Sip Trips #67: On the Trail Again

Last weekend, the Sip Family returned to the scene of the crime and tackled the Bellingham Tap Trail, once again. This summer voyage meant patio seating, open garage doors, and walking around in the fresh air, rather than relying on vehicle transportation.

Our first stop, was at Boundary Bay Brewing, which has long been home to one of Mrs. Sip’s favourite pub meals in their Tapenade. While she selected the brewery’s Wonderland Belgian Strong Golden to go along with her lunch, the Sip Advisor ordered their tasting flight, which features six brews, including their Blonde Ale, ESB, Amber Ale, Scotch Ale, IPA, and Oatmeal Stout. Of that sextet, I enjoyed the Scotch Ale the best, while Ma Sip and I shared the best Reuben Sandwich I’ve ever had.

Reuben Rye

Next up, was a short walk to the Schweinhaus Biergarten. When we were here in November, it was obviously chilly and they weren’t even able to turn their heat lamps on. That was no problem this time around, as the sun was shining and the music was rocking. I tried the Fremont Brewing Summer Ale, which was just right for the moment. Of note, was the best wine pours I have ever seen, as our server filled Stella chalices right to the top for both Ma and Pa Sip. While we didn’t play a round, the place also has a bean bag toss set up. The only downside was the outdoor attraction only has outhouses available to customers for bathroom use.

Another brief walk and we arrived at Aslan Brewing, where Mrs. Sip and I ordered their B’Ham Brown and Anniversary XIPA, respectively. For a little snack, we tried the brewery’s Gourmet Mac N’ Cheese, which included a bacon jam on top and broccoli within. We both enjoyed our pairings and had to fight each other to get the spoon back.

Our last stop of the day was our first visit to Structures Brewing. Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed a four ounce sample of each of their six offerings, including their Vivid IPA, Petronilo Coffee Stout, Destroyer of Light Black IPA, Recursion Simcoe Pale Ale, I See You Grapefruit-Hibiscus Saison, and Table Beer. To be honest, the whole lineup was pretty good.

Happy Liver Workout Day

Before Mrs. Sip and I made the journey back home on Sunday, we popped into one of the two Kulshan Brewing locations. Over a couple brews (Bastard Kat IPA for myself and Belgian Blonde for Mrs. Sip), we enjoyed their outdoor patio setting, which just doesn’t exist for the Vancouver craft beer scene. The brewery was hosting a run between their two sites, so live music was also featured, along with a couple food trucks.

This second trip to the Bellingham Tap Trail just confirmed how awesome the brewing scene there is. I’m looking forward to going back soon, perhaps starting a tradition of visiting every six months to sample the best of winter and the best of summer with each stay.

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Sip Trips #41

Trail Tapping

Over the weekend, the Sip Family (Mrs., Ma, and Pa) spent the weekend across the line in Bellingham, Washington, exploring their Tap Trail, which features 16 different breweries and tap houses. Over that time, the Sip Advisor enjoyed trying about 40 different beers. Let’s see the results of another epic weekend!

Our adventure started at the Oxford Suites hotel bar, for their manager’s reception. The bar had four different local brews on tap, which I made my way through over our two-night stay. This included Aslan Bellingham Brown, Boundary Bay Scotch Ale, Kulshan Session IPA, and Chuckanut Kolsch. The Bellingham Brown was particularly good.

hotel mini bar

With a few drinks in us, Mrs. Sip wanted to go for a walk to Bellis Fair Mall, across the street. I figured: “What’s the worst that could happen?” Then I got stuck in a Kohl’s store for about half an hour as she debated buying some items, followed by going to Target (our original intended destination) and trying to track her down as she roamed the store. At Target, I did find two of my favourite San Francisco treats (Rice-A-Roni be damned!) in 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer and Francis Coppola Pinot Grigio.

The next morning, we were off on our Tap Trail explorations. We started at Kulshan, which has two different locations. After sharing two taster paddles, which included each of the brewery’s 13 available beers, it was very hard to narrow down our consensus favourites. Mrs. Sip liked their Horseman’s Head Pumpkin Ale and Kittens Mittens Winter Ale, while I leaned towards the Smoked Stout and Good Ol’ Boy Pale Ale. We did agree that the Trans Porter was quite good. One neat observance from Kulshan was that they didn’t have their own food available, but a food truck was outside that could bring eats into the brewery for those that ordered.

Next up, we headed over to Elizabeth Station, a beer store and tap house that was recommended to us by a friend. The store has a number of unique brews that you can purchase and even have opened by the staff to be served on site. I took advantage of this by purchasing a bomber of Justice Brewing Butterfinger Brown, which was brewed with Butterfinger candy pieces and was a fantastic beer. Mrs. Sip, on the other hand, tried a sample of Prairie Bomb from Tulsa, Oklahoma. At 14%, it packed a punch, but was also a very good drink.

The-Simpsons-butterfinger

We then made our way to Chuckanut where I was quick to order a serving of their Rauch. For those who are regularly readers, you know by now my affinity for smoky beers and cocktails. This brew did not disappoint. From there, our next stop was The Copper Hog, where we ordered samples of a couple interesting beers, including 21st Amendment Toaster Pastry Red Ale and Ninkasi R&D Mango IPA, as well as their Oktoberfest offering. The Toaster Pastry was the best among the bunch.

After that, it was a short jaunt to the Schweinhaus Biergarten, an outdoor beverage stop, which would be best enjoyed during the summer. Here, I tried a pint of Northwest Mango Hef because a German-style beer should be enjoyed at a German-themed location. The brew was decent, although Mrs. Sip’s actual selection from Germany was probably a better fit for the moment.

Another block walk landed us at Aslan, where we tried their Midnight Couloir, Pumpkin, Ginger Rye, and Cucumber Lager, all of which were good. This location was the busiest we experienced on the day, having to wait a short time for a spot, but that didn’t hinder our enjoyment.

cartman waiting

Things were getting kind of fuzzy by the time we hit our last brewery of the day, Wander. This place was actually suggested to us by the border guard we chatted with as we crossed into the U.S. Here, we enjoyed their Wanderale Blond, Global Mutt Porter, Belling-Hammer Wee Heavy, Together Belgian Dubbel, Plum Sour, and Boysenberry Fruit Puncheon. To be honest, I don’t even remember what logic went into me ordering like this, but I put a star next to the Porter, so I must have liked it the best! Mrs. Sip wanted to try their Pumpkin, but they had unfortunately sold out of that variety.

On Day 2 of our Tap Trail, we were a little tapped out, but we did manage to go to Kulshan’s second location, as they have a few beers only available there. We tried a set, with the Mountain Beaver Brown being our favourite. This last stop allowed us to get our eighth stamp for our Tap Trail passport. Completing half the map and returning it to a Bellingham tourism office allowed us to receive a Tap Trail Mason jar and bottle opener.

In closing, I have to thank Ma and Pa Sip for this belated birthday gift. Pa Sip deserves extra thanks for being our designated driver and putting up with us over the course of the tour, while Ma and Mrs. Sip should be commended for being awesome drinking partners!