Four Generals Brewing

Renton, WA


Four Generals Brewing came to KSI with a peculiar code problem requiring fire separation between the brewing space and the business above. The challenge: create the separation while still allowing for exposed joists in the tasting area. Now open in the Old City Hall in Downtown Renton!


Photos by David Cho Photography



Not everything is as simple as it appears. When Four Generals Brewing asked KSI Architecture & Planning to design a brewery for them in the Old Renton City Hall in downtown Renton, nobody expected a complex project to emerge. But that’s what happened.

Ross, Mary and Mike Hudspeth, owners of Four Generals Brewing, had selected the space for their new brewery because of its location, history, and charm. Old brick and exposed ceiling joists were two of the existing elements the owners wanted to maintain and incorporate into the design. When they went to the City with their ideas, they were told to hire an Architect.

Their original plan was to have a large, open space that shows off the brick, the 92-year-old ceiling joists, and, of course, the brewing equipment. But sometimes the dream and the reality don’t mix. In this case, health codes and building codes dealt a crushing blow. The brick couldn’t be exposed in the brewing area. Okay- not a huge problem; throw up some attractive stainless steel on the bottom half of the wall and clear plastic above, problem solved. But the joists? The building code says they have to be covered up to create a 2-hour fire separation between the brewery and the business above – mixing uses in a building is never a simple task. The dream seemed shattered. It definitely had potential, but the vision would never be fully realized without those joists.

Sara and Kyle weren’t about to let the reality stomp all over their clients’ dream. Research was conducted, alternatives were designed, and a final solution selected. The final design is not one big room. But the brewery got to keep its brick wall, exposed ceiling joists, and the brewing equipment is visible.

A 2-hour wall separates the tasting room from the brewing area, where the ceiling did get covered with drywall. Visitors can see the brewing equipment through a fire-glass window in the wall, or more through the hall to the brewing room (the door is always open welcoming spectators). A small ledge holds your beer while you examine the goods.

The tasting room is all you could want in your local brewery: rich with the history of the City the owners love and hope to become a staple in. You can touch the rough brick and mortar –  it’s there in all its glory. Those joists over your head are the original joists from 1924, and they’re stronger than anything you’ll find today. The live edge tables and bar top were all built from Washington trees, and reclaimed lumber lines the wall below the bar and in the hallway. An overhead door, open anytime the sun is shining, and exterior seating increases the size of the space, adding room for another 15 or more people to enjoy a cold beer on a sunny day. And when that door is closed, exterior heaters will keep the clientele warm if they want to sit outside. Oh, and the beer is amazing. Start with a sampler, try them all and then pick your favorite. Don’t forget to take home a growler, because you’re going to want more.

It was a long haul – 9 months from the time a lease was signed to the official opening of Four Generals Brewing. But the beer is flowing, the tasting room is packed, and the dream is a reality.