Washington Brewers Festival – You need to know about these changes


For the most part, this year’s Washington Brewers Festival at Marymoor Park (Friday, June 15 thru Sunday, June 17) will be the same great event you’ve always loved, but you need to know about one thing that has changed. You might be upset, you might not care, but you absolutely must know about this change.

This year at the Washington Brewer Festival there will be a limit on the number of tokens you can purchase. With your ticket, you’ll receive eight tokens. You will only be allowed to purchase an additional three tokens. Eleven tokens is the max. This year your wristband will include three removable tabs. When you purchase your three extra tokens, they will be removed. This limit does not apply to Friday since the festival is a 21+ event on that day. On Friday you can buy more than 11 tokens, but you’ll need to purchase them three at a time.

Since 2009 the Washington Beer Commission, the state agency that operates this and other beer events, has hosted over 50 beer festivals. As you can imagine, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) keeps a pretty close eye on things at these events. Only once has the Commission received a citation for liquor law violations at one of these festivals. Last year, at the Washington Brewers Festival, the WSLCB sent under-aged agents into the festival. So, ya, that happened. Along with issuing a citation for serving minors, the WSLCB expressed concerns about other things they witnessed at the festival, especially over-consumption.

On average, the typical beer-drinking festival attendee only uses 9.2 tokens at the Washington Brewers Festival. (The Commission keeps track of such things.) In other words, most people will not find this new token limit much of a bother, but there’s no doubt that some people will find it troublesome. The Commission knows that some people will not like this change and they want to be very clear about it up front.

Understand that the Washington Brewers Festival is uncommon in that it welcomes children on Saturday and Sunday. Since it’s always on Father’s Day weekend, the Commission thinks this is an important part of the festival and has fought to make it happen. The Commission recognizes, as does the WSLCB, that hosting a beer festival that welcomes children comes with responsibilities. They want this to be a fun event, but they also want it to be family-friendly.

The Commission wants people to have fun and enjoy the event, but they also want to provide a safe, enjoyable environment for families. And, of course, they must address the concerns of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. Eric Radovich, the Executive Director of the Washington Beer Commission, told me that the events committee considered every possible option on how to move forward.

The Washington Beer Commission is essentially a state agency that was formed by an act of the Legislature in 2006. It is largely operated by volunteers from various parts of the beer industry. Because of its affiliation with the state, this is serious business. There’s a lot on the line. They did not reach this decision lightly. The goal was to come up with a plan that addressed the concerns of the WSLCB, allowed the festival to be family-friendly, and continued to provide beer drinkers with a fun festival. They are very much aware that some people will not like the compromise.

A lot of people really love the family-friendly character of this festival, but allowing children at a beer festival is not normal, at least not in the eyes of the WSLCB. Given that, it’s really not surprising to see some enforced limits on consumption. Once again, to be clear, the token limit only applies to Saturday and Sunday, when children are allowed at the festival.



  1. I’ve attended this festival several times in past years, and I’m very happy to see this change. Go enjoy some great beer, great weather, and great company!

    1. Keyword some. What’s the point of a brew festival with tons of different breweries and an 11 taster limit?

  2. This is a joke. These event are made so you can sample beer from different breweries that you normally can’t get to try. We share our samples between our group and normally don’t finish the glass. Note they are also reducing the size of the pour. They haven’t reduced the price of the event, and even increase Friday night. The Liquor Board doesn’t seem to care about the kids at tap rooms where there is no limit on how much you can buy.

  3. This event is meant to be “all day”. The limit of 11 tokens greatly reduces the amount if time my family and I will be attending. That means we are buying LESS FOOD FROM VENDERS, LESS ROOTBEER/SODA for our children, and LESS TICKETS FOR BOUNCY HOUSES for our families. I hope the WSLCB enjoys the negative impact they’re spreading among these small businesses.

