Tap Trails, Ale Avenues, Beer Boulevards, Pint Passports–this marriage of beer and tourism, often in exchange for a prize, is starting to pop up all over the northwest. What better trek to start than one in my beloved alma mater city of Bellingham?
I lived in B’ham, about 90 minutes north of Seattle, for four years for college, so I pretty familiar with some breweries, and kept learning of new ones on subsequent post-graduation visits. Now, there are more breweries there than one can shake a stick at! Whether it’s your first trip ever or first in awhile, the amount of choices in this city can be overwhelming. Luckily, the fine folks at Tap Trail have your back. They have created a map of Bellingham’s finest breweries and tap houses, and even better–there’s prizes involved for visiting them (to me, the adult equivalent of a toy inside a delightfully sugary box of cereal). Get stamped at these venues and you can get a leather coaster, bottle opener keychain, Tap Trail t-shirt, or my goal, a Silpint silicone pint glass (perfect for camping OR shower beers!).
No apps or online printouts, this trail of ale requires a map to document your visits. Luckily, maps are easily available throughout tons of locations in Bellingham–any brewery or tap house should have them, as well as the Downtown Info Center (1306 Commerce Street; Open 11am-3pm Tuesday- Friday, closed weekends) or Visitor Information Center (904 Potter Street; open Monday-Saturday 9-5pm). Many rideshare cars with Uber and Lyft are starting to carry the maps as well!
A few guidelines: The Bellingham Tap Trail has ‘seasons’ of winter and summer–you can’t start a map and then turn around and finish it nine months later, you get around six months (which is the time span it seems to take before a new awesome venue opens up anyway). Also, you must make a purchase (it says pint, but I’ve gotten stamps when I purchased a sampler or a small taster with a bottle to-go). Designated Drivers do get a free stamp, but Bellingham is so walkable it is easy to sample beers and still cover a good portion of the trail on foot (or wheel). Lastly, the map does not have hours, so if it is a weekday you might want to double-check when planning your route.
There are many beer routes I am eager to conquer–Skagit County has one, the BC Ale Trail, and of course, the Bend Ale Trail, but I think I picked a great one to start. Do you have a favorite beer route?