The beer: Ron’s Not Bitter
The person: Ron Extract
The brewery: Garden Path Fermentation
11653 Higgins Airport Way, Burlington, 360.503.8956, gardenpathwa.com
Ron’s Not Bitter is named for Garden Path Fermentation Co-Owner Ron Extract, whose love of cask-conditioned ales goes back to his days pouring pints during a work exchange in London. In addition to being a complex yet low-alcohol style of beer, he appreciates that each pint of ale is truly unique, influenced by a number of different factors in its preparation and presentation.
The original recipe (entitled “Ron’s Bitter”) was given to Extract by English Brewmaster (and long-time) friend Peter Scholey of Ridgeway Brewing. Scaling it up for Garden Path meant tweaking that recipe to use all-local ingredients, and the Skagit version is now known as Ron’s Not Bitter, a flavorful and light PNW take on a British pub classic.
Garden Path has thus far released two editions of Ron’s Not Bitter and plans to unveil a third later this year. In addition, Co-Owner Amber Watts also has her own beer: Amber Dreams of Electric Sheep, a malt-forward, Skagitonian take on Bière de Garde. The last version was released in 2020, but Watts says it’s definitely a brew they’d like to revisit soon.
Ron Extract and Amber Watts, photo courtesy of Garden Path Brewing
The beer: The Haładuda Specjal
The person: Karolina Lobrow’s Babcia (Grandmother)
The brewery: Otherlands Beer
2121 Humboldt St., Bellingham, 360.746.8118, otherlandsbeer.com
Otherlands is beloved in Bellingham for both its Eastern European-inspired eats and easy-drinking lagers and ales. All offerings are delicious, but the Haładuda Specjal stands out for its backstory: This malty, Polish-style Pilsner is named for Co-Owner Karolina Lobrow’s grandmother. Lobrow says it was made to celebrate her, as well as all the women who appreciate a good pint.
“In Poland, drinking beer is traditionally something mostly men do, and it’s not considered very lady-like for women to do so,” Lobrow says. “My Babcia (grandmother) was a bit of an exception as she liked beer and was not afraid to drink it.”
Haładuda (pronounced How-a-do-dah) is Lobrow’s grandmother’s maiden name. After spending 55 years in the same Soviet-era apartment, she moved to the U.S. in 2015 to be with Lobrow’s parents and family. Babcia now lives an hour south of Bellingham and, according to Lobrow, “spends most of her time with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, cooking, baking and drinking beer.”
Photo courtesy of Otherlands Brewing
The beer: Robin’ the Farm
The person: Robin Crandall
The brewery: Stones Throw Brewery
1009 Larrabee Ave., Bellingham, 360.362.5058, stonesthrowbrewco.com
If you love Stones Throw, you might already be familiar with the Robin’ the Farm, a moderately bitter West Coast-style IPA featuring notes of stone fruit, a botanical aroma, and a crisp golden-colored body. What you might not be aware of, however, is the woman behind its inception: Robin Crandall, Stones Throw’s first-ever employee.
When it came time for Crandall to move on, she asked to create her own beer with the head brewer– and it was “such a hit that she comes back every year to hang out and brew this annual tradition,” says Stones Throw Brand and Marketing Manager Brian Bates.
“Robin takes the lead on this brew from start to finish, including recipe creation, and this truly is her beer,” says Bates. “It is also one of our quicker-selling beers, as many of our regulars know Robin and eagerly await for her beer release each year.”
Crandall now runs Ebb & Flow Herb Farm, a medicinal herb farm located on certified organic land in Skagit Valley. The name “Robin’ the Farm” is inspired by Ebb & Flow, and previous year’s batches have occasionally included Crandall’s own herbs. Robin’ the Farm is typically brewed in January, when the farm season has calmed down.
Photo courtesy of Stones Throw Brewing