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Selection: 5 | Service: 5 | Atmosphere: 5 | Food: 5.0Curmudgeon's (167) Overall Score: 100.0
"Hey! It's about time you got here."
Wife Persimmon and I looked around. Was she talking to us? The bartender motioned to a pair of stools as she placed two coasters on the bar and said, "How are you? Where you been? And what'll you have?" Four other beer lovers looked up, at us, smiled, nodded and returned to their brews and pizzas. We knew no one, had never been to Deming or the North Fork Brewerery, Pizzeria, Beer Shrine and Wedding Chapel but before we ordered our sampler that we'd be back...for here was the epitome of community; what we had been searching for, wondered if it in fact even existed in this 21st Century of profit proliferation, obscene salaries, anonymous Internet identity thieves and the rest.
Deming is 20 miles from Bellingham, Washington and sits in the foothills of Cascades with Mount Baker looming above, its snow-ladened peaks and crags a constant siren call for winter skiers and summer hikers. In fact, brewmeister Eric Jorgenson says he lives here so "he can go skiing anytime I want, 7 days a week, as long I get my work done."
And that he does. Taking over the daily brewing chores from Owner Sandy Savage (one-time head brewer for Anchor Steam), Eric puts out a wide variety of beers including a Hefe, ESB, Dry Stout, Red Eye, IPA and our favorite the BarlyWine(2 different kinds and always available.) We had the Spotted Owl, a whiskey-colored, cognac-tasting, full-bodied ambrosia.
Sandy and wife Vicki opened the pub 10 years ago and brought with them, not only their expertist (Sandy has a degree in brewing science) but 90 years of brewing memoriabilia. Bottles, cans, signs are everywhere. Even the very first mash tun used by Pyramid Brewing from 1982. Ask Eric - you might get a tour. Their first batch was a lager brewed with a strain of Fuller's ESB yeast "borrowed" from legendary brewmeister Terry Fahrendorf in San Francisco. Since then, they've switched because Sandy wanted to "keep the English tradition" of making proper ales alive. Now Eric produces about 400 gallons a week. He started making bread when he was 17, "fell in love with yeast" and came into North Fork as customer. Deciding then that he was "going to come to work here" from home town Chugiak, Alaska, seven years later he has recruited 5 other friends to immigrate. In fact, he says, Chugiak has become North Fork's "minor league." "Where are you from? Portland? Get out!"
Once you find the place, you won't want to leave, no matter where you're from. With Brenna the bartender, local business owners Greg and Jean (who brought in a hand-knitted blanket for sick Vicki Savage), Canadians Greg and April who come in once a week for pizza ("the best ever") and homemade root beer, and Bamboo John occupying his stool at bar's end and drinking whatever beer "reflects my mood", you'll discover that "everybody here is my friend." That's why they come. That's what will bring you back. A sense of belonging -- community -- "family" Brenna calls it and she couldn't be more right.
It's what all businesses want and few ever achieve.
It's the reason why we go somewhere to have a beer. To be welcomed. To feel that sense of belonging. To be with friends.
At North Fork, you will be...you are.
It is the perfect brewpub!
reviewed on: 2007-12-17 16:08:38