Highlights from the first day at the Washington Brewers Fest at Marymoore park can help you plan your weekend AND make you want to kick yourself for missing Friday night!
This was the second year that the Brewer’s Fest will be at Marymoor park. The grass is much more even than last year, but you will want to leave your heels at home. Bring your sunscreen instead. I managed to get sun burnt Friday evening through the clouds and it is going to be a bright and sunny weekend.
If you like imperial IPAs, barrel aged beers, fruit beers and chili beers; then you will be one happy camper this weekend! With over 70 breweries, pouring an average of 3 beers each, you have lots of choices and you are bound to have some new favorites.
There were more barrel aged beers last night than I have ever seen at a summer brewfest. Many of those were special Friday only beers. My favorite beer of the night was Black Raven Splinters, a bourbon barrel aged scotch ale. Although it won’t be poured at the rest of the festival, it will be available by bottle at the brew pub today. Barrel aged beers that will be available Saturday include beers from Brickyard Brewing, Twelve String Brewing, Two Beers Brewing, Skookum Brewery and Fremont Brewing. I really enjoyed my first ever beer from Brickyard Brewing. The Brickyard Masonary was a chocolate oatmeal stout that was infused with bourbon spirals, but has the complexity of a barrel aged beer. Great chocolatey nose with medium body and only 6.8 ABV. Full of tasty vanilla, chocolate, nutty flavors with just a hint of coffee.
Summer beer festivals are full of fruity beers and the Washington Brewer’s Fest is no exception. Many of the fruit beers are wheat based like Huckleberry Hoe is a Belgian Wit from Paradise Creek Brewery, Peach Hefeweizen from Laht Neppur and Mango Mambo from Twelve Strings Brewing. You can get your cherry fix in Belgian Golden Ale from Hales Ales and with a cherry sour. The Corvus Kriekus from Black Raven is an award winning sour, winning 2013 Bronze NABA American-Style Wild or Sour Ale. Crafted from organic Chelan and Titan cherries, the secondary fermentation is completely wild from the cherries. It was aged in used bourbon barrels to age, give it some body and tannins. It tastes pleasingly sour with nice cherry notes. Like most aged beers, the hops play a minor role in this beer. It is all about the sour on this baby. Another fruit sour beer is the Mortis, a sour persimmon ale from Elysian. I really enjoyed sweet-tartness of this Washington beer. Surprisingly sweet for a sour beer, it matches the sweet and tartness of persimmons. Issaquah Brewing is offering the Apple Frog, a combination of 75% beer and 25% cider. This fruit beer looks like a cider but tastes like a beer. The Cascade hops are predominant in aroma and taste. I have to look for the sweet tart taste of the apple.
Washington’s Summer Brewfest boasts three different chili beers. The Riverport Brewing 5/5 Pepper beer doesn’t lose the pleasing bitterness of a pale ale while adding a hint of jalapeño and serrano peppers. Just a hint of spice, more pepper aroma than heat taste. I really enjoyed the Jalapeño Tripel 7 from Scuttlebutt. Also made with jalapeño and serrano peppers, the peppers marry the pear and clove flavors of the Belgian Tripel 7. This beer smells a lot hotter than it tastes and it tastes pretty damn good! There is more pepper than hops on the nose, but on the tongue this is an exceptionally well balanced beer with the hint of heat that doesn’t burn. Clocks in at 9% ABV 10 IBU. The hottest chili beer on tap is from Big Al’s Brewing but it won’t leave you crying for milk to cool the heat. The 5 Star Chili IPA has haberno, jalapeño, serrano peppers that are responsible for the heat, but this is a surprisingly tasty balance of hops and heat. Three very different chili beers to to try. The Jalapeno Tripel was my favorite. What is yours?
If you are smart enough to be a member of the WAshington Beer Lovers, you will receive a larger, real glass beer cup and two extra tokens. New this year, there is a WABL lounge. The WABL lounge includes a tented area and an outside area to enjoy the sun. You will find a limited number of tables and chairs and lots of games to play with fellow WABL members. In addition, this is where you be able to taste the special WABL only beer. Reuben’s Wheat IPA is a gold medal winner and available only to WABL members.
Tips for Summer Brewer’s Fest
- Bring Sunscreen: There isn’t a lot of shade at the festival except in the picnic area
- Bring Water: Lots of tasty beer + sunshine = dehydration
- Bring Folding Chair if you want or need to sit: There are picnic benches at one end of the festival, under the trees but if you want to sit in the sun or close to the beer tents.
- Designate Driver or Taxi: There are some BIG (11%) beers there. Make sure you don’t get into a big accident after your fun and delicious day. Taxi numbers are posted through out the festival
- Go for favorites first: Even on Friday night with only 3000 attendees, there was some long lines and several kegs that I wanted to try were blown before I got there.