Structures Brewing, Bellingham--Avoid?

Structures was recently recommended to us. By B’ham standards, it’s been around for awhile, but it recently moved into the spaces once occupied by the hallowed Chuckanut Brewery. Yesterday was our first try of Structures, which has only been open for 3 weeks in the remodeled space in Old Town.

It was a strange and disappointing experience. In order…

To paraphrase Joe Walsh, it’s hard to arrive if you can’t find the door-- you must turn two sharp corners and transit a beer garden to even see the door. IOWs, confusion reigns as to how to get inside.

We were to learn that Confusion is important here. The place is now one cavernous room, into which would-be patrons are greeted by LOUD death metal and a “Please Wait to Be Seated” sign. There weren’t any would-bes ahead of us, but there were several ready empty tables a few feet away. When we were noticed, our name was jotted down, and we were offered a beer while we “waited”. Our beers were handed to us, several ounces short of full pours, but the foam was nice. T.en minutes later, we were escorted about 8 feet to one of the same vacant tables.

There is no posted taplist or QR code. Instead, tiny clipboards (hidden from view as was the door), contain dirty, tattered paper sheets. OK, once the hidden list was pointed out, over the din of Husker Du or whatever, we perused while finishing our “waiting” beers.

I found it unnerving to discover that all the tap handles were human femur bone ends.

As we finished the dregs of our short pours, we discussed and chose what we might like to try next. When a server appeared, I asked for a taste of my interest and I was told Structures doesn’t allow sampling. OK…, so we asked: What happens if I order a Death Metal One, and it’s displeasing? Can I then have it swapped for a Double Skull Crusher? The answer was yes. Confused yet?

I was tempted to do exactly that, several times, but at that point my banger headache was pointing me to the door. The manager presented the check, and I asked about the sample policy. We were told that she’d been in the beer industry for 12 years, and Structures is the ONLY place she’d worked with this policy. She went on to say her servers lose tips and take flak because of it. When asked about the deafening metal, she shrugged and said it was the “culture” of the place.

We paid, and then exited out the familiar open back door, where we’d parked, which has always been a public exit. We were then followed and accosted by some employee outside, who aggressively asked if he could help us. My first thought was that we were being accused of theft of our foamy half-pint pints.

The only way I’ll voluntarily return to Structures will be with hearing protection, and even then only if I’m feeling mean enough to be displeased/replaced with as many short pours as possible before I’m 86’d.


I’ve only been to Bellingham on my way to the border, but have stopped off at Camber Coffee, which pulls a great espresso, and makes an outstanding chicken sausage sandwich. Get with bacon if you want to gild the Lilly.

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You should come for Ski-to-Sea and get the full flavor!

@ipsedixit are you in the nearby area? Ski to Sea is a blast but also a sea of humans. Not great if you don’t love that scene. @kaleokahu I can’t speak to the breweries bc I don’t drink beer. However, lucky for you there are at least 20 of them locally - so if you strike out with one, just keep drinking around :wink:

Sure, I actually like breweries that siphon crowds away from places I favor. So I wish Structures boundless success.

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Thanks, yes, I am familiar with StoS, and, yeah, it’s not my kind of scene.

The scenes at the finish line and Fairhaven leave me cold, too. I do like to spectate the handoffs, especially the road bike-to-canoe.

We live a couple blocks from Fairhaven, so that is all the spectacle we view. We’ve never been in the race, so no occasion to ever watch the handoffs - only the finish. The kids used to like to spin the wheels in their younger days and collect all the crap to bring home.

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I highly recommend the trip to Everson to see the canoes put in. Where that stage ends, at Hovander Park, is also fun.

I enjoy watching the less-than-competitive teams more than the ringer-laden contenders.

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I think I’m with @ipsedixit . I will personally enjoy Hovander and Everson better minus the crowds. Ski to Sea is a perfect day to get away and walk the trails somewhere else, as they’ll be less crowded…

That’s how I snagged a last minute reservation at the French Laundry during Superbowl Sunday.