Who Says Lightning Doesn’t Strike Twice?

In the Puget Sound region lightning is considered a pretty rare phenomenon. And, as the old saying goes, lightning never strikes twice. However if you were in Bremerton on July 23rd 2011, or yesterday, July 21st 2012, you can be forgiven for thinking otherwise…

The first Bremerton Summer Brewfest was a wildly successful event in 2011, exceeding everybody’s expectations (read my original blogpost). So it was a no-brainer that a second Bremerton Brewfest should follow in 2012. And so, yesterday, it did, and it was even bigger and better than before.

Altogether 25 breweries – there was one notable absentee and one no-show – poured a total of 67 beers. The sun shone and, just as in 2011, crowds of beer fans came from near and far. I know of no better showcase for the amazingly talented West Sound brewing community and, by embracing this brewfest, I believe Washington beer fans from both sides of the Sound are recognizing this. Some observations from yesterday’s event:

Just as in 2011 attendance numbers were swelled by those who came on foot via ferry from Seattle. And many were evidently first time attendees because they did not know the way from the ferry terminal to the brewfest. Whether this will translate into increased attendance from our side of the Sound I don’t yet know – I’ll be interested to see what overall attendance is reported when final numbers become available.

Given the overwhelming success of last year’s inaugural event, the Washington Beer Commission, in conjunction with the City of Bremerton and several other sponsors, did a fantastic job with 2012: the event was bigger and better than ever. Here are some of the reasons:

  • Expansion from Pacific along 4th Street added much needed elbow room for the brewers and attendees.
  • Relocating the restrooms to 5th Street improved the space utilization still further.
  • Relocating the Music Stage to the blocked-off north end of Pacific improved the space utilization even more.
  • Introducing the hotdog vendor within the Brewfest perimeter provided a convenient alternative to the many nearby downtown dining options.

Due to all these improvements, and despite initial estimates that yesterday’s attendance comfortably exceeded last year’s, never did the brewfest feel crowded like before, and, most significantly, as far as I know none of the brewers ran out of beer. At least none had at the time we left.

OK, so what about all that wonderful beer…

As usual Mr and Mrs Fueled by Beer adopted the by now familiar modus operandi: to generally ignore the disproportionately represented IPAs; thereby reducing the field by at least half; and focusing attention on unfamiliar breweries and/or unusual brews. This is what we ended up with: our favorites, as always, are denoted by smiley faces…

Dave Lambert of Slippery & Mrs Fueled by Beer

Dave Lambert & Mrs Fueled by Beer

Mrs Fueled by Beer

  • Barhop Brewing – Port Angeles – 7 Strong Pale Ale ☺
  • Fremont Brewing – Dark Star Stout ☺☺☺☺
  • Grove Street Brewhouse – Just Beet It ☺☺
  • Hale’s Ales – Chardonnay Oak Aged Wit ☺☺☺
  • Hood Canal Brewery – Big Beef Oatmeal Stout ☺
  • Silver City – Saint Florian IPA (Randall w/tropical fruit) ☺
  • Slippery Pig Brewery – Dirty Tail Dandelion Bitter ☺☺☺☺

Mr Fueled by Beer

Bigger & Better

Bigger & Better

  • Bainbridge Island Brewing – Kommuter Kolsch ☺
  • Barhop Brewing – Gone Dam Pale Ale  😦
  • Der Blokken Brewery – Black Porter Stout ☺☺☺
  • Elysian Brewing – Space Dust IPA ☺☺☺☺
  • Fremont Brewing – Wandering Wheat ☺☺
  • Grove Street Brewery – Ryerish Red Rye Ale  😦
  • Redhook – Sunnyside Up Peached Tripel ☺☺
  • Schooner Exact – Pale Ale (cask w/amarillo hops & apricots) ☺
  • Silver City – Whoop Pass Double IPA ☺☺☺☺
  • Slippery Pig Brewery – Hogsbreath Honey Wheat ☺☺
  • Sound Brewery – Dubbel Entendre ☺☺☺
  • Valhöll Brewing – Dog Zebra IPA ☺☺

Some additional observations…

Yes, there are a couple of ‘frownies’ – sad to say a couple of brews missed the mark for Mr Fueled by Beer – not an easy thing to do. I won’t say what happened to them.

As I mentioned in my recent post, Bainbridge Island Brewing is a welcome addition to the West Sound brewing community. And it was great to see Russell Everett and his dad Chuck jumping feet first into the brewfest fray in Bremerton. They poured a Wit and a Kolsch; perfect brews for warm sunny days such as the one we enjoyed yesterday.

As the previous recipient of my Puget’s Perfect Pint award I take for granted that Elysian Brewing’s brewfest offerings will always be solid. But I have to say they really outdid themselves with their Space Dust IPA. I’m often misunderstood when I talk about ignoring IPAs at brewfests; it’s just that I’m over it with all the mouth-puckering, in-your-face, hop-monsters that are just bitter and nothing else. But if you give me an IPA that perfectly balances malt forward flavor and floral hop bitterness with a nice citrusy aroma and finish – like the Space Dust – I’ll be a fan forever.

Unlike at other brewfests neither Mrs Fueled by Beer or I could name our favorite choices in a 1-2-3 order – such was the overall excellence of the brews. So we have indicated our most favorite choices by sheer number of smileys.

Poulsbo’s terrific triumvirate: Slippery Pig Brewery, Sound Brewery, and Valhöll Brewing didn’t disappoint. Of their brews we tasted each earned smileys but I have to say the best of fest from a West Sound brewer on the day was Silver City with their cask-conditioned Whoop Pass Double IPA. Another IPA. Hmmm… and I’m anti the style? Clearly not – but in the PNW’s crowded field, an IPA has to be bloody good to earn even one of my smileys. As did Elysian’s Space Dust, Silver City’s Whoop Pass earned four – ’nuff said 🙂

Some photos from Bremerton Summer Brewfest 2012

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