Craft beer is a booming industry in Bellingham, and new breweries are stepping in to meet the demand.
Remodeling work recently got underway at 1330 N. Forest St., which will be the new home for Aslan Brewing Co. The former Signs Plus building will become a brew pub, serving a variety of Aslan-made beers. It also will have a 150-seat restaurant, with a world street fair theme, said Jack Lamb, founder and CEO of the company. Key personnel on this project include Pat Haynes, who will be the general manager, and Frank Trosset, the company's head brewer.
Lamb hopes to be brewing beer by the beginning of the year and have the restaurant portion of the facility ready by next spring.
Right now the inside of the building is basically one big, empty rectangle. Lamb plans to keep an open design plan to take advantage of the large windows on the Forest Street side of the building.
"It will be a very visual brewery," Lamb said. "We want to show you how we are brewing the beer."
When this brew pub is completed, it will be another addition to what's been a fast-growing industry in Bellingham. Boundary Bay Brewery is in the process of expanding, and Chuckanut Brewery has added capacity in recent years. Kulshan Brewery, which opened in April 2012 on James Street, has already expanded twice. Also, Wander Brewing has submitted a liquor license application to put in a brewery at 1807 Dean St., near the Cornwall Avenue/Ohio Street intersection. According to the company's Facebook page, it plans to be open in the first half of 2014.
With the second annual Bellingham Beer Week currently underway, trying out locally made brews appears to be more popular than ever.
"There's room to grow in Bellingham," said Lamb, who predicts that in 20 years Bellingham will have at least 10 breweries. He noted several West Coast cities of similar size have more breweries.
David Vitt, co-owner of Kulshan Brewery, agreed, saying he thought it would take several years to grow to the level his brewery has already reached. He said Bellingham is similar in size and demographics to Bend Ore., which he said has 18 breweries.
"At some point Bellingham will have its fill, but we're not there yet," Vitt said.
Aslan Brewing has spent the past year testing out recipes with a five-gallon home brew system, developing 100 different beers, mostly ales and lagers. At the new facility, which will have a 15-barrel steam system, Lamb plans to have about 10 beers on tap, regularly rotating new brews.
Aslan plans to have the beer be organic, and some of it will go into aluminum cans, which is much better from a recycling standpoint, Lamb said.
They also plan on brewing a variety of soda, including root beer and ginger ale. The goal is to create an atmosphere of a brew pub where a family can enjoy meals as well as hang out.
"I want it to be more of a community gathering spot, where people can sit down and talk," Lamb said.
As for the restaurant, Lamb said they are going for that street fair feel, but it'll be indoors. Food will be served on paper plates with sporks.
The best way to keep up on the remodel project is on Aslan's Facebook page. The business name Aslan, by the way, means lion in the Turkic language. It came about because all three involved like lions. A lion is also part of the company's logo.
DAN'S AUTOMOTIVE MOVING TO WOBURN STREET
A longtime auto repair business is closing, but the space quickly will be filled by a familiar local company.
Larry Keen and Mike McKernan have decided to retire, closing Smitty's Auto Repair at 2205 Woburn St. Rather than leave an empty spot in that part of town, they searched for a local shop to replace them. Keen, the owner of Smitty's, selected Dan's Automotive, which is owned by Dan and Elizabeth Thorndike, to take over operations at the facility. The change, which includes changing the name at the facility to Dan's Automotive, becomes effective Monday, Sept. 23.
Having started the business in 2009, the Thorndikes have outgrown the current space at the Sunset Pond Business Park. The new space will add two repair bays and triple the amount of parking space.
In a news release, Dan Thorndike said he was humbled to be chosen to take over the facility, and plans to honor Keen and McKernan during a grand opening barbecue 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5.
McKernan became co-owner of Smitty's Auto Repair in 1984, then an employee when Keen purchased the shop in 1996.
Before starting Dan's Automotive, Dan Thorndike worked for 13 years at auto dealerships. His current shop handles a variety of services, including transmissions, brakes and electrical systems.
For further details, call 360-441-3923 or visit dansautomotivebellingham.com.
Bratz in Vogue, a children's clothing store that used to be at Bakerview Square, is moving into Bellis Fair. The store will be in the Sports Authority wing.
Several previously reported Bellingham permit applications are going through the cycle again, which usually means some sort of change was made to the previous application. This includes a new Taco Bell in the Sunset Square parking lot area, the 106-unit Hilton hotel near Northwest Avenue and the mixed-use building on 119 W. Chestnut St. (formerly home to Towner Press).
Fred Meyer has been approved to remodel its Bakerview store. The remodel will included a new enclosed coffee shop area inside the store.
The owner of La Patisserie restaurant was approved to remodel a space in Sunnyland Square and put in a restaurant called La La Eatery. Owner Joyce Chen is hoping to get that opened later this year.
Spook Shop is also opening a seasonal Halloween store in Bellis Fair, in the Macy's wing near Big 5 Sporting Goods.
A state liquor license application was submitted to put in a domestic winery at 409 Robinson St. in Everson. The proposed business name is Hard Washington and the applicants are Hard Washington Cider LLC, which consists of Nicholas Spring, Vernon Hilty-Jones and Amy James.
Retail Tip Sheet runs each Sunday.