It’s simple, Tacoma is a town that loves beer. The city needs and deserves a big, well-organized and well-executed beer festival. I think Saturday’s South Sound IPA Festival is an important first step towards making that happen. I’ll explain.
A lot of people have asked me why there wasn’t a Tacoma Craft Beer Festival this year. I don’t want to get into details, but the last TCBF was a bit of a train wreck. I cannot speak firsthand, but I’ve heard various types of horror stories from festival attendees, brewery participants, and others involved with the event. Some of the fallout even made the local newspapers.
The Tacoma Craft Beer Festival’s swansong left a bad taste in a lot of mouths. The bad taste needs to be washed away with deliciously bitter beer, which is exactly what the South Sound IPA Festival promises to do this Saturday in Tacoma.
To be clear, the Tacoma Craft Beer Festival WAS NOT operated by the Washington Beer Commission, which might help to explain why the train left the tracks. TCBF was operated by a group of individuals who, no doubt, were doing their best, but maybe got in over their heads.
The Washington Beer Commission, which is operating the South Sound IPA Festival, knows how to run big events. It runs the Washington Brewers Festival in Redmond (aka the Fathers Day beer fest), Inland Northwest Beer Festival in Spokane, Bremerton Summer Brewfest, Belgianfest in Seattle, and others. Proceeds from these festivals support the Washington Beer Commission’s mission: promote Washington-brewed beer as a commodity. (Washington is the only state in the nation with an official commodity commission dedicated to beer, created by the state legislature in 2006.)
Here’s the important thing Tacoma beer lovers should known. As I see it, and I do enjoy some insight into the matter, the South Sound IPA Festival is sort of like the Washington Beer Commission dipping its toe in the water before jumping into the pool. It wants to see if Tacoma will support a larger, or much larger, beer festival. Start small, proof of concept, and so on. I have it on good authority that the Commission is interested in creating a bigger Tacoma beer festival, but both the Commission and the City of Tacoma need to know that local beer lovers will support such an event.
I imagine a big outdoor festival – a bigger beer fest than Tacoma has ever seen – at some really cool venue like Point Defiance Park. Dozens of breweries. Thousands of people. I promise you I’m not alone in imagining such a thing.
I’ll overstate my point. Tacoma, I’m pretty sure that you’re being watched. The Washington Beer Commission needs to see that you want it. The City of Tacoma needs to see that you want it.
Of course, I’m assuming that Tacoma actually does want it. If you don’t want it… Well then, never mind.
I admit that I will not be at the event, so maybe I’m being a hypocrite. Maybe that’s why I’m so passionate about getting other people to go. Remorse, regret, guilt, whatever. Because of prior commitments and unfortunate realities, I don’t get to be there. Rest assured I will be there in spirit. But I don’t even live in Tacoma anyway, so you should take my ramblings with a grain of salt. It’s your town, not mine. If I did live in Tacoma, I would be in favor of beer festivals. Vote YES on beer festivals!
October 18, 2014
Session 1: Noon – 4:00 pm
Session 2: 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm
1717 Pacific Avenue
Tacoma, WA 98402
ADMISSION: $25 advance tickets or $30 at the door (if still available). Admission includes a commemorative tasting cup and eight 4 oz sample tastes. Must be 21 years old or older and have a valid ID to be admitted.