Monday, February 2nd, 2015
Warming Up With Winter Brews at The Local in Bellingham
Teresa Schmidt

What’s a chicken’s favorite beer? BOCK! My clever husband came up with that one last evening, at The Local Winter Fest, while enjoying a Chuckanut Brewery Bock Lager. It’s no joke—any man, woman or chicken who enjoys a strong, dark, roasty brew on a chilly winter evening would agree that the Chuckanut Bock is a great example of why winter warmers were invented.

I, for one, was very excited to learn that The Local—that cozy downtown Public House known for its stellar beer selection—was planning a Winter Fest, with all 17 taps featuring winter ales, lagers and ciders.

The Local Public House, Bellingham, WA, Craft Beer, Local Breweries, Winter Beers, Menace Brewery, Boundary Bay, Chuckanut Brewery, Aslan Brewing, North Fork Brewery, Kulshan Brewing, Wander Brewing

All seven Whatcom County breweries were represented, so I started with a sampler of six, and counted on the clever one to supply me with sips of the seventh from his pint glass.

The Local Public House, Bellingham, WA, Craft Beer, Local Breweries, Winter Beers, Menace Brewery

My sampler at The Local. Top row, left to right: Boundary Barrel-Aged Cabin Fever, North Fork Whiskey Barrel-Aged Winter Warmer, Wander Barley Humbug. Bottom row, left to right: Aslan 542 Winter Warmer, Kulshan Kitten Mittens, Menace Ugly Sweater.

My first round of tastes included:

  • Menace Brewing Ugly Sweater: I love this one. It’s always consistently full-bodied, with just the right balance (for me) of malt and hops. Easy to drink, too. 7.5 ABV
  • Aslan Brewing 542 Winter Warmer: Organic, of course (all Aslan brews are), this is an Imperial Alt style ale of medium body with a nice finish. 7.0 ABV
  • Boundary Bay Brewery Cabin Fever Bourbon Barrel Aged: Boundary did a nice job barrel-aging their winter classic, Cabin Fever. It’s dark brown, strong and flavorful, and packs a punch at 8.5 ABV.
  • Kulshan Brewing Kitten Mittens: This is a popular winter beer, with folks pining for it the rest of the year. KM has a rich flavor of brown sugar/molasses, but it’s not too sweet. 7.1 ABV
  • The North Fork Brewery Whiskey Barrel Aged Winter Warmer: Brewer Eric Jorgensen scored again with this one, which was aged for six months in two different barrels. We all tasted a strong flavor of whiskey (I called it whiskey-flavored beer), but luckily, Eric was there to correct us—we tasted the barrel, which infused the beer with flavors of coconut, vanilla and oak, like one tastes in a barrel-aged whiskey. Of course!
  • Wander Brewing Barley Humbug: Both malty and fruity, quite smooth and enjoyable. I would like to revisit this one, but I hear it’s going fast.
  • Chuckanut Brewery Bock Lager: A beautiful beer, dark in color with a nicely rounded flavor.

Between the seven of us, many other regional winter warmers were tasted, from Machine House (Seattle) Winter on cask, to Cascade Lakes (Oregon) Winter on nitro. It’s always fun to pass the pints around and share tastes with your friends, which makes events like this one way too good to pass up.

The Local Public House, Bellingham, WA, Craft Beer, Local Breweries, Winter Beers

Last beer of the night, surrounded by empty glasses. Success!

To make it even better, The Local was raffling off brewery swag, like t-shirts, pint glasses, growlers and a sweet vacuum insulated stainless steel growler that went home with us, thanks to a generous friend who gave us her winning ticket.

The Local Public House, Bellingham, WA, Craft Beer, Local Breweries, Winter Beers, Menace Brewery

A happy winner at the bar.

Even though we’re barely halfway through winter (although around here, it’s been feeling more like spring of late), you don’t want to wait too long for a chance to try a winter warmer from your favorite Whatcom County brewery. Availability depends on supply and demand, and the latter is usually pretty high. So don’t delay!

Thanks to The Local for putting on such a fun and delicious beer sampling adventure!

The Local Winter Fest + friends = win.

The Local Public House, Bellingham, WA, Craft Beer, Local Breweries, Winter Beers, Menace Brewing


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the Author:

Teresa Schmidt, a copywriter who owns and operates Sprout Creative, comes from a long line of brewers, bootleggers and saloonkeepers. She moved to Bellingham 13 years ago to write, hike, ski and paddle—but it was the beer that really sold her. She also loves wine. And cocktails. And good food. To work it all off, she runs around in the woods at every opportunity.


  1. Thanks Teresa for your fun report of the Winter Fest here in Bham. The Chuckanut brewers and I were down at the Bham Breweries Tap Takeover at Sixgill in Fremont the same night so had to miss this good time!

    Comment by Mari Kemper — February 5, 2015 @ 12:50 pm

  2. We missed you! I’m sure you represented Bellingham in fine fashion in Fremont!

    Comment by Teresa Schmidt — February 5, 2015 @ 1:02 pm

  3. Good beer-writing is almost as enjoyable as good beer. Well done

    Comment by dave s — February 5, 2015 @ 6:19 pm

  4. “Almost” is generous, at best. Thanks, Dave!

    Comment by Teresa Schmidt — February 5, 2015 @ 6:32 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment