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Bellingham: Drink it all in

When you live close to the 49th parallel, day trips to Bellingham are an easy 60-ish minute drive from Vancouver. And when the beer scene is pretty damn fantastic, one may make more trips for the beer than for a grocery shopping bonanza at Trader Joe’s – although TJ’s dark chocolate covered espresso beans are mighty fine, especially with a rich, imperial stout. Oh! Oh! And don’t forget the cheese, but I digress…

The old classics of Bellingham include Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro and Chuckanut Brewery & Kitchen, but have you visited Wander Brewing, Kulshan Brewing Co., Aslan Brewing Co. or the most recent arrival, Structures Brewing? No? Get on that. You have a summer of exploring to do and I highly suggest slotting in a brewery crawl in Bellingham. Soon. Like now.

Bellingham-Drink-it-all-in-MapYou’ll find good ‘ol classic beer styles at each of the breweries. If you’re up for more adventurous styles, hit up Structures, Wander, Aslan and Kulshan. Each of these breweries is experimenting with pilot batches and will likely have something unique for you to try each visit.

I hear that two more breweries are soon to open in Bellingham – Gruff Brewing Co. and Stone’s Throw Brewing Co., so it looks like I’ll have some new exploring to do as well.

Breweries visited. Check.

Alright, now on to the other local beer-loving establishments. You might want to stay the night in Bellingham to properly explore all of these options if you don’t have a designated driver.

One of my favourites is Elizabeth Station. They started as a specialty craft beer store and have now expanded to include a Cidra Cider Room, 16 rotating taps, special beer events, food options and growler/crowler fills. Shopping, snacking (try the nachos or Belgian waffles) and drinking – so civilized. The staff at Elizabeth Station are knowledgeable, helpful and downright awesome, something you might not find at one of the chain liquor stores in the area.  And soon, with a slated opening of early June, you can pop into their new coffee shop next door, Primer Coffee.

Up next: The Copper Hog Gastropub, which sports good pub food and a selection of local and non-local craft beers on tap. McKay’s Taphouse Pizzeria is another must for me – the 50+ beers on tap are good bait to get me there, and that bottle list—yeah, there’s always something interesting sitting in those fridges. Archer Ale House and The Local Public House are also good bets for tasty food and a good beer list.

Even though this is a beer article, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share a few other gems: visit Man Pies, Home Skillet (have the pulled pork tater tot hash & eggs – did you just drool?) and Old World Deli for delicious food. For you vinyl collectors, you can get lost for hours in Everyday Music. The prices are reasonable and every record is quality rated and priced accordingly.

So are you convinced? Grab your passport for some beer fun in Bellingham and, if you stop at Trader Joe’s, don’t forget my dark chocolate espresso beans. Cheers!


Lynn McIlwee

Lynn is an experienced beer event judge, hop grower and homebrewer. In her Hops Canary column, she writes about our beer related travel around the world, beer festivals, local beer events and other beer topics of interest.

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