Creating a truly green business goes far beyond sustainable raw inputs and outputs. Rather, commitment toward preserving local management, helping our community, and respecting the needs of our own workforce are a few of the many elements we believe are what make businesses like ours special. Every decision made at our company, no matter how small it may seem, must be made with a conscious mind. We understand that we are often gifted the power to influence our friends and neighbors, and there is nothing more sustainable than insuring that everything we do will benefit us all in the long run.
As we grow and our impact on the world becomes inevitably larger, we will continue to search for more ways to subsidize, or completely eliminate, the footprints we leave behind; there is no greater mission than that (and to brew really good beer, of course). Below are some highlights of our efforts in sustainability and sustainable practices.
OWNER // CEO
CERTIFIED B CORPORATION
Aslan Brewing Company became a Certified B Corporation in January 2016. In a nutshell, a B Corp inspires businesses to compete not only to be the best in the world, but to be the best for the world. Through a rigorous review and inspection process conducted by the B Lab, B Corps are required to meet higher standards of social and environmental performance and ensure that these standards are comprehensive and transparent. It's like our USDA Organic certification but for the whole business, not just the beer. Unlike traditional corporations, B Corps are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions not only on their shareholders, but also on their stakeholders (e.g., workers, suppliers, community, consumers, and the environment).
There are over 1,500 Certified B Corporations from more than 120 industries in nearly 50 countries with 1 unifying goal - to redefine success in business. For more information on B Corps and the B Lab, visit BCorporation.net.
USDA ORGANIC BEER
All beer brewed at Aslan Brewing Company is USDA Certified Organic. This means that (1) all of the ingredients used in the brewing process are certified organic by a recognized certifying agent, (2) the chemicals used in brewery cleaning have low-impact on the environment, and (3) we are fully transparent regarding details of our suppliers and overall process.
"But, how can an ingredient like barley or hops be organic? Aren't all things in the world that grow from the ground technically organic?!"
When we say that our ingredients are all certified organic, we mean that the suppliers of said ingredients have gone above and beyond to meet green standards set by their certifying agent (USDA, Oregon Tilth, California Certified Organic Farmers, etc.). Various green standards include but are not limited to biorational insecticide usage, soil and tissue analysis reports, organic seed verification, and the restriction of cross-contamination from nearby conventional farms or products. With these elevated agricultural standards in place, we are not only protecting the health of the crop and the raw ingredient with which we brew, but also the health of the farmers working in the fields, other non-target species, and the end consumer...YOU!
We work directly with the Washington State Department of Agriculture to obtain USDA Organic Certification.
We couldn't be more lucky to call Bellingham and the Pacific Northwest our home. The community in which we live is our greatest support system and we do all we can to give back. We successfully donated 15.5% of our profits to local non-profits and community organizations in 2016.
We focus our philanthropic efforts on five essential community elements: Art & Culture, Health, Environment, Education, and Common Good. As a manufacturer and retailer of beer, we have a responsibility to not only maintain ethical serving practices, but also ensure that our impact on the community is not entirely centered around alcohol. We must diversify our reach and be willing to use a portion of our profits to directly fund local projects outside of our industry. The more we can bolster the world around us, the more prosperous we can be.
LOCAL AND ORGANIC FOOD
We prioritize organic Whatcom County ingredients as much as possible when sourcing food — the farther away from our backyard an ingredient is, the less likely we are to source it. We work with Puget Sound Food Hub to easily purchase produce from a collective of Washington farmers. Bellingham company Claus Meats is our source of organic chicken from Mary’s.
We loved participating in Sustainable Connection’s Eat Local Month so much, we decided to feature a rotating menu item with 90 percent local ingredients all year round. Some examples of our local ingredients include handmade tortillas from La Gloria Market in Bellingham, salmon from Desire Fish Co., and produce from Bellingham’s Joe’s Garden and Rabbit Fields Farm in Everson, among many other incredible local food producers. Our goal is to incorporate local ingredients whenever possible, throughout our menu as well as our taplist. It’s part of our commitment to supporting local and sustainable food.
When first designing our brewery and restaurant in the historic McBeath Building, we had two major options to consider: knock it all down and build new, or renovate and work with the history inside. The easiest path was new construction, but it also had the greatest environmental impact and overall waste. There is nothing more sustainable than reuse, so despite the extra efforts it required, we chose renovation. During the nine-plus months of construction, primarily done by our team of owners, family, and friends, we spent days refurbishing used materials inside. Whether it was pulling nails out of wood studs, preserving office windows and doors for reimplementation, or cutting and polishing tarnished metal beams, we found a way to make old things look new.
