The Local Public House is expanding and opening a beer laboratory

The Local Public House, at 1427 Railroad Ave., has plans for an expansion that will add a lounge area to the restaurant and give home brewers with professional aspirations a place to practice their craft.

The beer-centric restaurant is expanding into the space next door, which Finder’s Keepers collectibles is moving out of. Rob Whitney, restaurant manager, said the expansion will allow for more seating, as well as pool, darts, and other games.

In the back of the new space, Whitney and Benjamin Buccarelli, brewer for Menace Brewing—The Local’s brewing company—will start Washington’s first nonprofit brewery. The space, called the Bellingham Beer Lab, will be an incubator for brewers, Buccarelli said. Qualified brewers will brew their own beer that can then be served in one of the 20 taps at the Local Public House addition.

That way, aspiring brewers can build a following for their beer before starting their own brewery, Buccarelli said. The project will be run by volunteers and money from beer sales will go charities picked by the brewers.

Construction for the project should start in August and Whitney said they hope to have the new bar, called The Annex, open by Bellingham Beer Week in mid-September. Brewing at the beer lab won’t begin until the end of the year or early 2016.

The Local Public House is raising money for the expansion with a crowdfunding campaign that begins July 1 with a 6 p.m. kickoff party at The Local.

Whitney said the project will happen no matter how much money they raise, but more funds will help them open The Annex and Bellingham Beer Lab sooner.

For updates on the crowdfunding campaign, visit The Local Public House’s Facebook page.

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