It’s a good thing that Michael Pearce and Rick Winniford weren’t paying too much attention to their homework in the junior high library the day they met in 1982 — they hit it off and have been pals ever since. The pair recently put their heads together again, combining their culinary and beer-brewing talents to launch Acorn Brewing in Edgewood.
Pearce, who has a background in restaurant management, said he first headed to his garage to create his own brews as a young father because he realized it made economic sense and, heck, it was fun. He talked Winniford into giving home-brewing a try. The two budding beer connoisseurs attended a brewing class, and they were hooked, soon entering and winning competitions.
They opened Acorn Brewing in January 2019 and have fared well, even with the COVID-related hoops they’ve had to jump through. Their space is comfortable, with a large bar and community tables in a low-key, woodsy ambience that Pearce said appeals to “beer nerds,” complete with TVs, kitschy décor, and an outdoor patio (currently enclosed in a tent with heaters for COVID-safe dining).
The beer list speaks for itself, with names like Killer Rabbit Cream Ale, Why Am I Sticky IPA, and Forgive Me If I Don’t Shake Hands Irish Stout — taking life seriously isn’t too much of a priority for these two entrepreneurs. Their slogan, “You Know What This Beer Needs? A Sandwich,” cheerfully invites guests to peruse their unusual menu. They offer unexpected playful takes on classic sandwiches, like slathering their delicious Reuben with a spicy house-made kimchi, served hot on marbled rye. They get creative with their popular Cuban sandwich, too, combining bacon-cured pork with ham, Swiss, roasted peppers, and a house-made mustard on Cuban bread.
They acquire hops and grain almost exclusively from Vancouver and the Yakima Valley, and the wines served are from Washington wineries. “We always look for organic ingredients. You can tell the difference in the taste,” Pearce explained.
They chose Edgewood partly because of its excellent water quality, which they say has an enormous impact on the flavor of their beer. “This water really makes a nice, soft beer that’s balanced — not too malty, not too hoppy. We don’t have to worry about the water giving our beer any weird flavors,” Pearce said.
If you’re inclined to forgo a sandwich, Acorn hosts a food truck in its parking lot most every evening. Why encourage culinary competition to park right outside the door? “Our take on this whole thing is that we’re a community,” Pearce explained. “All the trucks who come are local.”
Locals say that the laid-back, friendly service, and delicious food are why they come back. “We’ve had a great response from the community,” Pearce said proudly. “We’re locally sourced and tasty as heck.”