Bourbon, Beer, and Bierstadt | Tacoma Art Museum

Tacoma Art Museum is celebrating the largest gift in the museum’s 79 year history with a limited edition spirit and a signature ale.

Tacoma Art Museum is celebrating the largest gift in the museum’s 79 year history with a limited edition spirit and a signature ale. In honor of the Haub Family Collection of Western American Art and the museum expansion, TAM partnered with Tacoma’s Harmon Brewing Company and Gig Harbor’s Heritage Distilling Company to craft these two special beverages in time for the grand opening in November.

Heritage Distilling Company has just completed the inaugural batch of Tacoma New West Bourbon Whiskey, created exclusively for TAM to honor the links between the Haub collection and Tacoma’s heritage. The project began serendipitously when Melissa Traver, TAM’s Director of Marketing and a Gig Harbor resident, stopped by the distillery. Heritage had recently opened and was quickly becoming known for its unique, personal small-batch approach. The distillery’s motto, “Every spirit has a story,” reflects the owners’ pride in creating spirits that are rooted in history. Traver’s impromptu visit led to a meeting with Justin Stiefel, CEO and Master Distiller. The two discussed TAM’s construction of the Haub Family Galleries and the masterworks of Western American art donated by Erivan and Helga Haub.

The historical ties between whiskey and the American West presented the perfect opportunity to collaborate. “We were honored when Tacoma Art Museum approached us about partnering on a special project to help commemorate the opening of the new wing and the Haub Family Collection,” said Stiefel. “With the focus on western art and subjects like cowboys and the spirit of the untamed West, it seemed fitting to unveil a special bourbon just for the museum. We decided on a limited edition called Tacoma New West Bourbon Whiskey. It is a 92 proof bourbon aged less than two years with tones of caramel and vanilla, leaving a light sweetness in the high center of the palate and a smooth lingering finish.”

Tacoma New West Bourbon Whiskey will be sold at Heritage Distilling Company locations and through regional restaurants and retailers; the museum is also pursuing the option of selling it at the TAM Store. “A portion of the proceeds of every bottle sold goes right back to the museum to help further their efforts in bringing art to the community,” Stiefel noted. “Our hope is that patrons of the museum, art lovers, and bourbon connoisseurs will seek out this product at bars, restaurants, and retailers around the region.”

Although this is the first time TAM has ventured into the “spirit world,” the museum had previously collaborated with local craft brewers. “We’ve worked with Harmon Brewing for years, creating signature ales to compliment some of our key exhibitions. Our first collaboration with Harmon was in 1997, they crafted Picasso Pale Ale for an exhibition of Picasso’s ceramics,” says Traver. “Harmon is great to work with; they are creative and involved in the Tacoma community so it is a good fit for TAM. Our visitors enjoy the relationship, too.”

“To toast the new Western American art collection and the museum expansion, we collaborated with TAM and arrived at Tacoma New West CDA, a unique Cascadian dark ale brewed with six different malted barleys and chocolate wheat,” says Jeff Carlson, Head Brewer at Harmon. “It is black like a stout and the flavor is hoppy like an IPA. It is a complex, wonderful combination of roasted malts with piney and citrusy hop notes. The flavor profile perfectly blends the Old West and the Northwest.” Tacoma New West CDA is sold in all Harmon Brewing locations, and a special limited edition will be available in the TAM Cafe.

The Haub Family Collection of Western American Art includes 295 works spanning more than 200 years by 140 artists, among them Albert Bierstadt, George Catlin, John Clymer, Thomas Moran, Georgia O’Keeffe, Frederic Remington, and Kevin Red Star. The museum’s expansion and Haub Family Galleries open November 15 with a day of exciting events inside and around the museum from 9:30 am-5:00 pm. Tickets are still available for the November 15  Evening Social and Members’ Party from 7:00-11:00 pm ($15 members, $50 not-yet-members), including live music by the Tallboys Band and, of course, a signature drink!

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