Atwood Ales is a family owned and operated brewery located in Blaine, Washington not too far from the U.S./Canada border. Josh Smith and his wife, son, father and mother all play roles in operating the brewery. The entire family has helped every step of the way building the brewery.
Atwood Ales, the Smith Farm Brewery
Co-Owner Josh readily refers to himself as head brewer-slash-janitor. Prior to brewing, Josh earned bachelor and master degrees in landscape architecture.
Monica Smith works full time as an early childhood educator at a Montessori based preschool and childcare center, or as Josh tells us, "supports her broke brewer husband while the brewery is getting off the ground."
"She's my right hand at the farmers market and helps in literally every way possible when she's able and not at her job. As time goes on, she'll transition from work elsewhere into sales and assistant brewer roles."
The couple's teenage son, Xavier, helps out with farm work and with packaging on weekends.
Josh's mother, Leslee, helps with Atwood Ales farmers market sales in Bellingham on the 2nd, 4th & 5th Saturdays of each month through December. She assists with product packaging and anywhere else she can be helpful. Leslee is also a lieutenant with North Whatcom Fire & Rescue Service.
Steve, Josh's father, is a retired social worker, and the two men acted as general contractors for the brewery construction. In addition to helping with packaging, Steve manages the farm side of Atwood Ales operation– the hops, fruit, grain, etc…
From Left: Leslee, Steve, Josh, Monica, and Xavier
Where the Beer Began
Atwood Ales has been an idea since 2011. Josh grew up on the 100-year-old farm where the brewery is now located.
"We raised cattle when I was a kid, but as the youngest, once I left for college, the cattle disappeared, too," Josh recounts. "After starting a career as a landscape architect in another state, I moved back to Whatcom County in 2008 and started homebrewing relentlessly."
After a stint as a brewer at a now defunct local brewery, involvement in a cooperatively owned brewery that never quite made it off the ground, and hundreds of batches of homebrew, Josh had learned a lot about recipe development, production and the business side of things. After approaching his parents about actualizing the idea of a brewery on the old farm, Atwood Ales was founded in January of 2015. After many months of planning, permitting and construction, in March of 2016 they brewed their first batch of beer.
Atwood Ales Label Designs
When we asked Josh about his label designs, he explained they were created by a very good friend of the family, Erin Ramsay, who is a landscape architect in Vancouver, BC. She is also a very talented artist, and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in addition to a Masters of Landscape Architecture.
"I've known Erin's husband, Alex, my whole life, and Alex's parents and my parents have been close friends since the mid 1970s." Josh explained. "While my wife and I were visiting Alex and Erin in Vancouver one weekend, Erin asked if I'd put any thought into labels and that if I hadn't, she could work up some ideas for us -- she's always wanted the opportunity to design a beer label. I gave her beer names, styles and descriptions of what they looked and tasted like. The vision for the labels was all hers. I gave very minimal feedback, because she nailed each of the labels!"
"The first thing people usually do when they walk into our booth is pick up the display bottles and look closely at the labels. The labels are a big draw at the Bellingham Farmers Market."
Atwood Ales first sales took place less than a month ago and they are already pleasantly surprised by the products reception.
Where Are Atwood Ales Sold?
The Drayton Harbor Oyster Company is currently serving as an informal tasting room. Located at 677 Peace Portal Drive in downtown Blaine, they have all of Atwood Ales bottles available to serve or sell, and the staff is knowledgeable about the brewery's product.
Atwood Ales are also sold at the Bellingham Farmers Market on the 2nd, 4th, and 5th Saturday of each month through mid December.
The brewery is closed to the public, except for special events hosted on the farm. A calendar of events is available on their website.
Blaine, WA 98230