Bellingham Beer Week & What It Might Mean
September 19, 2013 - 11:45 AM- by Kendall Jones, Washington Beer Blog -
Will Bellingham become the next Bend? Could it be the next great Northwest beer destination? Maybe. Bellingham is about to celebrate its second annual Bellingham Beer Week (September 20 through 29), which is certainly a step in the right direction. More info about Bellingham Beer Week below.
So, here is why I think Bellingham could be the next big beer destination in the Northwest. Exceptionally beery towns like Bend and Hood River have benefited greatly from the longtime presence of large (relatively) regional breweries like Deschutes and Full Sail. They helped create a craft beer culture in the community. Not only do they make beer, they make friends. For 16 years Boundary Bay Brewing has been doing the same thing in Bellingham.Largely because of Boundary Bay's 16 year history, Bellingham is a city that loves craft beer.
But where do new breweries come from? Deschutes and Full Sail pump out a lot of skilled people as well as tasty beer, spawning eager young brewers that go on to open their own breweries. Some of them don't want to relocate. Hence, you end up with more than a dozen breweries in a town the size of Bend, Oregon (pop. 78,000), which happens to be about the same size as Bellingham (pop. 81,000). Boundary Bay is small potatoes compared to either of those big Oregon breweries. I know. Chuckanut Brewery and Kulshan Brewing were not started by Boundary Bay alums. I know. Bellingham will need to attract (as it has already) would-be brewery owners from elsewhere.
Bellingham may not have a large regional brewery pumping out eager young brewers, but it's got something else: Vancouver, BC. We Americans often forget that Vancouver is about twice the size of Seattle. Increasingly, that city is gaining an appetite for craft beer. We'll see what that means for Bellingham, which is less than one hour away from Vancouver. One thing is for sure, Canadian's love to visit America. Our beer is cheap!
I am biased, I admit. I love Bellingham and Whatcom County, so I can easily imagine it becoming a destination for beer tourists.
Anyway, I digress. Back to Bellingham Beer Week.
The second annual Bellingham Beer Week will take place in Bellingham from Friday, September 20 through Sunday, September 29. All three Bellingham craft breweries — Chuckanut Brewery, Boundary Bay Brewery, and Kulshan Brewery — plus many regional breweries, numerous pubs, beer stores, restaurants and other businesses will be hosting beer-related events throughout the city. Bellingham Beer Week is a not-for-profit, collaborative effort by the local beer community to raise awareness of craft beer in Bellingham and beyond.
I don't need to go into details about events because the people at Bellingham Beer Week have created a great website with an easy to read calendar. Visit the website, visit Bellingham.
Fremont Brewing has created a Bellingham Beer Week beer (below), but the "official" Bellingham Beer Week beer is a collaboration between Kulshan, Chuckanut and Boundary Bay, brewed at Kulshan and set to be canned tomorrow (9/20) as a kickoff for the festivities. Presumably, this Belgian Strong Dark will be the first Bellingham-brewed beer to be packaged in aluminum cans.