A new brewery, named 122 West Brewing Co., is now open in Bellingham, WA. Housed in the former Melvin Bellingham Brewhub space on Meridian Street, 122 West Brewing is under local ownership and currently transitioning into an all-new business. It is no longer affiliated with Melvin Brewing.
Based in Jackson, Wyoming, Melvin Brewing expanded by opening their first satellite brewpub in Bellingham in 2017. Sexual misconduct allegations involving a Melvin employee have since dealt an irreparable blow to Melvin’s reputation in the Bellingham community. Many local beer enthusiasts (this writer included) have boycotted Melvin Brewing since then, resulting in the inevitable sale of the business. On July 19, Bellingham Tap Trail reported that Melvin’s Bellingham location had been sold and was under new ownership.
I sat down with new owner Gary Pickering to find out what we can expect from 122 West Brewing. A Bellingham businessman (associated with web design company Clickmonster) and beer enthusiast, Pickering has wanted to open a brewery of his own for seven years. Now with a turnkey brewery on his hands, Pickering’s first order of business is renaming and rebranding the former Melvin Brewpub.
The name 122 West Brewing refers to the 122nd meridian west, which runs through Bellingham and several other Pacific Northwest cities. The name is also a nod to 122 West’s location on Meridian Street (literally on the meridian) in Bellingham.
“We’re not in Wyoming,” Pickering says, “so we picked a name that makes sense, geographically specific to us here.”
Besides the name change and rebrand, we can expect to see lots of new beers and a new menu from 122 West. Local staff will be retained, including brewer Robert Sanner.
“[Sanner] is making amazing beers already. We should have 10 new beers on probably in the next week or two,” Pickering says. “We’re definitely going to remain more IPA-centric.”
Of course, the “elephant” in the room (Melvin’s logo incorporates an elephant image) involves much more than beer lineup and cosmetic changes. How will 122 West Brewing distinguish itself from Melvin? How can it change perceptions and win back local customers? How will the brewery engage with the community?
These questions are yet to be answered. For now, Pickering plans to focus on the community through events and partnerships.
“What we want to do is partner with nonprofits like Northwest Youth Services. I was a board member there for seven years,” Pickering says. “And do fundraisers, or a nonprofit beer of the quarter, where a percentage of that beer goes towards that nonprofit.”
Time will tell how Bellingham and the greater craft beer community responds to 122 West Brewing. Pickering expects to do a soft launch in late August or early September. The business will remain open during this transitional period, pouring their remaining stock of Melvin-brewed beers alongside new 122 West brews. The transition should be complete by early September.
“It looks like probably the first weekend of September, we will shut down for a few days and then launch with the new brand,” Pickering says. “People can come on back now. We’re not Melvin”.
122 West Brewing Co. 2416 Meridian St. Bellingham, WA 98226
I’m starting to wonder if there is anyway to be redeemed in some peoples eyes. It seems that the originally handled it poorly but seemed to be Melvin appeared to be honestly attempting to address the issue.