Updated on June 18, with a few things I found at the festival last night. We also took some pictures, which you can see here.
The Washington Brewers Festival starts tomorrow and runs through the weekend (Friday, June 17 through Sunday, June 19). Below I share some highlights, my top picks, and the complete beer list. Over 100 breweries will pour something like 500 different beers this year, so you need to approach the event with a plan.
Check out our previous post about this year’s festival, including what’s new for 2016.
What Gose Up, Must Gose Down – Several breweries are bringing Gose to the festival this year. Reuben’s Brews, 7 Seas Brewing, Ten Pin Brewing, Counterbalance Brewing, Post Doc Brewing, Wingman Brewers, and probably some others will all be pouring Gose at some point during the festival. If orange is the new black, then Gose is the new IPA.
Make No Mistake, It’s Mosaic – I don’t remember there ever being such a polarizing hop variety as Mosaic. It’s a fairly new breed that some people say tastes like cat pee (I’m gonna have to take their word for it), Others adore it and say that it tastes like blueberry, papaya or mangos. Whatever you think of it, there seems to be a lot of Mosaic beers on the list this year. And if someone says it tastes like cat pee, politely ask them, “Exactly how do you know what cat pee tastes like?”
Sour Power – Holy crap there’s a lot of sour beer on the list this year. You should expect these beers to be poured in limited quantities. It’s as much about the thrill of the chase as it is the taste, right? Washington breweries are making big strides in this challenging art form. Peruse the beer list and just look at all them sours!
Don’t Be That Guy, Bro – Every brewer, or anyone pouring beer at a beer festival, hates to hear this question: “What’s your strongest beer, bro?” DON’T BE THAT GUY! This year there are a lot of sessionable beers on the list. Some of them say “session” in the name, while other are just modestly endowed. This surely will get some of the high-fivin’, back-slappin’ beer bros in a surly mood.
B double E double R U N, BEERRUN! For those of you who want to get some exercise before you blow your weekly calorie quota, consider the Washington Beer Run, a 5K walk/run that takes place before the gates open on Sunday. It’s brand new this year. You will be rewarded with early admission into the festival. Details here.
Here are a few beers Kim and I found at the festival last night that really impressed us. Note that there were hundreds of beers we didn’t try.
Black Raven Brewing, Key Lime Pie IPA. As the name suggests, it tastes like pie. It’s good. mmm pie.
Strong Arm Brewing, Leadfoot IPA. Beautifully hoppy, but balanced as well.
Ram Brewery and Restaurant, Super Buzz. Blood orange, IPAish kind of beer.
Port Townsend Brewing, Purple Rain IPA. Straight-up, super hoppy IPA.
Fortside Brewing, New Kid on the Hop India Pale Lager. Quaffable, light-bodied, hoppy.
Reuben’s Brews, Triumvirate IPA. Not on the festival beer list, but it’s there. Just one a medal at the World Beer Cup.
Wet Coast Brewing, ESB. A great example of this underrated beer style.
Seriously, a lot of beer will be poured. I do not pretend to know which of them all are the best, but these are the ones I’m interested in, for various reasons.
Iron Goat Brewing, Blackberry Apricot Sour. How can it be bad? This is a great brewery from Spokane that very rarely shows up on the wetter side of the state. If you don’t get their sour, try something else.
Loowit Brewing, Grimlock Rye Porter. This beer just one a silver medal at the World Beer Cup, so it’s gotta be good. Loowit is in Vancouver, WA, by the way.
Reuben’s Brews, Gose. If you haven’t had it yet, you should. Even if you’re not sure about this whole “Gose is kinda salty and kinda sour” thing, you should try this beer. Gold medal winner at the Great American Beer Fest last year. I’ve yet to find a person who doesn’t like it.
Wander Brewing, Wild Warehouse (or whatever). They’ll pour it on Saturday only and it will go fast. BUT, try pretty much anything from this brewery and you won’t be disappointed. Wild Warehouse, a barrel-aged farmhouse ale, recently scored a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival. Also, more recently, a bronze at the World Beer Cup.
