Whatcom County, deprived of sunshine for so much of the year, has a knack for making its own in a glass or bottle.
Here are a few summery local beers, from the hop-heavy, to the not-so-hoppy, to something in between.
Boundary Bay Imperial IPA. This titanic IPA is anchored by a weighty, hazy, viscous pale-ruby body only a shade-and-a-half darker than the regular India Pale Ale. But it’s so much thicker that you’ve got to wonder just how many hops it took to pierce this malt and come to the forefront, as these hops do. Any citrus flavors have been buried beneath a hoppy Northwesterly mix of earth, grass and tree sap. Somewhere in the ballpark of 10 percent alcohol, and with a strong alcohol bite, it gives off a medicinal, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink aroma. A-
North Fork Wit. This murky, orange wheat ale, topped with a swirl of white lacing, isn’t the most beautiful Wit in the world, but on a warm day it is post-hike ambrosia. Mild Belgian yeast funk melds with a sweet fruity body and more than a touch of lemon-orange. As is the style, spices come through — cinnamon? cardamom? — if you look for them, and as is the style, it’s a bigger risk-taker than most wheat ales. Yet this Wit is dangerously easy to drink. Comfortably North Forkian in approach. Try it with a wedge of lemon or orange. Or don’t, since there’s plenty of depth here. B+
Kulshan Sunnyland IPA. The texture is light-medium, by IPA standards, but still has more meat on its bones than Kulshan’s Full 90 Session Ale — also a good beer! — and I’m partial to the fuller backbone here. Four kinds of hops go into the recipe. I mostly get notes of grapefruit, but there’s also orange and faint lemon. So expect citrus both on the nose and on the tongue. Kulshan tends to have above-average IPAs, and they’ve produced a couple of great ones. This ranks among the best, an impressive ale that does just what it set out to do. That is, to taste as sunny as the name. A-
Structures Iteration Pale Ale. A rush of hop-citrus hits the nose, then on the palate it’s dominated by explosive notes of pineapple-grapefruit that are more sweet than sour, and unreal in balance. South of 5 percent alcohol, it’s easy to glug down if you’re looking for refreshment, but rewarding if you’re taking the time to study it. Here is a welterweight contender for best everyday beer in town. A