Kulshan Brewery is Bellingham’s newest brewery—but that hasn’t stopped it from winning awards right out of the gate. Barely a year after their opening in April of 2012, the brewery won gold Medals for their Trans-Porter and Double Brother Double IPA at Washington Brewers Festival this past May. Kulshan’s Bastard Kat IPA also won out over neighboring breweries Chuckanut, Boundary Bay and North Fork Breweries in a Best in Bellingham Blind IPA challenge held at local bottle shop Elizabeth Station. Kulshan recently updated their 7 barrel brew house to a 15 barrel vessel, a testament to their growing popularity in Bellingham.
From the outside, the brewery looks like many of the micro-breweries which have popped up in warehouses and commercial office parks complete with metal siding and corrugated—albeit blue—roof. The inside of the tasting room, however, feels more like a rustic lodge with wood siding and artwork by local artists depicting Mount Baker and the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. Boasting darts, board games and Trivia on Monday nights, there seems plenty to keep patrons occupied while sipping a pint or two. Kulshan features The Devilly Brothers every Sunday night at 7pm in their beer garden, and rotating local artists on Wednesdays and Fridays.
You can bet that if the sun is shining, the beer garden at Kulshan is hopping. Offering long picnic tables as well as patio tables and chairs, the beer garden is serviced by friendly (and busy!) wait staff plus an outdoor bar featuring four additional taps. The brewery itself isn’t equipped with a kitchen, but welcomes food from surrounding restaurants and opens a space in its lot to many local food trucks including Bellingham favorite StrEAT Food two nights a week.
Now for the important part: the beer. Kulshan features 9 full-time beers and 3 seasonals on tap, each with creative monikers befitting their full-bodied taste. Some of my favorites (name-wise at least) are the Dude Man Wheat and the seasonal winter ale Kitten Mittens. As is the case with many breweries in the Pacific Northwest, Kulshan’s beers are hop forward including their Midnight Kascadian Dark Ale at 62 IBUs and Reisterbräu Russian Imperial stout at a whopping 100 IBUs! But, there are plenty of other choices for those who prefer a maltier brew, including the Trans-Porter and Red Cap Red Ale.
We sat down for a sampling of brew and live music on a perfectly warm Wednesday evening. Seated in the shade of the Kulshan sign—high up on its literal keg-stand—we were lucky to find ourselves a seat. Even at the bike rack, patrons were jockeying for space. On stage for the evening, set off in a corner of the beer garden was the Broken Bow String Band, playing bluegrass and adding another layer to a quintessentially perfect Bellingham summer evening. Brandon enjoyed a Dude Man Wheat as a refresher, before moving on to a Good Ol'Boy Pale Ale. Rachel started off strong with a Midnight KDA, and then finished with the crisper seasonal Orange Blossom IPA, which has distinctly pronounced citrus notes. Endorsed by Sasquatch (according to their coasters at least), we advise you to “get some,” of Bellingham’s newest craft beer.