In 2013 Aslan Brewing Company was founded with a commitment to organic ingredients, locally sourced goods, and low-impact practices. The four founders shared a vision to offer something new and refreshing to their Bellingham community in the form of a brewpub and beer philosophy. We recently spent some time with the good people of Aslan to learn what it takes to keep brewery production roaring.
Located in downtown Bellingham, Washington, the Aslan brewpub boasts a 20-tap lineup of rotating brews, including tried-and-true recipes such as the Batch 15 IPA and newer beers like the Cucumber Lager, released earlier this fall. Long tables, tall ceilings, and bright colors create a sense of comfort and community within the space, adjacent to the production facility. This proximity has provided opportunity to connect customers with beer as fresh as it comes: stop by Aslan on Freshie Tuesday and pick up a six-pack canned only hours earlier.
The interior of the space is adorned with a huge number of hanging and potted plants, which breathe life into a building that has enjoyed a second life since Aslan moved in. Glass, beams, and other raw materials were all salvaged during demolition and repurposed to create the contemporary aesthetic of the brewpub today.
Originally built over a nine-month period by the current owners Pat, Jack, and brothers Boe and Frank, the brewery has recently undergone an expansion doubling production capacity from a 15 barrel brew house to 30 barrels. Additionally, gigantic new fermenters have given the crew the ability to keep up with draft and canned demand for their flagship beers like Dawn Patrol, and freed up space in the smaller hardware to experiment with seasonal and small batch recipes. Increased demand and awareness in the Seattle area has helped to fuel this growth. Production capacity is still building, and Aslan is set to brew 7,000 barrels this year, on target for a goal of 12,000 barrels producing annually in the years to come.
For Aslan, the focus is on producing high quality beer, not settling with a recipe that sells and attempting to sell it in any and all possible venues.
The ingredients of beer malt, hops, grains, (and sometimes fruit or coffee beans for Aslan) are all sourced organically for the brewery. Every beer that Aslan produces is USDA Certified Organic, part of Aslan’s quest to produce quality beer on a consistent basis. Ever since their pilot brewery days, Jack and the other founders’ sought out USDA certification as a foundation of the brewing philosophy. It’s part of the commitment to quality and sense of producing a product that speaks for itself.
Ingredients from the kitchen are also sought locally from producers and farmers- Aslan is proud to support their local and organic suppliers in the Skagit and Bellingham region.
In addition to organic certification from the Washington State Department of Agriculture, Aslan is also a certified B Corporation. B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Aslan’s growth has placed an emphasis on taking care of employees, doing good from the inside out, top to bottom. With nearly 90 employees now working at the Bellingham space, the focus on accountability and transparency has shifted inwards- to employee programs such as community volunteer teams and benefits expansion. Just as Aslan knows how to brew killer beer, they know how to take care of their own people too.
Aslan beers can be found in cans and on draft from Bellingham to Olympia, and even across the border in Vancouver, BC. Just as their brewpub is a place in the Bellingham community for people to meet, laugh, and spend quality time together, Aslan seeks to form relationships in the brewing process as well. Collaborative brews with Seattle’s Reuben’s and Woodinville’s Red Hooks have pleased fans of both breweries, and Aslan has taken it a step further with their I Stand IPA. A portion of sales of this beer directly benefit Mount Baker Planned Parenthood, providing safe health access and education to the community.
What’s up next for Aslan? A new 8000 square foot space in a historic building in downtown Bellingham will be transformed into Aslan’s barrelhouse, housing 60+ barrels, a new bar, and integrated retail space. It will be a whole new concept, separate from the brewpub’s family-friendly, loud and bright vibes.
Says Lead Sales Rep Gerry Jiminez “It will be a place for beer nerds and beer drinkers to relax and hang out.” The bar will feature the barrel-aged sours, saisons, and dark beers as well as a planned lineup of bottle releases, all to be enjoyed amidst the beers of next year.
At it’s core, Aslan is a brewery seeking perfection in each glass, and friendly people to share it with. If you stop by the brewup this winter and the doors are unexpectedly closed, get back in your car and head to the mountains, where you’ll surely find the crew enjoying the fresh powder.
Follow Aslan on Instagram for all the latest news on upcoming beer and events.
Come visit us at MiiR Flagship to get a pint or a growler fill of an exclusive Aslan beer: The Bellingham Buzz Coffee Brown Ale- on tap only at Flagship in Fremont.
Photos by Ben Groenhout. Words by Miles Boucher.