Beer lovers got a sneak peek at what a Saturday night at the future Bellingham Beer Lab tasting room might look like on Nov. 19 when more than 80 invitees gathered in the Majestic Underground for the first “Meet the Brewers of the BBL Night.”
Attendees got a chance to try 13 different beers from the five brewing entities that will make up the nation’s first cooperatively owned brewery incubator. They also got a chance to meet the brewers and hear about the vision behind this new brewery start-up model.
Bellingham Beer Lab won’t be the first cooperative brewery in the U.S. That distinction belongs to Black Star Brewery of Austin, Texas. A second cooperative brewery, Flying Bike, is in the start-up phase in Seattle. Unlike those two, BBL will serve as a brewery incubator, where five brewing entities share one production facility and tasting room while launching individual beer brands. When one brewer grows his brand to the point where he has outgrown the incubator, he will move out into his own facility, making room for the next start-up brewer.
“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.”
Lifetime member-ownership in the BBL will cost $150 and is open to anyone 21 years of age or older. Ownership will afford members many benefits including “Perpetual Happiness” — happy hour price all the time at the BBL tasting room, voting rights for the board of directors who will oversee the running of the cooperative and the opportunity to participate in the BBL’s Community Supported Brewing program.
The brewers, each sporting a sample of the Bellingham Beer Lab’s new T-shirt, poured homebrewed samples of some of the beers they have been working on recently in anticipation of the BBL opening in 2012:
- Chris McClanahan of Grant Street Brewing poured his Belgian Golden Ale and his American Stout;
- Zach Brown of Black Fire Brewing brought his Fresh Hop IPA and his future flagship Arrow IPA;
- Josh Smith of Atwood Ales shared his Atwood Brown and Comrade Fresh Hop Red;
- Alex Cleanthous and Jesse Nickerson of Arbella’s Ales provided samples of Saison de Vino ( a saison fermented on crushed grapes) and Northwest Table Ale;
- Jim and Beth Parker of Happy Valley Brewery sampled the latest version of their Que Sera Saison “The Beer That Will Be What It Will Be” (this version brewed with lemongrass) and Jittery Pig coffee porter (a test batch for a future house beer for Bellingham’s Copper Hog Gastropub;
- Caleb Atkins of Finback Brewing, who will be sharing the fifth brewing slot with the Parkers, brought his Old Town Brown and Scoundrel, a hoppy wheat pale ale;
- Dave Morales, a member of the BBL’s steering committee and former Boundary Bay brewer, brought along a keg of his Belgian Pale Ale.
“I was really impressed with the quality of the beers,” said attendee Amy Collins. “If this is what the beers are going to taste like, I can’t wait.”
Potential member-owners will have to wait a bit, however, as the BBL’s articles of incorporation and bylaws are vetted by a lawyer. The group anticipates launching a membership drive early in the new year.
Click here to see a video produced by Chris McClanahan of the evening’s festivities. And if you are not already on our newsletter list, send and email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like an invite to future tasting events.