The beer continues to flow in this town. New taps. I guess it could be said our breweries and taphouses are brewing up “happiness.” More beers, more happiness? Right? Bellingham is blowing up on the tap scene. By the end of 2016 we’ll have around 2x as many breweries per capita as Seattle.

Can we measure that happiness?GCH Could we build a formula to show Bellingham’s Gross City Hoppiness? (Ala Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness.) What would that look like? Let’s give it a go!

Can we show that for every new tap that is added or subtracted in Bellingham the quantitative happiness of Tap Trailers is increased, or decreased, by a factor of X? Let’s perform a study!


To determine the baseline for Bellingham’s Gross City Hoppiness. GCH would be the measure of happiness as a function of beer taps. Believe it or not, we’ll only be including those taphouses and breweries on the Tap Trail to build off of this formula. Crazy, I know.


What is GCH made up of? Let’s say that GCH is made up of community (c), jobs (j) and fun (f). Let’s say that for every tap added to Bellingham’s breweries and taphouses the “community” variable accounts fo 0.5 happiness metrics. For every tap added the “fun” variable accounts for 0.35. For every tap added the “jobs” variable accounts for 0.25. Population needs to be included or the number doesn’t mean very much. It needs to be happiness relative to population! So here’s our formula’s variables:

T = Taps

H(C*J*F) = Happiness

(“H” is always equal to 1)

P = Population

GCH =Gross City Hoppiness

P / (T * H(j))= GCH

Community, fun and jobs were included into the Happiness variable because, well, that’s what I wanted to do. And it seems like a pretty good compilation of benefits from a new tap. The community (c) variable takes the cake in “happiness” because, in my estimation, that’s the greatest value of a new tap. New taps mean new excitement, which means more people showing up, discussing and getting behind a “cause.” The “fun” variable (f) is really that indefinable magic variable. It’s the stuff that is probably a combination of beer nerdery, discussion, that general feeling of excitement about the new.  The “jobs” variable is important because for every tap we add it is further proof that the local craft industry is strong, moving forward and is supporting our people. Jobs (purpose?) is a big part of happiness.

So there we have it, we’re saying “Happiness” (H) is a factor of “community”, “fun” and “jobs.” I’m sure there’ll be debate, but that’s where we’re starting and we can build on it from there. Population is added because we want this formula to be used across city’s so we can compare them. Adding the population variable allows city’s of smaller population and lower concentration of taps to be competitive in GCH.



We need to determine how many taps are on the Tap Trail! Pretty straightforward and then plug it into our formula. “Taps” do not include your casks, etc. Just permanently installed taps.

Aslan Brewery – 20
Boundary Bay Brewery – 10
Chuckanut Brewery – 9
Kulshan Brewery  (James St) – 14
Kulshan Brewery (Kentucky St.) – 20
North Fork Brewery – 9
Structures Brewing – 6
Wander Brewing – 14
Archer Ale House – 21
The Local – 24
McKay’s – 51
Elizabeth Station – 16
Copper Hog – 21
Green Frog – 25
Schweinhaus Biergarten – 12
Uisce – 16

Total 2016 Spring/Summer Tap Trail Taps = 288

Now that we have values let’s plug them in!

82,635 / (288 * 1(.5 * .35 * .25)) = 6,558

There you have it! Bellingham’s current baseline for Gross City Hoppiness is 6,558. As the city grows and taps are added and subtracted I’ll plot this onto a graph to show our progress as a city! Maybe I’ll update the graph every quarter.

Do you not agree with the formula? What did I miss? Math people, take this with a grain of salt; let’s not get bogged down in details here! We’re measuring happiness by tap. If I have the number of taps at your establishment wrong tell me and we’ll adjust. I think I’m pretty on though.

From this formula we might be able to infer other things such as City GDP, infastructure, etc. Do we get more festivals when we have more taps? Maybe we’ll find out!

Someone take a stab at Portland or Bend’s GCH. What city has the highest GCH? How closely is GCH correlated with Breweries per capita? To keep things even, let’s say a “taphouse” must have at least 12 taps. Use your discretion as necessary from there!