COVID-19 may have canceled their grand opening, but that hasn’t stopped HELLO BREW CO from introducing themselves as part of the local beer landscape
A doctor and a lawyer walk into a bar…
No, it’s not the start of some joke you’ve heard a thousand times before. It’s how the owners of Hello Brew Co. have been getting their name out there in recent months.
Christine Luckasen and Ryan Maliski had been looking forward to March 20. The founders of Hello Brew Co, based out of Downtown Spokane’s Steel Barrel Taproom and Incubator, were planning a release party for their newly launched beers. And while March 15’s shutdown order indefinitely postponed their big launch, COVID-19 hasn’t stopped the duo from saying “Hello” to Spokane and making fast friends around town.
The story of Hello Brew begins long before the tumult of 2020. While both attended graduate school at the University of Missouri, Maliski joined the school’s Fermentation Science Club and an idea began to take shape. While the pair were busy collecting Masters and Doctoral degrees, they also made the jump to competitive brewing and started planning for Hello Brew Co.
What do they want to be known for? “Damn tasty beer” says Maliski, “that starts a conversation.”
The name “Hello Brew” is a tip of the cap to the classic name tag and in sipping my first “Marty,” their session stout, it was an impressive introduction. Maliski and Luckasen’s love of American and English ales comes through in this very drinkable dark with accessible spice notes and a smooth chocolatey finish which sits below 6% ABV. Hello Brew also produces a caffeine influenced version of Marty, “Viva La Marty,” infused with Roast House Coffee. I look forward to a proper introduction to all their other frosty friends, including Serena (Nordic IPA), John (Westcoast IPA) and Liz (Double IPA).
Because Steel Barrel carries a classification that has not allowed them to reopen yet, Hello Brew has been pursuing other ways to help get its name out there. Over the summer, Hello Brew gathered with other local brewers including YaYa, Lumberbeard, River City, Project Craft and For the Love of God Brewing to collaborate on “All Together IPA,” a project organized by New York’s Other Half Brewing that encouraged breweries around the world to create beers to raise awareness and funds for those struggling in the hospitality industry as a result of COVID-19.
Since taking part in “All Together”, Hello Brew has gone on to collaborate with another Steel Barrel Incubator success story, TT’s Old Iron Brewery, to create “Love is…,” a honey wheat ale to celebrate Pride month and benefit the Odyssey Youth Center. They also connected with local friends Hidden Mother Brewing on “Hello Hidden,” a beer brewed exclusively for Nectar Wine and Beer’s 5th anniversary.
What makes Ryan and Christine’s story different is while they have long-term designs of opening their own tap room, Christine is less than a year from completing her law degree at Gonzaga, and Ryan is an adjunct professor at Whitworth and GU. These parallel paths of academics, career and brewing creates a no-rush environment.
While their plans have evolved to meet current realities, the result has been extra time to work on their brand, connect with customers and perfect their beers as they pay tuition at the graduate school of grain and hops. And as our world continues a lightning round of evolution, Hello Brew is bringing their vision to life, brewing and experimenting, and Spokane is a better place because of it.