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From farm to bottle: Blaine brewery finds success growing its own ingredients

Farm to bottle-see how they brew beer in Blaine

Atwood Ales Farm Brewery is a small micro brewery in Blaine focused on Belgian and French style beers. Atwood Ales was awarded a “Good Food Award” for their rhubarb sour ale in January.
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Atwood Ales Farm Brewery is a small micro brewery in Blaine focused on Belgian and French style beers. Atwood Ales was awarded a “Good Food Award” for their rhubarb sour ale in January.

Two years ago the Smith family took a more challenging path to operating a brewery, but it appears to be paying off now.

Atwood Ales is nearing its second anniversary with plans to grow and further connect with the community. The Blaine brewery is on a family farm, growing its own ingredients. The owners were inspired by the French and Belgian farmhouse style of ales. Josh and Monica Smith, along with Josh’s parents Stephen and Leslee, started the brewery in the spring of 2016.

As a small operation, they started the brewery without a taproom on the farm, making it difficult to introduce the ales to potential customers and tell their story. Instead they decided to try out other ways to get the word out, including becoming a vendor at the Bellingham Farmers Market.

The farmers market has turned out to be a great venue for them to introduce their beers, said Josh Smith. Some of their brews need a bit of explanation, because they have flavors not seen, even with Bellingham’s strong craft industry. Along with a farmhouse ale called Grange, the brewery offers a Saison-style beer, an oyster stout called Dark Harbor and a sour blonde ale called No Whey, Bro. It also has more than 20 other beers that are rotated in throughout the year.

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“A lot of people didn’t realize that they would like a saison or an oyster stout until they tried it,” Josh Smith said. “We are here for people who want to try something new.”

One other different path this brewery took was staying away from IPAs. That style of beer is well done among other local brewers and Atwood Ales wanted to carve its own niche, Josh Smith said.

Word quickly spread about the different brews and Seattle-area bottle shops began inquiring.

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“We didn’t expect to be sending our beer south so quickly,” said Monica Smith. “People are always interested in something new, and there’s a story behind this beer.”

The farm is one that Josh grew up on, and the goal is to keep it a sustainable operation. While they still don’t have a public taproom, they do plan on private events such as dinners and brewery tours in 2018. They also want to continue working with local companies: The oyster stout, for example, is a collaboration with the Drayton Harbor Oyster Company.

Atwood produced 88 barrels last year, a 58 percent increase compared to 2016. While Atwood plans on increasing production this year, it’s not aiming to become a big-time brewery.

Atwood Ales can be found in several local stores, including Elizabeth Station, the Community Food Co-op and Terra. Updates can be found on its Facebook page. To contact the owners, email beer@atwoodales.com.

ASLAN OPENS A TAPROOM ON STATE STREET

Aslan Brewing has expanded its operations with a taproom at 1322 N. State St., in the Union Depot building.

The Aslan Depot opened last week, offering a rotating list of more than 15 taps and more than 50 bottles/cans showcasing the brewery’s barrel projects, which allows the company to be creative with new beers and blends, according to a news release.

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A look inside Aslan Depot at 1322 N. State St. in Bellingham. Aslan Brewery Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

The location itself was originally built as a station for the local electric streetcars and motor buses.

The taproom is open 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday through Monday. Details can be found at aslandepot.com.

WILD BIRD CHALET IS UP FOR SALE

After more than 10 years of running the Wild Bird Chalet, Valeri Wade has decided to sell it.

The store at 108 Ohio St. in Bellingham offers a variety of bird feed supplies along with home and garden supplies. Wade said she is ready for a life change, prompting her to put the business up for sale. She’s hoping to have a new owner in place by this summer, which is usually a slower time of year in terms of sales. That would allow a new owner a better chance at a smooth transition, she said. The business has been thriving as bird feeder sales continue to grow across the U.S., she said. The store has also improved its website to include online sales.

“It is my hope that one of my customers knows someone who will love the store as much as I have,” Wade said.

For those interested in learning more about the store, Wade said people can drop by or send her an email through the store’s website.

OTHER TIDBITS

Bellingham Cider Company announced on its Facebook page details about its Feb. 9 opening, which included special promotions. The facility at 205 Prospect St. has a restaurant as well as 20 taps that will serve around 10 ciders and 10 beers. ... A state liquor license application was submitted for a restaurant/taproom called Downtime Taps at 1740 Labounty Drive in Ferndale. The applicants are Chay Tan, Christina Tan and Tomas Aminnie. ... A Bellingham building permit application was submitted for a new commercial building going in on Lincoln Street south of the Lakeway Fred Meyer. Lincoln Street Phase II is proposed to be a 4,640-square-foot building at 1243 Lincoln St., according to a listing at North Sound Commercial. ... The McDonald’s restaurant inside the Bellis Fair food court shut down in January. The recently remodeled standalone McDonald’s at 101 W. Telegraph Road remains open. Also recently closing at the mall was Shimmer Silver and the Best Buy outlet store. ... Samson Estates Winery re-opened its tasting room for the season on Feb. 2. Hours will be 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday. The winery is at 1861 Van Dyk Road near Everson. ... Evolve Chocolate has opened a pop-up lounge through Valentine’s Day at 1228 Bay St., near Camber. The lounge, which is selling locally made truffles and other products, is open from noon to 9 p.m.

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