Nothing in life is perfect, but some things come close. Most of those things are beers.
Here are some local Bellingham brews that have earned near-perfect marks in my Take 5 beer column, First Draught.
Boundary Bay Oatmeal Stout. The monster truck of local beers: charcoal black, a film of dark tan head, and a corpulent body so thick and syrupy you feel like you could turn it upside down and it’d slide out like Hoisin sauce. This stout’s silky, extremely rich and — in spite of the red flag of 9.5 percent alcohol — not over-aggressive in alcoholic kick. Instead, you get dark chocolate and deep roasted flavors. A-
Chuckanut Kölsch. This cold-conditioned ale delivers a mild, honeylike sweetness in its straw-colored, brisk and icy body. How does this Kölsch distinguish itself from the next one? By being crisper, lighter and cleaner than any Kölsch I’ve tried in the region. Like almost every beer at Chuckanut, expect delicate flavor, and nothing overpowering. A-
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Menace Chile Bravo. This Menace ale pours a clear, deep, dusky orange-amber, with a light, creamy beige head and a faint peppery aroma of raw diced serrano. However, I’m most impressed by the base, a texture that’s full, smooth, clean, crisp, with just enough subdued hop flavor that it could stand on its own just fine. A-
NxNW Lager, a collaboration brew for Bellingham Beer Week 2015, is a Washingtonian’s beer if there ever was one. This hop-forward lager packs Amarillo, Cascade, Chinook and Mt. Hood hops from Yakima into 39 IBUs that seem to hover on a sweet, clear golden body made from Skagit Valley malts. Some say once the IPA craze dies down, lagers will be the next big thing in craft beer. And if this is where we’re headed, and we get more hopped-up lagers that work as well as this, I’m all for it. A-