“I’d prefer to fade away than burn out,” says Josh Atwood, who recently used social media to announce the closing of his brewery, Atwood Farm Brewery. “It’s a little sad, but my overarching feelings are of gratitude that I got to do this for so long, and of excitement to move fully into the next chapter of my existence.”
Atwood Farm Brewery is, or was, an uncommon type of brewery. Located on the Atwood family’s farm, the brewery’s business path was equally uncommon. Along with news of the closing, we share news about the 7th-anniversary beer release.
There was no taproom at the brewery. For a while, occasionally, it offered barn-side pick-up at the farm in Blaine, Washington. The beers were self-distributed to select retail accounts by a crew of one. The most reliable way to get Atwood’s beer was by visiting the weekly farmers market in Bellingham. With few exceptions, Atwood Farm Brewery was a one-man show, with Josh Atwood doing it all, from brewing the beer to putting the beer in the customer’s hand. It sounds exhausting.
“While I have certainly considered some different options to grow, change, adapt the brewery, ultimately I believe them to be too risky, too expensive, or too complicated and not in the spirit of what I set out to create seven years ago.”
Seven years, in most industries, is considered a pretty good run. In the USA, 20% of all new businesses fail in the first year, and 60% fail in the first three years. Josh Atwood deserves our applause and our thanks. After 7 years, if he wants to turn the page and move on to the next chapter of his life, godspeed.
This will not be a pull-the-plug, immediate closing; rather, Josh says things will slowly roll to a stop. You may see upcoming releases announced on social media, as he explains below. That could last months or even longer, but the fact is Josh is closing and moving on to new endeavors.
“The world has changed, the industry has changed and I have changed,” Josh said. “Running a small brewery is hard, running a niche farmhouse brewery is harder, surviving a pandemic in our industry is harder yet, and well, I’m tired of brewing beer and even more tired of being a business owner. Atwood has no debt and is still cash flow positive, but making a living with this brewery in an increasingly crowded market and without a taproom is not getting any easier.”
“I’m sorry if YOU are sad about losing a favorite brewery of yours, but don’t worry, this will be the most convoluted and confusing brewery closing you’ve ever seen and it will drag on for months or maybe years! Yes, we’re closing, but not for a while and you will continue to see occasional beer releases on social media, in our online store, and out in the world for a time. We are no longer producing new wort for fermentation, instead just slowly releasing beers that are already in progress – beers that take time to mature. Most of those beers are at various stages of barrel aging and include sour ales, fruited farmhouse ales, funky wild ales, spontaneous beers, and even some imperial stout. Once all of the barrel-aged beer is finally gone, though, Atwood will fade fully, completely, into the abyss.”
“This seventh-anniversary release marks our own redundancy in the beer world, as we wind down our farmhouse brewery to its inevitable conclusion and close the doors for good. Thank you for supporting our seven-year mission to make intriguing, approachable farmhouse beers with as many local and seasonal ingredients as possible.”
Here is the information about Redundancy Measures, the 7th Anniversary Ale from Atwood Farm Brewery.
A Seventh Anniversary Ale
A Barrel-aged Belgian Strong Ale
100% Local Malt / 100% Local Hops
Built on the backs of hardworking local malt and hops, this strong ale was aged in a single American oak barrel that had been made redundant by multiple employers, despite record company profits and huge bonuses for executives. After aging bourbon and rum, this barrel-aged dark mead at Artivem Mead before landing at our brewery to age this beer. It has since been reassigned to the mixed culture department by our own corporate offices.
Brewed with Skagit Valley Malting barley and triticale malts; local Magnum and Triumph hops from Breden Hop Farms in Abbotsford, BC; and Belgian ale yeast.
For more news about recent beer releases, visit the Washington Beer Blog’s New Beer Releases page.