You heard me correctly. Plans are in full swing to open one of the first three cooperative breweries in the US, right here in Bellingham, WA. There are currently two other coop breweries in the US, Black Star Brewery of Austin, Texas, and Flying Bike of Seattle, WA. What will make the Bellingham Beer Lab different, is the idea of a brewery incubator, a shared production facility and taproom where brewers will be able to start up and develop a beer brand without having to bear the initial costs of equipment. When a brewers brand is sufficiently developed, he (or she) will move out on their own and a new resident brewer will take their place. There will be 5 initial resident brewer slots at the Bellingham Beer Lab.
In addition, the Bellingham Beer Lab will be community owned. What this means is that funding for this brewery will come from the community. In exchange for the funding, members will receive some great benefits such as the ability to vote on the beers BBL brewers will create, the opportunity to serve on the BBL Board of Directors, all the time Happy Hour pricing, participation in the Community Supported Brewing program, and the ability to say that you own a brewery. I mean really, the one time $150 membership fee is worth the last point alone, right.
A couple of weeks ago, I was able to attend a “Meet the Brewers of the BBL Night”, where a group of us were able to meet the brewers (obviously), and to sample 13 different beers brewed by the BBL resident brewers.
Chris McClanahan (Grant Street Brewing)
– Belgian Golden Ale
– American Stout
Zach Brown (Black Fire Brewing)
– Fresh Hop IPA
– Arrow IPA
Josh Smith (Atwood Ales)
– Atwood Brown
– Comrade Fresh Hop Red
Alex Cleanthous and Jesse Nickerson (Arbella’s Ales)
– Saison de Vino
– Northwest Table Ale
Jim and Beth Parker (Happy Valley Brewery)
– Que Sera Saison
– Jittery Pig coffee porter
Caleb Atkins (Finback Brewing)
– Old Town Brown
Scoundrel Wheat Pale Ale
Dave Morales (BBL’s steering committee)
– Belgian Pale Ale.
“This will be your brewery,” Jim Parker, self-described Chief Enthusiasm Officer of the BBL told the prospective member-owners. “We, the brewers, will work for you while launching our own brands.”
With a brewery model that is community supported and owned, with brewers who want to give back to the community, this endeavor looks to be a positive one, both for the City of Bellingham, and for the beer loving community. I am looking forward to the day when the BBL opens its doors. To keep up on their progress, check out their Facebook page, or their Website. Cheers!