By Veronica Sandate Craker
After a long day of work friends and business partners Frank Cooper and Rob Hall step outside their 1,200-sq.-ft. brewery, at 2527 Aileron in Richland, to have a smoke and discuss their business while throwing back a few beers.
It’s Cooper and Hall’s mutual passion for traditional beer brewing that has led them to start New School Brewery.
The two men worked with friends Tristan Weetch and Brian Paxton create New School Brewery, which will start selling its beer at local bars and restaurants next month. The guys are betting on their time-honored approach to brewing will help their product standout.
“A lot of the newer breweries, they’re doing some really weird stuff and it’s okay because they are innovators,” said Paxton, the brewery’s public relations director. “You have people who throw in different kinds of fruit and there’s a lot of people that are trying to take standards and push them to make something. They’re totally forgetting about the foundation. They’re forgetting about where everything came from.”
The idea of going back to the way beer was originally brewed is what gave the men the name for their brewery.
“We always said, ‘Hey, this is new school,’ —new school type of beer. It’s not the type of stuff we’d previously brewed,” Hall said. “So me and Frank decided hey that should be the name. It’s so old school, it’s new school.”
The idea for the brewery sprang up five years ago when Hall and Cooper worked together at Ice Harbor Brewing Company.
“When I met with Rob, I had the idea of starting a bar-like tap house with a lot of the same aspects that New School had, but just as a tap house,’ Cooper said. “I’d always been interested in brewing beer, but I hadn’t done a whole lot — just home brewing.”
Cooper soon learned from Hall, an experienced brewer, who got his feet wet when he worked at
Yakima Brewing & Malting Co., which is also known as Grant’s Brewery Pub. Bert Grant is known as a pioneer in the microbrewery industry.
Soon Hall found himself on a plane to Germany to learn the fine art of brewing at the Goethe Institut.
“The Germany experience was amazing,” Hall said. “I learned from grain to glass. From the malter all the way to how to pour the glass and proper CO2s.”
Today, the guys balance full-time jobs while pumping away to get their business off the ground.
Inside the brewery they work to create the freshest tasting beer using what they consider to be the best ingredients. All of the hops they use are grown in the Yakima River Valley.
“Our beer is pure,” Hall said. “It’s grain, it’s water, it’s yeast and it’s hops. There is no fruit.”
The brewery will feature an IPA called War Time IPA, a copper called Coopers Copper, a brown ale called Townes Brown and an Indian summer brown called Drop A Deuce.
“We’re pretty much going to brew everything from a lager to an ale, so whatever color of lager, whatever color of ale,” Hall said.
The breweries wheat ale will be called Shyste Wysen.
“Our Shyste Wysen is a wheat-style ale, it’s going to taste very similar to a hefeweizen, but it’s a little stronger,” Cooper said. “It’s a little bit more of a burly ale, but it still has that nice fresh crispness that people are looking for on a hefeweizen, but a little more mature. A little more awesome.”
Despite still being in the very early stages of their business, Cooper said they do have long-term goals they hope to eventually implement. Once their beer starts selling they plan to open their own tap house.
“That restaurant further builds upon the mystique and awesomeness of New School,” Cooper said. “Once we have reached a certain number of kegs a year we will open up another location. Not here. It will be away from here.”
The business partners have hopes of opening numerous New School Breweries across the country.
“So that we are distributing local, freshly-made, awesome beer from multiple locations, instead of mass-produced, non-artistically derived beer through a giant brewery conglomerate,” Cooper said. “Even though you are drinking New School Beer in Kansas City, Mo., it’s still New School Beer.”
Once the guys finish their drinks and put out their cigarettes they head back inside still talking about wanting to brew the best possible beer.
“We really want to put the Tri-Cities on the map as a beer capitol, a beer hub, a beer mecca of brewing the best beer in the world,” Cooper said.
To learn more about New School Brewery visit www.newschoolbrewing.com.