What’s new at the Washington Brewers Festival

This year the Washington Brewers Festival lineup is more daunting than ever, with 105 breweries pouring close to 500 different beers. Obviously, you will not be able to try them all and you’ll need a strategy. That’s what I’m going to provide here: a strategy for this weekend’s big beer fest. (Here’s the complete list of breweries and beers.)

Of course there’s nothing wrong with going to the festival without a plan and just following your nose, asking fellow festivalgoers what they’ve enjoyed, picking unfamiliar stuff off the beer list, and drinking whatever sounds good at the moment. That in itself is a solid strategy. Whatever you do, or don’t do, you’re sure to have a good time at this weekend’s Big Daddy Beer Fest, aka Washington Brewers Festival.

Here are some recommendations. Actually, this is really just a list of what I’m particularly interested in experiencing at the festival this year. If you find it helpful, then I suppose it serves a less selfish purpose.

Aside: Are you a WABL member yet? It’s not too late to sign up and enjoy the benefits at this weekend’s festival. Click here.

Strategy One – What’s New

I try my best to keep moving and visit every new brewery that opens around the state within a reasonable timeframe, but that has become an increasingly daunting task as new breweries seem to open every week. For that reason, I like to focus on new breweries at the Washington Brewers Fest, as well as breweries from distant lands, like Longview and Spokane.

Ashtown Brewing, from Longview has three beers I’m particularly interested to try: a CDA, an IPA and a Citra Pale Ale.

Reports from Bellingham suggest that Aslan Brewing got a slow start in terms of beer quality, though I cannot comment firsthand. I know this, last time I tried one of Aslan’s beers it was pretty damn good and I’m now looking forward to trying some more. Like the Ginger Rye and the Sour Brindle. I recommend the Batch 15 IPA, btw.

It’s not exactly new to me, but you might not yet be acquainted with Counterbalance Brewing, located in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. I recommend that you try the IPA and the Kushetka Russian Imperial Stout.

A friend was kind enough to bring me a growler from Dru Bru, which is the fairly new brewery and taproom that opened at Snoqualmie Pass. They managed to get open in time for a ski season that never happened. Show them some love.

Ghostfish Brewing is Seattle’s first gluten-free brewery. I know what you’re thinking, but you really should give these guys a try. I’d say that theirs is the best gluten free beer I’ve ever had, but that’s not much of a compliment. Honestly, their GF beers are better than many gluten-rich beers I’ve had.

Hellbent Brewing, which just opened its lovely brewery and taproom in Seattle’s Lake City neighborhood, is rock-solid straight out of the gate. I particularly like the Spring Golden Ale.

North Jetty Brewing from Seaview (basically, Long Beach) is not exactly new, but they recently started brewing on a big enough system to actually get the beer out of the taproom. I was there a couple months ago: the beer is good. Try the Starvation Alley Weissbier. They make it with locally produced cranberries. Uncommon, refreshing, tart, tasty.

Tacoma’s Odd Otter Brewing is bringing three beers I’m interested to try, each one sounds delightfully odd: Ottermelon Watermelon Hefeweizen, Ottcho Borracho Lager (with Cilantro and Lime), and Coconut Chai Porter.

Redmond’s Postdoc Brewing is the closest brewery to the festival, located just outside Marymoor Park’s east gate. Even closer than Mac and Jack’s! Everything Postdoc does is good. Real good. If you haven’t yet, you must try some or all of their beers.

Sound to Summit Brewing, located in Snohomish. I know nothing about these guys and look forward to finding out.

Sumerian Brewing opened about a month ago in Woodinville, quietly and with little fanfare. The actual grand opening is later this month (read more) but they’ll be at the festival providing you will a sneak peek of the beers (I’ve had ’em and they’re good).

Three Magnets Brewing out of Olympia is bringing its 3Mag Rain IPA. You might not know the story behind this one (read it here). Give it a shot and see what the hoopla was all about.

Waddel’s Brewing in Spokane had not yet opened when I last visited Spokaloo. I missed it by days. Any beer called Hop Comet is sure to get my attention. Think, Space Dust.

Wander Brewing is not exactly brand new, but they’re new enough. They’re bring a whole bunch of interesting stuff, like the Uncommon Common California Common and the Warehouse Farmhouse Saison.

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