It’s no secret that Bellingham is home to one of the biggest craft beer scenes in the Northwest.
Tap Trail puts Bellingham at an astounding 6.5 breweries per 100,000 people, putting us ahead of Seattle and Portland. With nearly 15 breweries within city limits, this town has plenty to offer in terms of craft beers and breweries.
Currently, the most popular style of craft beer in the U.S are IPA’s. These beers are usually characterized by their hoppy taste and bitterness.
As someone who has a passion for beer and a love for this city, I went around to five of Bellingham’s most popular breweries and tried each of their most popular IPA’s.
Chuckanut: British IPA- 5.8% ABV, 45 IBU
Chuckanut’s British IPA was brilliant, delicious, and possibly the smoothest of the five. It has a golden, smooth taste that develops into a sweet happiness once it hits the middle of your tongue and finishes with a classic British bite that mellows out quickly. This beer wasn’t overly bitter at all; in fact, the wheat that was used really presents itself and calms down the hops to produce more of a sweeter flavor. Overall, I’d classify this beer as a decent IPA that goes down extremely smooth and carries a lot of British qualities.
Aslan: Batch 15 IPA- 6.7% ABV, 65 IBU
Aslan’s Batch 15 was definitely the most unique of the IPA’s I tried. As soon as I was served this hazy, unfiltered beer I immediately noticed its intense fruitiness. It was an extremely easygoing IPA that had a very juicy taste, due to the citra and simcoe hops used in the brewing process. The use of American wheat and two-row barley was also a great choice because it provided an IPA that was slightly bitter and a little wheaty, but not overpowering.
Gruff- 007 IPA- 7.2% ABV, 60 IBU
Gruff’s 007 IPA was the quintessential Northwest IPA. The front end of this beer had a light bitterness and a sweetness due to the use of citra, simcoe, and mosaic hops. Once it reaches the middle of the palate, a full-bodied and bold hoppy taste emerged that produces an acute bitterness that is quick to finish and fade away, leaving you eager for another sip.
Boundary Bay- Inside Passage IPA- 7.5% ABV, 78 IBU
Boundary Bay’s Inside Passage IPA was the heaviest of the beers and was an intense blast of hops and flavors from beginning to end. Once you sip this beer there is an immediate bouquet of hops that fires all over your tastebuds. After the beer had time to reach the middle of the tongue, the hops spread out, become more intense and complex. There are a ton of different flavors and a huge hop profile present in this beer.
Kulshan- Bastard Kat IPA- 6.66% ABV, 70 IBU
Kulshan’s Bastard Kat IPA was my personal favorite of the local IPA’s, with a bright and smooth taste, and a sublime use of many varieties of hops. On my first sip I noticed the strong hoppy sensation and an accompanying sweetness. That sweetness develops and a light fruity citrusyness presents itself as the hop begin to gain complexity on the palate. This beer left you with a light bitterness a little sweetness that fades to provide a light and crisp aftertaste.