Wander through the Gruff Structures

For my recent Bellingham trip, I wanted to try some new breweries. I have my nostalgic hangouts and old favorites, but felt like expanding my horizons after my Oyster Dome hike. So I grabbed my Tap Trail map and set off to downtown Bham! We started at Gruff Brewing Company, founded in 2014. Gruff is maybe the most experimental brewery I’ve ever tried (and I’ve had the curry beer from Ballast Point) so was a great start after an adventurous hike! I actually struggled to pick only four beers for a sampler–just too many options.

I ended up with the Passion fruit Hef, Sage Wit, Dark Lager, and the Gruit. I think my favorite was the passionfruit hef, which was perfect for sipping in the vast beer garden (which may have been larger than the indoor seating!). I am a sucker for all fruity beers, but this one balanced the tart/sour line well. I have nothing against sour beers, but I know many people who do not like them, so this would be a good beer for those who like tart but not pucker-up-sour. I was extremely surprised by the sage wit–I love sage in food, and it made for a very refreshing beer! I am sad I missed out on their blackberry version of this beer from last year, but one can hope for a re-release. The Gruit was perhaps the most unique beer I’ve ever had–hop-free, and made with nettles, devil’s club, and chamomile. While it turns out I prefer beers with hops, I am still glad I tried it out. I’ve had nettle pasta, but how many people can say they’ve had a nettle beer?

In addition to the delicious beer, Gruff’s biggest selling point to me is their beer garden. Cornhole, darts, and ladder golf all beckoned me. I also appreciated that they had covered and uncovered tables. Merch includes trucker hats, patches, sweatshirts, and t-shirts (I did not check to see if they have women’s-specific shirts). They are only open Thursday-Sunday, so plan your visit accordingly.

In summary (to the best of my knowledge)…

  • Full kitchen: No
  • All-ages: No
  • Dog friendly: Yes
  • Merch: Yes
  • Coasters: No
  • Live music: No
  • Outdoor seating: Yes–and games!

 

Next up, we went to Structures Brewing. Founded in 2015, this nanobrewery is small but packs a mighty, hoppy punch. They are very good about updating their tap list on social media (which, on an average day feels cruel as I am 60-ish miles away when at work) which is helpful as they appear to be changing things up fairly consistently other than the flagship Fuzz IPA (and even that they switch up, brewing with different hops to experiment). I loved the brick walls and no-fuss no-frills feeling of “We’re here to make beer.” Knowing we had more stops, my friend and I just got a pint each of their Fuzz IPA and the Endless Bummer pale ale. Hops are this brewery’s specialty and both beers provided that in full tastiness. I’d love to the they Fuzz with Citra hops sometime! They also made some beautiful stemware that I was tempted by, and I really liked their mountain logo. Pint glasses have a separate logo of two Native Americans in warbonnets–I didn’t get a chance to ask the significance of this compared to the mountain logo, but as someone who owns more pint glasses than I’ll ever need, I always like it when breweries offer more than one glass option.

In summary (to the best of my knowledge)…

  • Full kitchen: No
  • All-ages: No
  • Dog friendly: No
  • Merch: Yes
  • Coasters: No
  • Live music: No
  • Outdoor seating: No, but can open garage door in warm weather

Last stop was Wander Brewing. While I have been to Wander before, it was founded in 2012, so still feels ‘new’ to me. Wander is starting to get fairly big in terms of distribution, which is awesome news, as they make some tasty offerings. I know logos have nothing to do with how good a beer tastes, but I have always loved their logo and colors–that bright teal is gorgeous and has tempted me into buying growlers I did not need on every visit. They also have incorporated their logo into tables inside and the firepit outside!

In addition to their plentiful lineup of beer, they offer guest ciders and have non-alcoholic root beer on tap for kiddos as well. Like Structures, they rotate their non-flagship beers fairly often. If you’re going to stay awhile, I highly recommend starting with a sampler before committing to a pint, as they have some tasty options. Some of their beers, like the Mille sour and the fruit puncheon they change up the fruit used in them, which is a great way to be sustainable and keep variety going. I remember liking the Boot Toss IIIPA the best, but the belgian blonde is great as well, especially for those who don’t like hops. I recently tried their Pinenuts IPA though, and that beer needs to rocket to the flagship lineup, as it was GOOD.

Even the tables fit in the logo!

For merch, they have hoodies, growlers and growlitos, glassware, decals, and TONS of shirt options. I am picky when it comes to brewery shirts–I hate wearing ‘unisex’ t-shirts. They just do not fit me. However, many breweries when it comes to women’s-cut shirts either don’t offer them, offer only one design to the 12 options in unisex, or use a clothing company that only offers either a v-neck so plunging they feel pornographic, or sizes that appear to run *slightly* small (i.e. having to size up 2-3 times).  At Wander, the one women’s specific t-shirt is sadly the kind with the plunging v-neck. They do also offer a tank-top for women, but I get wistful when I see the multiple shirts I’d love to buy if they came in a women’s crew-neck (or even a more subtle v-neck!). Wander is far from the only brewery that does this, so don’t think I am calling them out specifically, I just am envious of the shirts I cannot wear and wish they had a different clothing distributor.

In summary (to the best of my knowledge)…

  • Full kitchen: No, but steady foodtruck lineup
  • All-ages: Yes
  • Dog friendly: Yes
  • Merch: Yes
  • Coasters: Yes
  • Live music: No
  • Outdoor seating: Large uncovered area with firepit.

I emerged victorious (and not-entirely sober) from my walking trek, stamps in my Tap Trail map and beer in my belly. All of the breweries Bellingham has to offer have delicious options, and it feels like you cannot go wrong. Do you have a favorite Bham Brewery?

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