CJ representing Aslan in St. Patrick’s Day Parade
CJ first got her start in the craft beer industry in Green Bay Wisconsin at Titletown Brewing.
“Man, I just really wanted to work at a brewery,” CJ explained. “It was so evident to me how beer builds community and enhances culture.”
CJ walked in with a resume, and the owner ran after her while she was heading out the door. When asked why she wanted to bartend, CJ replied, “I don’t know anything about beer, I just want to talk to people.” She instantly was hired.
During her time at Titletown, CJ, “fell in love with people who love beer and connecting,” she explained. “It changed my outlook on what community is and the importance of good business practices.”
While she loved her position at Titletown, CJ always wanted to move out to the west coast. After raising $10,000 working long hours bartending, CJ packed up her car and drove out to Bellingham in 2008, with no job or place to stay. When she arrived into town, CJ got a job at Pier 1, “only because I didn’t have any furniture, and I could stop at Boundary on the way home for a beer. I wasn’t used to riding a bike up hill and the IPA got me home every night,” CJ laughed.
After six months at Pier 1 and some time working for a portrait studio in town, CJ decided she really wanted to get back into bartending. That’s when she started bussing tables at Bayou on Bay. Bussing later turned into serving, which turned into bartending, which later earned her the roll of bar manager and then general manager in 2014. This put her in a position where she was now the beer buyer at Bayou and that’s when Tap Trail owner Scott Pelton came in with a business idea.
Scott was pretty famous at the time with all his business ideas, so when he came in to talk to her, CJ just thought, “Great, Scott has another idea… let’s grab a beer.” That idea, of course, was the Bellingham Tap Trail. At the time, CJ didn’t see a need for Bayou on the map because, “we had six taps with only one local craft beer — Boundary Bay Scotch and Chuckanut was just getting rolling.” However the idea of supporting local craft beer resounded long after Scott left.
Soon after, Dave Vitt of Kulshan Brewing came over with the renowned Jim Parker to Bayou after hours with a Mason Jar of IPA he brewed. Dave and CJ sat in the dark bar, drinking this IPA, and it hit CJ, “I’m going to turn all the taps into local taps.” CJ bought Dave’s IPA, ordered kegs of Chuckanut, and switched up the Boundary style from the popular Scotch to more seasonals, but it still left three available taps open.
All of a sudden, CJ got wind of two new breweries opening up: Wander Brewing and Aslan Brewing.
“This is perfect,” CJ thought. “It just made sense to keep the craft beer local.”
Since Aslan’s beginning phases, CJ was actively following them. When Aslan took a few hits shortly after opening, CJ was right there fully supporting their every move.
“There’s moments where you lend a helping hand and support, because it’s all about preserving the community,” CJ explained. “If we don’t drink their beer, they can’t brew more. There was no better option than to kill the kegs so they could keep brewing!”
CJ quickly grew a fond partnership and friendship with Aslan. She always had their beer on tap, and you could always find her sitting at the bar in Aslan chatting it up with all the owners. In addition, she was so inspired with what Art Director Austin Martin was doing at Aslan, CJ started bumping up Bayou’s social media presence.