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Bellingham Beer Week

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By Aubrey Laurence

The second annual Bellingham Beer Week (BBW) is a time to salute the many great breweries, beer bars and beer stores that serve the Bellingham area, and it’s an opportunity for these establishments to return the nod to their loyal, beer-loving patrons.

The 10-day celebration of craft beer will take place beginning 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 events at locations throughout the city.

The BBW idea was the brainchild of locals Jim Parker (a rep for Fort George Brewery) and Aaron Matson (owner of The Copper Hog), who had attended the 2012 Seattle Beer Week. They both wondered, “Why doesn’t Bellingham have a beer week?”

With all the craft beer growth across the city – including new breweries, beer stores and beer bars and growing numbers of tap handles at existing beer bars – Bellingham Beer Week couldn’t have come at a better time. Bellingham is in lockstep with craft beer growth throughout Washington and the United States. Washington state is nearing 200 breweries with dozens more in the planning stages, and the U.S. now has more than 2,500 breweries.

“More breweries are currently operating than at any time since the 1870s,” said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, the trade association that represents a majority of U.S. breweries. “Beer drinkers nationwide are responding positively to high-quality, full-flavored, diverse offerings from American craft brewing companies that continue to innovate and push the envelope.”

A wide variety of events are planned for this year’s BBW. Boundary Bay Brewery, Chuckanut Brewery, and Elizabeth Station will be having Oktoberfest celebrations. There will be a slew of brewer nights and tap takeovers featuring breweries such as Ninkasi, Yakima, North Fork, Firestone Walker, Sierra Nevada, Elysian, Fremont and more.

The Pickford Film Center’s Limelight Cinema will be showing “Beer Hunter: The Movie,” a documentary about the late beer and whiskey writer, Michael Jackson. Kulshan Brewery will host a Beer Trivia Night. Chuckanut Brewery and Village Books will be hosting author John Holl, who will talk about his new book, “The Craft Beer Cookbook,” along with a book signing.

The Copper Hog’s lineup includes a game show, a Lager Off competition, and an IPA Challenge with a whopping 18 IPAs on tap. North Corner Brewing Supply will host a homebrew demonstration. There will also be many special-release beers available, including a collaboration beer by Kulshan, Chuckanut and Boundary Bay, which will be canned on Friday, September 20.

Even more events are on the schedule and in the works. “It’s a very good time to be an American beer lover,” Gatza says. Indeed, it is. And it’s a very good time to be a beer lover in Bellingham. X

To see a continually growing calendar of BBW events, visit BellinghamBeerWeek.com or Facebook.com/BellinghamBeerWeek.