Ferndale is just north of Bellingham, but we Hamsters might think of it as a far-off destination. However, when youâ€™re properly motivated (by a promise of some lovely and unusual craft beers, perhaps?), the distance is negligible. In fact, you could grab some friends, carpool to this fine little city and belly up to a bar in 15 minutes or less.
And if youâ€™re a visitor to our little slice of heaven here on earth, plan a beer stop in Ferndale while youâ€™re checking out Whatcom County wineries. After all, man and woman cannot live on wine alone.
Beer devotees will find Ferndale’s Maggie’s Pub mighty accommodating, with 10 craft brews always on tap.
If youâ€™ve never heard of Maggieâ€™s Pub, youâ€™re overdue for a trip to Ferndale. Maggie Gamel bought the former Frank-n-Stein brewpub in March 2012, and has spent the last year putting her stamp on the place. Maggie is combining her love of beer, cooking and people into her dream jobâ€”â€śworking behind the bar of a friendly place.â€ť
I had to agree with Maggieâ€™s mission of introducing Ferndalians to the joys of craft beer. â€śI think every small town should have a friendly place to get great beer,â€ť she said. â€śI want to bring new beers to Ferndale, and for people to discover their new favorite beer here at Maggieâ€™s.â€ť
Maggieâ€™s Pub reminds me of the classics from back eastâ€”where â€śeverybody knows your name.â€ť (You can thank me now for putting that song in your head. Youâ€™re welcome.) When my comrades and I walked in, every head turned toward the door. Okay, so nobody called out our names, but I got the feeling the regulars might on our next visit.
Behind the bar was the venerable Jim Parker, a well-known brewer and mixologist, who was happy to introduce us to the current lineup on tap. Maggieâ€™s features ten rotating microbrews, mostly from Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California, and five or six new ones come in every week. Not that sheâ€™d exclude a brew because itâ€™s from outside our region, but letâ€™s face itâ€”thereâ€™s just so much great beer brewed for us on the West (or best) Coast.
We contemplated our choices: Silver City Ridgetop Red, North Fork Porter, Alaskan Smoked Porter, Kulshan Dude Man Wheat Ale, Iron Horse IPA, Boundary Bay Amber, Chuckanut Pilsner, Boundary Bay Cascadian Dark Ale, Sierra Nevada Belgian Blonde IPA, and Widmer Oâ€™Ryely IPA. While we tried to choose, other patrons were hanging at the bar, playing darts or catching a soccer match on the big screen in the back. Board games and beer magazines provide entertainment for big kids while they quaff their brews, while the little ones can play with coloring books (and enjoy a soda pop). The cozy, laid-back vibe makes Maggieâ€™s a real family-friendly place.
All three of us decided the Sierra Nevada Belgian Blonde IPA was a must. If you love Belgians (the beer) like I do, and IPAs like I do, youâ€™ll agree. Golden in the glass, Belgian Blonde delivers a lovely aromaâ€”a little sweet and a little spicy. At first sip, the hops flavor comes in, but not too strongly, and the classic Belgian profile of coriander and fruit shines through. A crisp finish leaves you ready for the next sip. In other words, â€śWhere have you been all my life?â€ť
Itâ€™s hard to stop talking about beer, but I should mention that Maggieâ€™s also serves food, including bratwurst, three-cheese paninis, Reubens, and homemade soups. And every Friday is Pieday! Yes, Maggie lovingly bakes homemade pies each Friday and sells them by the slice. Her most popular have her signature almond coconut crumble topping.
We munched on nachos ($5) and even shared them with one of our new friends at the bar. Soon, Ben from Menace Brewingâ€”a nano-brewery right here in Ferndaleâ€”came in and, well, we had to stick around for another brew. Thatâ€™s what’s great about Maggieâ€™s Pub.
So there you have it. Ten great reasons (11 if you’re counting the pie!) to make a trip to Ferndale. And if you already live there, stop by and get to know the crew at Maggieâ€™s Pub! Tell them I sent you.