The Washington Brewers Festival at Saint Edward State Park starts on Friday. I’ll likely have trouble sleeping on Thursday night. Don’t laugh at me! Don’t you judge me! I take my job as a beer writer very seriously and since my focus tends to be Washington beer this is like my Superbowl.
The three-day event should be amazing this year. Not only is the weather going to cooperate, but the 2011 version of the festival will welcome some first-timers. With so many breweries popping up in Washington these days (a beautiful thing), we should not be surprised. No matter how diligent you are about seeking out every new beer and visiting every new brewery, there will be something that you have yet to taste. Likely, there will be many.
Below is my list of top prospects. It’s not comprehensive and yours might be different. Take some time beforehand to study the list of breweries and beers before you hit the festival. Bring a cheat sheet. With 60+ breweries pouring 200+ beers, it’s easy to get distracted once you hit the festival grounds.
American Brewing Company: The brewery and taproom opened in Edmonds in late February with Skip Madsen (local brewing guru) at the helm. You should not be surprised to hear that the beer is amazing. While the Breakaway IPA is top notch, don’t be afraid to try the Breakaway Caboose Oatmeal Stout.
Black Raven Brewing: Maybe it’s because Black Raven is an eastside brewery and this is an eastside festival, or maybe it’s just because the beer is so damn good, but you should expect a line at Black Raven’s booth. I am especially looking forward to the Barrel-Aged Farmhouse IPA. If you’re there on Friday, don’t miss the Possum Claus Bourbon Pecan Ale.
Chuckanut Brewery: An increasing number of our local breweries are making lagers these days. In my opinion, Chuckanut sets the standard. This year Chuckanut will be serving two of my personal favorites: Vienna Lager and Kolsch. I know that many people focus on the bigger, stronger beers at beer festivals, but don’t overlook Chuckanut’s amazing, award-winning lagers.
Golden Hills Brewing: Somewhere west of Spokane on Highway 2, Golden Hills Brewing is pumping out some awesome beers. It is rare to find them on this side of the mountains. This weekend Golden Hills will be pouring four different beers for you to sample. And they’re all lagers! I’m looking forward to seeing how they stack up next to Chuckanut.
Grove Street Brewhouse: This is Grove Street’s first time stepping out – their first visit the the big beer fest. Unless you’ve been down to the brewpub in Shelton, this is likely going to be your first time drinking Grove Street’s beer. During Seattle Beer Week we sample some of their recent creations and they were spectacular. If you like IPA, as I know so many of you do, the IPAcalypse is manditory.
North Sound Brewing: Not to be confused with Sound Brewery, North South Brewing hails from Mount Vernon. The brewery opened in late 2010 so this is their first visit to the big show. Of the three beers North Sound will pour, I can only vouch for the Hop Chops IPA. It’s damn good.
Old Schoolhouse Brewery: Winthrop is a lovely place, to be sure. The beer deck at Old Schoolhouse Brewing on the banks of the ambling waters of the Methow River is perhaps one of my favorite places on earth to drink beer. Alas, Winthrop is a three-day camel ride from Seattle, so I am thankful that Casey Ruud and crew are bringing the beer to me. I will daydream about the hours I’ve spent relaxing on that peaceful, babbling bank as I sip a Ruud Awakening IPA.
Snipes Mountain Brewing: I am very excited to see what Chad Roberts has been up to over at Snipes Mountain in Sunnyside. He took over as the brewer a few months ago when the Hop Yoda (Chris Miller) moved to California to spread the love. That’s gotta be intimidating. Since the brewery is located smack-dab in the middle of the most prolific hop-growing microregion in North America, I suppose we should not be surprised that Chad is bringing an two new IPAs and a Pale Ale.
Sound Brewery: Not to be confused with North Sound Brewing, Sound Brewery is in Poulsbo. They opened a few months ago and immediately gained everyone’s respect. The beer tastes like… well, it tastes like they’ve been doing this for years. What happened to the learning curve? What’s more, the beers they brew are not exactly simple or common. Seriously, when you taste the beer you’ll wonder why it took you so long to find out about this brewery.
Wingman Brewers: These guys are totally new. A couple months ago we ventured south to Tacoma for the big Wingman Brewers kickoff party at the Red Hot (blog sponsor). Alas, we only sampled one of their beers: the P-51 Porter. It was fantastic. Seriously. I’d put it up against Flyers Pacemaker Porter, Big Time Coal Creek Porter or any other. Wingman is bringing a rather vast selection of beer along with the P-51 Porter. I anticipate the lineup to change throughout the weekend.
Washington Beer Blog: I am also curious to see how many people stop by our booth to say hello, tell us about their favorites, and ask for advice about what to drink. Stop in and sign up for our contest: we’re giving away a one-night stay at the Heathman Hotel in Kirkland, along with dinner at Trellis restaurant. This is a seriously nice hotel and a seriously fine restaurant. Quite a nice package!
We will be there from start to finish all three days. We look forward to seeing your smiling faces.