Like a bourbon-barrel-aged stout that’s been put away for a few years, Bellingham’s craft beer scene just keeps getting better and better! I hate to repeat the oft-repeated line, “Bellingham is the next Bend,” but I just did. Yes, Bend is about the same size, population-wise, as Bellingham (82,000-ish) and supports 19 breweries; so if that’s our gauge, we have plenty of room for more. More breweries. More delicious craft beer. More happiness (and hoppiness)!
That’s why the Bellingham Tap Trail is such a welcome addition to the beer community. The Tap Trail is a handy guide map that shows you where to find all the beer you crave in Bellingham. What a great idea!
Here’s How it Works
Just pick up your Bellingham Tap Trail map at your favorite local brewery or tap house, then hit the trail! Stop by each spot on the map for a pint or flight. Be sure to have your passport stamped at each place. When you fill the passport with stamps, you get some sweet BTT swag. Yes, it’s that easy.
I met up with two of the BTT developers for a chat over (of course) a couple of beers. We started at Wander Brewing, where Hope happily stamped my passport.
And doesn’t that Chota Session IPA look delightful? (It was.) The Chota is a small beer made with the second runnings of the grain from the Boot Toss Triple IPA. At 4.9% ABV, it’s definitely on the lighter and quaffable side, but with a nice hoppiness and hint of orange. Verrrrry drinkable!
On to our conversation: the Bellingham Tap Trail was developed by Brian Seales and Shannon Larkin of Ketchup + Mustard design firm, along with Scott Pelton and Mindy Overlin. Brian and Scott thought that Bellingham’s burgeoning beer scene needed a guide map, not only to help folks find their way from brewery to brewery, but also to give them a mission: hit up some places you haven’t yet been, drink beers you haven’t yet tried, fill the passport with stamps and have fun!
Brian and Shannon often visit Bend (her brother is the brewer at Bend Brewing Co.) and had seen a similar offering there, so they felt it just made sense that it would work here in Bellingham.
The current Tap Trail map includes the six breweries that operate in Bellingham (Boundary Bay Brewery, Chuckanut Brewing, Kulshan Brewing, Wander Brewing and Aslan Brewing), along with tap houses like Elizabeth Station, The Local, Schweinhaus, McKay’s Taphouse, the Green Frog, Archer Ale House and Uisce.
After we finished our Wander beers, we ventured to the World Famous Up and Up Tavern, where I earned another stamp. This time I tried an IPA from (surprise!) Bend: the Boneyard RPM. Shannon enjoyed a Kulshan Kitten Mittens, one of my favorite winter warmers.
The Up and Up is a comfy place to escape the rain or enjoy the sun in their beer garden. With a couple of pool tables and pinball machines, pizza served fresh from Rudy’s next door, and 20-ish taps of delicious beer, you’ll have everything you need to settle in and relax.
Get the New Bellingham Tap Trail Map Now
The new Tap Trail map is hot off the presses, and features five trails: the Quick ‘n Dirty, the Scenic Route, the Brewer’s Trail, the Inner Circle and the Outer Rim. On most trails, each stop is within walking or biking distance to the next. So just follow the logos to beer nirvana!
With the new BTT passport, you can earn a cool bicycle keychain-bottle opener after eight stamps, which is great if you’re just in town for the weekend. If you work hard and gather all 16 stamps, you’ll earn a Tap Trail SiliPint (it’s freezable, bakeable and unbreakable!). Once you achieve your goal, pick up your prize at the Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism Visitor Information Center at 904 Potter Street in Bellingham. Note: the Winter 2015 edition of the Tap Trail map expires at the end of March, so if you need any stamps to complete your collection and earn a glass pint jar, you still have time.
Since Bellinghamsters and visitors alike have proven they can’t get enough locally brewed beer, the BTT folks will soon be adding the second Kulshan Brewing location (K2), along with Fairhaven Stones Throw Brewery and Gruff Brewing to the map. And rumors are flying of a few more breweries in the start-up phase, so the trail will simply continue to expand. And that’s a very good thing! After all, Bend is still way ahead of us.
The Bellingham Tap Trail was born out of a love for Bellingham beer. And it’s already helping to spread the love. Folks have been inspired to share their trail shenanigans, notes, photos, drawings and lots of “I went to a place I’ve never been before!” comments. Let the Bellingham Tap Trail lead the way to your next pint. Maybe it will inspire a new adventure for you and your friends!
Learn more about the Bellingham Tap Trail