It was a chilly winter here in Whatcom County — one of the coldest on record. Great news for skiers and snowboarders. More of a seasonal hobbit than a powder hound myself, I made it through the darkest of days with a little beer help from Bellingham’s fine selection of winter warmers. Kulshan’s Barrel Aged Kitten Mittens, Structures’ Skyhammer Imperial Stout, and Boundary’s Cask Cabin Fever were among my faves this winter. You might still be able to find a few of these bold brews lingering around town, but not for long.
Spring is here! And many beer enthusiasts around these parts start to crave something a bit lighter — at least in color. I sure do. Give me an East Coast IPA from Gruff, the latest version of Structures’ Fuzz, or something wild from Wander and I’m satisfied.
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It's true – not too long ago Bellingham was coated in snow. And not to long from now we will be welcoming the sun. The countdown to spring begins! ☀️ . Thanks for the awesome shot of our city, @portsideproductions. . . #bellinghamexperience #VisitBellingham #bellingham #bay #city #theport #downtown #city #whatcom #aerial #snow #spring #pnw #pnwwonderland #upperleftusa #waterfront #washington #BasecampBellingham
I reached out to our local brewers to find out what’s brewing around town this spring. Here’s what to expect on your next Tour de Bellingham Beer.
Aslan was kind enough to provide a full list of release dates for their upcoming spring beers. I’m most looking forward to Horizon Lines. As a native Skagitonian, any beer brewed with Skagit Valley Malt is bound to pique my curiosity. It’s great so see so much variety and experimentation coming from Aslan this year (Piranha Bath?!). And crowd-pleaser Disco Lemonade (Berliner Weisse) will be out just in time for May’s warmer weather.
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TUESDAY BEER RELEASE! Cosmic Dreams (IPA) 5.6% ABV // 84 IBU // 1.058 OG medium body + ripe citrus + vibrant Fresh squeezed grapefruit is at the core of this beer, from the nose through the finish. Large quantities of Citra hops sprinkled with Cascade, El Dorado, and Mosaic create waves of intense and pungent grapefruit notes. The heavy handed use of Oats in the mash creates a lush, silky mouth feel. This beer will grab your attention and keep it. Hops: Cascade, Citra, El Dorado, Mosaic Malt: Maris Otter, Oats #aslanbrewing #craftbrewing #citraipa
- Cosmic Dreams IPA – Available now
- 10lb Hammer Double IPA – 3/23
- Horizon Lines – CA Common w/ Skagit Valley Malt – 3/29
- Piranha Bath – Dry Hopped Sour – Early April
- FIFA – Farmhouse/White IPA – Mid April
- Witbier – Mid April
- Captain Planet IPA – 4/22
- Disco Lemonade – Early May
Atwood is brewing the following beers in Blaine this spring. I’d be hard pressed to choose the one I’m most looking forward to, as they all sound irresistible.
- Mos Saison with Brett — The latest version of Mos (pronounced like Mos Def, according to brewer Joshua Atwood Smith) is a saison made with Brettanomyces (a wild yeast strain).
- No Whey, Bro — A dry-hopped sour blonde made with Lactobacillus bacteria cultured from yogurt. Atwood calls it “the lemonade of beers”.
- Blaine Damage Belgian Brown Ale — Not much info on this one yet. But with a name like Blaine Damage, I’m willing to bet it’s bolder than Atwood’s signature farmhouse styles.
- Biere De Garde — “The malty brother-in-law to saison”, this French-style farmhouse ale sounds like the perfect spring transition — with a wintery richness and crisp, summery finish.
Each year, Boundary brews a special batch of Ski to Sea ESB in time for Bellingham’s biggest annual race. This year, the ESB will be made with a variety of malts — including Skagit Valley Copeland Pale and Club. I just so happen to adore the sometimes under-represented ESB style and will be seeking this one out for sure.
- Ski to Sea ESB — A traditional English-style pale ale brewed to commemorate the tradition of the Ski to Sea Race. The bright, copper-color of this ESB reflects the rich blend of local and continental malts. Dry-hopping with UK Fuggles produces delightful earthy, floral and fruity tones – hallmark English hop character. The “eighth leg” of the Ski to Sea race is perfect for any beautiful PNW afternoon!
