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Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro

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Boundary Bay Brewery & BistroBoundary Bay Brewery & Bistro
BA SCORE
3.66/5
Good
883 Ratings
Boundary Bay Brewery & BistroBoundary Bay Brewery & Bistro
PLACE INFO

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

1107 Railroad Ave.
Bellingham, Washington, 98227
United States

(360) 647-5593 | map
bbaybrewery.com

Notes:
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Added by BeerAdvocate

BEER STATS
Beers:
68
Reviews:
403
Ratings:
883
PLACE STATS
BA Score:
4.07/5
Reviews:
43
Ratings:
66
pDev:
9.58%
 
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Ratings: 66 |  Reviews: 43
Photo of slander
4.4/5  rDev +8.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

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.

 4,859 characters

Photo of LXIXME
3.92/5  rDev -3.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 3.75

Photo of Rifugium
3.75/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of John_M
4.36/5  rDev +7.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

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....

 2,677 characters

Photo of flagmantho
4.01/5  rDev -1.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I visited Boundary Bay on a recent trip to Bellingham and it was my favorite of the breweries I visited. It has a very lived-in brewpub feel, with a warm, welcoming atmosphere and a population of regulars in addition to the autumn-weekend tourists.

There were about a dozen beers on tap during my visit, and the ones I had were decent if not mind-blowing. Everything seems well-crafted, even if the individual beers weren't all exactly to my taste. The food is good; I opted for the reuben (my go-to brewery choice) and it was quite tasty. The staff are friendly and I felt like I was treated as a regular despite it having been my first visit. I will definitely try to return here the next time I'm in town.

 714 characters

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.73/5  rDev -8.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 2.5

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.

 531 characters

Photo of Texasfan549
3.8/5  rDev -6.6%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 3.75 | food: 3.75

Photo of dirtylou
4.2/5  rDev +3.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

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.

 689 characters

Photo of MilwaukeeCrusher
4.22/5  rDev +3.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

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.

 592 characters

Photo of BillRoth
4.25/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of Beervana
4.16/5  rDev +2.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.25

Photo of RedDiamond
3.9/5  rDev -4.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

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.

 1,637 characters

Photo of Donkster46
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%

Photo of TheBungyo
4.25/5  rDev +4.4%

Boundary Bay has long been a staple in the NW craft beer community and even after all these years they're still on their game. Most of their offerings are very good, and the food is consistently good as well. Plus, there's usually a few offerings on cask. All of this coupled with great service make this a must visit when in Bellingham.

 338 characters

Photo of Sound_Explorer
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of Anaxagoris
3.75/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of Metalmonk
4.28/5  rDev +5.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

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.

 1,305 characters

Photo of bigkingken
4.7/5  rDev +15.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

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.

 1,622 characters

Photo of beertunes
4.15/5  rDev +2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

okay, full disclosure. as a resident 'hamster this is my local so i am not completely neutural. the beer is excellent. the inside passage ale (ipa) is probably the best seller. ten taps include six or seven regular choices and three or four seasonals. try the latest in the single hop series. they make a pale ale with the same malt bill and only one type of hop. each time they make it they use a different variety of hop. the cabin fever winter ale is my favorite beer of the year here. the place is always busy so bring your patience. when the weather is good the beer garden is the way to go.

 596 characters

Photo of snaotheus
3.85/5  rDev -5.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

I've actually been here many times, but never reviewed it until today, apparently. My wife, kids, mother, and I went there for lunch yesterday.

They're kid friendly, open and friendly vibe. Bistro isn't the nicest in the world, but it's not bad. I like going there.

They generally make good but not special beer. They have a decent selection of beer, maybe 8-10 taps, only their own beers. Yesterday, they had their 2014 Old Bounder on tap, and it was extremely good (I had a second glass of it and bought a bottle to take home).

Their food is good -- much better than standard pub grub. I haven't been disappointed by anything I've had there, and their menu seems to change somewhat, with a few dishes that seem to be on the menu all the time.

 747 characters

Photo of Brandonparrent
3.78/5  rDev -7.1%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.75 | food: 3.5

Photo of Erik-P
3.5/5  rDev -14%

Photo of KStark
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of gandres
3.86/5  rDev -5.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

Visited on an afternoon Saturday, December 26, 2015
Bartender was very attentive even with a full restaurant
Limited choice coming from brewery
location and place is very good but parking is a challenge

 203 characters

Photo of loren01
4.58/5  rDev +12.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Went here while in Bellingham a couple weekends ago. Had been here one other time and had an awesome time here and remembered how good everything was. Went somewhat early...maybe like 4pm and the place was packed....looks like the locals love this place as well. Parking was a bit of a challenge but finally found a spot. We ended up having to wait for a table but the staff said we could grab a beer and go out on the patio so thats what we did. Looked like down below the patio they were setting up for some music that night. I started off drinking a double red which was one of their seasonals on the menu. The double red was amazing! Finally some guy left so we grabbed his table in the bar area and sat down. Service was very prompt...and we ordered our food and another beer (dopplebock this time). The dopplebock was even better than the first beer. We ended up getting nachos and a side of beef stew. Both of which were amazing. Its a good thing boundry bay isn't in the town I live in cause I'd be there probably more than I should. A must visit while in Bellingham.

 1,075 characters

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Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro in Bellingham, WA
Brewery rating: 3.66 out of 5 with 883 ratings
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