Starting on Wednesday, Jan. 24, and recurring each month this year, Bellingham’s self-proclaimed longest-operating brewery, Boundary Bay, will allow its patrons to register for tours that showcase the process behind making house-crafted beers.
At 5:30 p.m. on the appointed day, customers who purchase the $10 ticket are given an overview of the facility, complete with complimentary taste tests of various brews courtesy of staff.
Although only recently announced as being regularly scheduled, the local beer house reportedly has a history of maintaining this level of transparency with their customers, with similar events dating back to before the start of the pandemic in 2020.
John Kull, Boundary’s distribution manager, explained that tours have always been a point of interest, but the pandemic made it difficult to maintain them until recently.
“Tours have always been something we’ve done, but COVID-19 had a large impact on that,” Kull said.
Despite the setbacks, he said he is optimistic about what the re-introduction of tours might mean for the business.
“They are an awesome way for fans and customers to get a look at the process from grain to glass,” he said.
Bella Miller, a customer and long-time Whatcom-Skagit County resident, emphasized that decisions like this are what people should look for in a local business.
“I think that Boundary Bay hosting tours each [month] is a great way to promote their integrity as a business,” Miller said. “Getting a behind-the-scenes look is a great way to build trust with the company and understand how they operate.”
This isn’t the only way Boundary Bay stands out among Bellingham’s many breweries. Since opening in 1995, they have had plenty of time to hone their craft, earning two gold medals from the Washington Beer Awards in 2023.
The local beer house competed against 175 contenders across the state, with 1,276 total beers being judged. The competition organizer for the beer awards, Peter Twigg, elaborated on how the competition’s winners are decided.
“When a brewery enters the awards, they select the beers and the styles of the beers,” Twigg said. “For judging, a group of three judges who have beer judging and sensory experience will evaluate eight to twelve beers in the same category and fill out scoresheets.”
Outside of awards, Bellingham’s longest-operating brewery has also found a place in the community and left a lasting impact. The Whatcom County brewery isn’t just a local business, but also acts as an important hub for local philanthropy, hosting over 100 nonprofit events each year according to their website.
Customers and staff alike both take pride in this fact, with Miller stating that this type of involvement is one of the reasons the business is so widely appreciated.
“As someone who’s spent most of their life in Whatcom and Skagit counties, I’ve seen so many Boundary Bay sweatshirts, hats, beer cozies and more,” Miller said. “I feel that people take a lot of pride in knowing that a product is made and sold locally; it establishes so much trust and belonging.”
The Brewery’s distribution manager said much of the same.
“If you look at Boundary [Bay], you can see how much impact one place can have, from being a big place to unwind, to nonprofits,” Kull said. “Our whole thing is community.”
Boundary Bay will be offering the featured monthly tours throughout 2024. For those interested in taking part, tickets can be purchased here. The first takes place on Jan. 24.
Ethan Blanchard (he/him) is a city news reporter for The Front this quarter. He is a transfer student, earning his AA at Clark Community College before coming to Western to finish his degree, majoring in history/social studies with a news/editorial minor. He enjoys creative writing and a good adventure, whether it be a hike through the wilderness or finding cool places around town. Ethan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.