Barrels and Blending

Aslan Depot steps it up

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Bellingham’s beer scene recently stepped it up another notch with the opening of Aslan Depot’s Barrels and Blending. A taproom, barrel-aging facility and event space, the Depot opened on the first day of February at State Street’s historic Union Depot building.

“We’re featuring a rotating list of more than 15 taps and 50 bottles,” says Boe Trosset, who owns the business with his brother Frank and partners Jack Lamb and Pat Haynes. The Depot will showcase Aslan’s expanding barrel projects and small-batch brews, along with a curated selection of styles from the craft-brewing world.

Don’t expect much crossover in the beer at Aslan Depot and at Aslan Brewpub. “We’re trying to let the brewpub focus on being a brewpub and feature more small-batch beers down at the Depot,” Boe says. “The vast majority of the time there’ll be a completely different tap list at the two locations.”

Currently, Aslan Depot is offering its Elk Street IPA, Satan’s Airport (an Imperial milk stout brewed with Doma coffee), and Francis Farmer, the latter of which was released in bottles at a grand opening party in mid-February. Other craft brews on the roster include North Fork’s Black Francis; La Fin Du Monde by Unibroue in Chambly, Quebec; the Faro Lambic by Lindemans in Belgium; and Hommel Bier by Perennial Artisal Ales in St. Louis.

Although you won’t find food on the lineup just yet, Trosset says as many as 10 of Aslan’s draft beers are at the Depot, as well as another 10 draft beers from other brewers. The wine and cider list adds another 16 libations to the menu.

The expansion to the Depot came about because Aslan was out of space at its original location, and the partners were keen to grow. They pocketed the keys to the building in January 2017 and spent the next 13 months transforming former offices into a cozy, welcoming venue for beer lovers. The bar is comprised of an old-growth Douglas Fir sourced from the Mt. Baker Highway, the building’s dark trim has been repurposed, the walls painted and the floors refinished. The space also features plush leather couches, barstools and seating for 160 patrons.

The Trosset brothers were building houses with their father in the years prior to 2014, and they weren’t ecstatic about their work. Frank had started brewing beer as a hobby in 2010, but it wasn’t until the siblings met Lamb on a 2012 ski trip that they realized they were way more passionate about brewing beer than they were about home construction. Lamb, who had a job offer in Seattle, felt conflicted about the life in a “cubicle zoo” he was about to embark on.

At the time, he wanted to use his talents and sweat equity to build something. The three men hit it off, ditched their jobs, formed a partnership and opened Aslan Brewing on North Forest Street instead. A fourth, silent partner, Pat Haynes, joined them with experience in the restaurant industry at McKay’s Taphouse and Chuckanut Brewery.

“There was a huge learning curve,” Boe admits of the 80-hour work weeks required to get the organic brewery open. “But being in this business provides a wonderful connection to the community and it’s a very creative outlet; we’re creating liquid art.”

By October 2015, the partners were distributing canned beer in Seattle and, after that, success came fast. “We ran out of beer!” Boe says with surprise. “We just couldn’t make it fast enough to keep up with demand, even while we were running our brewhouse 22 hours a day.”

Expansion was inevitable, but the partners were careful to maintain their boutique approach to craft beer rather than choose the route of massive volume.

They’re excited to showcase new craft brews at the Depot, and also their transformation of the space into a place of beer discovery, community and conversation.

“Our hope,” Boe says, “is that it can serve as a destination for craft beer enthusiasts and casual beer drinkers alike.”

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