBrew, it’s the stories like Craig’s that inspire us the most. You start with only a handful of people, a small garage or shack, and you make what you’re passionate about, knowing the people will show up if you have a quality product. Having similar roots here at PicoBrew, it means a lot to us that Craig and the Rooftop crew are excited to share their beer with the world in the form of a PicoPak. We’re completely confident that the Stargazer IPA will soon become one of your favorite Red IPAs.
I’m proud to say that I used to drink Rooftop beer in the alley behind the convenience store.