Strange Things Brewing In Port Townsend

The 4th Annual Strange Brewfest in Port Townsend will take place on Saturday January 24th. It will feature beers from more than 35 local and regional breweries. If you need a reason to go visit the charming burg of Port Townsend, this is it. Make your plans now. It will soon be hard to find a hotel room.

Strange Brewfest invites and encourages creativity. It is not your typical beer festival. It’s eclectic. It’s edgy. It’s experimental. This event is a lot of fun. You should not expect to sample a typical selection of Pale Ales, IPAs and Porters. Unless the brewer has done some serious alchemy, those beer styles are not strange enough. For instance, you might come across pale ale infused with lemon grass and aged in chardonnay barrels. Strange, yes, but if they are serving it at the Strange Brewfest, it is likely good. Well, different and interesting anyway. Many of the beers served at this festival are available nowhere else and are made exclusively for this event.

The crowd enjoying a day that was strangely glorious for January
The crowd enjoying a day that was strangely glorious for January

The Wookie Did It!

Organized and hosted by Water Street Brewing in Port Townsend, Strange Brewfest is where our regional brewers go each January to let their hair down and share their most creative concoctions. And who better to host such revelry than Skip “The Wookie” Madsen, the creative brewing genius at Water Street Brewing.

Its all his fault. Skip the Wookie Madsen in his lair.
It's all his fault. Skip "the Wookie" Madsen in his lair.

If beer isn’t enough to get your attention, there will also be entertainment. Sure, there will be live music; however, since this is the Strange Brewfest there will also be fire dancers and jugglers. Where else do you have the opportunity to shoot hockey pucks at a wookie?

At The Event

During the daytime, the festival primarily takes place in tents out back. Consider the weather and dress appropriately. In the past, the weather has been glorious and sunny. It has also been wicked stormy. It’s January in Port Townsend, after all.

The festival starts at noon. Getting there when the “gates open” insures that you’ll get to try even the most popular beers. In the past, you entered the event by going through the Water Street pub, where you paid, purchased tasting tickets, got your tasting glass, and so on. I seem to remember this being only vaguely effective and wouldn’t be surprised if they adopt a new strategy.

If you choose to start early and think you will still have gas in the tank to go out dancing that night, you’re probably wrong. If you are able to pace yourself, the Water Street pub will be rockin’ and hoppin’ by 9:00 . Unless you take a break in the afternoon (nap), you likely won’t last until dinner.

Consider Wearing a Helmet

Most beer festivals have a certain air of responsibility about them. The vibe is usually something like, “We’re all here to have fun, but try to take it easy because we don’t want the wheels to come off of this thing.” Strange Brewfest isn’t like most beer festivals. It’s a little bit crazy. In other words, it’s fun as hell.

The balcony at the Water Street Hotel overlooks the festivities. Good luck getting a room there.
The balcony at the Water Street Hotel overlooks the festivities. Good luck getting a room there.

Be safe! Cabs and cops are easy to find on the streets of Port Townsend after dark. Strange Brewfest is not about timid, weak and wimpy beer. More than any other brew fest, you will feel the influence of the beers you sample.

Here are some lodging recommendations. There are many other options in Port Townsend. Use the Google!

  • The Aladdin Motor Inn (360) 385-3747. It would be a nice walk in the afternoon and a cheap cab ride later on. It’s about 1 mile each way. It is clean and just about as affordable as anything you’ll find in Port Townsend. The number one place to stay according to
  • The Swan Hotel (360) 385-1718. The same people run the Bishop Victorian Hotel a block away. Great places if you can get a reservation. Only a couple blocks from the festival. It is not the cheapest option, but very nice and reasonably priced.
  • The Belmont Inn (360) 385-3007. Not fancy. Affordable.  Not nifty, but thrifty. About two blocks from the festival. This place has been a hotel since 1888, so don’t expect amenities. Period. But you may end up with a million dollar view of the water from your modest hotel room.
  • The Water Street Hotel (360) 385-5467. Don’t even bother calling. They’re full. Typically, this is where all of the brewers and other industry people choose to stay. They make reservations far in advance. It’s located above Water Street Brewing.

Make your reservations now. NOW, I tell you! This event is increasingly popular and reservations may be hard to come by if you wait.

Water Street Brewing
639 Water Street
Port Townsend, WA