Family-owned and dedicated to brewing authentic German-style beers, Four Generals has become one of Renton’s most popular breweries, and with the most recent Washington Beer Awards in November, has a winning streak that just gets stronger.
Four Generals has taken home gold, silver and bronze every year since their eligibility in 2017 (except for 2020 when the awards were suspended due to COVID-19). Thanks to three gold and two bronze medals in 2022, the brewery became the most recent winner of the “Small Brewery of the Year.”
“It tells us everything we make is good,” said Four Generals’ sole brewer Ross Hudspeth, who co-owns the brewery with his parents, Mary and Mike.
Hudspeth and Four Generals won gold for “Australasian, Latin-American or Tropical-style Light Lagers” with their Otra Chela; “German-style Kölsches” for their Koelsch; “Smoke Beers” for their Rauch Dunkel; and bronze for “German-style Pilsner” with their Spalter Pils. They also won “Collaboration Beers” for their Collab German Pils with Logan Brewing in Burien.
So far, the brewery has collected of five bronze medals, one silver and seven gold medals.
“Looking back now, it was surprising to win,” said Mary of their first gold medal in 2017. “It’s night and day between our processes from back then.”
Prior to establishing Four Generals in 2015 and officially opening during the 2016 Renton River Days, Hudspeth worked on car restorations and ended up getting into home brewing. He and a previous partner were going to move up to garage-based brewing but, when things didn’t pan out, the Hudspeth family decided to go bigger.
“We sat down as a family and I said ‘I believe in what you’re doing,’ and then I walked away from being an elementary school teacher,” said Mary. “If we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna really do this,” Hudspeth added.
Before it was an award-winning brewery, the Four Generals building on Wells Avenue was a stamp store, and long, long before that, it was Renton City Hall.
“We still have the gate for the women’s holding cell,” said Mary. The nearly century-old gate was moved further to the back of the building and the hinges to the men’s holding cell can still be found in one of the thresholds. “It was a shell when we moved in.”
Along with the historical gate, the back of the brewery holds racks of malt imported from Germany for the German-style beers and a small batch of malt from Skagit Valley, which Hudspeth uses to make local beers. The back also holds the brewing system and fermentation tanks. Mary says that proper brewing is an art and a science as some beers only take eight days to brew, while others can take up to seven weeks.
“We are constantly learning and doing better,” he said. “I’ve learned so much from other breweries, too.”
This fall, the Four Generals will take a two-week trip to Germany to learn even more about the craft. “We try to get to Germany every couple of years,” Mary said. “In Germany, there is a purity law and it says that you can only put four things in beer: water, malt, hops, yeast. And that’s the four generals.”
Four Generals Brewing is located at 229 Wells Avenue South and is open Monday through Thursday from 3 to 10 p.m., Friday from 3 to 11 p.m., Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.