By Calvin Schoneck
Fall is here, and it’s brought its best beers back with it. It’s time to grab your friends of appropriate age and explore the growing Bellingham beer scene. Whether you like the hoppy bitterness of a fresh IPA or a dark coffee stout, the Bellingham Tap Trail has the pint you’ve been looking for.
This year the trail will be featuring 16 tap houses and local breweries on its destination stamp sheet called a passport.
Four stamps will net you one of four different leather coasters or a keychain bottle opener to keep the party going. Collecting all 22 stamps will get you the 2016 beer season’s official Tap Trail T-shirt.
All the locations are within walking distance save for three. The North Fork in Deming, Overflow taps in Lynden, and Maggie’s Pub in Ferndale. If you’re planning on hitting all the stops in a day, it might be a good idea to start with these, but for those less inclined to drive, downtown is just as good of a place to begin your trail.
I started at one of my favorite spots in Bellingham: Boundary Bay Brewery. Other than being host to some of the cheapest craft brews in town, Boundary Bay has great food, tons of outdoor and indoor seating, and occasionally live music. Boundary Bay is also home to the Bellingham Tap Trail’s favorite, locally brewed IPA called Cedar Dust.
Next on the list was Uisce [Ish-kah] Irish Pub on Commercial Street. Although it bears the word pub, Uisce is more a swanky whiskey bar than anything else that serves dark beer on the side. IPA lovers like myself won’t find much of a selection, but they have some of the best stouts that I have ever tried, and it’s nice to imagine what the $45 shot of Irish Whiskey tastes like.
The Local Public House (Menace Brewing) on Railroad is another great destination close by and has one of the broadest selections of craft beers in town. Next door to the tap room you can shoot some pool, play some darts or, like me, you can order a big plate of fries. I’d like to say that these are, hands down, the best fries I’ve ever had and I highly recommend them to everyone.
Though I had plans of making it to at least six destinations, four ended up being more than enough for the crew and me. Our last stop was the Copper Hog, a tap house I had always known as “the one across the street from Schweinhaus.” The crowd inside was a bit older, but there was a nice ambiance and some of the best fish and chips. I left far too full to continue our journey any further.
As a first time participant in the Bellingham Tap Trail, I had a great time. Being of the college age, a majority of us tend to get caught up in the routine bar schedule and the Bellingham Tap Trail Passport was a great excuse to get out and explore the less traveled Bellingham beer scene with a few friends. Go out and try something new.