Of moths and flames


What: Herbsstock

When: 4 pm Sat., Sep. 14

Where: Herb's Cider, 1228 Bay St.

Cost: Free


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

I’m not good at a great deal of things that are useful to the world at large. However, I do have some talents that come in handy, and one of those is being able to recognize an invitation I cannot not refuse when one comes my way. So when I got an invite to attend a Txotx dinner at Herb’s Cider’s fermentation facility, there was probably less than a millisecond between offer and acceptance.

Delicious Basque-themed food courtesy of Evolve Chocolate and Cafe’s Christy and Shannon Fox, whose trail of breadcrumbs I would follow to the ends of the Earth? Check. A chance to sit down and have a meal with Herb’s owners Tim and Shama Alexander? Check. A cider pairing with each of the meal’s seven courses? Check.

Seems like a no-brainer except for one trifling detail: I don’t drink hard cider. Don’t get me wrong, I like cider quite a bit. It’s just that I’m allergic to it. And it’s the kind of allergy that has, on occasion, made it difficult for me to breathe.

However, invitations that cannot be refused do not care about such petty issues as my possible demise. They are a flame and I am but a helpless moth in their presence.

I went to the dinner. I drank the cider. It was tasty. Spoiler alert: I did not die.

But I did learn some things. Nerdy stuff about types of fermentation and varieties of apples. Cool stuff about Basque traditions. Interesting stuff about the other guests. That Tim Alexander wears three-piece suits.

Mostly what has stuck with me post-dinner is that the story of Herb’s Cider is pretty straightforward, as these things go. A married couple busts out some batches of hard cider in their garage, discovers they have a real knack for it, decides to go into business and builds a production facility and tasting room. What sets Herb’s Cider apart is that the Alexanders are showing the same attention to building community as they are to crafting cider.

Of course, becoming deeply embedded in culture and community is a model followed by just about all of Bellingham’s breweries and one that has extended to the city’s growing number of cideries as well.

I guess, then, what really makes Herb’s Cider different is that Tim Alexander is actually Tim “Herb” Alexander, longtime drummer for Primus and bona fide rock star. This is something about which everyone in Bellingham’s music scene is well aware, but we are all trying to be very casual about it.

For those who are not up on their 1990s funk metal bands, Primus came along during a time when music was Very Serious and injected some levity into the mix. Among their achievements—and there are quite a few—is the indelible pop-culture moment they provided when they were pelted with mud while performing their hit song “My Name Is Mud” at Woodstock 94, an experience that seemed fairly unpleasant, even at the time. Primus was also nominated for a Grammy award for a song called “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” that, along with its many-entendred subject matter, name-checked the Taco Bell 7-Layer Burrito and referenced cocaine. Bless you, Primus.

Now that we’ve gotten a primer on Primus, it’s time to return our attention to Herb’s Cider. When the Alexanders decided to celebrate the second anniversary of their cider enterprise, they didn’t just opt to throw a party. They elected to close down the whole damn street so they could invite everyone in town. They’ve dubbed their birthday bash Herbsstock, and it will take place Sat., Sept. 14 in the same block that houses their tasting room at 1228 Bay St. The event kicks off at 4pm and will feature live music, a cider garden, food trucks and more, all for the admission price of zero dollars and zero cents.

Naturally, any event that involves live music and Tim Alexander spawns the question of whether Primus will play, which seems a bit outlandish to me, but, then again, so does the fact that a member of Primus owns a cidery in downtown Bellingham. Dispensing with the suspense, no, Primus is not playing Herbbstock—but Tim Alexander is, and he’s bringing friend and fellow fierce drummer KJ Sawka with him. Also in the musical mix is Fred Green, and the Staxx Brothers will make their return to Bellingham as well.

Did I mention this thing is free? Because it’s free.

It’s been well-established at this point that I love any party that necessitates the closure of a city street, so Herbbstock lands right in any number of my sweet spots. I’ll probably even risk my life to drink Herb’s Cider while I’m there. I know a not-to-be-refused invitation when I see one.

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