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Tasting notes

Bellingham’s new breweries

By Aubrey Laurence

It’s a great time to be a craft beer lover in Bellingham, as this city continues to spawn new breweries. If you haven’t had a chance to try beers from Bellingham’s two newest breweries, Aslan Brewing Co. and Wander Brewing Co.; here is a taste of their delicious offerings.

Aslan Brewing Co.
1330 N. Forest Street,
Brewhouse size: 15 barrels
Number of beer taps: 16 (plus four more for sodas, etc.)
Food: On-site restaurant with a variety of menu items, including many vegetarian options.

Aslan Brewing owner Jack Lamb, head brewer Frank Trosset and general manager Pat Haynes all met while living in Bellingham, and since September 2012 they have been tirelessly planning and building Aslan Brewing from the ground up. Construction on the brewery’s restaurant and taproom took longer than expected, but Aslan brews have been on tap around town since April.
In a market filled with unexciting brown ales, Aslan’s Organic Bellingham Brown breathes new life into the style. This beer appeals to beer novices and beer geeks alike, as it is full of flavor yet easy to drink. Wholesome notes of chocolate, crackers and nuts keep your interest piqued, and its smooth bitterness resets your palate after every sip.
For something uniquely delicious and refreshing, try Aslan’s Organic Ginger Rye Ale, which is made with freshly grated ginger roots, lime rinds, honey and Cascade and Citra hops.
Organic Irie Eyes Red Ale has a sweet nose, a smooth 7.5-percent alcohol by volume (ABV), a solid malt backbone with hints of bread crust and toffee, and a citrusy hop bite in the finish.
Organic Flagship IPA is light golden in color, crisp on the palate and dangerously easy to drink. “At 6.5 percent ABV,” Lamb said, “it’s not really a ‘session’ beer, but it is highly sessionable.” Just before opening the brewery, the brewers tweaked the recipe slightly by adding Simcoe hops into the whirlpool, which imbues the beer with bright hop flavors and aromas of pine.
Also try Aslan’s Oatmeal Pale Ale, Rye Lager and Pilsner, as well as a slew of other beer styles and seasonal brews to come.

Wander Brewing Co.
1807 Dean Avenue, Bellingham
Brewhouse size: 20 barrels
Number of beer taps: 10 (plus one for cider and one for root beer)
Food: Food trucks, delivery or BYO.

After globetrotting, soul searching, lots of home brewing, intensive schooling and a couple of years of real-world brewing experience, Chad and Colleen Kuehl decided to open Wander Brewing Co. in Bellingham. “After multiple visits to Bellingham, we fell in love with the town and its surrounding landscape,” Chad says. “We really enjoy the deep sense of community here, and we love the city’s access to the mountains and the sea.”
Head to Wander’s brew hall to try one of the brewery’s many unique beers, such as the Washington Uncommon California Common, which is a style rarely brewed in this state. The California common hybrid style is made with lager yeast, but unlike most lagers, it’s fermented at warmer ale temperatures. Wander’s uncommon common is smooth, relatively low in alcohol (5.5 percent ABV) and very approachable, and it features delectable malt flavors of toasted bread and grains, with a clean bitterness from Northern Brewer hops.
Don’t pass up the delicious Wanderale Belgian Blonde, which you’ll swear contains spices, but it doesn’t. “We don’t use any spices or adjuncts in this beer,” Chad explained. “The Abbey Ale yeast strain we use gives it flavors and aromas of banana and bubble gum.” The trio of malts, hops and yeast esters culminate in a rounded and flavorful brew that sings with complexity, yet it’s extremely easy to quaff.
For the hopheads, there’s Shoe Toss Rye IPA, which has a solid malt backbone highlighted by spicy and drying notes of rye. Shoe Toss is brewed with the Falconer’s Flight 7 Cs hop blend, which provides the beer with a balanced bitterness and some fantastic hop aromas, and the addition of dry-hopped Ahtanum whole-cone hops take the aromas up to 11.
Belling-Hammer Wee Heavy is a strong Scotch ale that has deep malt flavors of toffee and multi-grain bread. “We give this one a 90-minute boil (as opposed to the more common 60-minute boil) to give it that rich caramel flavor,” Chad said. “We also brew it so that it has a nice amount of residual sweetness.”
Beer lovers can also look forward in the future to trying Wander’s Correspondent Foreign Extra Stout, Baltic Porter, Belgian Dubbel and so much more.
Both breweries plan to barrel-age some of their bigger beers.   x