While I personally find no redeeming value whatsoever in the sport of Basketball, I do feel the well known term from that silly game perfectly describes what the Washington Beer Commission just pulled off over this past Father’s Day weekend…
The Washington Brewers’ Festival is held every year in June to coincide with the Fathers Day weekend. I for one can’t think of a better way to ‘honor thy father’ than to turn him loose in the midst of more than 60 of Washington State’s finest brewers who collectively pour in excess of 200 different beers for three days straight.
In previous years the festival was held within the grounds of St Edward State Park in Kenmore, Washington. The former Catholic seminary, situated along the northeastern shoreline of Lake Washington, is without question a truly beautiful location for a beer festival. However in recent years, as festival attendance steadily increased, the Beer Commission came to recognize several shortcomings. Chief among them was the park’s inaccessible location far from major highways, limited onsite parking, and extremely limited transit connections.
So, for 2012, it was decided to relocate the festival to Marymoor Park in Redmond, the largest park in King County. This massive 640 acre expanse has none of the limitations associated with the Kenmore site: it has direct access from the SR 520 freeway, with ample onsite parking; it has direct express bus service from downtown Seattle with frequent connecting bus service from the region’s other major transit hubs; and it has plenty of room for future growth.
It was a bold move by the organizers that, despite the negativity of a few naysayers, has been thoroughly vindicated. Attendance records were set for each day as well as for the whole weekend: over 17,000 people showed up. This, after all, is the only family oriented all-ages beer festival that I know of.
Kids are especially well catered to: free admission, a large play area with huge bounce house, a kids crafts tent, and a rootbeer garden. Just like with the beer tents for mom and dad, participating breweries bring kegs of their house-made rootbeer and rotate them at the kids’ rootbeer garden tent throughout both family days. So, for example, The Daughter first got to taste her beloved Snoqualmie Falls root beer, then her other fave, from Hilliard’s Beer in Ballard, had taken over the tap when she went back for a refill. So cool.
The festival presents live music throughout the day from the main stage. And the festivities aren’t all about beer: since Washington State is a leading cider and wine producer, there are also tasting options for these beverages too.
For a detailed review of the festival, with great photos, I recommend the coverage provided by the Washington Beer Blog. From here on I’m going to limit the rest of this post to talking about the beer experience The Spouse and I had…
So, what about all that beer? Total number of brewers = 65. Total number of beer choices = over 200. Our favorite picks = denoted by smileys. Decisions, decisions. (complete beer list)
Of course it wouldn’t be a Washington brewfest without a disproportionate selection of IPAs to placate this State’s obsession with hoppy beers. But since Mr & Mrs Fueled by Beer have frankly had enough of all those mouth-puckering beers, our usual tactic is to ignore the IPAs, which typically cuts the range of choices by about half, and makes the rest far more manageable.
That’s not to say that there aren’t any, shall we say, more imaginative IPAs out there that are worth spending our tokens on. Our usual practice is to seek out the newest breweries – which by definition usually means unfamiliar – as well as those from outside the Seattle metro area.
So, while Mr Fueled by Beer checks out the Pales, Ambers, and Belgian/German styles, Mrs Fueled by Beer concentrates on the Porters and Stouts. Between us, we pretty much cover something of everything on offer. You’ll notice the following list of our selections reflects this approach…
Mr Fueled by Beer
- Alpine Brewing – Alpine Dunkelweizen
- Brickyard Brewing – Brickyard IPA
- Dirty Bucket Brewing – Dirty Amber
- E9 Brewery – Dry-hop Tacoma Brew Pale Ale 🙂 🙂 🙂
- Lantern Brewing – Blanche de Cassis Witbier 🙂
- Snipes Mountain Brewery – Little Chief Session IPA 🙂 🙂
- Sound Brewery – Monk’s Indiscretion Belgian Strong Ale
- Sound Brewery – O’Reagan’s Revenge Irish Red Ale
Mrs Fueled by Beer
- Airways Brewing – Cask Starliner Stout with Sweet Cherries
- Big Al Brewing – Local Hero #13 Old Smokey Rauchbier
- Elliott Bay Brewing – Organic Coffee Stout 🙂 🙂 🙂
- Foggy Noggin Brewing – Bit O’ Beaver English Bitter 🙂 🙂
- Foggy Noggin Brewing – Christmas Duck Porter 🙂
- Hood Canal Brewery – Big Beef Oatmeal Stout
- Lantern Brewing – SOS Oak Aged Stout
- North Sound Brewing – Slainte Cherry Vanilla Stout
- Paradise Creek Brewery – Postal Porter
The Washington Beer Commission has a channel on YouTube called WashingtonBeerTV. The following video was shot at last year’s Brewers’ Festival but it provides a good sense of what the event is like…
Washington Brewers Festival 2012 – Slam Dunk!