From the outside, Powerhouse Restaurant and Brewery looks like an odd place for a bar and grill. Originally built in 1907 by the Puget Sound Electric Railroad, the beautiful brick structure served as the Puyallup Substation, which supplied electricity for the Interurban Electric Trolley. With the invention of the automobile and increasing electric demands, the substation was turned into a storage facility in 1957 and was vacated entirely by 1969. It seemed at that point, the story of this great building was over.
But the story doesn’t end there. “Local architect Dusty Trail noticed the potential of the abandoned building,” Jonathan Tweten, co-owner, says. “And [he] struggled for years to establish dialogue with Puget Sound Energy about purchasing the building. One day in 1993, he received a letter from the power company stating the land and building were going to be auctioned off. He quickly submitted his bid and found out a month later that he had purchased what is today the Powerhouse Restaurant and Brewery.”
Since then, Dusty Trail passed the torch of stewardship to Jonathan and Dan Tweten. The two brothers stress that it is a labor of love more than anything. “We had been customers to the Powerhouse for a long time,” says Jonathan. “Being from a restaurant background and into home brewing beer, it was a perfect match. We fell in love with the building from the day we first toured it.”
Since its inception, all of the beer at Powerhouse has been brewed in-house. More recently, Dan, along with the help of Tim Patty and Tristan Canty, has not been afraid to try new styles. “We are really pushing ourselves to bring you the best possible beer,” Dan says. “Since we are a small brewpub, we can bring you a diverse tap list with something interesting and delicious for all.” Because of this, it is no surprise to see an exhaustive list of styles available that includes sours, browns, porters, IPAs, lagers, Pilsners, ambers, Scottish ales and more.
The team has also experimented with a new take on an India Pale Ale. “One beer style we have been developing has been the milkshake style IPA. They are cloudy and soft. We use a lot of flaked grains and awesomely fruity hops to develop a sweet aroma. IPA’s are known to be bitter and harsh, and we are trying to introduce people to the opposite of that trend. They are cloudy because hop particles and polyphenols stay in solution, which accentuates the aroma of the hops. Recently we made a strawberry milkshake IPA with 100 pounds of Spooner Farms’ strawberries and lactose sugar. It truly is like a strawberry milkshake.”
When asked, however, the brewing team is most proud of its Northwest Pilsner. “This beer is our take on a German style Pilsner lager, but hopped with northwest hops,” Dan says. “We lager our beer for a good six to eight weeks, which is something that most breweries our size don’t take the time to do. It has awesome clarity and crispness.”
Aside from the extensive tap selection, the menu is comprised mostly of standard bar fare. This includes burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and paninis. Jonathan recommends the fish tacos with a pint of No Fruit Was Harmed Imperial IPA.
The interior pays homage to the building’s history, complete with antiques from its substation days, old pictures of Puyallup, meters and gauges, and an exciting little surprise every time a train passes by. The beautiful red brick walls and high ceilings allow sound to bounce from all angles, and guests should expect a loud, but friendly, atmosphere.
Since the building was not originally designed to be a restaurant, seating can sometimes become a challenge when it gets busy. “We have run into some challenges as far as space,” Jonathan says. “The Powerhouse was designed to be a power station and not a restaurant and brewery. The kitchen is very small and the restaurant is relatively small. We have way more space vertically than we do horizontally, [but] we plan to redo some restaurant space challenges as well as continue to develop and improve our menu.”
If you’re in the Puyallup area and are looking for a unique atmosphere, a handcrafted beer, and a yummy bite to eat, be sure to check out Powerhouse Restaurant and Brewery. “There is no one in the area that brews their own beers and has as good of food and ambiance as the Powerhouse,” Jonathan insists. “The building is irreplaceable, and it not a chain. We are locally owned and operated, and we offer food and beer that we ourselves would drink on a regular basis. Not corporate, not pretentious, but interesting and unique.”
Powerhouse Restaurant and Brewery
454 East Main
Puyallup, WA 98372