By Steve Guntli
Settled in an idyllic farmhouse on Blaine‘s Sweet Road, Atwood Ales is ready to make a name for itself.
Josh Smith started Atwood Ales on his family farm earlier this year. Billing itself as Blaine’s “first and oldest” brewery, the small brewery has two vats that can produce about four kegs of beer at a time, or about 24 cases. Smith said the brewery sold its first cases of beer on May 13.
Though Atwood Ales sets up a table at the Bellingham Farmer’s Market every second and fourth Saturday, Smith wants Atwood to keep most of its business “north of the Nooksack.”
“Everyone knows Bellingham has a fantastic beer scene, but we want to draw people up to Blaine,” he said. “We have so much to offer up here but most people just drive right through.”
Smith honed his craft by home brewing, which he’s been doing for the last decade. He also got some professional experience, working briefly for the now-defunct Frankenstein Brewery in Ferndale and working with the Bellingham Beer Lab. Now, with the support of his family, he’s using the barn of his childhood home as his own professional brewery.
Atwood Ales is strictly a family operation. Smith manages the brewery with his father, and his mother, wife and son all pitch in, making labels and manning the booth at the Bellingham Farmer’s Market. Even the name of their company is a nod to its family ties: “Atwood” is both Smith’s and his father’s middle name.
“We joke that if there wasn’t already a company called ‘Alesmith’ in San Diego, we totally would have taken that name,” he said.
Atwood Ales uses the “farmhouse” style of brewing that developed in Belgium, France and Germany, in which the brewers use mostly homegrown ingredients. Smith said only a small portion of their ingredients are homegrown ingredients, such as hops grown on the farm or mushrooms and herbs gathered from the adjoining woods for experimental brews. He hopes to one day brew an estate beer made entirely of ingredients from his farm.
Atwood will produce three regular beers, in addition to the occasional seasonal or experimental recipes. Atwood’s signature brew is Grange, a smooth farmhouse ale. Atwood also produces Lodge, a darker Scottish session ale, and Dark Harbor, an oyster stout made with local oysters from Drayton Harbor Oyster Company.
Smith said he wants to keep the operation fairly small. He has no plans for a tasting room, but would like to coordinate tours and oyster bakes on the property.
Atwood Ales brews are available at Drayton Harbor Oyster Company and will soon be on tap at Maggie’s Pub in Ferndale and Overflow Taps in Lynden. For more information, visit
This story has been updated to correct an error. Atwood can produce 24 cases of beer at a time, not 24 bottles.