The Local Public House on Railroad Avenue is an eclectic mix. One part tap house, one part brewery front for Menace Brewing, one part bottle shop (yes, you can  buy awesome beer bottles there.) It’s about to get much more exciting thought. I’ve been talking to Rob Whitney, one of the proprietors of The Local, and he gave me the lowdown on the addition of The Annex and the Bellingham’s NEXT brewery, the Bellingham Beer Lab.


Annex-logoSo what exactly is going on over at The Local?

The Local Public House has a unique opportunity for expansion with the space next door to us (Finder’s Keepers) will be moving.  This expansion will allow us to expand what we offer and grow further than we’ve thought by adding more seating, more taps, games such as pool, darts, shuffleboard and vintage arcade games.
This expansion will also be home to the re-envisioned Bellingham Beer Lab: Washington’s First Non-profit brewery!  This small brewery will be housed in the back of our expansion project with a 1bbl brew house.  The BBL will be a cooperative brewery home to select brewers who want to promote their own brand and incubate them so they can one day open their own brewery. These select brewers will brew their own beers and have a designated tap in the new side of the expansion so they can have their sales go to a local charity of their choosing.  Not only that, we will be able to offer brewing classes to those who would like to learn to brew their own beer!

What inspired you to do this? What made you want to be a non-profit brewery?

When we first heard about the BBL idea a couple years ago, we could not have been more excited to see it come to BBL Non-Profit Ylife, however, life as we know it can be hard and crazy at times and they unfortunately did not open.  Now, with this project actually coming to life, Bellingham can have its first coop brewery and Washington’s first non-profit brewery. As this will be a volunteer operation for the brewers, we wanted to give what they could back to the awesome community that we are home to in Bellingham.  It’s not that we don’t want to make money, it’s the opposite actually as we want to sell as much of their beers to send money out into the community!

Have you visited or talked to the non-profit brewery down in Portland, Ex Novo? How will you be the same or different?

We’ve been in contact with Oregon’s first and only non-profit brewery: Ex Novo who is one of the few non-profit breweries in the country.  Their advise and inspiration to this project as helped us move forward to the non-profit world in brewing and we could not be more thankful for their help!

Who will be able to brew at the BBL? What type of brewing systems will you be offering?

To start, the BBL will be home to a select group of brewers (TBA), one of which will be the Bellingham home brewers guild.  They will rotate brewers thru monthly so they’ll have opportunities to not only put their beers on tap, they can put money back into the community. In the future, we will welcome more core brewers to filter thru and brew, however time will tell when that will be possible.

Under the hand of Tom Raden, owner of the Local Public House and master welder, we will have a 1bbl electric brew house that will be available to the brewers.  Keeping it small will allow us to rotate more brewers beers and styles thru production.

What else will the new addition have in it besides the BBL? Taps? Seating?

This expansion, known as the Local Annex, will have an additional 20 taps from the Local Public House side, five of which will be designated to the BBL.  We will also have pool tables, shuffle board, darts and some vintage arcade games.  TV’s on the wall will have sports or whatever which is different from the Local who uses the TV for their beer menu!  Lounge seating (couches, chairs, etc) and lots of stand up bar space will allow for the more relaxed-non restaurant feel to the Local.  Imagine coming in for a couple beers and a Rueben and then walk over to hang out and play darts or pool, that is going to be awesome!

When do you expect to open?

Open date is still up in the air, however our goal would be to have the bar side open by Bellingham Beer Week!  The BBL has a plan to be brewing on site by early 2016, sooner if possible.

Will the expansion have any impact on Menace Brewing? Are you adding more taps or changing the direction of The Local as a result?

Menace Brewing, who opened the Local Public House back in October 2013, will continue to play a part in all of the expansion and aid the BBL when needed.  Having just increased production size by more than double, we are now able to put beer out in town and maybe, just maybe have a chance to move to Bellingham from our current location in Ferndale.  Time will tell on this, but maybe we can squeeze yet another brewery in Bellingham somewhere!

What else do we need to know?

We will be doing a small kickstarter campaign for the month of July to help raise the remaining funds for this project.  The expansion will happen no matter what but with the extra funds, we will be able to get it open sooner!  We’ve got a lot of great events coming up for July:
July 1st – Kickstarter launch party and Menace brewers night
July 16th – $4 cask night featuring five casks from local breweries
July 23rd – “Give up the funk” Sour Night featuring local Sours and a special release collaboration from Menace Brewing and the members of the BBL
July 31st – Kickstarter Finale party.