A new brewery opened Friday, Aug. 4 in the Cordata neighborhood. The first Bellingham brewery north of Interstate 5, Larrabee Lager Co. offers beer and pizza in a family-friendly beer hall.
Founded by co-owners Sam and Kate Milne, Larrabee Lager Co. is more than a decade in the making. Sam started as a keg washer at Kulshan Brewing Company in 2013 before working his way up to head brewer. In 2018, he was awarded the Glen Falconer Brewing scholarship to study at Siebel Institute in Chicago and Doemens Academy in Munich, Germany.
Upon returning to Washington, he helped launch Brick West Brewing in Spokane — a brewery now known for its IPAs and German-style brews.
As its name implies, lager is the primary focus at Larrabee Lager Co. Leading with lager makes sense in a beer market like Bellingham, where nearly every other brewery specializes in hoppy beer, particularly IPAs.
“We want to lead with our lagers and then we’ll have our token IPA,” Sam Milne said. “That balances the market a little bit. Because if every brewery opened with the same primary focus of hoppy beers, then it becomes really one-dimensional.”
Larrabee Lager Co. spared no expense when building out its custom, 20-barrel brewhouse and taproom. The goal is to produce exemplary lagers with precision and consistency. To that end, Milne said, “We have a lot of bells and whistles that are process-focused.” Brewing lagers is a highly technical process, and Milne has it dialed in.
It’s not all work and no play, though. Beer is meant to be fun; the overall experience is important. As a student of the craft, Milne has spent his fair share of time drinking liters of lager at Munich beer halls. That’s the inspiration behind Larrabee Lager Co. — traditional, highly drinkable lager enjoyed in a communal environment.
“It’s a beer that is elevated by the experience and the atmosphere,” Milne said. “They’re beers that are heightened by sitting here and having a great conversation.”
The opening tap list at Larrabee Lager Co. is indeed lager-focused, with Pilsner, Helles lager, amber lager, and Dunkel lager on the menu. But there’s room for ale and hoppy beer on the board, too. Kölsch, hefeweizen, Gose and cold IPA round out the selection.
Rotating ciders, wine and non-alcoholic options are also available. In time, Milne plans to brew a pale ale and perhaps even a hazy IPA.
In addition to beer, Larrabee Lager Co. offers house-made pizza, salad and appetizers. Vegan cheese and gluten-free crust options are available. Customers can order at the bar or skip the line — each table has a unique QR code for ordering.
As a family-owned business, Larrabee Lager Co. is kid-friendly by design. A kids corner in the front of the building offers toys, books and coloring supplies. While most beer hall seating is in the back, away from the kids area, the entire space is family-friendly.
Milne envisions the space as a “beer lodge,” inspired by Bavaria with Northwest elements. The walls are lined with a mix of historic beer images and nature photos. Barstools and picnic-style tables make up the 200-capacity beer hall seating. Garage doors let plenty of natural light into the space, giving it an almost outdoorsy feel.
They are working on installing a fence for outdoor seating, Milne said, but the process will take some time. Until then, dogs are not allowed inside the building due to restaurant license restrictions.
Larrabee Lager Co. is the culmination of years of industry experience, education and a deep passion for tradition. Sam and Kate Milne could have opened their brewery anywhere, but they chose Bellingham, and we’re darn lucky to have them.
The beer hall is located at 4151 Meridian St., Suite 100 in Bellingham. It’s right across Cordata Parkway from the Community Food Co-op. There is ample free parking available. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.
• It’s festival season in Cascadia. The 21st annual BrewFest on the Skagit will be held Saturday, Aug. 12 in Mount Vernon. A fundraiser for the Lincoln Theatre, this year’s event takes place at Edgewater Park featuring dozens of local beers and ciders. General admission tickets ($35) include six beer tastings and access to live music.
• Skagit Farm to Pint Fest returns Sept. 30. Held at the La Conner Marina, the fest features live music plus local breweries, cideries and kombucha. Each beer is paired with a bite from a local chef, producer or restaurant. Early bird general admission tickets start at $50 and include 16 food and drink pairings. This event benefits Genuine Skagit Valley, a nonprofit organization that in turn, supports and promotes the valley’s growers and producers.
Brandon Fralic’s Drink Cascadia column runs the second week of every month. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.