He helped pioneer beer in Bellingham

When David Vitt started Kulshan Brewing Company in 2012, Bellingham was not the craft beer destination it is today.

“Beer in Bellingham, it wasn’t mature at all,” He said. “There was lots of potential there.”

At the time, there were just two other breweries: Boundary Bay and Chuckanut.

Vitt remembers talking to a friend about his dream to start a brewery in Bellingham.

“He looked at me like I was crazy and said, ‘Well we already have two breweries,’” Vitt remembers.

Vitt originally made the transition from home brewer to commercial brewer 12 years ago, when he got a job at Fish Brewing Company in Olympia.

After six years, the third-generation Whatcom County native decided it was time to come home.

“Starting my own brewery was a dream I had for years,” he said.

Vitt says he “fumbled” through the permitting process, and through writing a business plan, and found the perfect location on James Street.

“I sort of later realized what a benefit it was to be in the Sunnyland neighborhood,” he said.

Kulshan was set apart from the other breweries because it was in a residential neighborhood, and it didn’t have a kitchen — just a rotating schedule of food trucks.

“I just didn’t want to deal with running a restaurant,” Vitt said.

The same year he opened the brewery, Vitt helped start Bellingham Beer Week.

“I think it started out as a way to sort of collaborate with everybody that had anything to do with beer,” he said, “and just promote craft beer in Bellingham.”

Bellingham Beer Week helped put Whatcom County craft beer on the map, and now draws in both locals and tourists.

Vitt also helps draw in tourists through his work as a member on the Bellingham/Whatcom Tourism Board.

Kulshan also donates beer to a long list of local nonprofits for fundraisers and events.

“The community, those are our customers too,” Vitt said. “I think it’s important for all local businesses to do what they can to support local nonprofits.”

David Vitt is one of this year’s winners of the Top 7 Under 40 Award. Click here to read about the rest of the winners.

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