Brandon Fralic | 09/03/2019 | Craft Beer, Insider Blogs, Savor - Food & Fun |   

Introducing Stemma Brewing in Bellingham, Washington

Opened June 2019, Stemma Brewing is among the newest additions to the growing Bellingham beer scene. Offering a great selection of beers right out the gate, this family friendly brewery is bound to become a local favorite. I met with owner and head brewer Jason Harper to find out what makes Stemma stand out from the crowd.

As a homebrewer, Jason was interested in starting a brewery for about 10 years before making Stemma a reality. He wrote a brewery business plan while attending Western Washington University, worked in the beer industry as a distributor, and earned a Level 3 Advanced Cicerone certification (Jason is one of only three Advanced Cicerones in Washington State) before taking the plunge on starting a full-time brewery. Now that Stemma is up and running, Jason and his father Mark are brewing up over a dozen different beer styles for the Bellingham community.  

The name “Stemma” comes from the Latin for “written family genealogy”. By choosing this name, the Harpers have made it clear that their brewery is family owned and operated. Jason and his wife Kim are joined by Jason’s parents and a small crew of employees in running the business. Because the Harpers are parents themselves, they’ve intentionally created a family-friendly space, welcoming kids and leashed dogs into the taproom. Families will find a couch and cozy seating away from the bar — a great “kids corner” with games and space to spread out for small groups. Even the restrooms are outfitted with changing tables, making Stemma one of the most toddler-friendly breweries around. 

You might notice a cat on Stemma’s logo as you walk in. This is another example of the familial theme at Stemma — including the family cat in their logo (and yes, the cats are named after varieties of hops). The taproom itself is open and airy, with natural light pouring in through an open garage door. There’s a clean and modern feel to the taproom, whose white walls contrast with green houseplants and a gorgeous bar full of colorful brews. Outside is a small beer garden with picnic tables — an area that Jason plans to expand in 2020.

Stemma’s 13 taps offer a wide range of beer choices, from lagers and IPAs to darker offerings like a milk stout served on nitro. Jason favors drinkability in his beers, so you won’t find anything too alcohol-heavy on the tap list (most Stemma brews are in the 5-6% ABV-range). Stemma is using Skagit Valley Malting products in most of their brews, including the “Log Off Lager” which features 100% Francin malt grown in the Skagit Valley. Jason also enjoys experimenting with flavor additions. One example is “Conditus Lager” — a Helles infused with lemon juice, lemon peel, and cayenne pepper. What’s Conditus, you ask? It’s the Latin term for “spicy”. 

In addition to draft pours, you can take any Stemma beer to-go in a 32-ounce “crowler” can. Crowlers are purged with CO2 prior to filling to ensure that the beer stays fresh longer. Stemma also has two guest cider taps featuring local Washington ciders.

Because many of Stemma’s beers are easy-drinking, they pair especially well with food. And while Stemma itself does not have a kitchen, their full-time food truck is happy to serve you. Meet Mr. Franks: The Bus. Born from Mr. Frank’s Kitchen, a local spice company, The Bus is open 7 days a week right outside Stemma Brewing. Here you’ll find burgers, chicken wings, sandwiches and vegetarian options — all seasoned with special spice blends from Mr. Frank’s Kitchen. You can also enjoy popsicles from West Coast Pops from Stemma’s bar. These all-natural popsicles are hand-made in Bellingham.  

After a successful brewery launch, Stemma plans to introduce more events as they grow. One to watch for is The Afterglow Comedy Hour, a free comedy showcase that will be held on the last Friday of every month. Keep an eye on Stemma’s Facebook page and Instagram for upcoming events and beer announcements.

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