I moved down to Seattle from Bellingham in March of this year, and it will always be a special place for me. I moved there nearly ten years ago, shortly after I turned 21 (is that good timing, or what?), and went through a lot of the life stuff one does between the ages of 20 and 30 there. Of course, as anyone in Bellingham knows, you don’t get to say you’re FROM Bellingham unless you have always lived there, but I’ll take it as home over the dinky town I actually grew up in.
When I moved there, the beer scene isn’t anything like it is now. Boundary Bay, obviously, needs little to be said about it, but that (along with North Fork) was about it. Nowadays, beer is one of the first things anyone will connect to Bellingham. I was living on Iron Street when Kulshan opened (I should not be allowed to live a block away from a brewery). To my mind, at least, that’s when Bellingham really turned into a ‘beer town’. Chuckanut was already making a solid beer, but like Boundary, had a fair focus on the food and being a real sit-down type of place. Kulshan was all about the beer (and set the tone for some great food trucks).
Similarly, Elizabeth Station appeared and set a similar tone for taphouses- an all-ages watering hole where the focus was on one thing- beer. By that time, I lived nearby, and the easy-going environment was preferable to the college bars of downtown, where there was bar fare and *shudder* Jaeger bombs, of the faux-yuppiness of, say, Poppes (“Poppes 360”? Really?). It was a place you could go with friends, kids in tow, have a snack and good beer, with nothing superfluous. I was back up there this weekend, and while it has grown in size and selection (anyone else remember 5 taps & $3 pints?), it’s still the same environment, with the same focus.
If you haven’t yet, read Ariana’s post on Bellingham being a ‘snobby’ town. Which… maybe? I’m pretty snobbish about alcohol in general, if not drinking Beefeater or PBR makes one snobbish. But snobbiness carries the connotation of looking down one’s nose at others, and that’s an unfair thing to say about Bellingham. There are a bunch of people who like beer- making it, talking about it, drinking it- and that’s about all there is to it.
So, if you’ll kindly excuse the nostalgia, I love the culture that has developed in Bellingham, and I look forward to seeing it grow even more, even if it is from a bit of a distance.