With renovation comes demolition, and inevitably, we end up with material we cannot use. That is why we meticulously deconstructed every wall and fixture in the place. We turned to local recycling plants to make sure everything from sheet rock to concrete was put back to use. Hours were spent sorting through and compiling loads of copper wire, bent conduit, and other metal remnants for proper recycling. We even cleaned and found homes for the things that still worked but we had no use for, like bricks, water heaters, and vintage skylights.
Not only did we save tens of thousands of dollars by using green building techniques, we were able to minimize our impact on regional landfills. On top of it all, used and repurposed goods have soul, and when it comes craft, soul matters. Shout out to Don Trosset aka DT aka Zen Master aka The Godfather aka Teezle aka Deets...without him none of this would be possible.
In order to help offset our energy impact, we've become a Clean Energy Partner with Arcadia Power! This means that for every kWh of electricity we use, a kWh of clean energy will be produced and put onto the grid. We believe this investment in renewable energy will help cut future generation's reliance on coal and other fossil fuels. As a Clean Energy Partner, Aslan Brewing Company is recognized with a Green Power Partnership Certification from the EPA.
We capture rainwater from our roof and use it to water our outdoor plants, including our rain gardens, sunflowers, hops, and raspberries. From one rainstorm, we can get as much as 45 gallons of water. This helps us reduce our water use and conserve our filtered water as much as possible. Water drains off our roof no matter what — might as well put it to good use by using it to help the plants around our restaurant stay happy, healthy, and beautiful!
We’re also a Downtown Improvement Garden Steward. Our horticulturist Megan maintains the rain gardens located right outside of our brewpub on the corner of North Forest and Magnolia. These gardens help filter out pollutants picked up by stormwater runoff, which improves the quality of nearby waterways.
Efficiency is one of the most important elements to sustainability. Whether it's electricity, natural gas, or water, we aim to find the best route to conserve the precious resources we all rely upon. LED lighting, Energy Star equipment, and water recycling procedures are just a few of the ways we ensure our footprint is as minimal as possible. We chose to have a steam-fired brewhouse over direct-fire for more than just product consistency: we are also reducing our impact and recycling the steam we expend with every brew.
Aslan Brewing Company was built within the constraints of a historic building, The McBeath Building, so as you can imagine, there are many inefficiencies that came with the building's age. However, through sustainable design, we were able to harness some of the building's natural efficiencies. The restaurant was designed to utilize the ceiling-high west-facing windows for natural light and skylights in the brewery help lessen the need for high volumes of artificial light during brewing operations. We've also updated the roof to keep the heat in, replaced exterior doors with insulated, double-pane doors, and installed a high efficiency HVAC system. This being said, single pane windows and an uninsulated exterior concrete wall are still in place. We recognize these inefficiencies and it is our goal to solve the remaining issues as soon as we can. We will not settle until we've done all we can.
FUN FACT: Our building is earth bermed along the SW and SE walls, meaning it is partially underground! We designed all walk-in coolers against the earth sheltered wall to keep things as cool possible. This helps refrigeration compressors with their efficiencies during the hotter seasons. Booya!
Cans are the future of packaged craft beer. When compared to bottles, cans chill faster, break less often, and have less risk for oxidization. Can manufacturing also has a smaller carbon footprint than that of bottles and aluminum is infinitely recyclable. Oh, and our 12oz cans are manufactured in Olympia, WA. It just makes sense for us.
The cans that we use today are not the same cans of the past. These are new liners that do not impart any metallic flavor into the beer, despite rumors. Cans have evolved and so has the beer industry. I guess you can say the future is here!
SPENT GRAIN TRADE
After a day of brewing, we are left with hundreds of pounds of spent grain. The Brewing Process removes most of the sugary starches in the grain, making it a perfect form of feed for livestock of all kinds. A local farmer, Jason (he's the man), picks up our spent grain after the lauter tun is emptied and returns it to his farm in Acme, WA to be mixed with his standard feed. This symbiotic relationship keeps our disposal costs at a minimum and saves Jason serious money on his overhead. It's recycling at its finest!
