Our cup runneth over at this year’s Bellingham Beer Week, the fourth-annual celebration of Northwest Washington’s beer culture from Sept. 11 to 20.
The 10-day week packs in dozens of festivities and a handful of special release beers, including a new collaboration lager called NxNW, made in Chuckanut Brewery’s facilities with help from eight local breweries, using Skagit Valley malt and Yakima hops.
The worst part about beer week, though, is that you can only visit so many breweries at once. So here are my picks for the Top 10 (or so) events to check out.
Friday, Sept. 11
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Open the week with the best bang-for-your-buck deal of the festival at Aslan’s Wear Local Day. Sport a shirt from any local brewery and pints cost just two bucks. Maybe try the brewery’s new Oktoberfestbier, released this week?
Other great events abound on kick-off day, and honorable mentions go to Elizabeth Station, for the grand opening of their new cider bar, Cidra; The Local Public House will host renowned Reuben’s Brews from Seattle while serving up the best Reuben sandwich in town; and our local brewers will have a tap takeover at McKay’s Taphouse.
Saturday, Sept. 12
Head to Chuckanut Brewery between noon and late for Oktoberfest and a one-day (hangover-cure) menu of brats, sauerkraut and other German fare paired with Chuckanut’s prize-winning Euro-lagers.
Sunday, Sept. 13
Flip a coin.
Heads? Belgian Beers & Waffles (& football) starts 10 a.m. at Elizabeth Station.
Tails? Try the small-batch, Skittle-inflused Cease & Desist IPA — a Foggy Noggin’ ale formerly known as the 12th Man Skittles IPA, until they got a certain letter from a lawyer — at the Copper Hog for the morning Seahawks and Rams game.
Afterward, tour the construction progress of the soon-to-open Stones Throw Brewery, 1009 Larrabee Ave. Beer samples and T-shirts will be on sale from 2 to 6 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 14
Boundary Bay hosts a toast to the women of craft beer at FemALES, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the annex garden, where you can meet the women behind our local brewing industry. Proceeds go to the Pink Boots Society, a group that grants scholarships to women of beer. Eight local breweries will be there.
Tuesday, Sept. 15
Explore Strange Brew Night at the Local Public House. Test your limits with some ridiculous beers — rumors of Butterfinger? Phở? Beef jerky? — from regional brewers like Menace, North Fork, Island Hoppin’, Anacortes Brewing and more.
Wednesday, Sept. 16
The block party to mark the 20th Anniversary of Boundary Bay, our longest-running craft brewer, begins at 3 p.m. Twenty-plus Boundary beers on tap, six bands, lots of stuff for the kids, and a — what? A 200-foot zip line? This party should last until about 10 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 17
In the past two years Fremont Brewing, of Seattle, has released two of my favorite beers ever — first a vanilla-coffee-cocount Imperial porter, then the Cowiche Canyon Hop Lab No. 3 IPA — in honor of Bellingham Beer Week. This year, they made another IPA for the festival using Cowiche Canyon hops, a must-try, and conveniently McKay’s will host a Fremont tap takeover at 6 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 18
Take a behind-the-scenes tour of Aslan Brewing’s gorgeous facilities. Tours start at the top of the hour from noon to 5 p.m. And while you’re there, maybe try their new Fresh Outta Hop’ton fresh-hop IPA, released this month?
Saturday, Sept. 19
Swing by Session Fest at K-2, the new brew house and hangout of Kulshan Brewing Co., which puts out some of the most easygoing session beers in Bellingham, e.g., their Full 90 ale. Other local breweries will be serving up session beers, too. Also, food trucks. Entry is $10.
Sunday, Sept. 20
Round out the week by raiding the cellar at McKay’s. The tap house has 20 or so kegs of beers that do well with age — sours, stouts — that they’ll be breaking out throughout the day.
See the full list of events at bellinghambeerweek.com/bbw-swag. Cheers.