We recently were interviewed by the Downtown Bellingham Partnership. Get to know the BTT Team a bit more, what are plans are where we’re headed!
If you’ve been out and about in Bellingham, you’ve seen the Bellingham Tap Trail map. It’s everywhere, from breweries to bars, and is fast becoming a staple of the Bellingham social scene. Have you ever wondered what it is, or what you’re supposed to do with it? We interviewed co-owner Scott Pelton about the BTT map, its history, and why you should grab one and hold onto it for dear life.
What is the inspiration behind the Bellingham Tap Trail?
All the great beer and breweries in Bellingham were the inspiration for the Bellingham Tap Trail. Last spring, we saw Aslan Brewing and Wander Brewing open up. They rounded out a pretty sweet unspoken trail in the downtown corridor. Brian Seales (Co-Founder) and I both like beer and community so we thought, “Someone needs to make a beer map!”
Have you seen maps like this in other cities?
Right now, beer tourism is very popular all over the US. The most successful “trail” we’ve seen, and the one where we gained a lot of inspiration, was the Bend Ale Trail. They also have a Passport system with rewards for completion. You can also look to Portland, the Northeastern US and down into Atlanta for other examples of “Tap Trails.” But, we’re certain the Bellingham Tap Trail is the best and we have our local breweries and tap houses to thank for that!
Where do you get your passion for beer?
About twelve years ago Boundary Bay Brewery was my first “local.” I was sitting in the tap room and Janet (Boundary Bay’s General Manager) asked if I wanted a job. Of course I did! Boundary was what expanded my conception of community. It was the culture the brewery provided; music, discussion, inspiration and community involvement that led to my love of beer. In other words, I’m a brewery culture lover first and beer lover second. I thank Bellingham for introducing me to craft beer and for being the type of place that craft beer can thrive.
Tell us more about the team behind BTT.
Brian Seales and Shannon Larkin are the Design and Branding Ninjas. They make everything look modern and beautiful and just plain awesome. They developed a sweet looking website and stunning beer map. They also own Ketchup + Mustard, a downtown Bellingham design company. My wife, Mindy Overlin, is the Business Guru. She’s our financial analyst (she’s an Excel whiz), does our taxes, and manages the billing of our clients. I’m the Marketing and Sales Wizard. My day job is the Sales Manager of the Cascadia Weekly. I write content for the website, create community partnerships and handle public relations. I also do the sales for the map and website. The thing I enjoy the most though is creating new ways to expand the Bellingham Tap Trail.
Craft beer is huge in Bellingham. Why do you think this industry has boomed here?
Keep in mind that craft beer is huge everywhere right now. Craft beer is booming in Australia, England, Japan and many other places. Australia has seen a 40% increase in craft beer growth in the last year. Google “Japan craft beer” and you’ll see some great stuff. Bellingham is lucky to be a part of this global movement. From what I’ve observed regionally, this boom partially stems from the greater DIY and buy local movement, as well as a strong economy. People are interested in local, artisan goods. Craft beer is ultimate artisan good!
The beer community in Bellingham seems to be solid and incredibly supportive. Why do you think that’s so?
The people in Bellingham’s craft beer community are very inclusive and welcoming. The owners of the breweries know each other, drink beers together and care about seeing each other succeed. If you haven’t already, get to know the owners and you’ll see what I’m talking about – they’re just good people and we should be thankful they are here. Further, all of them are interested in making Bellingham more of a beer destination than it already is.
Where do you see the Bellingham beer community in 5 years? Ten?
Depending on how you measure it, we currently have seven breweries in operation. In 2015, we’ll see three more open up. We already know of at least 1-2 more coming behind those, but we’ve been sworn to secrecy. That would put us at twelve. If the trend continues, and the market holds, I don’t see why there couldn’t be 20+ breweries in Bellingham in ten years. The potential locations of breweries is what is equally exciting; I’d like to see neighborhood breweries or “pubs.” I use “pub,” short for public house, as a catchall for breweries and tap houses. Originally, pubs were the gathering place for the whole community and families of all ages. Pubs and breweries aren’t just about beer, they’re about being a part of something and creating a sense of place. Let’s encourage that! Why not a brewery in the middle of York, Columbia and Cornwall Neighborhoods? The Tap Trail would love to be an advocate for that.
What are some of your favorite spots in downtown?
There are so many. Railroad feels like home to me. Bustling corners on Saturdays, music, sunny storefronts and tree lined streets. I’m also partial to the corner of Bay and Holly. Give me Downtown Sounds on a 75 degree summer evening. Rolled up pants, bikes and the smells of Bayou on Bay and food carts wafting through the streets – quintessential Bellingham. Saturday mornings, the corner of East Maple and Railroad when the Bellingham Farmers Market is hopping. But, I also like potential. I look at Cornwall and think about what could be. Once we get more commerce downtown, why not a make Commercial Street, between Holly and Magnolia, pedestrian only on Saturdays? Pints on the sidewalks. I’ll leave that up to you guys!
What does the future hold for the BTT?
We’re working on a few things. We’d like to start a podcast where we can discuss local, regional and national beer topics. We can use it to better highlight our city. I’ve bought the gear, now we just need to find the time! We’re also working on a “2016 Bellingham Tap Trail” calendar that will launch around October that features the talents of Damian Vines Photography. There are thoughts of expanding the breadth of BTT as well. We were founded under the “Taps, Caps, and Corks” LLC. Taps: Breweries. Caps: Distilleries. Corks: Wineries. Let’s see where it takes us! For now, just look to our website for all your craft beer news, beer events and go grab a Bellingham Tap Trail map!
Anything else you want our readers to know?
#1 “If you’re drinking, you’re stamping!” ALWAYS have your Bellingham Tap Trail Passport on you.
#2 Buy a Tap Trail Hoodie! Go here!