Brandon Fralic | 06/04/2018 | Craft Beer, Wine, Cider & Spirits |   

Aslan Depot: Barrels and Blending in Downtown Bellingham

Established in 2014, Aslan Brewing is one of the most widely-known breweries in Bellingham. Slick marketing, organic beer, and a vibrant, trendy brewpub culture have propelled Aslan to top-of-mind for many beer lovers inside and outside Whatcom County. And in 2018, Aslan opened its second location, Aslan Depot, just one block away from the original brewpub. If you aren’t an Aslan fan already, I highly recommend giving their State Street location a try.

Here’s my takeaway from a recent visit to Aslan Depot.

One thing is abundantly clear: this is not just another Aslan Brewpub. In many ways, Aslan Depot is the opposite of its sister space: you won’t find food service or anyone under the age of 21 here. No long lines or large parties, either. The historic Union Depot building was originally a streetcar station built in 1916. Its loungy, barrel-lined interior is in stark contrast to the modern, glass-encased Aslan Brewpub around the corner. Where the original Aslan Brewpub is bustling and trendy, Aslan Depot is intimate and sophisticated.

It’s windy outside and the doors are open, allowing for a light spring breeze to blow in. I sit near the streetside, where natural light pours in via a wall of windows. One wall is lined with barrels. The bar occupies the back of the building, illuminated by low hanging lights. A man seated nearby peers over his laptop asks what I’m drinking, and a conversation ensues. The Depot’s casual, yet classy vibe encourages this kind of connection — a throwback to simpler times, when meeting your neighbors at the local pub was a routine stop on the way home from work.

I settle into a soft leather couch before taking a sip of my Aslan Jeune Saison. It’s early on a Friday afternoon, and while the original Aslan Brewpub (just one street up from where I currently sit) is swamped, I nearly have Aslan Depot to myself. The bartender takes his time pouring my beer, explaining that the keg conditioning process produces plenty of natural carbonation — a desirable trait in this classic Belgian style.

Aslan Depot opened in February 2018, nearly four years after Aslan opened its brewhouse in Bellingham. Converted from public station to public house, the taproom showcases Aslan’s more refined styles, from barrel-aged varieties to saisons, sours and blended beers. 18 ever-evolving taps offer unique Aslan brews, as well as guest taps from across America. An extensive bottle list rounds out the lineup with worldwide options from Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. Wine and cider are available as well.

The longer I spend at Aslan Depot, the more akin it feels to a refined coffee shop or old-timey cocktail bar than your typical taproom. People trickle in and conversations pick up as 5 o’clock rolls around. I’m no smoker, but settling in with the newspaper and a fine cigar suddenly sounds quite satisfying. This is a place for relaxation, conversation, and appreciation for the finer things in life.

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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