Any true Pacific Northwesterner is a lover of the hops. If Washington had an official state beverage, it'd be a head-to-head tie between roasted bean concoctions and a good craft brew. Luckily, there are a plethora of local spots concocting beer for this very reason, with Forward Operating Base Brewery based in DuPont entering the ranks most recently.
FOB owner and brewer, Jared Wharton, is an eight-year veteran from California. His first duty station was here at JBLM where he met his wife, Jennifer, a South Sound native. Like many, when his military service came to an end, he settled right here in the South Sound. Wharton told me his love of brewing began back in 2002 when he first started his journey as a homebrewer, "I really enjoyed doing something creative with a focus on details. I've never been much of a golfer and was really interested in the brewing process." His dream of operating his own brewery really came to him during a bad day in Afghanistan, "I thought to myself, what are these guys going to do when they get home? What am I going to do? What can I do?", and brewing craft beers was the answer.
He began to really research the process further in 2013 while working as a civilian contractor. During that time, he developed his business plan and entered the Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities at Cornell University. From there it was all about finding the right home, and he knew as a veteran, he wanted his space as close to the front gates of JBLM as possible, which meant that DuPont or Tillicum were most desirable. Wharton said, "The mayor of DuPont has been very encouraging and helped with the first steps, and we found the space in March of 2017." When Wharton discovered what FOB now calls home, he thought to himself, "I can make this look like a forward operating base."
The brewery officially celebrated its grand opening Nov. 4 and has been working on dialing in flavors for large volume production, but as they say, "if you build it, they will come." And while FOB is crafting tasty, cold ones, what makes them unique is that they are providing a space with the mission to provide quality craft brews to American soldiers and airmen, in particular. The walls are adorned with unit memorabilia, photos of local heroes, with sandbags and repurposed military surplus items throughout.
Furthermore, as a veteran-owned business with a military base ambiance, each of their brews is a fun homage to the military including the M4 Pale Ale, which won best pale ale at the Washington State Fair. Also, Little Bird IPA; Charlie Don't Surf; and Napalm in the Morning, an American Wheat and Imperial Brown Ale that makes reference to the movie Apocolypse Now, are now among their year-round and seasonal selections. I asked how Wharton went about naming each brew to which he replied, "The names belong to the soldiers, airmen and veterans. Everything represents something we've been through so it's tongue-in-cheek, but an honorable nod to us also."
While no hot eats are served on-site, during Fridays and Saturdays you can spy a rotation of food trucks making an appearance. "We have stuff like chips, popcorn and pretzels, but we hope to eventually expand the food trucks' presence and keep it fresh." Currently, Fridays and Saturdays are hoppin' and weekdays are sometimes booked by Wharton's wife Jennifer for special gatherings for Army and Air force units or folks looking to host a special event in a unique space. And for those not in the military, fear not, FOB is crafting tasty brews for all.
Forward Operating Base Brewing Company, 3-9 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday; 3-8 p.m., Sunday; closed Monday, 2750 Williamson Pl. NW, Suite 100, DuPont, 253.507.4667, fobbrewingcompany.com