Ferndale is just north of Bellingham, but we Hamsters might think of it as a far-off destination. However, when you’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 you’re a visitor to our little slice of heaven here on earth, plan a beer stop in Ferndale while you’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 you’ve never heard of Maggie’s Pub, you’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 job—“working behind the bar of a friendly place.”
I had to agree with Maggie’s mission of introducing Ferndalians to the joys of craft beer. “I think every small town should have a friendly place to get great beer,” she said. “I want to bring new beers to Ferndale, and for people to discover their new favorite beer here at Maggie’s.”
Maggie’s Pub reminds me of the classics from back east—where “everybody knows your name.” (You can thank me now for putting that song in your head. You’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. Maggie’s features ten rotating microbrews, mostly from Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California, and five or six new ones come in every week. Not that she’d exclude a brew because it’s from outside our region, but let’s face it—there’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 O’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 Maggie’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, you’ll agree. Golden in the glass, Belgian Blonde delivers a lovely aroma—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, “Where have you been all my life?”
It’s hard to stop talking about beer, but I should mention that Maggie’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 Brewing—a nano-brewery right here in Ferndale—came in and, well, we had to stick around for another brew. That’s what’s great about Maggie’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 Maggie’s Pub! Tell them I sent you.