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Short Hops: Best of Bellingham’s summer beers

Seems like summer always lingers in Bellingham, but this year we lucked into one of the longest and most glorious summers I can remember.

And when I say glorious, of course, I mean full of perfect evenings for a beer or two outside in the sunshine. So here’s a flight of our best local summertime brews, via my monthly beer column First Draught.

Chuckanut Yellow Card. In this English mild ale, “dryness helps these flowery hops to cut through, and to linger on the palate, in a tightrope balance of hop-forward and sweet, sometimes seeming to lean more to one side than the other. A light, crisp flavorful finish in the body adds a unique, unmistakable and memorable flourish.” B+

Kulshan Full 90 Session Ale. “Zesty lemon aroma wafts from this lighter-than-air pale ale, and a lemon-citrus flavor, from soft and clean German Perle hops, easily cuts through the clear straw body. This beer looks weak and feels thin, but wears its frailness well. … The brewers at Kulshan took some risks that make this ale unique, and most of them paid off.” B+

North Fork Son of Freud. “This bottle-conditioned monstrosity” — at $17 for 750 ml — “could’ve easily been called Son of Frankenstein: It’s British ale wort stitched together with Brettanomyces yeast and aged in French oak barrels. … An ever-present tinge of sourness lingers on the back of the palate, but never clouds the complexities of this wild, golden-orange 6.3-percent alcohol ale.” A-

Wander Uncommon Common. Here’s a clear copper steam beer that’s hoppy upfront, but goes down clean, rich and smooth. “The body’s malty but not too heavy, like an Americanized Vienna lager. Some will find it uneventful, but not all beers need bells and whistles. All-around, it’s another strong fair-weather brew from Wander.” B+

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