Wander Brewing

The second brewery I visited with my brother before he moved away from Bellingham was Wander Brewing. Located in a large, open-floor warehouse with a vaulted ceiling running the length, it kind of has a cathedral feeling to it, with the mash tun and kettle and the raised platform in between right where the altar would be. A good-sized seating area and a patio with food trucks give Wander a pretty cool overall vibe.

the view down to the Wander altar-- i mean, brewhouse

Hand-made taster boxes at Wander Brewing — Bellingham, WA

    Rob’s Picks

  • Warehouse Farmhouse – 5.7% – Saison. Light and smooth. Light on the funk. Some orange, some coriander, light lemon.
  • Belgian Brown – 6.9% – This might now be called Together Belgian Dubbel. Banana/clove start, then caramel and honey malts catch up.
  • Global Mutt – 7% – Coffee Baltic Porter. Coffee, some chocolate. Dry. Touch of citrus brightness.
  • Correspondent Foreign Extra Stout – 6.4% – Crisp citrus edge to roasty, chocolate, coffee malt mix. Touch of dryness. Very easy drinking.
    The Rest

  • Wanderale – 6.2% – Belgian Blonde. Banana/clove aroma and flavor, more on the clove side. Earthy hops and some bitterness. Slight rye spicy dryness.
  • Summertime Weizen – 5.2% – Some breadiness. Honey and lemon sweetness. Touch watery at the end.
  • Ramble On Roggenbier – 5.5% – Somewhat sweet, light banana/clove, caramel.
  • WA Uncommon – 5.5% – Smooth. Some caramel malt, some floral hops, and light lingering bitterness.
  • Belling-Hammer – 6.8% – Wee Heavy. Caramel malt and floral hops.
  • Shoe Toss – 7% – Rye IPA. Floral. Decent biscuit and caramel malts. Rye spice edge and some lingering bitterness.

They’ve been doing some barrel aging, but none of it was ready when I visited. Maybe next time I’m up there I’ll be able to get a taste of some of that. Just gotta have faith, right?

Aslan Brewing

Two new breweries opened in Bellingham in 2014. While I was still in the idle speculation phase of planning another bike tour weekend to visit them, my brother decided to move out of Fairhaven and back to Oregon. So I drove up for one last weekend of hanging out with him, hitting breweries, and doing a little hiking. First up was Aslan Brewing. They’ve gone the start-big route, with lots of large stainless steel brewing equipment visible through windows behind the bar. Full kitchen, too, with options for pretty much any diet. In addition to the beer line up, they also have house-made root beer and soda options. They’re an organic establishment, too, which is always nice. Tried all 16 offerings they had on tap, so yeah, it was great to have my brother there to help me get through it all.

the lion, the bar, and the sampler flights

Aslan Brewing — Bellingham, WA

    Rob’s Picks

  • Batch 15 IPA – 7% – Pretty cool mix of melon and earthy hop flavors. Light underlying caramel malt and nice bitter finish.
  • Alpen Glow Summer Ale – 5.7% – Light and smooth, with some honey sweetness. Light herbal hops, and a little breadiness on the finish.
  • Cascadian Dark Lager – 6.5% – Big roasty malt aroma and flavor. Citrus hops. Caramel finish, and light bitterness.
  • Irie Eyes Red Ale – 6.7% – Pretty smooth and crisp with lots of malts. Light citrus hop edge, and some bitterness on the finish.
  • Bellingham Brown – 6% – Big malts, smooth. Roasty, chocolate, brown sugar. Light citrus hops. Easy drinking.
  • Stout-ly Man – 7% – Roasty aroma and flavor. Chocolate/coffee maltiness, too. Moderately thick mouthfeel. Good lingering flavors and dark chocolate bitterness.
  • Flagship IPA – 6.5% – Floral and citrus aroma and flavors. Piney hop flavor, too. Light malts. Good amount of complementary bitterness.
  • Megathrust Imperial IPA – 10.5% – Big citrus and tropical fruit hops. Solid malt backbone. Good bitter edge.
  • Disco Lemonade Berliner Weisse – 3.5% – Wheat/bready start, with good sour tang, to lemony finish.
  • Root Beer – 0% – Huge aroma: licorice, sassafras, molasses. Nice sweetness, balanced with other herbs. Lingering licorice.
  • Ginger Ale – 0% – Ginger and honey flavors. Light, sweet, and refreshing.
    The Rest

  • Oatmeal Pale Ale – 5.2% – Bready, light, with a bit of floral hops, and lingering bitterness.
  • Ginger Rye – 5.4% – Ginger aroma and flavor. Light rye spiciness, with some breadiness on the finish.
  • Amber – Usual malt forward beer but with some herbal and earthy hops.
  • Flagship Pils – 5% – Light, with some herbal and earthy hops. Touch of honey. Some bitterness, too.
  • Wild Buffalale ISA – 4.5% – Light but not watery. Some breadiness. Citrus and piney hops with a lingering bitterness.
  • Don’s Non-Alcoholic – 0% – Roasty, molasses, and licorice flavors to a tangy finish.

