Previously on this blog, I detailed 6 Classic Bellingham Beers to introduce newcomers to the Bellingham beer scene. This time around, we’ll take a look at Bellingham’s new classics — the second wave of breweries that defined our local beer scene in 2014-2015.
The New Classics
2014 was a big year in the Bellingham beer scene. Wander Brewing and Aslan Brewing opened up almost simultaneously, lending a significant boost to Bellingham’s breweries per capita. Structures Brewing opened quietly on State Street in 2015, bringing their distinctly East Coast methods and styles to Bellingham. In the few short years since these three breweries have become Bellingham’s new classics.
Wander hit the Bellingham beer scene in 2014. Housed in a huge warehouse just outside downtown, the brewhall is a little off the beaten path but well worth the effort. With an ever-expanding variety of traditional and experimental styles, it’s tough to pin down just one or two brews that most represent Wander. But the numbers are telling. Wander’s most popular beer on rating site Beer Advocate is their Global Mutt Baltic Porter. This multi-award winning beer embraces Wander’s travel-inspired roots by showcasing Brazilian coffee, fair trade cocoa nibs from the Democratic Republic of Congo, chocolate from Theo’s in Seattle, water from Bellingham, hops from Yakima, and specialty malt from Europe.
Of course, no discussion of Wander Brewing would be complete without a nod to their Great American Beer Festival (GABF) Gold-winning style, Wild Warehouse. Brewed seasonally, this barrel-aged farmhouse ale can be tricky to find due to limited availability. If you can’t find it, try something from the rotating Millie Sour series. Whatever you sip, tip a hat to Wander staff when you visit the brewery. They recently won Large Brewery of the Year at the 2018 Washington Beer Awards.
Learn more about Wander Brewing here:
If Aslan — Bellingham’s only 100% certified organic brewery — were known for one beer, it would undoubtedly be Batch 15 IPA. Named for the number of recipes it took to nail this new classic style, Batch 15 was Aslan’s early entry into the haze craze: a juicy, unfiltered IPA with less bitterness than typical West Coast IPAs. It earned Double Gold in Sip Northwest’s 2017 Best Northeastern-style IPA category, sealing the deal that this batch is here to stay.
As it turns out, Aslan is known for more than just their IPA. Ask around town what folks’ favorite Aslan brew is and you’ll get a few different answers. But one long-time crowd favorite appears to be the Ginger Rye — my personal go-to Aslan brew until very recently (I now spring for the more experimental offerings of Aslan Depot). Ginger Rye is an approachable specialty beer inspired by the Moscow Moose cocktail. An adventurous brew that just about anyone can enjoy.
Learn more about Aslan Brewing here:
East Coast IPA fans: Structures is your haze haven. Themselves transplants from the North East, Structures’ owner-brewer team brought their distinctive style to downtown Bellingham’s State Street in 2015. They’ve been handcrafting experimental batches ever since, with a rotating lineup that rarely looks the same week after week. First-timers should go with the tried-and-true Fuzz IPA, Structures’ only “regular” beer.
Depending on when you visit the brewery, there may be a line out the door. This is due to Structures’ highly-anticipated can releases, announced via Instagram. Grab a bottle or cans to go — if you can. Hot on the beer trade market, Structures’ packaged brews don’t last long. And when it comes to draft, you really can’t go wrong. Die In Haze is the highest-rated Structures brew on Beer Advocate, but don’t limit yourself to ratings. I usually go for a barrel-aged saison here. And I’ve never been disappointed.
Learn more about Structures Brewing here: