Up for a Southwest Washington Booze Cruise?

With Top-Notch Local Beer, Wine and Liquor, Lewis and South Thurston Counties Are Easy to Get Buzzed About

By Katie Hayes

khayes@chronline.com

Breweries are popping up in abundance throughout Washington and Lewis County boasts three — Jones Creek Brewing near Pe Ell, Packwood Brewing Co. and  Dick’s Brewing Company in Centralia. 

Katie Hayes/khayes@chronline.com
Bateaux Cellars owner Steve Padula discusses a few of his wines inside the winery’s tasting room in April 2019 in Toledo.

Dick’s Brewing is the oldest brewery in Lewis County, and has a rich history. In 1983, Dick Young opened NW Sausage & Deli. The following year, Young began exploring home brewing and began creating recipes in the back of the deli. He officially started Dick’s Brewing Company in 1994. 

Today, his daughter Julie Pendleton runs the brewery with her husband and head brewer/manager Dave Pendleton. Dave Pendleton said when Dick’s Brewing Company first opened, there were only about 10 breweries in Washington. Today, he said, there are more than 400.


Katie Hayes/khayes@chronline.com
Dave Pendleton, head brewer at Dick’s Brewing Company, conducts a tour of operations in April of 2019.

“It is amazing (how) the industry has changed,” Dave Pendleton said. “A lot of those breweries are small — they’re like Jones Creek and Packwood. … But we started off that way.”

Dave Pendleton said Dick’s Brewing has something new for people to try nearly every week. 

Dick’s Brewing Company owner Julie Pendleton and head brewer Dave Pendleton discuss operations at the brewery in April 2019 in Centralia.

“I think our story is pretty unique, compared to most breweries,” he said. “Obviously Dick (founded) the brewery back in 1994, so we’ve been around a long time. Other breweries call us a ‘legacy brewery.’ … I’m always proud of how many different beers we do and do well.”

Julie Pendleton said Dick’s Brewing gets people coming along Interstate 5, especially on Saturdays. She said one of the most common comments she gets is how friendly people are at Dick’s Brewing.

“It is a lot of regulars and a lot of times even local people will show up for the first time and they’ll know half the people here,” Julie Pendleton said. “… Even out of towners come in, and we get a lot on Saturdays here that just have a good experience, because it’s just laid back. It’s not a big restaurant, you’re sitting in the warehouse at a picnic table.”

Katie Hayes/khayes@chronline.com
A new wine is seen barrelled at Bateaux Cellars in April in Toledo.

While Lewis County isn’t particularly known for its distilleries, Tenino in south Thurston County is home to Sandstone Distillery. The distillery only uses Washington-grown grains and produces vodka, whiskey and gin.

There are a number of wineries in Lewis County. Bateaux Cellars in Toledo, for example, opens its tasting room on weekends. Owners Steve and Cheryl Padula bring in their grapes from the Yakima Valley, but make the wine in-house.

“They are harvested over there, they’re de-stemmed over there, so the berries are actually taken off the stems,” Steve Padula said. “So what we bring over here is basically broken up grapes. That’s where we will start fermentation.”

Steve Padula said they usually harvest in late October. Then Bateaux Cellars adds yeast to each of the grapes to make different wines. The yeast turns the sugar in the grapes into alcohol. Steve Padula prefers dry reds, so that’s where he focuses his attention.

“We do have some sweeter white wines, because we do have some of our customers who like sweet whites, but my focus is red wines,” Steve Padula said.

One of his favorite wines he makes is “Voyager,” which is a bordeaux blend. It’s a blend of five different red wines. Steve Padula said, in total, Bateaux Cellars produces close to 1,000 cases of wine per year.

Check out a few other breweries and wineries in the county as well. Check or call ahead, though, as hours may change with the season.