Monday, March 6th, 2017
Rounding Up Bellingham’s Craft Brewery Scene
Brandon Fralic

Bellingham Beer / Credit: Heather Hulbert

So much beer, so little time. With a dozen brewery locations now operating in Bellingham and Whatcom County, it can be tricky to keep track of them all. And there are many variables to consider when choosing your watering hole. Which ones offer food? Can you bring the kids? Fido? Do they offer happy hour? Who’s new, and who has been around awhile? What is each brewery known for?

To address these burning questions, we’ve compiled this list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Below the FAQ, you’ll find a directory of breweries in Whatcom County, with quick facts for reference. Cheers!

FAQ

How many breweries are there in Bellingham and Whatcom County?

This question comes up a lot. The answer, of course, is a moving target — it seems we have a new brewery pop up every few months or so. As of March 2017, there are 10 breweries in Bellingham city limits and 12 breweries in Whatcom County. Two additional breweries (Melvin and Illuminati) plan to open in 2017, and there are rumors of even more on the horizon.

Watch for Melvin Brewing in 2017

How many breweries per capita are there in Bellingham and Whatcom County?

According to US Census Bureau population estimates for 2015, Bellingham has a population of approximately 85,000. With 10 breweries inside city limits, that gives us one brewery for every 8,500 people in Bellingham.

Whatcom County has an estimated 2015 population of approximately 212,000. With 12 breweries countywide, that’s one brewery for every 17,667 residents in Whatcom County.

Which Bellingham breweries allow kids?

Most of our breweries are all ages, with a few exceptions. K2 (Kentucky Street), Structures Brewing, and Gruff Brewing are 21+ establishments.

Are dogs allowed?

Bellingham breweries are generally dog friendly. Many — like Boundary Bay, Gruff, and Kulshan — offer outdoor seating with ample room for well-behaved pets. Check with the individual breweries for their pet policies.

Dogs love Gruff / Credit: Gruff Brewing

Which breweries offer happy hour?

Aslan, Boundary Bay, Chuckanut, and Stones Throw offer happy hour. See the list below for details.

Where are the breweries located? Can you walk between them?

Most of Bellingham’s breweries are located within a couple miles of each other in the downtown core. Some are very close together (Boundary Bay and Gruff are right across the street from each other). Others — like Kulshan, K2, Menace, and Stone’s Throw — are a bit far to walk from downtown, but easily accessible by bike, bus, or car.

The best way to plot your route between breweries is to pick up a Tap Trail map and passport. This handy guide — available at each brewery around town — features suggested routes between Bellingham’s breweries and taprooms. You can even earn prizes by collecting stamps at each Tap Trail location.

Bellingham Tap Trail Map and Passport / Credit: Tap Trail

When is Bellingham Beer Week?

For its first five years, Bellingham Beer Week took place in September. In 2017, the annual event is moving to April 21 – April 29. Why the move? According to Tap Trail, Beer Week can now include April Brews Day, and it will take place around the same time as other regional beer weeks.

Bellingham Brewery List

Aslan Brewing

  • Established: 2014
  • What’s Unique: All beer brewed at Aslan Brewing Company is USDA Certified Organic.
  • Food: Full menu
  • Family Friendly
  • Happy Hour: Daily from 2-5pm & 9pm – Kitchen Close  
  • Outdoor Seating: Open and enclosed patio spaces

Atwood Ales (Blaine)

  • Established: 2016
  • What’s Unique: Belgian-inspired farmhouse ales utilizing local and seasonal ingredients.
  • Note: Atwood Ales does not operate a tasting room. Find Atwood beer in bottles and on tap around Whatcom County using their Beer Finder.

Boundary Bay Brewery

  • Established: 1995
  • What’s Unique: Bellingham’s oldest brewery, Boundary Bay is a long-established community gathering place offering a wide variety of unfiltered brews.
  • Food: Full Menu
  • Family Friendly
  • Happy Hour: Sunday-Thursday from 3-6pm & 9pm – Close (in the taproom)
  • Outdoor Seating: Large beer garden and deck

Chuckanut Brewery

  • Established: 2008
  • What’s Unique: Chuckanut was awarded National Small Brewpub of the Year in 2009 and continues to brew award-winning European-style lagers and ales.  
  • Food: Full Menu
  • Family Friendly
  • Happy Hour: Sunday-Thursday from 4-6pm
  • Outdoor Seating: Covered patio and beer garden

Gruff Brewing

  • Established: 2016
  • What’s Unique: A nano brewery with 16 taps, Gruff regularly releases experimental, small-batch beers.
  • Food: Delivery available from Horseshoe Cafe
  • 21+ Only
  • Outdoor Seating: Large beer garden

Kulshan Brewing (James Street)

  • Established: 2012
  • What’s Unique: A true neighborhood brewery, Kulshan offers an expansive lineup of Northwest style ales and lagers.
  • Food: Rotating food trucks
  • Family Friendly
  • Outdoor Seating: Large patio/beer garden

Kulshan Brewing (K2)

  • Established: 2015
  • What’s Unique: One of the fastest-growing breweries in Bellingham, Kulshan opened their second location — a 30-barrel brewhouse known as K2 — in 2015.
  • Food: Rotating food trucks
  • 21+ Only
  • Outdoor Seating: Patio

Menace Brewing

North Fork Brewery (Deming)

  • Established: 1997
  • What’s Unique: What’s not unique about the North Fork? A “beer shrine”, wedding chapel, and pizzeria, this brewery is a mandatory stop for anyone driving Mount Baker Highway.
  • Food: Full Menu
  • Family Friendly
  • Outdoor Seating: Small patio/beer garden

Stones Throw Brewery

  • Established: 2016
  • What’s Unique: Stones Throw’s outdoor fire pit seating area is hands down the most attractive in Bellingham, and the brewery is made out of shipping containers.
  • Food: Snacks available; Food trucks on weekends
  • Family Friendly
  • Happy Hour: Mondays from 12-6pm
  • Outdoor Seating: Three unique outdoor seating areas

Structures Brewing

  • Established: 2015
  • What’s Unique: Offering mixed fermentations, Structures focuses on fresh, small-batch brews including saisons and barrel aged varieties.
  • Food: Bring your own; Food trucks coming soon
  • 21+ Only
  • Outdoor Seating: Small patio

Wander Brewing

  • Established: 2014
  • What’s Unique: Wander serves traditional styles while experimenting with mixed fermentations through the Wander Barrel Project. Their Wild Warehouse ale has won several awards, including a GABF Gold.
  • Food: Rotating food trucks
  • Family Friendly
  • Outdoor Seating: Patio

Any additional Bellingham brewery questions we should address? Let us know in the comments!

Also see our Beer page for more posts about Bellingham Craft Beer.

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About the Author:

Freelance writer Brandon Fralic has called Bellingham home since 2006. He writes about the outdoors, travel, and craft beer for a variety of regional publications. In 2013, Brandon co-founded Beers at the Bottom to highlight trails and ales in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.