If you’ve been to Melvin Brewing in the last few months, you have probably wondered where exactly the brewing was happening. If you thought it didn’t seem to be happening in the brewpub, you were right.
In fact, everything was being brewed in Wyoming, where Melvin started. Owner Jeremy Tofte grew up in Mount Vernon and spent his days at the ski resort on Mt. Baker. He decided that Bellingham was the ski-town equivalent to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and the perfect location to open up another location to add to his brew kingdom, third only to the Jackson Hole restaurant, Thai Me Up, and the Alpine, WY tasting room.
Since the Bellingham brewpub opened in June, the beer has been supplied by distributors bringing kegs into town by the truckload from Wyoming. That can’t be the primary source of beer forever though, Melvin has people to please and specialty beer to brew. Melvin received their brewer’s notice months ago, and they finally get to walk the walk as of last Monday when their equipment arrived after months of waiting.
It was an exciting day at Melvin Brewing Bellingham. Bright and early, bar manager Melissa DePierro and brewer Dave Meadows felt like kids on Christmas morning as the flatbed pulled in front of the Meridian St. brew pub, holding the very new and very shiny seven barrel system Meadows would use to brew specialty one-off beers, only available at the Bellingham location.
The brew equipment is a custom made system from Premier Stainless Systems in San Diego. By custom, they mean it has to fit into a really small space. If you’ve been into Melvin and have seen the mysterious graffiti covered cube in the middle of the bar, that’s the amount of space they’re trying to fit a brew system into. It’s small. As in 15×12 feet. The tanks where the boil happens will be upstairs, and feed down into the fermentation downstairs (the answer to the question you’ve also probably asked when you’ve been to Melvin– “what’s downstairs?”).
“They had to do a lot of…..squeezing,” said David Powers, the brew pub’s general manager. “The brew deck had to be smaller and everything was custom built for fitting into this small of a space.”
Now, the brew system sits in the middle of the bar. You likely won’t catch Dave Meadows in the act of brewing, considering he’ll get there around 4 am every day.
Meadows won’t be brewing DIPA favorite the 2×4 or the Melvin IPA– those, among other Melvin favorites will still be made in Alpine by the infamous Kurt and Dave, head brewers of the Wyoming facilities. Different brewers and different water are just going to make a different beer.
As far as what to expect from Melvin Brewing Bellingham?
“We have four fermentation tanks, so one day after another we will be doing brew after brew after brew,” Powers said.
The first four beers will be a white peach pale ale, a Melvingham IPA, a brown ale and the MBR, otherwise known as the Melvin/Meadows Blue Ribbon or a craft PBR.
It’s safe to say that Melvin is in a season of change. Not only did they replace a few things on their menu with delicious items like the yakisoba and hoisin short ribs, but their guest taps will soon be taken over by specialty one-offs by Meadows himself.
Ahh, how good it feels to be a brewery that puts the “brew” in “brewpub”.