Interview: beer pro Todd Carden (Elliott Bay Brewing)

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Craft Beer Seattle

Todd Carden, Doug Hindman and Brent Norton share a beer in Elliot Bay's Burien brewhouse [Elliott Bay website]

I grew up in Portland and ended up in Los Angeles blogging about beer after attending Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon. Fellow Linfield alum Todd Carden went north (eventually) and lives in the Seattle area as a co-owner of Elliott Bay Brewing, where he collaborates with co-owner Brent Norton and head brewer Doug Hindman. I recently spoke with Todd and we discussed his journey into the world of craft beer.

What was your intro into craft beer?

Carden started home brewing at college and in the summer would work at the newly opened McMenamins Hotel Oregon where he also worked after college.  He then switched gears and worked at In-N-Out before moving back north.  He continued on the burger route when he moved north but then dove back into beer with Maritime Pacific Brewing.

What education did you get at Maritime Pacific?

He started washing kegs, racked beer, drove a truck and sold beer as well.  The whole gamut of beer jobs.  Then when a spot became available he jumped at the chance to start Elliott Bay.  And 16 years later, there are now three locations in the Seattle area.

What defines an Elliott Bay Brewing beer?

Elliott Bay is certified organic so that is a driving concern for the company and head brewer Doug Hindman.  And now that hops are included in what has to be organic, Elliott Bay “had to show a commitment” and adjust their recipes to work with the hops that are available.

What is the best seller for Elliott Bay?

Carden explained that the Demolition Ale Double IPA claims that spot now and will be the first of their beers to be canned.  Previous to that event, all of their beers were only on tap at their locations or via growlers.

How do you go about naming beers?

The names are community based to a certain extent.  Luna Weizen (a Great American Beer Festival gold medal winner) is named after Luna Park from 1940’s Seattle.  And their My Oh My Maibock is a call back to a famous Seattle Mariners that announcer Dave Niehaus exclaims at big moments in baseball games.

Does Elliott Bay produce any collaboration beers?

They have made a beer with Kissmeyer but they prefer to work with other community businesses like a local ice cream shop to make wort ice cream or make an anniversary beer with rye bread from Kaffeklatsch!

What is the Seattle scene like right now?

According to Carden, the overall scene is “growing like crazy right now” with many breweries in the pipeline and the nano brewery trend blowing up.

If Carden could have one last beer, what would it be?

Influenced by a recent trip to Belgium and the fact that Elliott Bay is sustaining a Belgian yeast for some of their beer styles, Carden selected Tripel Karmeliet, an Abbey Tripel.


Sean Inman

Find more of Sean Inman's writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

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