For a town with fewer than 100,000 people, Bellingham punches above its weight for breweries.
At last count, Bellingham was home to 12 breweries.
But it’s not just the number of breweries that matters: it’s also the quality. With top options like Aslan and Kulshan in the mix, Bellingham is one of the best cities in the Pacific Northwest for beer.
What are the best breweries in Bellingham? Which breweries should you visit? Here’s my ranking of the top breweries in Bellingham, Washington.
1) Aslan Brewing Company
I’m a sucker for a good brewery that serves good food. Aslan is well-known in the brewing scene for its award-winning beers, and its downtown location in Bellingham is well worth a visit.
Serving great food and better beer, Aslan Brewing Company has a streetside patio and a large indoor space that’s popular every night of the week.
Aslan also recently opened a new barrel-aged taproom in Bellingham and a taproom in Seattle (it’s in Fremont).
If there’s a long wait at the downtown location, then check out the Schweinhaus Biergarten next door. It’s a German pub with a nice outdoor space.
Look for Aslan’s distinctive logo at grocery stores across Washington. Founded by a couple of friends in the summer of 2012 after a conversation over a pint of beer, Aslan has grown to become Bellingham’s best-known brewery.
Oh, and did I mention Aslan’s beer is USDA organic certified and they’re a certified B-corp and they’re independent? Yes, Aslan is a big name that still has plenty of small town character. It’s worth a visit if you’re in Bellingham.
2) Kulshan Brewing Co
Kulshan Brewing Co. is a close competitor to Aslan in terms of quality and local notoriety.
And, with three locations across the city, Kulshan also has multiple options for multiple preferences.
Check out Kulshan’s Trackside Beer Garden for a unique, industrial-style beer garden experience. It’s the company’s recently-opened third location in town, and you get to drink beer beside decommissioned grain elevators (or whatever those things are, I dunno, I’m not a farmer or longshoreman).
Kulshan’s other two locations are in Sunnyland and Roosevelt (K2), offering a more traditional brewery experience.
Like Aslan, Kulshan is independently owned and operated. It’s a family-run business that was born and raised in Bellingham. You can spot their popular 9% ABV Russian Imperial Stout at grocery stores across the area, but I enjoyed every beer I had at Kulshan.
If you want a friendly Bellingham atmosphere and a sprawling outdoor space, then Kulshan’s Trackside Beer Garden is worth it – and the good beer makes it even better.
3) Wander Brewing
Wander Brewing is located on the far end of town from most of the other breweries. But, because it’s Bellingham, nothing is really too far away.
If you can make it all the way to the far side of Whatcom Creek, you’ll discover a large brewery hidden down a small alleyway.
Featuring a large indoor and outdoor space, Wander Brewing feels like a lot of other parts of Bellingham: it’s like someone built a really good brewery in the middle of an old factory.
Do you like sours and barrel-aged beers? Wander is your new best friend. In a region filled with NW style IPAs, Wander makes some of the city’s most inventive beers.
Picked as the best large brewery in the state during the 2018 Washington Beer Awards, Wander Brewing has been serving pints in Bellingham since October 2013. Today, the brewery makes a range of traditional beers while also experimenting with fermentations, blending, and barrel aging through the Wander Barrel Project.
Although Kulshan and Aslan get a lot of attention in Bellingham, Wander Brewing is a sneakily good brewery often overlooked by visitors. The brewery has also won dozens of awards over the years from the North American Brewers Association, the Great American Beer Festival, and the World Beer Cup.
4) Boundary Bay Brewing Co.
Boundary Bay is one of the oldest breweries in town. The brewery has been serving beer and food in the Pacific Northwest since 1995.
Today, Boundary Bay’s brewpub is located in a century-old warehouse in downtown Bellingham. It features a beer garden, a patio, and a family-friendly bistro inside.
Like Aslan, Boundary Bay is known for its good food and good beer. They also have live events and live music regularly. If you like dark beers, Boundary has plenty of options. However, they have an extensive selection of everything on top.
5) Structures Brewing
Looking for weird and unique beers you won’t find anywhere else? Structures is worth a visit.
Structures is in a small, trendy-looking downtown location that looks more like a high-end coffee shop than a grungy brewery.
Inside, you’ll find a pleasantly bizarre assortment of beers that other breweries are too scared to try – like their sour smoothie beers. Have you ever had a blue beer before?!
Structures embraces its weirdness while serving up some of the best beer in the city. It’s worth a visit for all of these reasons.
6) Chuckanut Brewery
Another downtown staple, Chuckanut is an excellent brewpub ideal for those looking for traditional German-style beers.
Expect to find more conventional beers at Chuckanut than you would with other breweries in town. In addition to making an excellent fest bier every fall, Chuckanut makes Chuck Light Lager, Rye Lager, and Maibock Lager, among other traditional German options.
7) Fairhaven Stones Throw Brewery
Fairhaven has one brewery called Stones Throw. Located a few minutes drive from downtown Bellingham, Fairhaven is a must-visit for any Bellingham tourist.
Fairhaven is a historic district, and Stones Throw Brewing Co. has an appropriately unique atmosphere. If you like the idea of drinking beer in a 1900s old Washington port city, then check out Stones Throw. Depending on the night, Stones Throw often has the best atmosphere in town.
8) Menace Brewing
If all of the breweries above are too bustling, trendy, or downtown for your liking, then check out Menace Brewing. Located in the suburbs of Bellingham, Menace Brewing has a local vibe and a straightforward setting.
If you want to drink good beer in a comfy booth or on a sunny outdoor patio, then Menace Brewing has all of that. Look for food trucks, live music, trivia nights, and Seattle Sounders watch parties, among other locally-oriented events.
9) Gruff Brewing Co.
Gruff Brewing Co. has a nice outdoor space with plenty of picnic tables and even a fire pit.
You get to drink good beer while enjoying a view of the city and the waterfront.
It’s laidback, has a local vibe, and is beautiful on a sunny day or for sunset. The beer, as is the case with virtually every brewery in Bellingham, is very good.
Honorable Mentions: Best Breweries in the Bellingham Area
There are too many good breweries in Bellingham and the greater Bellingham area to mention.
Here are some of the other honorable mentions for Bellingham that didn’t make the list:
Beach Cat Brewing (in Birch Bay): Located 20 minutes north of Bellingham, Birch Bay now has its very own brewery. Beach Cat Brewing was launched in 2020 and now serves excellent craft beer with a view over Birch Bay. If you’re visiting Birch Bay from Bellingham, then Beach Cat is worth a pint or two.
Fringe Brewing (in Ferndale): Ferndale and Fringe Brewing are about 10 minutes north of Bellingham. As a Canadian, I recommend waiting for the poutine truck before visiting.
Honestly, there isn’t a bad brewery in Bellingham (especially since Melvin closed down). Walk into any of the breweries above to enjoy world-class beers in one of my favorite cities in America.