If you're a reader of this website, then you've no doubt seen announcements of breweries signing distribution agreements with other states. Show me any business that doesn't wish to or hasn't expanded their sales to other regions, and I will show you a business that benefits one who has. But it's rare in the business of beer to hear about someone opening a second brewery not in their home state, but in another. In fact, in the state of Washington (excluding franchises like The RAM, The Rock Bottom, Gordon Biersch, or BJs) there are only two breweries (Hopworks Urban Brewery from Portland and Lagunitas Brewing Company from Petaluma, California) that have made brewing in Washington a priority. That all changed when Melvin Brewing, hailing from Wyoming, opened their latest brewpub in Bellingham, Washington.
Assuming you survive the traffic slog that is the commute from King County to Bellingham, you are immediately greeted by doors adorned with nunchucks before entering a space that features murals of graffiti on the walls, some of which are partially obscured by digital televisions showcasing classic martial art cinema. Taking a moment to look around, the only thing that confirms you're at a Melvin-owned brewpub is a prominent Melvin logo, inspired by the patriarch elephant.
Before sitting down you have the option of one of the many seats around the horseshoe shaped bar or at a traditional table or booth. One simply needs to announce yourself to a server before being escorted to a table where a menu of beers two columns deep invites you to experience as many Melvin-brewed beers as your stomach and consciousness can handle. With names like Hubert MPA, Dready Copper, Drunken Master and 2x4 DIPA there is plenty for the hop-inclined. Then again you probably haven't tried their Wait What? Red Ale or Hey Zeus Mexican Lager. Of course, if you can't decide, the brewery will be happy to offer you a flight of four tasters, from which you can make that final decision (or second, or third).
The beers are mostly a warm up for the food, which features everything from Pickle Chips, Garlic Fries and Chicken Wings to things more provincial like the Melvin Burger, Tofu Po Boy, Green Curry, and Kale Gnocchi. Don't take our word for it, read the menu yourself http://www.melvinbrewing.com/melvingham-brewpub/#
For our visit, we stuck with Pickle Chips, the Drunken Master Burger featuring fresh-cut Garlic Fries, and a Tofu Po Boy with their regular french fries. Each arrived, as we hoped, hot and ready to go. It's worth mentioning to those who eschew meat, that only the french fries are cooked in their own separate oil. Sorry, we got distracted by the food and of course the beers which included Killer Bees Blonde, Melvin IPA, and Ruckus Imperial Stout.
If you've read this far, you should know that the brewpub is currently more pub than brewery. Despite having acquired a talented brewer (David Meadows, formerly of Prospectors Brewing Company), the brewery equipment is currently in transit and will be delivered shortly. In the meantime, guests should expect any beer Melvin sells both in the town of Alpine, Wyoming and also wherever Melvin beers are poured (including Elizabeth Station).
If that seems odd, it shouldn't as the brewery has adopted the philosophy that although you can get their beer elsewhere, they hope you will come for the food and stay for the beers.
Overall Thoughts: Definitely Worth The Trip.
- Beer Variety: You won't be disappointed if you're looking for the largest concentration of Melvin Brewing beers. Whether you favor an American Blonde, Imperial Porter, Single Hop Pale Ale, or a warming Triple IPA, there is something for almost everyone.
- Food Variety: No complaints here, if you're looking for traditional brewpub menu. If you're seeking Pizza, then it might be wise to go across the street after packing a growler of Melvin 2x4 home. There a few items on the menu that are respectful of the cosmopolitan makeup that is Bellingham. Home to WWU, it's easy to assume there are a few vegetarian-minded individuals who would appreciate inclusions like the Warm Kale Salad, while their fellow classmates mow through a plate of Fish and Chips, juicy burger, or a spicy flock of chicken wings.