Beer lovers who are also parents can be hard-pressed to get away without the kids to give the newest brews in town a try. Fortunately, our breweries are part of the fabric of our community, and many of our local breweries are family friendly.
Here, I list nine local breweries and one cidery – another growing craft libation growing in popularity here in the ‘Ham – welcoming to all ages.
Boundary Bay is the granddaddy of brew pubs in Bellingham. It has been bringing visitors and locals together to sip on classics like the Scotch Ale and Inside Passage Ale for 25 years.
A favorite gathering spot for families at Boundary Bay is the beer garden. Known as “Bellingham’s back yard,” the beer garden here hosts bands of all genres. Hula hoops, hammocks, locally-made popsicles, popcorn, giant Jenga, cornhole and a “tot lot” are all geared for the kiddos. (The playground is always open, even if nothing is happening in the beer garden.)
Check out music on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fish Fry Fridays. All are great opportunities to gather as a family. Stay later on Thursdays for “Twilight Hour” with firepits, blankets and late-night shows. For Halloween, come for the “Fear Garden” with BAAY Theatre where the beer garden transforms into a family-friendly haunted house.
Note that the brewpub’s full menu, including kids’ menu, is not offered in the beer garden, but it is offered on the covered deck overlooking the beer garden.
If Boundary Bay is Bellingham’s back yard, then Stone’s Throw, located in Historic Fairhaven District, is Bellingham front porch.
With plenty of outdoor seating, plus covered seating in the tasting room, my favorite place to sit is in the shady back porch of the brewery. Covered by canvas sails, a fire pit makes the spot cozy any time of year. Fleece blankets hang on the wall for patrons to snuggle up in on chilly nights. It’s also home to a foosball table that can be great entertainment for the kids while Mom and Dad enjoy sipping in their beer.
Stone’s Throw also features music three nights a week. It’s fun to watch the mamas and toddlers dancing to bluegrass tunes from the live band out front. It’s an intimate, homey vibe, that’s amplified by the fact that Stone’s Throw is also dog friendly.
Stone’s Throw hosts a different food truck Thursday through Sunday nights. Guests can also bring their own food or call to get delivery from one of the area local restaurants. While adults are sampling the brews, like the Flat Penny pale ale or the Liquid Sunshine lager, kids can enjoy the ginger ale. It’s lightly sweet and not too snappy, which makes it a good choice for kids.
Any night of the week you are likely to see families hanging out in front of the Kulshan on James Street. Located in the Sunnyland neighborhood, this brewery is within walking distance of many homes, making it a great destination for families.
(Note, Kulshan’s second location, K2 on Kentucky Street, does not allow minors.)
Like Stone’s Throw, food trucks provide the eats at this brewery. In this case, every day of the week. Or order in from one of the neighborhood eateries.
Kulshan likes to get involved in the community, such as hosting the annual Kulshan to Kulshan Fun Run. With both a 1-mile and 5K races, the whole family, no matter how young or old, can participate in this easy fun run. At the finish line kids can enjoy juice boxes while the adults sip on a Sunnyland IPA.
Twin Sisters Brewery is also located in the Sunnyland neighborhood and boasts both massive indoor and outdoor seating areas, making it a great place to hang out with family and friends.
Outdoors, families will find a chalkboard and lawn games, ample grassy area for the littles to run around, horseshoes and cornhole.
The menu includes sandwiches, tacos, pub fare, with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. The kids’ plates are mini-versions of some of the adult fare, including fish ‘n’ chips and grilled cheese. And the cost-conscious lunch and happy hour menus help keep the tab down when the whole family is along.
For the adults, there’s an extensive selection of brews on tap – with styles varying from saison to stout, pale ale to pilsner. Not a beer drinker? Not a problem. Check out the menu of craft cocktails.
This family-run operation is all about family – it’s even in the name. “Stemma” means “written family genealogy.” Started by Jason and Kim Harper, Jason’s parents also have a hand in running the business. The third generation of the Stemma family is still toddling.
