Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro
Ratings: 47 | Reviews: 38 | Display Reviews Only:
4.4/5 rDev +7.6%
Working our way up the coast to the forbidden zone, when Phil unexpectedly (to me, anyway) detours off the interstate for the scenic route, and then promptly stops at a random antique store (used loosely) on the side of the road. Wish I could get that harpoon back to NY with me. No, it’s a bad idea. Used a lifeline and called Carl Ronson for placement and disposition, and then came rolling into Bellingham. Spotted ‘Boundary Bay’, and thought, “Wasn’t that the name of Khan’s ship in the Star Trek episode?” Oh, wait, okay. Hey, there’s a beer festival happening across the street, stars, they be alignin’…
Early 20th century cinder blocky building standalone; with a center roll up garage door for when weather permits, and doors & panel windows on both ends. A small reception room off the far entrance with shwag sales & 22’s a cooler of 22’s gives way to the big room; just shy of 2 dozen tables across the room for the sittin’, some pushed together for parties larger, and a straight plank topped bar, slat base, & piping foot rail, with seating for 6 on green stools to the rear.
Slat wood barback units of shelving, glassware & growlers, split by a doorway to somewhere. To the center of the larger one side (the off center?), 10 taps on a stainless steel panel with vertical black slat pieces above, beer names printed there in colored markers, and a pair of handpumps off to the left. More glassware shelved below, and wines, too. Red, blue, & silver streamers lining the top side with strung baby frosty mug lights from end to end. Flats in both corners atop, and pieces in between (a ‘cask conditioned ales’ sign, a croquet set, mugs, other glassware, a pink flamingo, ceramic growlers, toy trains, a football helmet, house bombers, a mini leg lamp from ‘A Christmas Story’, oh, and a 3rd place award for a 2006 barleywine festival at Coles, a long way from home. It’s even got a little buffalo on top, cool).
Worn fat wood plank floorings, and beige walls & a high ceiling with a darker trim. Drop martini glass lamps over the bar and in rows about the rest of the room, with strung lighting from lamp to lamp. Nice vertical ‘Beers of Washington’ framed print to one side, and a corner not as small as it looks brew room to the left of the bar, with large brew room view windows; events and happy hour board above, and World Beer Cup awards displayed alongside. Piano against the inside wall with ‘Kayak ski to sea’ awards on top, black & white pics of things ski, brew, & boat (what else is there?) mounted, and a long loooong row of North American beer awards displayed. A giant sail affixed to the ceiling above the bar, and other sails mounted about the walls & ceiling lined with strung lighting. A great little boat mounted, a kayak, a beer & food 3D piece, international flaggings, & large boat art on the far wall. Old handpump set up, more croquet, & a barrel, with the kayak over the side room entrance vestibule.
And there’s a rear room long and narrowish with more seating; 2 and a ½ dozen tables pushed together in the places you need that to happen. Local prints for sale back there, and access to an outside side deck, a dozen + pic-a-nic tables there, and I think there’s an outside space I missed? It’s comfortably cool out today, I would like this weather for always, please.
So, beer; 6 house regulars (Bellingham Blonde, crisp, nice hop bite; Best Bitter, nice bitterness, a solid ESB; Amber, hoppier than maltier, good body; Inside Passage Ale, very nicely hoppy IPA; Scotch, good sweety, malty, and non-bandaidy, like too many others are; Dry Irish Stout, in lieu of the Impy Oatmeal Stout, chocolatey nose, bit of licorice, a little thin but most quaffable), 4 seasonals (Imperial IPA, a bit on the sweet side, as they generally are; Maibock, some sweet alcohol, a very nice example to style; Pilsner, nice bite, dry, crisp, good clean Pils; Highland Reserve Scotch Ale, biiiig alcohol & peaty), and both handpumps live (currently pouring the IPA & ESB). I’d say that Best Bitter, Amber, Inside Passage Ale, & Pilsner were my faves, but there were no clunkers here. None.
And food. I wanted a salad and chowder combo but Phil ordered 4 pretzels for the 2 of us (What’s your malfunction, carny?) I don’t give a shit though ‘cause I’m not leaving without having me the salmon chowder, and this one was excellent; potato, celery, carrots, onions, & big chunky salmon action.
