The pilot brewery can still be found at Aslan today
Before Jack was ready to invest, Frank had to prove his brewing abilities and commitment to the project. After opening up an LLC account, Frank took out a small loan from Jack to start the pilot brewery and make Aslan official. In September of 2012, Frank started brewing in a warehouse on his amateur brewing pilot system (pictured left) for about a year. Immediately, the response he received from the community was overwhelmingly supportive.
By December of 2012, Jack was fully invested in Aslan. Together, the two added Pat Haynes to the team turned Aslan from a project to a functioning commercial brewery. “It was a complete leap of faith,” Frank explained. “Everyone had to be fully invested.”
While the guys behind Aslan were trying to figure things out, they really didn’t have the time or means to “perfect the craft” in the beginning. With a prime location right in the heart of downtown, Bellingham had its eye on Aslan. Frank knew every beer coming out in the beginning wasn’t a masterpiece, but “throwing beer away wasn’t an option, “Frank chuckled. “The silver lining is that people who tried us out in the beginning got to experience the transition to what it is now.”
Since opening their doors, Aslan has made phenomenal leaps. Not only is the quality of the beer getting more and more fine-tuned with every release, they have had tremendous success outside of Bellingham. Last winter, Aslan added Frank’s brother Boe as a partner and placed him in charge of sales and distribution. Aslan began canning beer and distributing throughout Bellingham and Seattle. The demand for their beer has been overwhelming in Seattle. So much, in fact, Aslan has purchased two new barrels and a canning line purely for distribution.
Looking back at the Herald article, Aslan came out stronger on the other side. Not to say it wasn’t discouraging, Frank explained “one person was allowed to get up in front of the entire town and tear your business apart.” However, on the day after the article came out, Aslan experienced its busiest day in the restaurant. The community came out to support Aslan and watch it grow, and grow it did. In fact, Disco Lemonade which was one of the beers the Herald gave a failing grade made it to the medaling round at the Great American Beer Festival!
In addition to the consumers, Aslan also received tremendous support from other members of the craft beer community. Bellingham breweries are one of the few industries in this world where there’s no competition; instead there’s community. Head brewers hang out at least once a month, exchange ideas and information, and help each other grow in the business. It was incredibly beneficial for Frank to be welcomed into such a community during a key learning point in his life.
The article pushed Aslan; motivating the team to prove everyone who doubted them wrong. The result is a more refined product and well earned spot in the Bellingham craft beer community. Aslan Brewing has earned the right to proudly say they have moved past the point of “work in progress.” Their initiation may have been shaky, but Aslan has lived up to its lion mascot and trampled all of the scrutiny victoriously.