By Brock Hires
Beer is one of the oldest beverages humans have produced. In fact, barley beer was recorded in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia writings.
Regardless, the art of finding a unique signature, flavor and aroma continues to be perfected in breweries big and small across the world. Oroville residents Tim and Dianna Naillon are proof that the sky is the limit when creating specialty brews.
“We have 16 on tap,” Tim Naillon said, pointing to a chalkboard menu inside the couple’s Main Street establishment, the Pastime Brewery.
The original Pastime Bar and Grill was built in 1925 and underwent major renovations in 2012. The couple took over the business in 2015, operating it as a traditional bar and grill.
Leaving their high-pressure jobs in Yakima to get into the bar industry was a stretch for the couple, but when they made the decision to do it, they committed whole-heartedly.
“We both got burned out,” Tim said noting he was a manager and Dianna was an office manager. “We decided to leave our current job and seek out something different.”
Initially the couple considered moving to the East Coast, but fate led them to the brewery.
They met with the establishment’s then-owners in May 2015 and took over operations two months later. However, their new endeavor is not what you see today, it started out more like a restaurant, but they soon realized a turn of the tables was in order.
“We were struggling to find our niche in this industry,” Dianna Naillon said “We did it out of necessity.
“Running a restaurant in Okanogan County – or anywhere – I think is very challenging,” she said, noting an idea was floated for serving locally crafted brews.
“We went to Republic and met the owners (of the Republic Brewing Co.), Billy and Emily Burt,” Tim recalled.
On a trip to pick up beer from the Republic Brewery, Billy Burt said they were planning to upgrade their equipment and were looking for a buyer for the current system.
“They were going to sell it,” Tim said. “So, we worked out a deal. I got to travel off-and-on throughout the winter to Republic to brew with Billy and learn the process.”
From lagers to ales and stouts to Pilsners, Tim said each type of beer requires special attention, but sanitation is of the most importance.
“It’s 80 percent cleaning, 20 percent brewing,” he said. “The brewing process takes about six-to-eight hours. Some beers require longer in the fermenter than others.”
Some varieties, such as pale ales, and India pale ales, require the addition of hops post fermentation (dry hopping) to enhance flavor and aroma.
The Naillons source the hops for their beers from the Yakima Valley.
“Yakima, Washington, produces 80 percent of the hops in the United States,” Tim said. “That’s because of the craft beer industry.”
Other countries, however, are beginning to emerge in the hop industry, too, promising new flavors specific to their respective regions.
“New Zealand and Australia are coming on in the hop industry,” Tim said. “They’re really interesting hops. I purchased some New Zealand-grown hops. They're marketing its flavor.”
The microbrewery movement began in both the United States and United Kingdom in the 1970s, although traditional artisanal brewing existed in Europe for centuries. As the movement grew, and some breweries expanded their production and distribution, the more encompassing concept of craft brewing emerged.
As of 2018, there were approximately 375 breweries in Washington state.
Each beer at the Pastime has a unique name and is specific to life events, people or places.
The Witches Bitch, for example was the first beer Tim brewed solely by himself, which happened to coincide with Halloween.
“I was very stressed out that I ruined this beer,” he said. “I called Billy in Republic and he said, ‘Tim, relax. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be just fine.”
The batch turned out, and is “one of our top-selling.”
The Ol’ Dick Lager is named after bar patron Richard Garner. He would give Tim a hard time because he didn’t have a “good lager on hand; he thinks he should get a quarter for each one.”
The Ale of Ill Repute, a double IPA, is named after the abandoned Nighthawk “house of ill repute,” which dates back to 1903. Similarly, Man In The Corner, a porter, pays tribute to a spirit that owners, employees and customers have felt the presence of.
A while back a medium was visiting the bar and noticed a strong impulse from the spirit.
“She told us it was a man and he needed recognition,” Tim said, adding the bar had previously experienced a malfunctioning TV, and an employee claimed a bar stool bizarrely “flew” across the room.
Tim decided his next porter would honor the ghost. Which appears to have satisfied the “man in the corner.”
Seasonal brews are also a big part to the brewery, with a bourbon barrel-aged stout and red Irish ale currently in the works ahead of St. Patrick’s Day.
“We’re always looking at different beer styles,” he said. “We have a New Zealand Pilsner in the works.”
New Zealand Pilsner is a pale lager that combines some of the great attributes of Pilsner and Kölsch with a modern twist of New Zealand hops. This beer is pale, dry, golden in color and clean fermented.
Today, the Pastime offers an expansive menu of delectable specials and comfort foods, along with their signature beers. A Crowler (an aluminum can growler) machine has been added so customers can take home the local brews. The Crowler keep beers fresh until the customer decide to drink it. It opens the same way as cracking a regular beer can.
The Naillons are proof that even in a small town such as Oroville, business owners can still find unique and diverse entrepreneurship. Despite the difficulty of starting and establishing a new business, people like Tim and Dianna are willing to take that chance to give the community an exclusive place to enjoy, savor and make memories.
The Pastime, 1307 Main St., is open Thursday through Tuesday. For more information, see pastimebrewery.com. ♦
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