Since Jason and Kim are parents of young children, the focus on family is evident in this welcoming space, including a kids’ corner with games. Leashed dogs are also welcome here, but they may have to share the limelight with the resident brew cat.
Mr. Frank’s KItchen is there every day with “The Bus,” providing burgers and sandwiches including vegetarian options. Pair your food with a spiced lager, Czech pilsner or a refreshing Farmhouse ale.
Wander is an all-ages, family friendly brew hall located just off of Ohio Street, tucked in at the back of an unassuming warehouse, which started out as a shipbuilding warehouse in the 1920s.
With seating both indoors and out, including a fire pit, it’s a great place to cozy up with friends and family no matter the season. The brew list changes weekly, so there’s always reason to come back. Try a hazy IPA one week, a Belgian dubbel the next.
Located on a bike route, and next to the Bike Hub Community Bike Shop, Wander is bike-friendly, too, with a large outdoor bike rack.
Community has always been at the forefront of the owners Colleen and Chad Kuehl, and Wander’s Community Tuesday on the third Tuesday of every month donates $1 from every pint sold that day to a local organization. Wander also hosts a fun run called Wander to Wander to benefit the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center. It starts at the center and ends at the brewery, and the cost includes a doughnut and a pint of beer or root beer. Doughnuts and beer? What’s not to love.
Chuckanut Brewery, found in downtown Bellingham, is another good bet. With an extensive menu, little eaters are sure to find something that they like on the children’s menu. Favorites such as quesadillas and mac ‘n’ cheese are alongside less typical, but still yummy, kids’ menu choices, such as clam chowder and the kids’ brat.
The ingredients on all menu items are sourced from local purveyors, says Mari Kemper, who owns the brewery with her husband Will Kemper. (Yes, Kemper as in Thomas Kemper Brewing, one of the first craft breweries in the Northwest.)
Chuckanut’s Hoppy Hour, Sunday through Thursday, is family friendly. It’s a great opportunity for the grown ups to sample one of the new experimental brews Chuckanut is crafting. Not only are kids welcomed, but dogs are welcomed on the patios, too. Look for special doggy days during Bellingham Beer Week in April.
Aslan is the favorite local brewpub hangout for my friend Abby and her family.
“Our daughter absolutely loves their coloring sheets,” she says. “My son loves their Yambanzo Burger, and that no one there ever acts weird about the fact that he is vegetarian.”
And my friend Jenn says she loves that her kids eat the food, and the servers are always happy to stop and converse with them. In the summer, they bring the family dog along and sit on the patio, where leashed pooches are welcome.
The extensive “Cub’s Menu” includes classic kid favorites as well as twists on those favorites, such as the breaded and fried Mac ‘n’ Cheese Bites.
The whole family will enjoy the house-brewed root beer and ginger ale, while the grown ups also have a vast choice of beers from lager to Pacific ale to stout, all certified organic. Aslan even offers a rare non-alcoholic craft brew.
Everyone will enjoy the rustic, funky vibe at the North Fork. The brewery/pizzeria/beer shrine has been an institution in Deming along Mt. Baker Highway for more than 20 years. It’s the perfect place to stop after a day in the snow at the Mount Baker Ski Area or hiking one of the many nearby trails in the warmer months.
Each weekend features a different pizza special, and gluten-free crust as vegan cheese are options. Fortune cookies come after the meal, a treat sure to delight kids. (Or go all-out and order dessert, too!)
Kids can indulge in the house-brewed root beer, and adults can choose from 20 brews on tap. Beers include North Fork’s own brews and collaboration brews, along with a selection of other craft beers.
Bellingham Cider Co. has become a community gathering spot since its opening in 2018. In the summertime, the opportunity to dine and sip on the patio overlooking Bellingham Bay is a draw. And it’s located next door to the Sylvia Center for Arts, making it an excellent choice for dinner and a show any time of year.
The locally sourced menu is getting rave reviews from every corner, as is the Blackberry Ginger cider. The simple kids menu is exactly what kids want – chicken tenders, a burger, grilled cheese and spaghetti, and side choices of fries or apple slices. And since everyone loves breakfast, brunch is offered both Satruday and Sunday.