Brewery with New York style pizza coming soon to downtown Tacoma
There’s a new brewery with New York pizza coming to downtown Tacoma
When Camp Colvos Brewing opens its downtown Tacoma location in June, it’ll culminate a few years of planning, seismic upgrades and a lot of pizza dough testing for its New York City style pies.
The Vashon Island brewery expansion to Tacoma’s historic brewing district was always part of the business plan of the brewery named after the passage of water that runs alongside Vashon.
“Tacoma was baked into the plan from the beginning,” said owner, founder and brewer Matthew Lawrence.
He’s been brewing and selling his beer on Vashon Island for years and built his business by delivering his brew on the same route as his janitorial service route. He opened his current brick-and-mortar taproom on Vashon two years ago. He morphed that Vashon space during the pandemic into a destination heavy on outdoor seating and used the building’s drive-thru window to reach an even broader brew base.
The taproom is known as much for its handmade meat pies as it is for its farmhouse ales, aged Imperial lager and Munich lager.
In Tacoma, Lawrence is betting the taproom and brewery will become known for its New York style pie. His pizza is modeled, with help, after Big Mario’s in Seattle. Think of it also as something like Salamone’s pizza-by-the-slice restaurant in Tacoma’s Stadium neighborhood.
“We’re doing gas-fired New York style thin crust pizza by-the-slice and as whole pies,” said Lawrence. The deck oven will churn out pies that will be topped with the basics. “We’re going to start very traditional with Italian style toppings,” he said. That means a selection of salami, pepperoni, sausage and traditional toppings. Later, they might move into more unusual pizza toppings, but the startup will be obsessive on the basics, he said.
He described a 20-inch pie built to be sliced into broad wedges that can be folded and crammed into one’s mouth, the way a New York slice should always be handled.
“We’ll make dough every day. It’s a three-day dough process,” he described. His dough obsession manifested the same way it did for a lot of us during the pandemic – sourdough bread baking. He said that his sourdough habit has gotten to the point where he’s having to give his bread away because he bakes so much of it. He said it also was solid personal training for the dough program at Camp Colvos.
“I’m really into dough, obviously because of fermentation. Any beer maker is going to be into dough. I’m really excited about the dough,” he said, laughing.
His pizza employees have been training at O Sole Mio, a pizzeria near Camp Colvos on Vashon. “When we turn the lights on, they’ll be ready to roll,” Lawrence said.
Camp Colvos Tacoma also will offer meatball sandwiches, salads and brew-friendly food such as tots and a giant pretzel served with a Beecher’s cheese sauce. Lawrence plans to later import those meat pies from his Vashon menu, but they won’t be available to start.
CAMP COLVOS TACOMA SPACE
It’ll look more like a beer hall than a pizza joint when the space opens next month.
“We’ll have an exhibition style pizza kitchen in the back of the space. Along the brick wall on one side is the bar and our cool live edge oak from Gravelly Lake that was harvested by Vashon Woodworks and carved by my friend with a CNC. We’ll have 32 linear feet of bar. Usually with pizza joints, there’s a tendency to put booths on the wall and carving people into those spaces. I love that at pizza joints, but I wanted to keep the feeling of a communal beer hall,” he said.
“We’ll have German beer hall tables down the center with a standup counter on the wall. There will be lots of opportunities, once we’re past covid, for people to go shoulder-to-shoulder and enjoy themselves,” he said.
After a year of looking throughout Tacoma, he signed on with Brewery Blocks because of how much the building reminded him of home.
“Being from Chicago and having spent a lot of time on the Southside of Chicago, that building felt like home for me. The loading docks and old brick warehouses – that just resonated with me.”
He’s also in good brewing company with E9 Brewing, Black Fleet, Sig Brewing, 7 Seas Tacoma and Wingman Brewers (Side note: Did you see my story in March about downtown Tacoma’s Dunagan Brewing moving across the bridge to Gig Harbor? Read about it here.)
BOOZE AND BREW MENU IN TACOMA
The Camp Colvos Tacoma brewery will serve its entire production line of beer on 20 taps, plus cider. The brewery also will have a spirits license. Whiskey fans will be pleased to learn that they’ll be able to order a shot of Westland Whisky alongside the Camp Colvos Imperial Munich lager, which is aged for two years in Westland barrels.
Lawrence said he’s dialing back on doing wholesale, as needed, so he can ramp up production to service both taprooms in Vashon and Tacoma. “It was never my idea to be in grocery stores or gas stations,” said Lawrence. “I might eat my words 20 years from now, but I really like pouring beer and handing it to people in a glass.”
The brewery produces a huge range of beer, including a kolsch and Japanese style rice lager, Belgian pale ale, a red IPA and a double fermented brett saison.
Vashon will serve as home base for the majority of brewing, but there will be a small one-barrel system in Tacoma for small projects.
If all goes as planned, the doors will open in June.
CAMP COLVOS TACOMA
Where: 2104 Commerce St., Tacoma
Opening: June 2021