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Known for its craft beer, Bellingham celebrates that this week

Beer drinkers do their part for Washington’s economy

Washington’s craft beer industry began in the 1980s with Redhook and Pyramid and now reflects the national growth trend, according to the Washington Beer Commission's economic impact study released in 2019 for 2017.
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Washington’s craft beer industry began in the 1980s with Redhook and Pyramid and now reflects the national growth trend, according to the Washington Beer Commission's economic impact study released in 2019 for 2017.

We know Whatcom County likes its craft beer.

When Stemma Brewing opens in Bellingham this summer, we’ll have a total of 17 breweries.

We know others like our beer as well. Bellingham has been listed as one of the best cities for craft beer drinkers.

And Whatcom County is the fourth-largest beer production region in the state, producing 4.6 percent of all the craft beer, according to the just-released Washington Beer Economic Impact Report.

If you need more proof, there’s the annual Bellingham Beer Week, which is packed with fun, games and the beer that makes us special.

Here are five things you need to know about the event.

It kicks off at 5 p.m. Friday, April 19, with the fourth annual Beer Olympic Games at Kulshan Brewing, 1538 Kentucky St.

A total of 22 teams will compete in eight beer games. If you were hoping to sign up your team, it’s too late because registration filled up within hours.

Kulshan Brewing hosted the third annual Beer Olympic Games on Friday, April 20, at K2 in Bellingham. The event officially kicked off Bellingham Beer Week.

But you can come watch and razz the competitors as they fight their way to glory. Plus, there will be food trucks and a costume contest.

“Everyone is into it. It’s hilarious,” said Courtney Lane, spokeswoman for Kulshan.

Not your thing? There are plenty of other events during beer week, which is actually nine days. More than 30 breweries and taphouses are taking part, according to organizer Tap Trail.

There are parties, speakers, trivia, Earth Day events, the downtown Bellingham mountain bike festival at Boundary Bay Brewery, a cornhole championship at Aslan Depot, a paper airplane contest at Wander Brewing, German beers and food at the Local Public House, and an Easter keg hunt as well as an Easter egg hunt. Some you can even go to with your pooch.

Did we mention there’s beer? Kulshan alone will release eight new beers during the week, according to Lane. Atwood Ales is releasing a saison-style beet beer — does this count as drinking your vegetables? — at 6 p.m. Friday, April 19, at Gruff Brewing, 104 E. Maple St., No. 101, in Bellingham.

If you’re a fan of collaboration beers, there’s plenty of that too, including the collaboration celebration Tuesday, April 23, at The North Fork Brewery, 6186 Mount Baker Highway (Mile Post 20/21) near Deming.

It’s not just in Bellingham, although most events are in the city.

In addition to the North Fork, book-loving beer drinkers — or is it beer-loving book readers? — can meet at Overflow Taps, 106 5th St. in Lynden, to share a pint and your take on the book, “B is for Beer” by Tom Robbins. That’s at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 23.

And just when you feared it was over, there’s more beer. The events end Saturday, April 27, with the celebrated April Brews Day Festival. More than 70 regional breweries will converge at Depot Market Square in Bellingham.

Best of all, you can drink beer and help raise money for the nonprofit Max Higbee Center, which provides recreation programs for youths and adults with developmental disabilities.

Details, including ticket prices: maxhigbee.org.

If you can’t get to all of the beer week events, what’s not to be missed?

“We have a lot of ‘not to be missed’ events, to be honest,” Lane said. “It’s a fun time to celebrate and support the breweries in Bellingham.”

More on Bellingham Beer Week is on its Facebook page and at taptrail.com.

Kie Relyea has been a reporter at The Bellingham Herald since 1997 and currently writes about social services and recreation in Whatcom County. She started her career in 1991 as a reporter and editor in Northern California.
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