For Orlando Maldonado, the head brewer at Mount Olympus Brewing Company in Aberdeen, just a few years ago, crafting beers wasn’t in the picture in terms of a career or a passion, but now it’s become a love of his.
Maldonado started off by teaching himself with books and videos on home brewing and made his first batch of beer in a 5-gallon container on his home stove in 2012. Seven years later, he’s experimented with numerous kinds of beers that get rotated throughout the year at Mount Olympus, a new Aberdeen brewery and taproom he opened up with five partners last September, complete with professional brewing equipment.
“I just kind of got into the hobby, and fell in love with it,” said Maldonado. “I enjoy cooking, so it’s like cooking for eight hours, but you have to then wait four weeks before you can even try it.”
Mount Olympus has a plethora of different beers they make, and some offered from the nearby area, ranging from IPAs loaded with hops, to darker beers.
Some creative partnerships with local downtown business neighbors has led to some unique flavors, like Mount Deception, a toasted coconut porter. To make it, Maldonado got organic coconuts from the Market Place, an organic grocery store in East Aberdeen, before taking them to Andy Bickar, owner and chef at the Rediviva restaurant downtown to toast them.
Another beer they’ve made is Blood Hades, which Maldonado described as a Mexican hot chocolate with vanilla beans, cold brew from Tinderbox Roasters (a coffee shop around the corner), cocoa, and several different hot peppers.
Maldonado said part of his goal with Mount Olympus is to assist the local community, and support neighboring breweries by recommending customers visit places like the Steam Donkey brewery a block away, which might do the same referring people to Mount Olympus.
“I wanted to help out local businesses,” said Maldonado. “A brewery has something a little different from a restaurant. People don’t go an hour out of the way for a restaurant, but they will for a brewery, it’s a destination spot.”
Since moving to Ocean Shores in 2006 and then Montesano after time in the Navy, Maldonado spent 11 years working as a corrections officer. In 2012 he decided to get into the hobby of home brewing. The idea to open a brewery started in 2014, and after years of research, testing his beers with local brewmakers, traveling to other states to learn about the industry and identifying a space, Mount Olympus was finally opened last September, alongside his assistant brewing partner James Lundgren and four other friends and brewers, with all six as co-owners.
The name Mount Olympus Brewery came from the time Maldonado spent with his dad in the areas nearby Olympic National Park, where they would hunt and fish. Many of the beer names are also locally inspired, like Ruby Beach, and In Bloom for the Nirvana song. Maldonado left his job as a corrections officer in December, and said he’s glad to be focused on brewing now.
Located on the corner of Heron and Broadway streets, Mount Olympus has booths, benches and a bar area where visitors can get small samples of beers before ordering. There’s also a “Crowler” machine, which fills up tall aluminum cans with any beer on tap. Maldonado said it can be preferable over the more common “growler” which is a glass bottle filled with beers and can go flat faster than the canned version.
The brewery also has a “Mug Club,” which gives discounts on beers and exclusive early tastings of new beers to 50 people who pay $100 a month or paid more than $300 as part of the Kickstarter for the Crowler machine. Each member gets a mug handle with their name written on it that’s displayed behind the bar. The club is currently full but Maldonado said he anticipates expanding it for 25 more people next year.
Some nights the brewery hosts live music events, and cribbage tournaments twice a month, where half of the proceeds go to a charity. There’s also a variety of different board games available, and a closed-off play area with toys for young children.
There are food trucks that come by on event nights sometimes, but Maldonado said he’d like to have more in the future, and would like to add an outdoor seating area.
Maldonado said they’ve so far rotated through 25 different beers, and despite brewing on a regular basis, they still run out of some of their most popular taps, which he said is both “a good thing and bad thing.”
Mount Olympus is open every day except Tuesday and is located at 105 W. Heron St.