Marisa Nuñez, Marisa Hair, Long Island City, NY

John "Jack" Guinn

Hellbent Brewing Company

Seattle, WA

“With the loan we were able to complete the building of a second location. It also allowed us to buy new equipment that made the process of brewing easier and more efficient and allowed us to expand production.”

Creating a Brewery for Local Washingtonians

Jack was working at a restaurant when one of his coworkers brought up the idea of wanting to own his own bar or restaurant. Jack also wanted to one day open his own business, and him and his coworker soon realized that a lot of people in their close circles had a similar notion. They decided to take the leap and banded together a few of their closest friends to start a brewery. One friend brewed beer, one managed the restaurant, one managed the inventory, one managed the bar, and Jack managed the hospitality and business aspect. They all had the common goal of wanting to call something their own and to showcase what they had to offer.

For Jack, he wanted to provide quality service and good products to his community. In 2014 they rented a property for brewing in a neighborhood outside of the busy downtown Seattle area and outside of the normal tourist spots. Breweries in Seattle were all congregated in one area, but Jack and his team wanted to create something that was truly unique and local to Washingtonians. The neighborhood they chose was diverse and underserved, and it was the only brewery for miles.


The reception from the community was great, and they took into consideration the wants and needs of their community in almost every aspect of their business. “The space is big; it has a lounge atmosphere. We don’t pack people in, it’s dog friendly, and we try to keep it very local to the neighborhood.” Customers can sit in the tap room and look down to see the process of brewing, there is an outdoor patio area to sit and drink beer, and customers can also vote for their favorite beers and seasonal beers that they would like to keep. “We have always around 7 beers available. There are the main ones, and then we try to experiment with what people like and keep those.”

Originally, the goal of the brewery was to just stay afloat. “When we started the shape of the industry was different. Big brewers with a ton of money were the norm. We just wanted to hold our own, compete, contribute, and not be bought out.” Eventually, the brewery became a community staple and gained a loyal following. The brewery could begin to focus on broader goals, such as expanding and reinvesting into other aspects of the business such as marketing and employee benefits.


Just when Hellbent Brewing was getting into a good groove, the pandemic hit. “COVID-19 was a nightmare. We were just shut down one day and didn’t know what was going to happen. We had the financial burden of still having to pay rent and the salaries of our employees without being open.” Luckily, Jack and his team were able to get through the pandemic with the help of their community. “Without our loyal customers, we wouldn’t have been able to stay open. They were buying beer just to support us.”

To keep up with COVID-19 guidelines, Jack expanded the patio from 8 tables to 20 tables to ensure that his customers could be safe and comfortable. Eventually, they were able to get back on their feet, and their first goal was to expand the business. “One of our team members was moving to a town 120 miles away, we thought it would be a great idea to open a restaurant and bar there.” They reached out to Ascendus and were able to receive a $150,000 loan from the Small Business Flex Fund to help with the expansion.

“With the loan we were able to complete the building of a second location. It also allowed us to buy new equipment that made the process of brewing easier and more efficient and allowed us to expand production.” Today, the second location of their business is running smoothly and has continued to be a local staple. In addition, Jack invests back in the community through raising money for food banks by brewing and selling a beer for their benefit every year. In the future, Jack hopes to continue expanding the brewery throughout Washington, and to be a local name to Washingtonians. “I just want to pass along all the good that has been given to us and give back to all the people who made this place awesome for us.”

Learn more about Hellbent Brewing here:

sign up for our newsletters

Skip to content