Chuckanut Brewery & Kitchen
Ratings: 20 | Reviews: 14 | Display Reviews Only:
4.2/5 rDev +16.3%
Truth be known, the double espresso on an empty stomach and the ride in from Vancouver (read: Phil drove) have left me a bit jittery. I am in need of something in the way of chowder. Oh, yes, there will be chowder. Exited for points Bellingham, the lunch plan being Chckanut. We’ve been hearing good things about this place since, you know, yesterday...
A seemingly small place on the side of the road, but it’s because you’re really only seeing ½ of it. You drive in between two buildings (Pub & kitchen to the left, brewery to the right) connected by an overhang piece, roll to the rear and park. Okay, so the brewery is over there (pointing), showing a row of fermenters in front panel windows, and we’re heading for the pub side.
Inside, up front, you’re greeted by a bit of a bar, piecemeal; 2 straight pieces coming together to a corner with the meeting open to get inside it, but it’s a swing top so it closes down to form a functional ‘L’. Laminate wood topped, corrugated aluminum base, and piping foot rails; seating for 5 on the front side another 4 on the side side. Corner cold box room behind the bar, with growlers lined atop, a glassware shelving rack alongside, and a colored chalk tap list board around the side of it. Frame of a kayak angled from the ceiling above (thinking it will fill up with water quickly without, you know, solidness), and rowing oars on the far wall.
Concrete red painted floorings and high ceilings with a black fabric something contained in steel rod framing. Dangling industrial lamps and what looks like rice paper covered weisse glass drop lamps over some seating and the bar. Walls painted a light mustard color, with old tyme b/w pics (horse, buggy, train cars, steam ships, and group portraits of the lumber people this area was built on and around. There are also Japanese beer prints on the wall; I don’t know what that’s about. Window off the bar lined with logo pint glasses, and a door next to that it leading to an outside side seating area with 10 tables overlooking the Whatcom Creek. Phil locked himself out there while, you know, smoking, and I laughed at him.
A wall of garage doors face the brewery across the way, and 3 windows on the front side to the street, with a single flat screen mounted above. 8 small tables around the bar area; a few sharing a bench off the corner. And we grabbed one of a pair of hightops off the side of the bar, along a ½ wall sill showing weisse glasses displayed.
A large mural piece up front, and as you hook to the right of the bar they’ve got GABF medals & World Beer Cup awards displayed. Past there to the side room; a dozen & a half tables, square, round & recs, and kitchenings there. Square windows along the wall with smaller ones above them opening out, and what look like b/w linoleum block printings in between the windows. They’re for sale as are the paintings. Snowshoes on the back wall, signage from behind their GABF tables hanging, and another kayak frame suspended above the kitchen, this one of some metal alloy (again, I see them sinking quickly without whatever you wrap them with, I’m just a-saying). Through and to the rear, an area out back awninged over off the parking lot with a few tables, dart boards, heat lamps and a small bar; it’s a baby event space.
6 taps on a tower with logo display handles on the front side of the bar, I played the sampler game (Pilsner, 5%, dry, a bit grainy, floral, with a nice bite, well done; Vienna Lager, 5%, light caramel, malty, slight bitterness, crisp; Rauch Marzen Lager, 5%, some smoke, a bit bandaidy, curse of the Rauch, beechwood; Alt German Ale, 5%, light fruity something, some bitterness, hoppier than I would have expected, good malt backbone; Chuckanut IPA, 5.5%, earthy, piney, good bite, nice easy hoppiness; British Brown Ale, 4.5%, nutty, a bit of roast, and there’s the malt, it’s a nice Brown). Pilsner Lager, Vienna Lager, Alt German Ale, & Chuckanut IPA Ale were the best of ‘em.
They do a Chuckanut gumbo, but I stuck to my guns and went with a cup of the Chuckanut chowder (clams, smoked salmon, veggies, a bit of bacon, 2 croutons a-floating, & toast points for the dunk). I fucked up; should have done a bowl. And then the Thai sweet chili chicken salad (roasted chicken in a sweet Thai chili sauce over greens, cucs, red onions, rice noodles, carrots, and hold the edamame, please). Totally gone fixed my head. I don’t recall what Phil had ‘cause I was all about the me, just then.