Bale Breaker Brewing, Raging Ditch Dry-Hopped Blonde. This beer proves that blondes have more fun. I know that no self-respecting beer enthusiast gets excited about Blonde Ale these days, but it’s Bale Breaker… c’mon man. You know it’s hoppier than crap.
Farmstrong Brewing, La Raza Mexican Lager – I know you think I’m crazy, but Mike Armstrong (brewer at Farmstrong and former brewer at Skagit River) makes a damn good mexi-style lager. Amidst all the big, palate wrecking beers, sometimes you just want to drink a goddamned beer. Here it is.
Flying Lion Brewing, Sweet Potato Porter aged on Hickory and White Ash – Warning, it’s a “Friday only” beer. This brewery, located in Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood, makes some darn good beer and this one sounds really interesting. Ask them about their crazy-ass, human powered grist mill.
Fremont Brewing, The Sister with Lime and Basil – Shut it! Get in my mouth and shut it right now! How can you take one of Kendall’s most favorite beers in the world and make it better? Infuse it with two other things Kendall loves. Thank you Fremont, you just made me gleek all over my laptop.
Fremont Brewing, the whole damned rotating tap thing – Okay Fremont, now you’re just showing off. Look at their lineup of rotating beers. Lots of B-Bomb! Coffee-Cinnamon B-Bomb? Yes please.
Georgetown Brewing, Mannschaft – This one sounds really interesting. Kind of like a slightly stronger, hoppier version of Berlinerweisse, or something.
Georgetown Brewing, Fruit Vendor – Unless you visit the brewery, you probably haven’t had this one. It’s a double IPA from Georgetown and it’s named Fruit Vendor. If you’ve been paying attention, that’s really all you need to know.
Orlison Brewng, Shin Splints IPA – I’ve been a big fan of Orlison Brewing since back in the days when they were called Golden Hills. I’ve often called them one of Washington’s best lager breweries. But they say that this is the first ale they ever brewed. Can they do it? Actually, yes. They can. I’ve had this one and its damn good.
Postdoc Brewing, Hogus Maximus Barriclus – Postdoc has an impressive lineup. Lots and lots of beers at the festival this year. This particular beer is the barrel-aged version of Postdoc’s triple IPA, aged J.P. Trodden Boubon barrels. (Imagine the sound of a mic hitting the stage floor.)
Resonate Brewing, Red Sector Eh! Red IPA – Okay, I admit it. I’m a Rush fan. Have been since I was a kid. So this beer’s name might only be recognizable and funny to Rush fans. I am obligated to try it, else they might come take away my Rock-n-Roll Union card.
Schooner Exact Brewing, NW Framboise – UPDATE: They will bring some of this each day. Get there early. Won’t last long. The first time I tasted this one (about six weeks ago), I actually got verklempt. I wept a little bit. No kidding, I really did. I’ve been waiting for a Washington brewery to step up and make a really, really good sour. World class. Show stopper. This is it. This is a beautiful, beautiful beer.
Stoup Brewing, My Own Private IPA – I’m a hop geek. I cannot resist the urge to try new hop varieties. This beer was brewed using Idaho 7, an experimental hop from a farm in Idaho. Again, a rock-n-roll pun of a name. Yes, My Own Private Idaho was a movie, but it was a song first (B-52’s).
Ten Pin Brewing, Groove Pineapple Wheat – I’m not a fan of fruit beers, but this one is different. It reminds me of the first time I kissed a girl. I was in fifth grade and I wasn’t supposed to like girls yet. But I couldn’t stop thinking about that kiss. This beer is like that. It’s a cooty-filled fruit beer, damn it. Why can’t I stop thinking about it! I drank it a couple weeks ago for the first time and I just can’t stop thinking about it. Damn it. Brewed using Mosaic hops and fresh pineapple.
The Complete Beer List
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