All in all, a nice addition to the Bellingham beer scene. It’s just too bad that I no longer have a free place to stay there. I know, I know, it’s a rough life I have. Thank you for your sympathy.

Kulshan Brewing

I was looking to do a short but interesting bike tour back in August 2013, and Bellingham to Seattle turned out to be the winning trifecta: a weekend trip, a visit with my brother, and a few breweries. So on a sunny Friday morning, I put my bike on the train to Bellingham, arriving right on time for lunch with my brother. We eventually meandered over to Kulshan Brewing, where it looked like half the town had decided to leave work early and grab a beer. All the outside tables were full, but we were able to find an open spot inside, and soon we had sampler trays.

WA state sampler at Kulshan

Crafty sampler tray at Kulshan — Bellingham, WA

    Rob’s Picks

  • Double Brother DIPA – 8.1% – Big floral, piney, and citrus hops. Light biscuity malt. A little oily on the tongue, but came off as more of a fresh hop aspect. Quite bitter finish, but blends back in well.
  • Trans Porter – Coffee/chocolate aroma and flavor. Some roasty maltiness, and a touch of honey sweetness. Fairly dry.
  • Haas Hop Ale – Roasty, caramel maltiness, with a touch of banana on the finish. Light and fairly dry. Quite drinkable.
  • Dry Stout – Big coffee/chocolate aroma. Creamy and dry, but with some bitterness. A touch watery, as well. Interesting mix of mouthfeels.
    The Rest

  • Good Ol’ Boy Pale – 4.9% – Light, with a bready start. Touch of honey, then some bitterness on the finish that lingers.
  • Red Cap Red – 5.5% – Smooth. Some caramel sweetness mixed with a little bit of floral hop flavor. Subtle banana/fruity undertones. Bit of lingering bitterness, too.
  • Bastard Kat IPA – 6.66% – Floral aroma. Floral and some citrus hop flavor, with bready maltiness. Bitter finish. Heavy, oily mouthfeel.
  • Midnight Kascadian Dark Ale – 7% – Roasty maltiness with a bit of caramel and some floral hops. Light banana undertone on the finish.
  • Hop Howdy Belgian Blonde – 8% – Some funk, some banana/bubble gum sweetness. Spicy and kind of astringent. Interesting but not my thing.
  • Reisterbräu R.I.S. – 10% – Chocolate/coffee aroma and flavors. Sharp and intense, with alcohol flavor. Sweet finish (molasses?).

After the sample session, we walked back to downtown Bellingham and got dinner and a beer or two at Boundary Bay. Not a bad start to the first day of the tour, even though I was only on the bike for two miles (pretty much all downhill, too). But I was okay with that. Anyway, it’s taken me so long to write up this visit that two new breweries have since opened in Bellingham. So it looks like I’ll be doing another little bike tour soon. Can’t wait!

Boundary Bay

Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro in Bellingham, WA, is a big place but, on the Friday and Saturday my brother and I went by, very crowded. At least that keeps the beer on tap fresh, right? Maybe. I did the sampler tray, and the biggest disappointment was the Scotch Ale, which was flat. Ugh. I hope it was just a bad batch. The rest, fortunately, were fair to very good.

    Rob’s Picks

  • Inside Passage Ale – not so crisp but great hoppiness
  • Bellingham Blonde – tasty, with a nice hoppy edge
  • Imperial Oatmeal Stout – 8.5%! Very strong, maybe a bit too strong. Dangerous, perhaps. For advanced beer drinkers only…
    The Rest

  • Best Bitter ESB – fine and well-rounded, but not a whole lot of character. Could be hoppier. Great beginner beer, though.
  • Amber – okay, but also kind of unremarkable. Goes down easy, though. Another great beginner beer.
  • Scotch Ale – good caramel flavor, but pretty flat. With just a little carbonation it would have been really good.

Progress! Only one more microbrewery post until I’m all caught up, and then I’ll have to start hitting some new ones. There are six or seven nearby that I haven’t visited yet…

Chuckanut Brewery

I visited my brother in Bellingham back in July, and we hit the Chuckanut and Boundary Bay brewpubs. Both are nice spots, but Chuckanut was smaller and more relaxed than Boundary Bay. I took pictures of the sampler trays at the time, but, unfortunately, those pictures are now gone. I could take photos of their logo glasses here in my apartment, but it’s just not the same. Sigh. Larry and I each ordered a sampler tray at Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen, and we each had different favorites. There were three organic and three non-organic (inorganic?) beers represented. Contrary to my usual green side, I liked the three non-organics better. Ah well.

    Rob’s Picks

  • Shwarzbier – mmm, just right
  • Pilsner – good hoppiness, light
  • Helles Lager – good all-around lager, very drinkable
    The Rest

  • Organic Golden Ale – very bubbly, a bit too apple-y, kinda big for a golden
  • Organic British IPA – okay, decent hoppiness but not so crisp
  • Organic Amber – “clean, smooth” – yup. Not the most interesting, though.
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