Hey, ‘Small brewery of the year’ GABF 2009 & 2011, too. Not. Too. Shabby. Nice beers and good food set me straight; Pattender was good enough to put up with my nonsense ‘til I got there. And tunes, yes, well Siriusly, ’77 was a great year for the Dead, thank you for all that. Excellent stop on the way back down, but goddamn, we have a long way to Portland yet and I suspect we’ll be stopping along the way. So, what’s our play from here, Philip?
11-07-2012 20:28:53 | More by slander
3.88/5 rDev +7.5%
Have to agree with Terry (Beertunes) that the atmosphere is not the best feature of this place. It really does look like it might have been a hardware store in a previous lifetime, and the layout inside is a bit odd. You actually park your car in the middle of the building set-up, with the small brewery operation on your right as you drive in, and the brewpub on the left. As you walk into the brewpub, there is a small bar area to your left, with tables and chairs scattered around the interior of the pub. The brewpub really looks more like a small breakfast cafe, but what the hell, I wasn't here for the ambiance anyway.
Chuckanut was recently named the 2009 small brewpub of the year at GABF, and after tasting through the beers here I could see why. The pilsner and smoked amber were both excellent, and the schwarzbier was pretty good as well. Wasn't in love with the vienna lager, but the taste I had later of the alt over at Terry's place later confirmed that the brewer here (Josh) clearly knows what he's doing when it comes to making good beer. Josh was kind enough to provide a quick tour of his 10 barrel bewing operation and was just an all around pleasant, easy going guy. Back to the brewpub... there was also an amber and kolsch the day I was there, neither of which I had an opportunity to try, though Terry told me it (the kolsch) was pretty good. We were served by a pleasant young lady, who was quick and efficient while we were there. I didn't get the impression she was particularly knowledgable about the beers available, but that really wasn't required anyway this day. Food was OK. I got the "local" 10 inch pizza, which came with smoked salmon and red onions. While nothing memorable, it was tasty and filling (which was all I required).
There's no doubt about it, the beers here are very, very good. If the brewpub was the only place I could find Chuckanut beers, I'd stop by pretty frequently if I lived in town. However, their beers appeared to be pretty available all over town, and I know there are now beer bars in Seattle where you can find Chuckanut beers as well. That being the case, the brewpub itself is nothing memorable, and with all the other interesting options in Bellingham, I suspect I'll probably take my business elsewhere next time I'm in town and want to drink Chuckanut beer.
10-14-2009 15:45:01 | More by John_M
3.35/5 rDev -7.2%
A: From the outside it does not look like much but who cares. Patyio out back this is dog friendlky, overlooking water and much of Bellingham. Laid back, local vibe
Q: Beer quality is average at best, subpar to average I would say
S: Slow at times but not to complain about. They were nice but maybe understaffed
S: A mix of Bavarian, American and English styles but nothing to write home about
F: Ok, yam fries were decent but that was all we had. BB had ruined out appetite bland food
Ok to stop but not impressed.
06-13-2010 03:52:08 | More by barleywinefiend
4.03/5 rDev +11.6%
Winning the GABF Small Brewpub of The Year award is not a bad way of capping your first year in business. But could this upstart deserve the highest accolades in the country? Well, they certainly brew some damn fine beers. Their menu features six house beers at any time, mostly lagers of German extraction, though they also brew a few Anglo-style ales. Beers are characterized by exceptional clarity, lively carbonation, and clean lines. I've yet to encounter the more typical hop bombs or fruitier malt-driven ales commonly brewed in our region. But frankly, clean, honest lagers are a welcome market niche.
The spacious brew house (lots of room for expansion) is separated from the pub except by a shared carport roof with a parking area between the two buildings. The pub is a modest affair with multiple seating areas, a patio overlooking Whatcom Creek, and a covered outdoors seating area with a stage and BBQ suitable for Oktoberfest-type events.