Confession: I live within walking distance of North Nut and don’t get in there nearly enough. Now that they’re creating seasonal Skagit Malt ales on top of their award-winning lagers, I really have to get in there more often. See you there!
- Export Stout — Chuckanut owner Mari Kemper informs me that Export Stout is currently on in honor of St. Patty’s Day. “This stout is reminiscent of ones enjoyed in the tropics, as it is also known as a Foreign Stout,” Mari says. “We haven’t brewed this beer in several years since we were honoring St Patty with an Irish Stout, but decided to mix things up a bit this year. Chuckanut Export Stout has notes of dried fruit and molasses followed by a rounded malt finish.”
- Filtered American Wheat — At the end of March, Chuckanut will release their new Filtered American Wheat made with…you guessed it…Skagit Valley malts! According to Mari, “Chuckanut’s filtered American Wheat uses Skagit Valley malts and several German hops to give this beer a light, bright golden color, citrus flavors and refreshing finish.”
Watch for a couple new Kulshan brews in April. I’m most excited about the Kulshan-Menace collaboration for Bellingham Beer Week, a Belgian Pale. Additionally, Kulshan plans to release their low ABV Saison Du Kulshan — a light, lemon-herb brew made with wheat, barley, spelt, and rye.
I stopped by Wander the night that Peach Millie Sour was released. The place was so packed we couldn’t find a place to park. And so — as one does in Bellingham — we went to another brewery and circled back to Wander later on. Of course, Peach Millie was worth the wait. Here are Wander’s tasting notes for Peach Millie Sour (to which I would add: “looks great next to the fire!”)
- Peach Millie Sour — European specialty malts and aromatic hops. House ale yeast. Peaches and lactobacillus. Cloudy straw colored. Semi-dry. Assertive, bright, tart, peach.
The big news over at Wander this spring is their annual Wild Warehouse release. This highly acclaimed beer won GABF Gold in 2015, several additional awards in 2016, and is likely to take home another one or three awards (no pressure, guys) this year. Get this beer while you can.
- Wild Warehouse Barrel-Aged Farmhouse Ale — Aged nine months in Chardonnay barrels. European malts. Slovenian and British hops. Saison yeast. Glowing golden orange in color. Nectarine, fresh apple, pear, clover, tart.
This time around I have less intel on (but no less enthusiasm for) the following breweries. Here’s what I’ve gathered regarding current/upcoming releases.
As always, Gruff has some fun stuff in the works. Watch for Skagit Valley Obsidian Malt in a future brew or two. Current offerings include Munich Ale (made with Skagit Valley Copeland Malt) and The Tripod Triple IPA, made from 7 hop varieties. Keep an eye on Gruff’s Facebook page for weekly updates.
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THE TRIPOD A Triple IPA 10% This IPA is made of 7 different hop varieties that bring out citrus, tropical fruit and floral characters. This Is an amazingly drinkable triple IPA won't last long. We also have LINDSAY STREET playing some sweet tunes from 2-4 today. And lastly our pals @horseshoecafe added THE CHOPPED CHEESE to their menu and it is amazing!!! Happy Saturday!!!
I’m bummed that Menace tapped out of Chili Bravo, but hopefully it will be back soon. Try the ESB, American Wheat, or Vienna Pale at Bellingham’s newest brewery. And keep an eye out for that Beer Week collab with Kulshan!
What’s the best way to find out what is on tap at the North Fork? Take a scenic drive out Mount Baker Highway and see for yourself! Have a pizza or calzone while you’re at it. They are incredible.
Stones Throw has teamed up with Rain Country Refrigeration to produce their Rain Country Liquid Sunshine Lager. Just in time for those April showers!
There are two ways to find out what’s new at Structures: 1) Go there 2) Follow them on Instagram. Anything I recommend will likely be crushed by the time you read this, anyways. Structures always keeps it fresh with small batch, experimental brews.