When bicycles fly

Business: Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery
Co-Founders: Brian Caldwell, Shawn Becker and Tim Frommer
Industry: Beer Brewing
Find them: www.flyingbike.coop

A fan of bikes and craft beer, David Wiegand is a founding member and one of nine
volunteer board members of Flying Bike, Washington’s first cooperative brewery. 

Born and raised in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood, Wiegand said he’s always been into bicycling, riding his bike throughout his childhood years, but he only recently got into recreational road and mountain biking. Craft brewing is a hobby he picked up from his dad, and he started brewing with friends post-college.

“It helps that a lot of my friends are avid cyclists... and that a lot of my friends are avid craft beer drinkers, too,” he said.

And Wiegand’s group of friends is ever expanding—at the time of publication, Flying Bike Brewing Cooperative had 872 members and counting. One of those members is Cascade’s very own Tim O’Connor, who frequently sports Flying Bike apparel around the office. Drawn to its member-driven operation, O’Connor joined the co-op just five minutes after hearing about it. He’s been an active member ever since.

“I'm a part owner and I have the opportunity to craft/design the beer that the brewery brews,” he said.

Wiegand explained that the cooperative model emerged as the only viable way to fund a brewery with a group of friends. That was four years ago, and at that time it seemed funding a brewery seemed as “improbable as a ‘flying bicycle,” he said. Hence the name.

Currently operating without a physical space, Flying Bike engages their members in events like brewing competitions, member meetups and educational beer events.

All of the beers brewed are selected from member competitions in which members vote on their favorites. An keen homebrewer himself, O’Connor recently participated in a brew competition and took eighth place out of 19 submissions.

“When we finally get first place, Flying Bike will brew our beer and distribute it across Seattle!” he said, adding that he’s currently working on a “Winter warmer” brew.

For Wiegand, community engagement is a key ingredient to this cooperative mash.

It’s not just about making a buck, Wiegand explained.

“It’s about serving our members in terms of giving them a say in how the business is run, providing them a way to be involved in the business, and feeling a sense of pride and ownership to belong to a business that is doing good in the community,” he said.

Flying Bike is the organizer behind the popular “Tour de Pints” pub crawl during Seattle Beer Week, which is done on bikes.

A physical space is currently in the works for Flying Bike’s Brewery and Taproom. Wiegand said it will be welcoming to cooperative members and their friends, open to the public and multi-use. Flying Bike envisions it to be available for community meetings and rent out for special occasions.

“We also want to partner with other bicycle-oriented businesses to mutually support each other’s activities and goals,” Wiegand said. Flying Bike will operate with sustainability at the front, which they’ve listed as one of the “seven core cooperative principles.”

“We will make every effort to conserve resources and practice environmentally responsible practices wherever economically possible... to buy local whenever possible, recycle our waste, and recover heat and water from the brewing process as much as possible,” Wiegand said.

Flying Bike is currently negotiating the final points on a lease for a space in the Greenwood neighborhood, adjacent to Naked City Brewing. Flying Bike hopes to open their doors in the Spring of 2015. Until then, you can learn more at www.flyingbike.coop/

Know a bikey business that should be featured? Email Briana.