Since the tender age of 21 Boundary Bay has been my absolute favorite brewery. Enjoying your first legal pint at Bellingham’s first brewpub is a rite of passage for many college-aged Bellinghamsters. At the time I loved Boundary for all the wrong reasons: it was noisy and popular, “so Bellingham”, and the beer was strong and could get you feelin’ good real quick. Or so I’d heard. There is truth in all of these statements, but the real reasons to adore Boundary Bay Brewery are its tasty food, community ties, and award-winning craft beer.
The brewery opened in 1995 and has since been recognized for over 70 awards, including Best Brewery in Washington State five years in a row (Northwest Brewing News). These awards are proudly displayed in the taproom - look up. Ribbons galore hang from the ceiling of Boundary’s facility – a restored 1922 warehouse. Gaze around and you’ll notice two enormous ship paintings adorning the taproom’s south wall, old wooden snowshoes, canoes, and other miscellaneous outdoorsy décor. During summer the big garage door is open, inviting in a gentle breeze and anyone who walks by the brewery. Or head down to the beer garden where sunshine, happy hour barbeques, and live music are served with fresh brews all summer long.
Boundary Bay is the largest brewpub in the nation based on beer production. That is, their facility itself isn’t that big but they make a lot of really good beer. For a brewery of such stature, Boundary Bay is incredibly involved in the Bellingham and the greater Whatcom county community. Their spent grain is fed to cattle at a local farm, who in turn supplies the ground beef for Boundary’s bistro. Now that’s sustainable! Additionally, Boundary has given many local music acts a head start by putting on weekly shows in the taproom and beer garden. Polecat, one of Bellingham’s favorite bands, got their start here in 2010 and haven’t slowed down since.
After hiking the Chuckanuts, we arrive at Boundary Bay just in time for happy hour. Several appetizers can be had for a mere $2 and include a baby-sized mac and cheese, hummus plate, tacos, wings, and more. Our go-to Boundary beer is the Scotch ale, described on the brewery’s website as “A hearty, deep red ale with full body and fine malt character. We add just enough hops to balance the malt. The result is smooth and rich without becoming too sweet.” Yes. Other brews to try include Cabin Fever in the winter and the ever-popular IPA. With beer this good, it’s no wonder their motto is “Save the ales”.