The founders of a popular North End restaurant made the move to beer geeks today. Barry and Renee Watson opened Pint Defiance this morning just off 19th and Mildred near Tacoma Community College. Their new store is a combination bottle shop and taproom with a niche focus on craft beer from the Northwest and beyond.
The Watsons may be best known for their successful Rosewood Cafe, which they opened off 26th and Warner in 2003 and built to become a popular North End neighborhood destination for scratch soups, straightforward sandwiches and a laid-back vibe.
The couple sold the Rosewood in January and swore they would take time off to relax. That lasted all of about two months before they started working on Pint Defiance, a store with a name that’s a funny play on Point Defiance Park. Hints of humor can be found throughout the store – from the names of the beer they stock to the funny promotional T-shirts that declare a united love for hops and Tacoma.
The couple initially planned to open a beer store near Fred Meyer in James Center, but ultimately landed at a larger storefront at 2049 Mildred St. West – the space that formerly housed Mario’s Mercato Italiano. The 1,800 square feet store is outfitted with a display of 13 cooler doors that stretch seven feet high and hold about 600 different beers, although Watson expects to increase the inventory by a few hundred bottles.
Barry Watson is a third generation Tacoman in the food and beverage business. His grandparents owned the C Street Cafe in Tacoma. Watson has a reputation for his broad knowledge of wine and craft beer and has worked at some of the city’s most respected beer emporiums. While on hiatus after the Rosewood, he kept busy tending bar at The Red Hot, Tacoma’s destination tavern for craft beer. Watson also will play bartender at Pint Defiance, the store has 10 taps for pints at the bar or growlers to take home.
I asked Watson about the beers he’ll serve opening week and he listed mostly South Sound and Western Washington brews. Of note on tap this week is a beer called Pint Defiance Strong Start Blend No 1 – named for the store by creator Shane Johns, head brewer at Tacoma’s Engine House No. 9. Johns made the limited edition beer from a Belgian dark ale soaked in a pinot noir wine barrel and then blended the ale with imperial stout. Also this week, Watson has Rude Parrot IPA from Gig Harbor’s 7 Seas, a milk stout from Puyallup’s Duo Brewing and beers from Northwest brewers Rogue, Hale’s Ales, Deschutes, Mac and Jack’s and a dry apricot cider from Northwest cidery Tieton Cider Works.
Where: 2049 Mildred St. W, Tacoma
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily
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