And just like that, another Bellingham Beer Week is in the record books. May my liver and wallet recover from the damage that was done upon it on those ten days. BBW is a time of celebration and awareness, as the mission statement claims:
“The mission of Bellingham Beer Week is to celebrate and promote craft beer in Bellingham and beyond, and to recognize our local craft beer producers, retailers, and consumers who positively impact this community in so many ways. Bellingham Beer Week is a collaborative effort run by passionate members of the local beer community.”
With that in mind, the following is a list of the top ten events that, in my opinion, best captured the essence of Bellingham Beer Week.
10. Chuckanut Brewery: OKTOBERFEST!!!!!! – A great celebration for the whole family to enjoy. There was the release of the North x Northwest Lager which was brewed specially for Beer Week as well as the Chuckanut Dunkel. Take that, add delicious bratwurst, sprinkle in some music, dump it all into a special Stein and you’ve got yourself a pretty solid Beer Week event. However, when an event name is in all caps and has six exclamation points, you’re expecting something REALLY BIG!!! The event was a blast and good enough to crack the top ten, but once my beer and brat was consumed, I had little keeping me there.
9. Wander Brewing: Barrel-Aged Emissary Imperial Stout Release Party – One of the benefits of Wander having an open-concept brewery is that you get a sneak peak at what’s being cooked up. However, it can be a taste on my patience when I have to stare at the Emissary Stout aging in barrels for months on end waiting for it to finally be available. But alas, the time came and Wander celebrated appropriately. A small group of 40 had a chance to tour the Wander Barrel project, get a taste of two aging beers straight from the barrels, get a pour of the Emissary, plus you got to take home one of the specially numbered bottles signed by owners Chad and Colleen. The event was exclusive, nerdy, and so much fun.
8. The Local Public House: Strange Brew Night – So. Damn. Strange. At this event we had a chance to try some local brews that weren’t your typical flavors, to put it lightly. Highlights include a pho ale which literally tasted like cold carbonated broth and jalapenos, and my personal favorite: the pina colada dry stout (which happened to be Menace Brewing’s concoction FYI). The other thing to note about this event was the Local’s party hosting capabilities. With a constant raffle occurring throughout the night, friends and strangers bonded over the weird ass beers they were drinking and their constant failure of losing the raffle even though they had fifteen freaking tickets (I’m not bitter, I promise).
7. Stones Throw Brewery: Construction Tour – This town has been at the edge of their seat waiting for these guys to open their doors in Fairhaven. That’s why it was so exciting for people to finally get a chance to tour the place and get a taste of the beers. The open house had a fantastic turn out and there was such a high energy throughout the site. If you haven’t done so yet, check out our previous article written on their progress and what makes them so unique. This event was the sneak preview people needed to get them pumped for their opening in (hopefully) October.
6. Kulshan Brewery: Session Fest – What was great about this event was its involvement of other local breweries. We are lucky enough to live in a town with so many craft breweries who don’t compete with one another, and instead support each other. Kulshan’s Session Fest held at their new K2 location featured session beers from local craft breweries. This was an event that all the breweries came together on, and it was beautiful and delicious.
5 & 4. Boundary Bay Brewery and Wander Brewing: Cribbage Tournament and Wander to Wander 1k – These two events are grouped together because they both were done to support the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center. I think it’s great to not only support craft beer during Beer Week but to also give back. These two events teamed up with WDRC to create fun-filled community fundraisers. In particular, I want to highlight the uniqueness of the Wander to Wander 1k. When I’d tell people I was participating in a 1k, the response was typically to laugh in my face. However, the short .62 miles allowed for participants to have fun with it. People wore costumes (one person wore a full blown gorilla suit), every participant received a medal, and there was even an awards ceremony. Plus if every benefit marathon offered free doughnuts and beer, I would be a much more active runner.
3. Boundary Bay Brewery: 2nd Annual FemALES – An event celebrating women in beer. For ten dollars, anyone was welcome to come enjoy delicious food, tastes from local breweries, and socialize with the fabulous women of the craft beer world. Most importantly, the money raised went to benefit the Pink Boots Society, a non profit designed to empower women beer professionals to advance their careers in the Beer Industry through Education. When you combine craft beer and kick ass women, you really can’t go wrong.
2. Aslan Brewing: Wear Local Day – This was a beer week event through and through. If you sported a Bellingham Brewery gear, you were awarded with $2 pints. Given that Aslan’s fresh hop beer “Fresh Outta Hop’ton” is $6, I wwas essentially drinking 3 for 1 beers! Yay math! What was awesome about this event was Aslan could have easily made the deal only if you wore Aslan gear, but instead it was focused on the entire Bellingham craft beer community. Much love.
1. Boundary Bay Brewery: 20th Anniversary Party – Now THIS was a party. Beer. Food. Zip Line. Weird spinny ride that looked vomit enducing. This party had it all. Boundary Bay took over the whole block and made an event that was truly fun for all ages. There was a kidzone where at one point, I saw children doing karaoke onstage. There was so much to do, so much to eat, and so much to drink. All around great fun and truly a celebration for a substantial landmark in Boundary Bay’s history. Well done.
Of course with almost 50 Beer Week events I am bound to have missed some great ones on this list. Overall, it was such a fun ten days. Thank you to every participating brewery, taphouse, pub, and organization for creating such a fantastic lineup this year. Until next year, Bellingham Beer Week.