  4. I’ve been going to this brewfest every year since 2001 and I’ve always thought the whole purpose of this event is to try as many of the new beers as you can, but if they are putting a limit on it, then I guess I won’t be able to. I usually spend about six hours at this event and 11 tokens really isn’t enough to sample everything I would want (I typically go through about 15-20 tokens in a day), so I’m not sure if it’s worth going this year. Way to ruin this, WSLCB. Maybe they should go back to not allowing kids and give us our tokens back. I don’t know what the purpose is for having kids at a beer festival since there really isn’t anything for them to do there

    1. FYI, an THIS festival, there is lots for them there. In fact, a whole section of the event area is specifically designated as the kids/family area, complete with rootbeer garden, bouncy houses, play areas, face painting, arts and crafts…

  5. I have attended the Oregon Brewers Festival (always the last full weekend in July) for about eleven years. The Festival allows children. It is also free. You only pay for beer and food. There is a root beer tent (free) and games for the kids and others that don’t drink beer. I’ve actually never been there at night when there crowd gets the largest and people have had more time for beers. I’ve never heard of any problems. I’m sure there are some drunk people. There’s also a lot of cops and security personnel.
    I’ve only attended the Washington Brewers Festival once, despite living in Washington for six years. This is in part because it’s on Father’s Day weekend and because it seems like there was always something else going on.
    This policy is ludicrous. Eleven tiny beers? The Cask Beer Festival used to be twenty-five samples. I only did that once, despite trying really hard.
    I think the worst part of this policy is thinking that children and beer festivals can’t coexist. My kids are grown. I have been to breweries with unruly children, but I wouldn’t advocate banning them.
    I guess the answer is go on Friday if you really want to drink more beer. Or you could share your tiny beer with friends on Saturday and Sunday.
    The Washington Beer Commission will find out what people think by attendance and beer consumed.
    One final question….how could someone that’s underage get a beer with the identification check being so strict? This grey beard still has to pull his licence out of his wallet and show his horrible picture at every festival I’ve ever attended.
    Good luck Washington Brewers Festival.

    1. Yeah, I mostly agree ..
      Gonna spend my money in Portland where I can have a good time (Kids and Families included) than have to put up with this Bellevue/Brewers’Guild B.S. !

  6. We’ve been regular attendees of the Father’s Day fest (Friday) and a few other festivals annually as well. 11 tokens over several hours just doesn’t give you enough to sample as many as you’d want. There are SO MANY breweries out there – both your favorites and new ones you haven’t been able to visit. We used to get “special” tasting glasses as WABL members (that changed) and now, this. I don’t blame WABL, but I agree that the food sales and attendance will likely start to suffer. Probably more in 2019 after whatever happens in 2018.

  7. This was one of my favorite festivals (especially Fridays) over the past 5 years, however this policy change definitely makes me think of trying something else. I have personally never been to a festival that limits the amount of tokens. Sorry but I go to the event to be an adult and not be treated like a child. Attendance and $$$ spent will give them a good reference on how this will hit the bottom line. I feel bad for the food trucks and other vendors who will see people spending less time at the event.

    1. Bottle shops ! … and growler fills. ! These events have gotten so $Expensive and now they limit your tastes/tokens .. Take your $money and but some bottles and get some growler fills and share with friends !

  8. 11 tasters for the whole day?!? What are you doing taking your kids to a beer festival anyway? The whole weekend should be a 21+ event…its a BEER festival not a state fair….

  9. To Me, this sounds like the Event has become “Too Big”. If you want to emphasize the ‘Family’ element .. I’d do more smaller events for family friendly events. I realize you cannot afford the big playground equipment, but to have beer drinkers subsidize this and then be cut off … I don’t like. This event has become HUGE ! I started at the Marymoor Park days. I respect and Like the family element, but I don’t like that I have to be limited on tokens ! … Let me (within “reason”) regulate my consumption; and let Families and Parents regulate their children at these events and Their consumption.

  10. Guess I won’t be going to the was brew fest this year. Guess I chose the wrong year to drink at the Wa brew fest and DD to the Oregon brew fest.

  11. Two English pints. 1.2 German steins. One Australian jug.

    I promise most of us can consume more during an all day beer festival and remain responsible and even suitable to be with children.

  12. Will any other festivals be affected? Want to know ahead of time so I can remove them from my calendar.

  13. This festival is getting worse and worse by the year.. I used to be able to buy a 3 day pass that was cheaper than 3 single days which I liked.. GONE! We used to be able to drink as many LOCAL tasters as we wanted.. GONE!

    And why is a 100% budweiser owned company (Elysian) allowed to pour while there are so many that applied and were denied due to space limits..

    It’s time for Washington Beer drinkers and brewers to swipe left and dump WABL!

    1. Washington Beer Commission: A not-for-profit and mostly volunteer-run state agency tasked with promoting Washington beer as a commodity. That’s who organizes and runs this event.

      WaBL: Washington Beer Lovers is the “Washington beer fan club” that is operated by the Washington Beer Commission. Forsaking this festival does not mean you need to stop loving Washington beer.

      I know people are upset, but let’s at least keep our terms straight.

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