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Short Hops: 2014 a banner year for beer in Bellingham

For the past few years Bellingham’s craft beer scene has, in steady but gradual steps, grown more interesting and more diverse.

Then, in 2014, the pace picked up like crazy. Two new microbreweries, Aslan and Wander, opened their doors, and we learned two more were in the works: Gruff in downtown and Stones Throw in Fairhaven. Meanwhile, standard-bearers Boundary Bay, Chuckanut and Kulshan brewed some of their most celebrated ales and lagers to date.

Here’s a quick look back at the best local beers I reviewed in 2014, a great year for local beer.

Aslan Organic Ginger Rye has a lot more to it than its namesake ingredients, with a sweet body that tastes like a medley of fruit. The rye could be even bolder, but the ginger makes up for it.” B+

Chuckanut Vienna Lager’s “crisp, smooth, bright, bronze-orange body is dangerously drinkable. The lager’s lighter on the palate than it looks, and sweeter, too. Noble hops, subtle on the nose, resurface tastefully in the finish, imparting a clean, almost minty aftertaste.” A

Kulshan Royal Tannenbaum. In this hopped-up winter beer, available around the holiday season, “expect Christmas trees — literally, because Douglas fir and two varieties of spruce spice this 9.5 percent alcohol ale. It’s a whopper of a beer, with a spectacularly sappy bouquet of hops and (how) evergreen trees on the nose.” A-

Wander Belgian Blonde. The brewery’s first beer, brewed with abbey yeast, made a fantastic first impression: “ A fine blonde for late spring or summer, with a body that’s neither too flimsy nor too stiff. It pours a deep golden yellow, slightly hazy, not too heavy, not too light.” A-

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