The Washington Beer Commission’s third annual Belgian Fest was held this past weekend at Bell Harbor Center on Pier 66. Bean, Jonathan and I attended on a beautiful Saturday afternoon making it heartbreaking to be indoors. An amazing array of delicious brews assuaged our discontent especially as the average ABV was around 9%. The venue was very nice and a much needed improvement from prior Belgianfest. It was crowded with beer lovers but not too crowded; we were able to queue indoors (nicer if Seattle weather was more typical of season), we were admitted rapidly and had a wonderful view of the Seattle Waterfront.
The Belgian style brews were extraordinary and here are some of my highlights of the tastings:
The Giant Made of Shadows – Silver City Brewery.
A line formed early for Silver City Brewery and this dark strong ale was a good reason for the queue. Wonderfully balanced to integrate the 9.5% ABV, this beer was a great first taste. Aged in Tempranillo wine barrels.
Bourbon Barrel Aged Belgian Gold – Hales Ales
One of my favorites from last year’s event, this brew was still as wonderful as I remembered. Hales does a great job with their high impact Winter beers. The bad news is only two casks were left prior to the event. Aged in bourbon barrels for almost a year, I loved the smooth whiskey notes of this beer!
Bourbon Barrel Aged La Petite Mort– Black Raven Brewing.
The Bourbon Barrel aged La Petite Mort is one of my favorites from years past. Spectacular aroma and flavor in this Belgian style strong abbey brown ale.
Love Child Kriek – Engine House No. 9 Brewery
A new brewery from Tacoma excelled with this brilliant Kriek. Beautiful color accented the amazing sour cherry that really came through. The best cherry Kriek I have ever tried from an American brewery. Their Bourbon Saison was also a treat.
Menage A Frog Belgian Trippel– Issaquah Brewery
This was a complex brew that evolved on the taste buds. Sort of like something Willy Wonka might have produced. Their tasting notes list everything from “bubblegum” to “peppery spice” ; from “grassy herbal” to”citrusy hops.” It is all this and more. Really need to sit down and enjoy this beer without distraction.
Trip 11 Farmhouse Ale – New Belgium
I loved this Saison style beer brewed with rosemary and sage. It was savory and satisfying!
Other beers that I enjoyed included: Black Jack Candy from Big Time, Elliott Bay’s Brandy-barrel Aged Fuerte Ale, Georgetown’s Waldman, McMenamins’ Reinhold’s Flying Armadillo Dark Belgian Strong, Pike’s Monk’s Uncle, and Snoqualmie Falls’ Triskaldekaphobia.
Looking back at my tasting notes and the program my big regret is that I did not have time or the palate to many more the the beers listed.
Suggestions for attending this event would be:
- go to this on several days ($30 dollars a pop but worth it)
- go with at least 3 friends so you can share tastes (pours are generous for all to have an adequate swig or two)
- eat prior to arriving. Food was available there ( hot dogs and waffles) but these beers are so strong it does not take long to feel effect.
My final comment is that this and the Winter Brew Fest represent the finest showcase of Washington Breweries. I look forward to next year.