By: Tyler Kirk
Aslan Brewing Company, Bellingham’s first 100 percent organic brewery, opened its doors to the public on May 19.
Pat Haynes, 28, is the general manager and a co-owner of Aslan. He explained that the brewery’s origin came from the simple love of beer that he and the rest of Aslan’s founders and co-owners, CEO Jack Lamb, 25, and Head Brewer Frank Trosset, 30, shared.
“It started obviously with an idea,” Haynes said. “Me, Jack, and Frank were hanging out at the Green Frog having a beer, talking about how much we like beer.”
That night back in 2012, Haynes said, was the beginning of their brewery. He left town a few days later for a month of traveling, while business plans were already beginning to emerge, he said, adding that a week after they came up with the idea, “those two got down, hashed out a plan and made an LLC.”
When Haynes got back from his trip, Lamb and Trosset added him to the business plan and began making plans to develop recipes for their beer.
“Basically the plan was to build a little pilot brewery; somewhere where we could develop recipes,” Haynes said. “The first step, in our mind, was to see if we could actually make beer we thought we could sell.”
He said that although they were writing recipes since the first day, it was roughly three months before they developed a product that was drinkable. They built their pilot brewery on Bay Street behind The Upfront Theatre.
Haynes said that at this point, they were working with a five-gallon brewing system, their goal being to brew five different five-gallon batches every other week for the next year, “or until we thought we were ready to make the next step.” Haynes said that was in September 2012.
“That’s when we brought in the beer experts from around town,” he said.
Haynes explained that while they were fine-tuning the recipes, they had people from almost every brewery in town, including the owner and head brewers from Kulshan Brewing Company, tasting their beer and giving them advice. He said that was an example of the type of relationship they have had with Kulshan since the beginning.
“We’re big fans of Kulshan. We’re big fans of a lot of the breweries in town,” Haynes said. “We were really grateful that those guys were so open to us.”
Haynes said the idea for total organic brewing was there since the beginning.
“[Jack] wanted to do organic, and me and Frank were like ‘well yeah, that makes perfect sense.’ Why the he** not? Nobody else is really doing it,” he said. “I just think its good marketing.”
Haynes added that while their organic brewing model is important, they are sensitive to the idea of “green-washing.” He said they refrain from overly-promoting the organic nature of their beer, though the information is available if people were to look for it.
He said that in regard to his favorite beers that Aslan makes, it is difficult to choose.
“I think they’re all great, depending on the season or time of year,” he said. “Lately, because it gets so hot out, my go-to would be the Pilsner or the Ginger Rye.”
Haynes explained that while a few of their beers, such as the Ginger Rye IPA, the Brown Ale, and the Cascadian Dark Lager were excellent in their first batch, others, such as the Red Ale, took over a year for them to perfect the recipe.
“[The Red Ale] is one we’re really proud of because it was one we probably worked on the hardest. That one and the IPA,” he said.
Haynes said that the next step is canning their beer. They hope to start canning by July, but plan to have sellable six-packs by the end of the summer. He said the first three beers to be canned will be the Ginger Rye, the Pilsner, and the IPA and they plan to sell them at the Community Food Co-op, Elizabeth Station, and McKay’s Taphouse. He mentioned that they want to sell their beer anywhere they can.
Haynes said their distributor is Sound Distributing, who also works with Kulshan.
Regarding the future of Aslan and the more generalized beer culture in Bellingham, Haynes said he likes to see things expanding.
“I think we can be the next Bend, [Ore.],” he said. “I would love to see 20 breweries in this town.” He added that Aslan’s eventual goal is to create a production facility where they are able to can full-time and distribute around the country.
“One thing I think that separates us from a lot is we have ambitions to go nationwide, worldwide,” Haynes said. “We want a brand that will represent Bellingham in a positive way that will be seen around the world.”
Aslan Brewing Co. is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., 11 a.m. to midnight Friday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays. The brewery now features a full restaurant as well including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options, Haynes said. He also said their newest beer, the Megathrust Imperial IPA, with their highest alcohol content at 10.5 percent, will be released this week.