ilk Lodge Now Operates in Former Fish Tale Brew Pub Location

ilk brewery in Olympia serves local beer and smash burgers

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Fish Tale Brew Pub was Olympia’s first brewpub. Since its closing in June 2023, many wondered what would become of the iconic building. In April 2024, ilk Lodge opened. More than two years in the making, ilk brewery is a passion project of Pat Jensen, Aubrey (Abe) Burt, Christian Zweifel and Rob Booher.

Some of us were busier than others during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pat Jansen is one of those. He opened a business Carbon Pop, a pop-up smash burger restaurant, and continued to learn about brewing beer. “Pat Jansen, our co-founder and head brewer, just likes to figure out how to make things that he likes to consume,” shares Rob. “Case in point is Carbon Pop, which features buns he bakes himself from a recipe he constructed. Thus, since he liked to drink beer but there wasn’t enough beer to his liking back in 2009 – when he was working delivering mail – Pat started home brewing.”

Pat left postal work to work at Three Magnets. In 2017 he became the first head brewer at Matchless Brewing. At the end of 2019, just before the pandemic started, he left Matchess with the dream to start his own brewery.

ilk Brewery

While COVID-19 slowed down his brewery goals, he kept himself busy with Carbon Pop and continued to develop his beer. In 2022, Pat and Abe began to work seriously on opening their brewery, with the help of the Enterprise for Equity Program, which helps entrepreneurs learn about starting their own business including loans and business plans.

At the end of 2022, Rob joined them as a co-founder. Christian Zweifel joined early 2023.

You can’t just make beer. You have to have a place to sell it. “One of the economic realities of operating a brewery is that it is almost required to have a taproom in order to keep the project afloat, so we had always intended on doing so,” shares Rob on why they set their sights on opening a taproom. “That it was in the old Fish Tale Brew Pub was serendipitous. We had taken over part of the Fish Brewery but the Pub was still operating until June of 2023. When it became available, we jumped at the chance to revitalize what had been such an important part of the local community for so many years.”

a hand put beer in a glass via a tap
Pat Jansen likes to make these he consumes. So, it made sense to him to start brewing his own beer. Now, he co-owns ilk beer and ilk Lodge, a brewpub in Olympia Photo courtesy: ilk Beer

By January 2023, they were renovating their part of the Fish Tale Brew Pub. And when it closed in June, they took the rest of the space over.

Brewing since the fall of 2023, ilk Brewing has created about 40 beers. “If we have a focus, it would be on well-balanced, lower alcohol content beers (4% and below), though we do also make the traditional mid-6 percent IPAs and mid 5% pale ales,” shares Rob. “But, really, the most important thing is that the beer be balanced, meaning each sensory element is not overpowered by another, such as the hoppy bitterness or sweet malt character.”

ilk Lodge Opens in Olympia

In April 2024, just in time for the annual Spring Olympia Arts Walk, ilk Lodge opened. The all-ages brewpub – they serve root beer for the kiddos and designated drivers – was excited to be there for the community like Fish Tale was before them. “And, as we are located near the start of the Procession of the Species parade and we have the historic steam whistle, we blew it to begin the parade, which seemed to bring joy to a lot of people,” Rob shares.

a refrigerator case with canned beer on three shelves
You can take home a variety of locally-canned beer at ilk Lodge in Olympia. Photo courtesy: ilk Beer

ilk Lodge in Olympia has 12 of their beers on tap, plus cans of the Self Care non-alcoholic beer from Three Magnets, a root beer from Headless Mumby and two rotating cider taps from Whitewood Ciders.

And what about those smash burgers? Well, Pat didn’t give up on those – they are now available at the ilk Lodge! Look for a classic smash burger and the fried onion burger, sometimes called an Oklahoma fried onion burger. They have gluten-free buns available as well as Beyond vegan patties. They also have an excellent BLT made with house-baked brioche bread. They will also have rotating menu items made with house-smoked proteins.

a burger and fries, close up
Enjoy a smash burger and fries at ilk Lodge in Olympia with your locally-made beer. Photo courtesy: ilk Beer

Not just about the beer, the founders are big on community and equity to their employees too. Their motto is “Where a pint pays it forward,” and they are working hard to live up to that. “We envision the brewery and taproom as positive contributors to the local community, both in the sense that we provide fresh and delicious food and beer, but also in that we have as a fundamental goal to pay our employees – who we hope to eventually make part-owners – a living wage and support them as best we can,” Rob shares. “To me, the best part about beer is its ability to create community, and we hope to contribute to making that community as healthy and positive as possible.”

“We’d like to thank all of our friends and family, who have done so much to help us build the brewery and now the Lodge,” he continues. “We aspire to apply that community-minded spirit to serving Olympia and the South Sound.”

Check them out on the ilk Brewing website or just stop by for a pint and a burger.

ilk Lodge
515 Jefferson Street SE, Olympia

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