Business

Wine or beer? Room for both at new Bellingham brewery

Veca Electric electrician Chris Meyer, left, and Bill Kimmerly, discuss construction details at the new location of Kimmerly's businesses Masquerade Wine Co., and Illuminati Brewing Co., on Hammer Drive in the Irongate area of Bellingham Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016.
Veca Electric electrician Chris Meyer, left, and Bill Kimmerly, discuss construction details at the new location of Kimmerly's businesses Masquerade Wine Co., and Illuminati Brewing Co., on Hammer Drive in the Irongate area of Bellingham Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016. pdwyer@bhamherald.com

Can wine and beer enthusiasts coexist in the same room? Bill Kimmerly will soon find out.

Kimmerly, who owns Masquerade Wine Co., is moving into a bigger space at 3950 Hammer Drive, which is scheduled to open Nov. 17. It will have a 1,000-square-foot tasting room, a 500-square-foot room for private events and dinners, and about 4,500 square feet of production space.

Kimmerly is also starting a brewery there. Illuminati Brewing is scheduled to open in early 2017. At that point, the tasting room will also serve as a pub setting. It’s the ultimate cross-pollination project for the owner, who has a doctoral degree in molecular and cellular biology from the University of California, Berkeley.

The addition of the brewery lets Kimmerly bring a longtime home-brewing hobby into a commercial business. The beer production will focus on English-style ales, which tend to have less alcohol than U.S. beer and more emphasis on malts, he said. He also will make barrel-aged beers, with containers he is quite familiar with from his wine experience.

Masquerade Wine Co. started six years ago and has a small but enthusiastic following, he said. The grapes are purchased in Eastern Washington but the fermenting, aging and bottling is done in Bellingham. Kimmerly has enjoyed the process, but was surprised at how challenging it is to get the attention of wine customers, who typically buy mass-produced bottles. He knows Bellingham beer drinkers enjoy trying locally-crafted brews, so he hopes to tap that market while growing the wine business.

The new location also gives him an opportunity to grow his customer base. In Irongate Business Park, quite a few workers are nearby but they don’t have many options for lunch or an after-work drink. Kimmerly plans to have hookups for food trucks and eventually to sell small food items, like cheese. The Hammer Drive facility will be open seven days a week for lunch and into the evening.

A wine-beer-tasting-room-pub is a rare business combination, so Kimmerly plans to stay flexible, factoring volume and customer comment into its development . If the brewery really takes off, he may expand it into a separate site. He also is interested in developing community partnerships to grow the business.

Kimmerly said he will offer traditional Masquerade holiday products, including sparkling wines. On Nov. 17, he will launch a new wine, the Bellingham Nouveau. It’s a Beaujolais-style wine known for its short fermentation period. The Bellingham Nouveau will be made from this year’s grapes, he said.

Masquerade wine is also sold in local stores, including Safeway, Whole Foods, Yorky’s, Blaine Cost Cutter and the Market at Birch Bay.

MI SHOES IS EXPANDING TO LYNDEN

Mi Shoes, which recently celebrated its 11th year in Bellingham, is opening a new store at 511 Front St., Lynden.

Mi Shoes Lynden will have a grand opening on Saturday, Nov. 12. Besides shoes, it will feature clothing and accessories from Heroine Clothing. Both Mi Shoes and Heroine were founded by Michelle Bouma.

Details and updates about Mi Shoes Lynden can be found on its Facebook page.

OTHER TIDBITS

Subdued Brewing recently announced on its Facebook page that it has shelved plans to put in a brewery at the former Gifford’s Market building in the Columbia Neighborhood. In the post, the owners said the numbers didn’t pencil out when it came to construction costs. ... A state liquor license application was submitted for a new pub at 7471 Mount Baker Highway, in the former Crave’n Burgers & Brew space. The proposed name is Maple Falls Taphouse and the applicants are Gregory and Jodi Hancock. A liquor license application was also submitted for the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites at Bellingham International Airport as the 153-room hotel and its restaurant Northwater gets close to opening.

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