SAAL Brewing Co.

Owners Matt Stromberg and Kristine Birkenkopf plan to offer a wide selection of local beers to start while they await permits to brew their own beers — which could hit taps as soon as January.

One of Stanwood’s historic buildings is now home to the city’s first brewery.

SAAL Brewing Co. opens Monday, Oct. 7, in the freshly remodeled West End Fire Hall, which previously housed the Leatherheads restaurant at 10209 270th St. NW.

Owners Matt Stromberg and Kristine Birkenkopf, both of Camano Island, have been preparing the building to open since March, gutting the kitchen, refurbishing the historic interior and preparing to start brewing.

“We want to become a central point in Stanwood,” said Stromberg, 52, a career brewer who has worked the past 24 years at Scuttlebutt Brewing in Everett.

SAAL — pronounced “sail” — stands for “Stanwood Artisan Ale and Lager.”

“We want craftsmanship in everything,” he said.

The establishment will open first as an ale house and restaurant while they wait for permits to start brewing, which they expect to receive soon.

“Once we get the permit, we will rebrand as a brewery,” said Birkenkopf, 43. “We will offer handmade soda from local artisans to go along with local beers. The menu includes items made with fresh, local ingredients. We will have dishes that are different than what you’d see elsewhere in Stanwood. We want to elevate each dish to make it feel special.”

The brewery, which will employ about 20, seats 60 inside and 32 more outside when the weather cooperates. It can also host events outside in the parking lot/courtyard and upstairs, where firefighters once slept. The space even features the hole for the firepole.

On the first floor, Stromberg and Birkenkopf have readied the adjacent garage to become the brewery area. The main dining room and bar occupy space where a fire engine and truck likely used to fit. The bar features an aged wooden sign that once adorned the Terry’s Corner Fire Station, and the walls will be decorated with firefighting decor, including a variety of vintage patches.

Patrons will walk over an emblem engraved with Stanwood West End Fire Hall and the dates 1929-1963. The decoration, created by Stanwood High School students about a decade ago, marks the years the building operated as a fire hall.

The original stucco West End Fire Hall was built in 1929 for $2,500 by volunteer firefighters where Twin City Foods is now located. It was moved to 270th Street NW across from city hall sometime in the 1950s.

Birkenkopf and Stromberg said the mix of unique history, good food and creative beers will lure people from outside the area.

“We’re looking to help continue to build up this community and attract more visitors,” Birkenkopf said. “The more Stanwood thrives, the more we thrive.”

Though SAAL Brewery is one of the growing number of breweries in the state — up from 101 in 2008 to 391 in 2018, according to the state Liquor and Cannabis Board — Stromberg said he’s sure the Stanwood pub’s offerings will stand out.

“We want to offer a selection of fun, different beers with new ingredients,” he said, adding that the brewery’s first beers could be ready to drink by January. “The core philosophy is to make beers for yourself. There will be 12 taps that rotate quite a lot. I think it’ll be fun exposing people to different styles they might have never heard of. It’s a chance to play around and have some fun with the craft.”

SAAL Brewing Co. will be open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more, visit

Contact reporter Evan Caldwell at and follow him on Twitter @Evan_SCN for updates throughout the week and on Instagram @evancaldwell.scn for more photos.

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