Correction: The article previously stated Austin of Aslan was introducing “yeast cultures” that’s, clearly, not true. Editorial regrets the error.
Aslan Brewing is one of the Northwest’s hottest craft breweries. And while they are burning hot, they aren’t burning without direction or purpose.
Jack, Frank, Pat, Boe and the whole Aslan crew are focused on expansion, brewing and challenging their expectations. They are bringing not just their crafted goodness to the northwest, but that distinct Aslan culture along with it.
Aslan’s next step in expansion is opening a barrel aging and tasting room on State St, right next to the Schweinhaus with plans to open sometime in mid-2017. It will live on the block that houses the Union Depot building. I spoke with their Realtor and commercial leasing agent, Joe Hoppis, right after they signed the paperwork. They team had just popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate. Hoppis Real Estate has been helping prospective breweries find commercial locations in Bellingham – he got Aslan into their current location and Forest St. He then hunted down the current location and signed them up for a 10 year lease with two five year extensions. Hoppis said,
This location fits them like a glove!
Well, that glove is certainly going to be a big one. The 8,000sqft facility will house a tasting room and barrel aging facility for Frank’s growing number of barrel passions. To keep that size in perspective, Wander’s highly touted Barrel Project facility is 2,000sqft. Aslan brewer, Austin Umbinetti-Hutton has been adding all sorts of creepy crawlies to the team that will be well suited to a barrel aging facility. Get ready for Aslan’s innovative Milk Chai Stout, brewed with lactose sugar and chai, that released last Friday.
The lease on the space starts on January 1st 2017. The new location will house the corporate offices, which means those offices above that tasting room and brewhouse will be freed up for space. Aslan will need it. They are replacing all of their steel with more capacity to keep up with their growing demand. The new 30bbl brewhouse from famed Marks Tanks will show up at the end of November and they plan to shutdown brewing for about four weeks, to not only install the new brewhouse, but to finish their new brew house floor, which they are installing at a cost of $60,000. They’ve been ramping up brewing these last few months to prepare for the shutdown.
Jack Lamb, Aslan CEO, told me the main reason for moving was the need for storage space. They are just running out of space at the Forest St. location, even with their semi-new cold storage down the street.
With all of this moving you’d expect “sky’s the limit” at Aslan. Well, it is and it isn’t. It’s a reality you’d expect from a brewery that is burning white hot with intention. Jack told me Aslan will only get so big
We plan on keeping our product in the PNW. I’m of the theory that people in Florida shouldn’t be able to eat Alaskan salmon. If you want Aslan beer, come to the northwest and immerse yourself in the culture in which it was brewed. – Jack Lamb, Aslan Brewing CEO
When Aslan reaches 75% capacity of their new brewhouse, which is about 12,000 barrels they basically want to hit cruise control (don’t read that as “the work stops.”) I’ve heard this plan from more than a few regional breweries. Most breweries aren’t looking for world domination. They are growing and distributing to prepare for the future, taking care of employees, themselves and creating a sustainable lifestyle for family. All these Aslan additions and toys aren’t intended as power-moves. They are intended to take care of, nourish and support the culture and employees they have.
This is about quality of life. If I have employees in 16 states that I’ve never met that’s not the quality of life any of us want. The idea of someone starting here and putting their energy far away is forgetting your roots.- Jack Lamb
Lamb also said 12,000bbls a year is barely enough to cover territory from Vancouver, BC to Portland, Oregon, so it’s not that much beer when taking into account their modest distribution goals. The new barrel aging facility will add another, approximately, 1,000 barrels of capacity a year. He plans to buy about 100 wine and whiskey barrels to begin the process. Those barrels will be joined by Aslan’s two newly purchased 45 hectoliter Foeder’s.
While the new space will definitely be used as storage, offices, a barrel aging facility, beer education and part time tasting room, what they do with the space is really up in the air. Jack even mentioned the idea of using part of the new facility for aquaponics and growing all of their vegetable needs right on site.
Aslan has created a brewery, a community and a culture that truly speaks to why we love this thing called “craft beer.” Through it, relationships are formed, community is strengthened and lifestyles enriched. Be apart of this community, help it grow and burn hot Tap Trail.