Food fixed my head, and the beer was solid. It’s a good, comfortable house. Janet showed up with tix for the beer festival (well, that’s a day changer), and Ed dropped over, too (hey man, good to see you again). Really just super nice folks, but you already knew that, didn’t you? Well, off to the ‘Brewers by the Bay’ festival, I’m in no rush to see Vancouver anyway.
11-06-2012 02:48:33 | More by slander
4.36/5 rDev +6.6%
No disrespect to the many outstanding places on the East Coast, but this place pretty much typifies why I'll always lean to the left when it comes to great beer establishments in th U.S.
The atmosphere of this place is drop dead NW. It has a completely laid back, nothing pretentious feel to it. Although the beer here is clearly world class, the atmosphere is unassuming, ho-hum, go with the flow West Coast. The crowd here really says it all. On this particular Monday afternoon there were families, young hipsters, and old farts like myself hanging out, relaxing, and just having a mellow time hanging out with friends and having a good time. As one enters the brewpub one sees off to the left a medium size bar with around 10 bar stools. There are some rickety old tables and chairs, high ceilings, and left over sails adorning the walls. The furnishings are pretty stark and are nothing fancy, giving the brewpub a minimalist, easy going, nothing pretentious vibe.
The quality of the beers here is off the charts. The regular line-up is stellar, with even the blond and amber worth a try. The imperial oatmeal stout is world class, and the seasonals... sigh. The dunkel bock was pretty much the best I've tasted in the U.S., and the Old Bounder barleywine and imperial IPA just fabulous. My test for outstanding DIPA's is that they have to be so hoppy that they wear my ass out, almost causing indigestion because of the excessive hoppiness and richness. The DIPA here more then meets that test.
The service here is the type of service that is so good it's hard to describe. This is a regular's bar, with most of the customers making this place their home away from home. The cute young bartender, at least on the day I was here, treated everyone accordingly. She seemed to know everyone by name, gave everyone a well deserved ration of shit, and then treated them like they were visiting relatives. She was friendly but polite, familiar but considerate.
As for the selection, the day I was here they had some 9 different beers on tap. Everything was pretty outstanding, though of course some things were better then others. The IPA and scotch ale were no better then fair, but pretty much everything else was outstanding.
This is the sort of place I only wish my friends on the East Coast could visit. At least from my experience so far, there is nothing quite like this on the East Coast, as it completely epitomizes the NW experience. There are plenty of fabulous places here on the East Coast, but there is NOTHING like Boundary Bay. This place is an absolute diamond in the rough; a complete gem. What I wouldn't give to have a place like this in Baltimore....
04-08-2008 04:26:01 | More by John_M
3.73/5 rDev -8.8%
A: Stopped in here on a Saturday, busy World Cup day, farmers market and WWU graduation. Busy but I saw some beer shirts. Laid back.
Q: Beer quality at BB is always good to very good
S: Slow at times but not bad, it was a busy day afterall.
S: 7 regular handles and 3 seasonals but nothing exciting at all
F: Fish tacos and burger were bland, bad, we did NOT finsh them. Not bad on price for the food but I have had better pub food for sure
Overall a good stop and glad I went but probably would not go out my way to go back.
06-13-2010 03:41:08 | More by barleywinefiend
4.2/5 rDev +2.7%
Bellingham is such a sweet little town - worth the trip for scenery, vibe, food, and this cool little brewery.
garage doors, open air, full of space and exposed brick. cool place.
Boundary Bay has a solid arsenal of brews, most certainly headlined by the stellar IPA which is difficult to track down (in the bottle) outside of the brewery.
The 15th anniversary was a nice potent strong ale and the ESB was fairly good.
Service is strong and attentive, with a rotating-staff approach to ensure all needs are met.
We only had a light chips/salsa appetizer just to pass the time but the salsa was solid and the chips were standard.
So far, easily one of my favorite washington brewers.
07-27-2011 00:48:38 | More by dirtylou
4.22/5 rDev +3.2%
On the way to see Mt. Baker, I decided to stop in to this brewery. While it was not difficult to find a good IPA in the region, this place did well across the board for a change, as their stronger and darker beers ranged to above average to exceptional. I don't recall anything too bold as far as styles, but for what they had I was very pleased. Service was slightly above average to very good and I didn't try the food. One beer for me that stood out definitely was their Imperial Porter, which I had to buy a bottle on the way out. I would stop here again, if and ever in Bellingham again.