Food centers on wood-fired pizzas, wraps, salads, light Mex and seafood, with a few interesting specialties such as goat cheese pie, yam fries, or the Yamburrito. Many ingredients derive from local free-range organic scenarios. I found it satisfying and reasonable. One thing I don't "get" is that they hand you menus on clipboards. What's with the clipboards? Am I ordering food or taking a survey? Another item for my wish list is that, while they do have a few tulips and Tuesday is Kölsch night with beers served in 8-oz. stanges (for a buck-fifty), most beers come served in shaker pints. Those brilliantly clear lagers just beg for a tall pilsner glass or something more elegant to show off their supreme clarity and effervescence. (I'm getting tired of shaker pints, especially with lagers.)
Chuckanut gives us much to celebrate and a lot to look forward to. Now there's at least two good reasons to be in Bellingham.
10-19-2009 03:22:15 | More by RedDiamond
3.05/5 rDev -15.5%
Converted from an equipment rental store, as you enter the brewhouse is to the right and the pub on the left. Only 6 seats at the bar so you'll probably have to grab a table. They are brewing a lot of styles but only six at a time are on tap. They are brewing to style which is a refreshing change from the typical Northwest hop bombs. They insist on the annoying habit of rinsing your glass with water just before pouring a beer. I personally prefer not to have a teaspoon of water in my beer. The bartender explained that this is to rinse the last of the soap out of the glass. Shouldn't the soap be rinsed in the dishwasher? It is obvious that the pub is secondary to the production brewery, with unattractive mustard colored walls and some of the worst "art" I've ever seen. There are some outside tables that give you a view of a neighboring bar notorious for hosting several serial killers. I like the beers and they are gaining distribution so I recommend trying the beer at a different bar.
Edit on 8/24/09. Now having been open a year, this place is finally getting it's groove. The service is better and the beers are dialed in. The room is still ugly, but if you're in town it won't kill you to stop in for a couple of quick pints.
02-19-2009 13:25:57 | More by beertunes
3.33/5 rDev -7.8%
Went here a couple weeks ago while up in Bellingham. Had to check it out...hadn't heard much about the place other than it was somewhat new and just won small brewery of the year at GABF. Parking was good, there was on street parking as well as a small parking lot at the brewery. The actual brewing facility was in a separate building just steps from the taproom. The taproom itself was fairly small but wasnt' too busy when we were there which was good. It seemed like most of their beers were Lagers (which is pretty cool). I had a bock and a german alt both of which were good. Their menu was pretty good as well, we decided on a couple pizzas. Both pizzas were just ok. While this is a pretty good place I wonder how they got best small brewpub in the US. In my opinion they arent even the best small brewpub in Bellingham.
04-19-2010 15:56:49 | More by loren01
British Columbia (Canada)
3.5/5 rDev -3%
It is cool that another brewery/brewpub exists in Bellingham than Boundary Bay and that the brewery makes lagercentric beers rather than the ales from BB. The place is funky in a laid back local sorta way with eclectric stuff hanging on the walls including an awesome 18 foot frame of a kayak. The menu is pretty cool and the veggie sandwich that my wife and me split was different as it was warm ( we like it). The beers are all quite good and fairly conservative in ABV and styles. I wondered why no wheat beer such as Hefe but that is a small quible. The service was good and attentive and the place was not to busy on a Tuesday afternoon. Worth the trip if you have already been to Boundary Bay.
09-16-2011 00:49:48 | More by canucklehead
3.7/5 rDev +2.5%
Went there on a Saturday afternoon for a couple beers. It's a strange building, which makes it kind of interesting. Surprisingly large brewing facility.
Service was good, even as it got busier. Apparently it's a fairly popular hangout. We each had a couple beers, generally $4.50 apiece.
Selection is entirely lagers (six taps), which isn't my favorite, but they were pretty good for the style. The Schwartzbier and the Vienna Lager were my top picks.
We had an order of sweet potato fries, which were crispy, well-seasoned and quite tasty.
02-28-2010 17:43:12 | More by snaotheus
Chuckanut Brewery & Kitchen in Bellingham, WA
85 out of 100 based on 20 ratings.