On a perfect Fairhaven Saturday, a group of cyclists
walked into Stones Throw Brewery. It was only noon, but the
taproom was abuzz with activity. Owner Tony Luciano
reached above the bar to pull a handle, TOOOOT TOOOT!
The cyclists cheered at the sound, an old train whistle
that someone gave Luciano.
A passion for beer and outdoor fun inspired owners and
WWU alumni Tony Luciano and Jack Pflueger to open Stones
Throw Brewing Co. this past April. The two wanted a brewery
that celebrates outdoor activities, making their location in
downtown historic Fairhaven ideal. It’s a stone’s throw from
hiking, camping, snowboarding, cycling, and boating. Tony
summed it up best, “If you play in Bellingham, you come
through [Fairhaven].” The taproom features a few hiking and
cycling maps, a collection the owners hope will grow and
become more informative as they get their bearings. For now,
their concentration is on making the best brews they can.
Tony heads up the brewing process. An Ohio native, he moved to Bellingham in 1998, the same year he took a ferry to Alaska where he met a brewer from Ferndale. His interest piqued he made his first batch of beers: ten kegs worth, all drinkable, but he wanted to make them memorable. He spent the next three years reading every brewing book he could get his hands on, then took an organic chemistry class that pushed his brewing knowledge to a new level. You can see and taste the careful expertise that goes into each pint: the Lummi Lager’s beautiful honey hue coupled with layers of flavor, the rich Session IPA that ends with just a bit of hoppiness, and the not-too-sweet ginger ale that satisfies any designated driver. They plan to always have something for everyone: a pale, porter, and IPA, while Tony continues to experiment with different versions. This past summer he worked on a version of red Italian beer, and brews for non-profits like Sustainable Connections and the Fairhaven Park TrALE, where proceeds aid beautification of Fairhaven Park.
Regardless of the type of beer, Stones Throw brews typically begin with Washington hops and barley. Some varieties encompass barley from France or Canada as different growing conditions and processing manipulate the flavors.
On that Saturday between explaining his brewing history and the brewing process, Tony shifted his attention to refilling customer pints. His carefree, friendly demeanor bolstered the taproom’s welcoming atmosphere. Rustic tables and stools filled the indoor space while knobby wood benches invite guests outdoors for warm afternoons. Casually strung lights over a fire pit on the back patio add just the right amount of cozy warmth and light to a sort of cubby area created by a low hanging tree.
The taproom’s bar is something special. It’s made of steel from the Skagit River Bridge, collected after its 2013 collapse. Refrigerated cup holders mounted into the top gather flaky ice thanks to a built-in copper coiling system connected to a separate refrigeration system.
Stones Throw Brewery Co. doesn’t serve food, but Fairhaven Pizza delivers, and to-go menus for local restaurants are readily available. Patrons are also encouraged to bring food. Stones Throw simply doesn’t have the space for a kitchen at the moment. However, the brewery does know how to throw a party with plenty of food. Their springtime Ski to Sea celebration featured five bands, 20 kegs, and a 170-pound roasted pig that had feasted on the brewery’s leftover grains. The 800 guests were well-fed and entertained.
Like the Stones Throw Brewing Co. on Facebook to stay updated on upcoming events. Until the next block party, come visit the taproom, maybe you’ll even hear Tony toast “Bottoms up!”
Stones Throw Brewing Co.
1009 Larrabee Ave., Bellingham