Their business plan was brewed at Western Washington University
Stemma Brewing Co. may have just opened, but it’s been a nearly decade long dream for Jason Harper.
Harper and his wife, Kim, opened the brewery on June 29 at 2039 Moore St., near Interstate 5 and Iowa Street. It currently offers five Stemma beers and two locally made ciders on tap. A food truck called Mr. Frank’s “The Bus” is expected to open there in coming weeks.
Jason Harper has been home brewing since 2010. While at Western Washington University he wrote a business plan on a brewery for one of his classes in 2011, a time when Boundary Bay Brewery and Chuckanut Brewery were the main local breweries in Bellingham. After graduating from Western he needed to make some money for his brewery idea to happen, so he landed a job at Dickerson Distributors.
While the number of breweries in Bellingham has exploded to more than 12 during his time at Dickerson, Jason Harper said his original business plan hasn’t changed that much. He believes Bellingham has the capacity to be like Bend, Ore., which has around 22 breweries.
“I believe there is still room for good breweries to shine,” he said in an interview with The Bellingham Herald.
Many of Stemma’s first beers will be IPAs but it will also have lagers and amber styles. He’s keeping operations small, comparing production levels to that of Bellingham’s Wander Brewing. While focusing on quality he also wants to create beers with lower alcohol content so consumers can have one or two and still “remain a productive human being,” he said.
In its brief time open, Stemma has seen quite a few people from the nearby neighborhoods, Kim Harper said.
“It’s been very positive so far,” Kim Harper said. “We still have work to do, but we’re happy so many have been checking us out.”
One thing that has worked out well is merchandising. Breweries take a long time to put together, so putting together logos for shirts and hats was something they did while waiting for equipment to arrive, she said. They were able to sell plenty of merchandise before the brewery opened, and they appreciated the early support.