Kim and Jason Harper
While the Harpers pursued other jobs post-graduation, Jason with Dickerson Distributors, where he did operations and beverage sales and around Bellingham and got to know the local beer industry well.
After starting a family and starting to take the brewery idea a bit more seriously in December of 2017, Stemma was born.
“A lot of what we’re trying to build as a brewery is a family-friendly space, something that we hope we can pass down to our kids or pass down to our employees,” Harper said.
Stemma will be doing just that when they open their location up against I-5 on Moore Street. In the immediate future, Harper plans on making Stemma a mellow taproom with a family-oriented atmosphere, where kids are welcome without the worry of bringing them into a bar setting. Harper attributes this plan to the idea that craft beer has truly become about the appreciation of taste and quality, rather than the ABV.
“Everyone does such a good job in this town,” Harper said of the breweries that have come before Stemma. “I want to have kind of an array of seating, and have it be a little more relaxed.”
Harper plans on having couches and areas where groups can sit, as well as bar seating, making sure he caters to the many types of beer drinkers in Bellingham, people bringing in their families or large groups, or those enjoying a solo pint.
What about the beer? We are lucky to have a brewery that specializes in certain styles, making the Bellingham beer scene unique in the sense that there truly is something for everyone. In Stemma’s case, we’ll be seeing hop-forward classics as well as some more experimental and herb-based beers.
“We’ll be producing some styles naturally lower in alcohol, like 5.5% ABV and less. The term ‘session’ right now has kind of a negative connotation, we aren’t going to be making a barleywine and calling it a session,” Harper said. “Rather just choosing styles that are naturally lower in alcohol.” In other words, Stemma won’t be compromising flavor for the sake of making something more sessionable.
The idea here is that someone can come in and have a couple beers and try all the things they want to try, without running the risk of feeling like you had a few too many.
Otherwise, Harper will bring some of his home brewing experience to Stemma with recipes for beers he’s made at home over the years, some of which he’s won awards for, like his lemon-cayenne lager. Pairing perfectly with the ice cream, there will also be a vanilla bean milk stout to drink on it’s own or in a stout float.
“Messing around with herbs and spices, messing around with all ingredients…everything is on the table,” Harper said. “The focus will still be making a quality beer.”
Making quality beer on the new Stemma brewhouse will in fact be possible, Harper knows. In fact, he’s had quality beer from this system before, when it belonged to Silver City Brewing years ago, then Cloudburst Brewing, who passed it on to Stemma, showing part of Stemma’s namesake.