Menace Brewing opened at 6:45pm on Saturday. I had the opportunity to stop in yesterday for a few pints with Tap Trail’s Business Manager (and my wife) and my daughter. Upon approach to 2529 Meridian St you’ll notice that there are lots of windows. The entire north side of the building has window panels and a rolling door that will be used when things warm up a bit. The eastern wall of the building, facing Meridian St, also has a garage door and many windows. Basically, I’m saying it’s well lit. I like light.
Menace Brewing sits in what was formerly an autobody shop. The shop has relatively low ceilings, but are just right for Menace’s four barrel brewing system. The brewing system is the same size as their original brewery in Ferndale, WA. Interestingly enough, Menace Brewing was shutdown for about a year as they transitioned to their new location. The beers you’re trying at Menace on Meridian are brewed right there, in house.
For those of you unawares, Menace Brewing owners Tom Raden and Ben Buccarelli also own The Local and The Local Annex. So they’ve spent their recent history helping run two beer bars and opening a brewery and a taproom. Sounds easy right? You’re wrong. In fact, it was very difficult to juggle all of that and Ben tells me he is very happy to finally have it done.
I had the opportunity to sit down with him over a pint when we stopped in on Sunday. Katie Johnson and he were both there running a bustling tap room. Ben told me, that at this point, everything is up in the air, as far as structure. They’re not even certain they’ll be open today. They don’t know their hours and are just feeling out things as they come along. Service is at the bar.
Menace has nine taps. Right now, there are five house taps, one guest tap (currently Structures Fuzz) and one cider tap. Ben told me he’s brewing a SMASH and an ESB that will fill the remaining two taps. As we chatted I worked my way through the Amarillo IPA, tasted my wife’s IRA (India Red Ale) and my buddy’s Chili Bravo. After my IPA, I made my way back to the bar for a schooner of that Chili Bravo. I think it’s delectable! A very powerful nose of peppers, followed up by malt that perfectly balances that spicy addition. It’s quite refreshing.
Ben tells me Menace will have its first collaboration with the Bellingham Beer Lab in the coming future. So be on the lookout for that. The exciting thing for me is that Menace is family friendly, so I my daughter and I can snag a pint together while she runs around and bothers everyone else. The seating is booths and tables. They also have a few tables from the old Fountain Restaurant that act as either three tables, or can be combined to create one long table. They seem like a great addition to a problem some breweries have: Communal or private-ish tables?
I’m excited for Menace to put out their gas powered fire pit. It’s made out of an old tank from the brewery. It looks awesome! When ready it will roll out onto the Meridian facing street for people to huddle around in this freezing-ass weather.
The brewery is great for the neighborhoods of Columbia and Cornwall Park who were banking on Subdued Brewing Company opening over on Elm St., just blocks away from Menace. With that project not happening for the time being Menace provides us all with a brand new brewery, beers and gathering spot to wet our whistles at.
Menace fits the growing popularity of hyper-local, or neighborhood breweries. Ben says they will be focusing on mostly in-house sales and very few draft accounts, for the time being. The more you sell at draft accounts, the more you lose on what you could have sold them for in your own tap room.
Anyway, stay tuned for updates on their Facebook Page and here as they decide how they will proceed after opening. Here’s some photos for you to get a feel for Menace Brewing. Be sure to grab your Tap Trail Passport and roll by for a pint soon!