There are lots of cool tap houses in Washington State, but most of them are all about beer – not water.
Overflow Taps in Lynden, WA is as much about water as it is about good beer. Clean water, that is – in developing countries. The business that opened in February 2016 in the historic Waples Building on Lynden’s Front Street is donating 25 cents from every pint sold to Charity Water, a non-profit organization based in New York City. “So far we’ve raised $5,300 in seven months to help solve the global water crisis,” said Jesse Nelson, partner at Overflow Taps. “For every keg emptied, one person gains access to clean drinking water, and all the donated money goes towards building wells in Africa.”
Nelson owned a web design and marketing business before he began this venture, but was not feeling fulfilled. When his friend Adam Stacey and brother-in-law Josh Libolt approached him about opening a tap house, he knew it was the right thing. “This has been in planning our whole lives!” he said.
Getting started was a challenge, particularly when three banks denied the partners funding. “Either they didn’t like the charity component, or they didn’t think Lynden was ready for a tap house,” Nelson recalled. But Nelson, Stacey and Libolt refused to compromise. The charity focus was important to all three, and they definitely thought Lynden was ready for a cool tap house. Undeterred, they resorted to crowd funding, peer-to-peer loans and help from their family members. They received business mentorship from the owners of Aslan and Wander Brewing. Then they got their clothes dirty, designing and building the entire space themselves.
The 45-seat tap house feels warm and social inside, with earthy colors, a sleek wood bar, beautiful handcrafted bar stools and an electric fireplace against one of the walls. Board games are stacked on a shelf encouraging customers to get comfortable and socialize over a fun game, and a large pull-down screen means those who want to watch big sports games can do so – without Overflow Taps becoming a sports bar.
Overflow has nine beer taps, one coffee tap, a wine tap and two cider taps. The taps are rotated daily and the partners do their best to give patrons a taste of the various craft beers available, some local, some from further away.
While there’s no food available, customers are encouraged to order in food from area restaurants. A box of menus is readily available so folks have choices, but often those meals come from the restaurants steps away – Drizzle and Avenue Bread, whose proprietors gladly walk their to-go meals over to the tap house.
Nelson, Stacey and Libolt are keeping the charity component of their business front-of-mind for themselves and their customers. “Every time we blow a keg we celebrate the fact that someone is accessing clean drinking water for the rest of their life. We’ll pour that customer’s beer into a 20-oz glass engraved with the phrase ‘One Keg, One Life.’ It helps us tell the story, and gives the person drinking the beer a story to tell as well.”
That story has been well received from customers near and far, including locals from Lynden and cyclists from Canada who stop for a craft beer before heading back out on the road. “We have people who come in, don’t even drink and still give us money towards the charity,” Nelson reflected. “Lynden is a very charitable community, and that’s shined through for us.”
Business has been accelerating, particularly between 7pm and midnight, when the space fills up with happy customers and an energetic vibe.
When you go
Hours: Open 12-10 pm Sundays and Thursdays, 3-10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, and noon to midnight Friday and Saturday.
For more information visit www.overflowtaps.com or call (360) 778-2033.