Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Beer Shrine in Deming

When you drive from Bellingham to Mt. Baker - on your way to ski, hike, snowboard, or dirt bike - you find the landscape dominated by small farms, spindly hemlocks, pick-up trucks sporting McCain/Palin bumperstickers, and the occasional post-war bungalow. This is a stretch of highway that most people forget amidst their excitement to either climb Kulshan or return to B'ham for an apres ski drink. You can imagine how ecstatic I was to discover that mid-way between these two destinations is a craft brewery! Formally named the North Fork Brewery, but locally known as The Beer Shrine, this cozy lodge is packed to the rafters with breweriana. While the hallowed beer memorabilia everywhere and flowing ales from North Fork's eight taps may induce veneration in cerevisaphiles, this place is a shrine in more ways than one...it is an actual wedding chapel. Who needs champagne when you can have fresh cream ale?

I visited The Beer Shrine with my dad and family friend from Bellingham. Our friend had gone once before, several years ago, and suggested we head there after a short hike in the area. The brewery is not large, and the taproom seats about fifty. We sat at the bar and promptly ordered schooners of their Hefe, ESB, and IPA. It seems as though North Fork uses nitro in most of their ales, as opposed to the cheaper and more common carbon dioxide. Excluding the wheat beer, all of our drinks were really really smooth (too smooth?) and displayed that trademark Guinness head. I tried all three of these beers and they were all decent. They were all drinkable and mild, which I kind of liked since we were day-drinking, but they were also pretty forgettable. We all wished we were hungry at the time too because North Fork specializes in New York style pizza. This is pretty much the only thing I saw people eating, and a couple behind us had the most intimidating (and awesome looking!) roasted garlic and capocollo pie on their table. I plan to return in summer, with a hunger and a growler.

Keywords: "Bellingham breweries", "Chuckanut Brewery", "Alex Dawkins"

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