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Sunday, May 9, 2021

New Bellingham brews are just a stone’s throw away

STONES THROW 001 CLB online
Stones Throw Brewery​ repurposed shipping containers for its new location in Fairhaven​, putting two containers together to house its drums. Owner Jack Pflueger and brewer Tony Luciano intend to ​take advantage of their sturdiness by putting a patio on top of the containers. // Photo by Christina Becker

Western alumni and business partners Tony Luciano and Jack Pflueger will represent craft beer in Fairhaven when they open Stones Throw Brewing Co. this summer.

Stones Throw Brewery is a place of adventure, the partners said. A garage, shipping containers, two beer gardens and a fire pit are all part of the vision and current construction at 1009 Larrabee Ave.

Pflueger said shipping containers, some 20 and 40 feet high, are currently housing their beer supply and were easy to get a hold of.

“We have a bunch of different spaces,” brewer for the company, Luciano said. “The other beer places in Bellingham are more one big hall and we did that intentionally trying to get more interpersonal stuff going on, so you can have a conversation face-to-face.”

Luciano said the name of their brewery was inspired by their desire to have a brewery in the center of adventure, to have everything only a “stones throw” away.

Some beers will be more experimental and Luciano and Pflueger speak with the Fairhaven community often to take requests and try out new beers.

“A couple of our neighbors are gluten intolerant,” Luciano said. “I’ve been trying gluten free beer and I’ve had a second experimentation now, it’s a lot better than the first but I wouldn’t sell it yet.”

Luciano said he found out one neighbor was set on drinking Miller High Life beer so he Googled recipes to make a craft beer that would appeal to the same taste.

Luciano, an environmental science major, first talked to Pflueger about his desire to own a brewery 10 years ago and continued to discuss the idea throughout the years, Pflueger said.

Pflueger graduated with a degree in industrial design from Western and moved to San Diego. Luciano stayed around before moving to Malaysia for three years and working at a British International School as an extracurricular coordinator.

“I was on Google Earth, looking at places in Fairhaven,” Luciano said. “So, I was just in Malaysia Google-Earthing every big building in Fairhaven making a list of who owns what and going on the city’s website to figure out zoning and legal mumbo-jumbo.”

Luciano searched for a spot that was not too close to churches or schools and followed all other regulations. Stone’s Throw Brewery got the OK in October 2013.

The owners, who both have passions for the outdoors and crafting beer, live the business. Luciano also lives in his business, as he currently resides in the house beside the garage.

Luciano began to learn his craft through an inorganic chemistry class at Western. Luciano said the beer got better and when he made his first batch, he made a lot of it.

“I moved to Western from Ohio and I went to Alaska and met a guy on the ferryboat who was a Western student and we became friends,” Luciano said.

“He was making beer for this guy in Ferndale—10 kegs at a time—and asked me if I wanted to learn how to make beer so, the first time I made beer I made 10 kegs worth. I just fell in love with it,” he said.

Pflueger and Luciano agreed they view the other breweries in Bellingham as both collaborators and competitors.

“It’s not really competition, we are going to get better because we are going to turn around and teach them a lesson in the future,” Pflueger said of the other breweries. “Right now it is kind of going the other way and they are just helping us get our act together and get organized.”

The partners have worked on multiple occasions with Western students, forming environmental and business projects. They hope the space will offer students a place to hang out and socialize in the Fairhaven area.

“We, as students at Western, had real-life scenarios to go and experiment in our respective fields,” Luciano said. “That made the knowledge of our education stick that much more solidly so to be able to give back to that—it’s a win, win.”

Pflueger said he hopes Stones Throw Brewery will be a part of Fairhaven’s history.

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