On one day each year, we celebrate the miracle of life with a birthday party. The miracle of fermentation, however, warrants a much longer celebration. Hence, Sept. 21-30 will mark the inaugural Bellingham Beer Week (BBW), and it is sure to become an annual salute to this beer-booming city.
Kulshan Brewing Co. (2238 James St.), Bellingham’s newest brewery, was immediately on board with the beer week idea, and Kulshan brewmaster/owner Dave Vitt even reached out to the other breweries in town. Chuckanut Brewery and Boundary Bay Brewery both embraced the idea as well.
“Having a beer week is a great way to promote craft beer and the places that sell it,” Vitt says.
Among Kulshan’s planned events, such as a Cask Night at 6pm Fri., Sept. 28, Vitt hopes to have a special fresh hop ale on tap during Beer Week, which was brewed using freshly picked hops grown by local home brewers.
Boundary Bay Brewery (1107 Railroad Ave.) will have many events on tap, and the folks at Boundary Bay are excited to share them with other breweries and craft beer enthusiasts. Most notably, at 2pm Sat., Sept. 29, Boundary Bay will host a Bellingham Beer Fest in its beer garden, with barbecue and beer from all three breweries. All ages are welcome and entry is free.
“I think Bellingham brews the best beer in the world, and it’s great that we get a whole week to come together and celebrate this incredible craft beer community,” Casey Diggs, Boundary Bay’s operations manager, says.
Chuckanut Brewery (601 West Holly St.) will host an Oktoberfest celebration Sat., Sept. 22, featuring local beers, a BeerBQ and more. Then, at noon Sun., Sept. 23, you will be able to take a tour of the brewery. And at 7pm Wed., Sept. 26 Lisa Morrison, author of Craft Beers of the Pacific Northwest: A Beer Lover’s Guide to Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, will make a special appearance at Chuckanut.
Beyond the local breweries, you will also find many restaurants and bars participating in Bellingham Beer Week.
The Copper Hog (1327 N. State St.) plans to kick things off Sept. 21 with a pig roast and a visit from Laurelwood Brewing Company’s brewmaster, Vasili Gletsos, who will be bringing some of his fresh hop beers. The gastropub is also planning to have a sausage-and-beer tasting with Cascade Lakes Brewing Co. Wed, Sept. 26, and a New Belgium Brewing Shift Lager event Thurs., Sept. 27, among other events.
McKay’s Taphouse (1118 E. Maple St.) will be hosting many events throughout the week, while raising money for Red Cross at the same time. On Sept. 21 and 22, all of McKay’s taps will be filled with Washington beers—some of which have never been distributed to Bellingham before—for Washington Beer Fest. And Sun., Sept. 30, McKay’s will throw a special joint brewers’ night party, with live music, raffles, barbecue and special beers on tap from Ninkasi, Skagit River, and Naked City.
Cheese Meat(s) Beer (250 Flora St., inside the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building) will be the place to be from 11am-5pm Sat., Sept. 29. Bellingham Beer Lab (BBL) cooperative brewery will be doing a homebrew demonstration in the courtyard starting at 11am. And Menace Brewing Co.—Ferndale’s newest nano-brewery—has been contracted to brew some of BBL’s beer, which will be available on tap, along with food pairings crafted by Cheese Meat(s) Beer. Adding to the festive nature of the day, BBL will officially kick off its long-awaited membership drive.
Elizabeth Station (1400 West Holly St.) will host several exciting events throughout the week. To give you a taste: On Sept. 22, it will have an all-day IPA taste-testing event. On Sept. 25, it will host a mead and cider night with Honey Moon and Finn River. And on Fri., Sept. 28, it will have a Cascade Brewery tap takeover party, featuring Diesel #2, a rye whiskey barrel-aged imperial stout made with Mission figs.
“The main purpose of Bellingham Beer Week is to have a lot of fun and for people to experience some great craft beer,” Patrick McEvoy, owner of Elizabeth Station, says. “Many top-class breweries will be bringing their best stuff to BBW, so it’s a great opportunity for people to try new things.”
Keep in mind, Bellingham Beer Week is more than just a celebration of locally brewed beer; it’s a celebration of craft beer, in general, and the restaurants and pubs that serve it. So be on the lookout for specials and events featuring local and regional craft beers at local restaurants and pubs throughout the week.
“I think it’s great to see all the different organizations and businesses working together,” McEvoy says. “It really will be a fun time and I am definitely looking forward to it.”
In August, the Brewers Association, the trade association that represents the majority of U.S. brewing companies, released strong mid-year numbers for America’s small and independent craft brewers. In the first half of 2012, dollar sales were up 14 percent and volume of craft-brewed beer jumped 12 percent. The total number of craft breweries in the United States also continues to increase. As of June 30, 2012, there were 2,075 craft breweries, and there are more than 1,200 breweries in planning stages.
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