Photo by Nick Kelly / Faithlife Corporation

Touring the Breweries of Bellingham

The nearby college town is a hot spot for local beer. Here’s where you’ve got to stop.

This is the third in a four-part summer series in which we’ll travel to nearby and not-so-nearby Washington towns to check out the beer scenefrom Bellingham to Port Townsend, Anacortes to Leavenworth, we have your beer-inspired weekend trips covered!

If you’re planning to visit one of the nearly two dozen breweries in Bellingham for a taste of their latest concoction, you’d better venture out early. On a visit to the college city 90 minutes north of Seattle, one thing about its brewpubs will become very clear: They’re quite popular. So popular, in fact, that new breweries are sprouting up all over. Given the amount of craft beer and its rising popularity among Bellingham’s residents and college students, we wanted to check out the scene and offer thoughts on some beloved locations.

Boundary Bay Brewing (1107 Railroad Ave., 360-647-5593) is the first place anyone visiting Bellingham for beer should stop. It’s central and historic. Many folks in town talk up the beer, the quaint public-house atmosphere, and the food at this award-winning spot, established in 1995 out of a restored 1922 warehouse. But what to drink first? Boundary Bay’s IPA (with the very recognizable green tap handle) is perhaps the most quintessential Northwest IPA there is. Sure, other breweries make great double IPAs, or IPAs with more floral qualities, and even the popular India Session Ales have earned much interest, but Boundary Bay’s dry and hoppy version of this beloved style is wonderful.

Perhaps the brewery’s second most popular beer—and rightly so—is the Scotch Ale, a semi-smoky, semi-malty, caramely red that, unlike many other Scotch ales, is not syrupy and cloying. If you’re looking for eats, try BB’s vegetarian black-bean burger with roasted potatoes or their succulent fish tacos.

The more one learns about beer in the Pacific Northwest, the more one comes across mostly ales: the maltier, thicker version of the beer family. But Chuckanut Brewery (601 W. Holly St., 360-752-3377) has chosen, for the most part, another path for its suds production: pilsners and lagers, traditionally lighter and more carbonated. Though Chuckanut does make a stout and an IPA, its German- and Vienna-style beers are some of the region’s best. The award-winning brewery, which opened eight years ago, offers a clean and delicious Helles lager, a bright Märzen, and an ever-so-slightly hoppy Maibach, set to be released in May. Another standout is its Dunkel, with a dark sunset hue and enough body to satisfy any beer drinker. For eats, try the housemade pickles and the Beer-BQ Hawaiian pizza.

Established in 2013, Aslan Brewing Company (1330 N. Forest St., 360-778-2088) is only about a half-mile from Boundary Bay. This brightly lit, wide-open taphouse serves an array of housemade beers (all 100 percent organic), including a fine red ale (thinner than Boundary’s Scotch Ale), a very drinkable stout (for those afraid of the traditionally heavy dark brew), a pineapple-forward pale ale, and a standout IPA—what they call their “Batch 15,” as light as it is floral. Bonus! Aslan (yes, like the name of the lion in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) serves waffle fries, whose aroma fills the room with such a warm, salty scent they’re nearly impossible to resist. JAKE UITTI

More in Eat Drink Toke

A Different Kind of Dumpling

At Jiaozi!, unexpected flavors await.

I Do(obie)

How to marry the love of your life with your love of cannabis.

Legislature Lifts Outdated Restrictions on Food Trucks

How a Vashon Island food truck owner/operator helped end old brick-and-mortar limitations.

Photo by Nicole Sprinkle 
                                Persian beet salad at The Shambles.
Raising the Bar

The Shambles wants you to feel good, and eat and drink well—without acting like it matters too much.

Talkin’ ‘Bout Terpenes!

The aromatic organic hydrocarbons give cannabis strains their smells, flavors, and so much more.

The Opla Vietnam tops the menu. 
                                Photo by Nicole Sprinkle
Café Opla’s Eggcellent Vietnamese-Inspired Brunch

The tiny Alaskan Way spot serves up individual skillets of eggs with tasty bells and whistles.

Mary Jane and Aunt Flo

For people who suffer from cramps, cannabis could be a vital source of relief.

Hash Gets Hacked

A change in tracking companies has left Washington’s cannabis industry exposed.

Photo by Suzi Pratt for Salt and Straw
10 Things to Know Before You Go to Salt and Straw

The beloved Portland-based ice cream shop finally opens its Seattle outposts.

Photo by Conner Knotis 
                                Jerk Shack’s jerk chicken.
Bring on the Jerk

Finally, the Caribbean stakes a spot in Seattle thanks to Jerk Shack.

Dennis Peron. Illustration by James the Stanton
The Cannabis Community Mourns Activist Dennis Peron

The grandfather of medicinal marijuana was 72.

Touch Down in Kerala, India via Kirkland

It’s 30 minutes east of Seattle, but Kathakali boasts some of the best Indian food in the area.