PCC FARMLAND TRUST
We participated in the PCC Farmland Trust program, a Seattle-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to farmland conservation. To date, PCC Farmland Trust has conserved 17 farm properties across the state of Washington, totaling 1,662 acres. This helps keep fresh, local food growing in Washington state, and we’re proud to support them.
SUSTAINABLE CONNECTIONS MEMBER
Aslan Brewing Company, as an entity, has been a member of Bellingham's Sustainable Connections* since our days as glorified home brewers. We looked to them when we needed help implementing a green business and connecting with other similar-minded businesses in the community. They gave us countless resources that helped us find ways to go green on a budget, and still do today. The friendly staff at Sustainable Connections are some of our greatest motivators. We can rely on them to stay ahead of the curve and let us know when new, green opportunities arise.
*Sustainable Connections is a non-profit with the mission to be the forum where businesses come together to transform and model a vibrant local economy built on sustainable practices.
At least once a year, our goal is to brew a beer that benefits an important community organization. Our dark, robust IPA Midnight Couloir helped support the Northwest Avalanche Center, a nonprofit that works to save lives and reduce the impacts of avalanches in the Cascade and Olympic Mountains of Washington and northern Oregon. A portion of the proceeds of No Coal Porter helped our friends at RE Sources for Sustainable Communities support clean energy solutions and protect our communities from unsafe fuel transport. Our grapefruit witbier, Summer Solar Ale, was made in collaboration with Itek Energy and Western Solar to help raise funds for a solar panel system for Lydia Place.
Through these beer collaborations, in-house fundraisers, and strong community ties, we strive to leverage the power of craft beer to bring people together around important causes.
BREWSHED ALLIANCE MEMBER
Aslan Brewing Company is one of the many Washington State breweries that make up the Brewshed Alliance. This is an outreach initiative of Washington Wild* designed to bring people together with a simple message: protected water makes superior beer. As water flows through the land it picks up natural minerals that give downstream beer a distinct flavor. It also picks up pollutants that then have to be laboriously taken out of the beer with great care by the brewer to ensure the end product doesn’t have any undesirable flavors. We call this the Brewshed connection, and breweries throughout the state are joining with us to help people understand how conservation work from organizations like Washington Wild benefits the quality of the beer in their glass.
*Washington Wild protects and restores wild lands and waters in Washington State through advocacy, education and civic engagement.
BREWERY CLIMATE DECLARATION
Climate change is a real thing, and we, as a company, recognize that. By signing the Climate Declaration, we join breweries across the nation in efforts to lessen our industry's impact on the world. Together, we demand higher environmental standards not only for ourselves, but for our competitors as well.
Aslan is committed to staying small and beautiful. We once had aspirations to grow beyond the Pacific Northwest, but quickly realized that the larger we become, the more difficult it is to stay true to our core values of community, sustainability, and quality. It became our goal early on to keep our distribution to just western Washington and neighboring territories, making it easier for us to keep our ecological footprint in check, stay within our beloved Pacific Northwest community, and retain invaluable quality of life to our employees. We never want to grow so big that our sustainability measures can’t keep up. We never want so many employees that we can’t keep all their names straight. We want to remain the Pride of the Organic Northwest — a brewery by and for the beautiful region we call home.
Our grain silo (a.k.a. Han Silo), installed October 2016, came from Alberta, Canada to find its home here at Aslan. With a capacity of 60,000 lbs., the grain silo will save tons of waste, literally. The non-recyclable malt bags we were using are no longer necessary — each fill of the silo saves over 1000 bags. That’s over 300 lbs of waste we can now prevent from hitting the landfills. This piece of equipment is another tool we will use to streamline our brewing process and maximize efficiency.
At Aslan, we treat every employee like family. As a small owner-operated business, every position is integral to our success. Our belief is that a happy staff creates a successful business, so creating a supportive, fun work environment is a high priority. A huge foundation of our business is to create good jobs in our community, meaning we care deeply about the well-being and happiness of our staff.
We have company teams on local rec leagues in soccer, softball and basketball.
We encourage carpooling and designated driving — to and from games, camping and skiing trips, whenever possible — as well as car-free commutes.
In July 2016, we started an annual tradition of closing down the restaurant for two days so every employee can attend a staff camping and rafting trip.
We provide in-house beer education and Cicerone Beer Server Certification to employees to help create a more knowledgeable, motivated staff.
We offer full benefits including dental to all full-time employees.