10-19-2011 06:03:54 | More by MilwaukeeCrusher
3.9/5 rDev -4.6%
It's tempting to think of Bellingham as the quintessential northwest city. It's comfortably mid-sized with a mix of historic charm, modern adaptations and a lively personality. That might also describe the Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro. It enjoys a great broken-in feeling courtesy of the building's origins as a downtown waterfront industry. The bar has worn, wooden floors, suspended sails and a dingy, and windows into the brewery. Plus, there's a beer garden, a patio, and isolated views of the bay.
The brewpub is in the heart of downtown Bellingham immediately across from the Farmer's Market. It's extremely popular among Bellinghammers. The diverse food menu is reasonably priced, tasty and falls mainly into that imprecise category called "comfort food." Try splitting a mac & cheese and a salad with a friend or the grilled portobellos if available.
The bar has just six seats. But the bar room and dining hall probably hold 100 or more people and will be packed during peak service hours. Expect a twenty-minute wait for a table on a Friday night. Service is responsive and pleasant. On one occasion my server forgot to bring me a beer menu for perhaps 15 minutes but compensated for this with a pint on the house. Apparently it's their policy.
Ten house beers include about seven regulars, three seasonals, one nitro tap and no guests. Cask ales are tapped on Thursdays. Boundary Bay enjoys a solid reputation for fine ales though my experience has been mixed. Most beers are American and British Isle derived with rare excursions into continental territory. 22-oz. bottles are available to go at the service counter.
11-12-2009 05:48:36 | More by RedDiamond
4.28/5 rDev +4.6%
Unassuming in the front, but once inside, Boundary Bay is welcoming (ie. not trendy or upscale) and enormous. Two separate indoor rooms with high ceilings, adjoined by two adjacent doorways, and a great multi-level beer garden--a deck, and another space below it on ground level, and next to that a tent with yet more picnic tables. Would be a kick-ass place for Oktoberfest, or any kind of occasion really. Nobody was in that area when I went, maybe because it was too cold and kind of drizzly.
Service was excellent, very attentive and knowledgeable about the beer. The beer itself was delicious--I had the bock and IPA. Expertly-crafted stuff that would keep me going back even if the food sucked (it didn't, although what I had was merely good).
Local art was displayed on the walls, and was for sale, and from reading the menu as well, it seems they're very much in support of their local community, in terms of the ingredients they use. They were even selling copies of Tom Robbins' new book, 'B is for Beer' (a kids' book for adults, or an adult book for kids), which I happened to have read just before leaving for my trip northwest.
A great place whose atmosphere and service is recommended, but of course it's the beers that you shouldn't pass up if you're ever in the area. So glad I went.
05-15-2009 00:19:10 | More by Metalmonk
4.7/5 rDev +14.9%
This is about as good as it gets, folks.
Located a handful of miles south of the Canadian border, Boundary bay may be the perfect local brewpub. The restaurant is set in what once must have been a large garage, because a giant garage door separates the main dining area from the patio area open when the weather is nice.
But other than that, you'd never know it was a garage. The tables, decorations, bar, televisions and general atmosphere has nothing "garage" about it. The giant boats, sails and mounted fish adorning the ceilings and walls is a bit over the top, but overall, I loved the feel of this place.
The menu is *almost* typical pub fare. The difference is the ingredients: the combinations of local ingredients and freshness of what is available.
For example, my dining partner got a delicious pizza topped with smoked salmon and pesto. I had a sandwich stacked high with a fresh filet of salmon. And the pumpkin cheesecake to top the meal off wasn't too bad either. It tasted just like the perfect pumpkin pie, which I've never had, because apparently the perfect pumpkin pie is a pumpkin cheesecake.
The beer is absolutely outstanding. They had nine of their own beers, each of which was heavy on the malts, giving it the depth and complexity so sorely missed by many brewpubs looking to sell a lot of beer. The malt level means it is more expensive, and you can't drink as much, because it is filling as hell. But I loved absolutely everything they put in front of me.
And the service was great. Good suggestions. Attentive. Brought my large sampler out in flights so that they didn't get too warm.
01-27-2010 23:24:38 | More by bigkingken
Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro in Bellingham, WA
91 out of 100 based on 47 ratings.