Gruff Brewing, Bellingham, WA

OK, we can all agree there’s no shortage of brewpubs in B’ham. But there’s pretty much always been a dearth of brewpubs there with interesting and tasty food, and a buildout with comfort and balance. Chuckanut is gone, and Boundary Bay has jumped the shark. B’Ham Beer Garden/Twin Sisters has turned into the Marie Calendar’s of gastro"pub"s. So it was a very pleasant surprise to have–literally–stumbled upon Gruff Brewing.

Gruff sits down a blind alley and behind a snowboard/skate shop, like it doesn’t care if anyone ever finds them. As ar as I can tell, they have no website. The entrance kinda looks like it belongs to a speakeasy. But that door opens onto a wide, long, sun-drenched space with unusually comfortable long, high tables and stools–with backs! There are probably a dozen house beers on tap and another half-dozen guest handles, including ciders. Today was my third time at Gruff, so that counts 6 different beers I’ve tried, and all were quite good and ecumenical. There is an expansive outdoor “garden” with Adirondack chairs and propane-fired pits, and even a mini circus tent with couches and lounge chairs inside.

But the reason I’m posting this here is that the food here is really very good. That’s thanks to Brothers Bus Bistro, a food truck that seems to have been permanently captured by Gruff’s gravitational field. It’s like the truck could leave, except no one wants it to. We’ve eaten something from BBB each time, and everything has been beyond good. Stellar, in fact. The little tweaks in each offering make a huge difference that bespeaks of imagination and a wry sense of humor. For example, today we enjoyed a toasted hot turkey sandwich dubbed the “Angry Karen” (there is also just the Karen). I’ve never partaken of better french fries.

Will I come back again for the beer or the food? Yes, often, and for both.

Apropos of nothing and everything, Gruff is dog-friendly, and the vibe is so cool, the dogs all get along.

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