It was a happy Washington beer loving crowd at the afternoon Washington Cask Beer Festival 2017. The sold out crowd was there to taste full flavored cask beers, served at cellar temperature, and to support the Washington Brewers’ Guild.
43 Washington breweries brought a total of over 120 cask conditioned beers for participants to try. Even with a group of friends, we only managed to get part way through the list during the afternoon session. That is definitely the secret to this beer festival. Bring friends or make friends once you get to the cask beer festival so you can taste each other’s beer!
Here is a review of some of the cask beers that we had the privilege to taste during the 2017 Washington Cask Beer Festival.
Cask Conditioned Nut Beers
North Sound Brewing Cheeky Monkey Imperial Brown Ale with Coconut and Hazelnut is a dessert beer. This is a very sweet cask beer and very high in alcohol at 12.5% ABV so you might be ready to toddle off to bed after this dessert beer. This Washington cask beer got rave reviews. The guys in line in front of me emphatically stated “Man, you have to try this f#@king beer! You are getting the beer on the right tap, aren’t you? It is the sh!ts!. The best in the place!” At my tasting table we wished we had tried it later in the day because it had such a heavy mouth feel. It was truly a sip and savor style beer, full of flavor that you wanted to linger over and we weren’t quite at the stage yet. The hazelnut was predominant over the coconut which we all appreciated but the coconut was nicely toasted. It ended up being a good thing we didn’t wait too long to try this one as the cask blew early and it won first place in Peoples’ Choice during the afternoon and 3rd place in the evening.
Cask Conditioned Sour Beers
Hi Fi Brewing Sex Bob-Omb is a delicious combination of brown ale, Brown Turkey figs, Deglet Noor Dates, molasses and my friend lactobacillus. Sour, sweet and complex with layers of flavors, this Washington cask beer was my favorite and got a thumbs up around the table. It also won third place in the afternoon People’s Choice Awards.
Schooner Exact Brewing Tart Farmhouse is like someone fermented the best Granny Smith Apple you ever tasted with some serious funk.
Silver City Brewery Charming Disarmer Peach Sour was probably the tartest sour cask beer that we tasted and it was Ed & Jonathan’s favorite sour of the day. Intensely peachy, this Washington cask beer was aged two years in a Chardonnay barrel that brings some vanilla to the party as well. We’ve had this beer on regular tap and this is the one and only beer that I preferred that way over the cask version. This is one sour I personally prefer served a little colder. Ed & Jonathan obviously disagreed with me. Every other beer I had I was delighted it was served it at cellar temperature.
Cask Conditioned IPA
Old Stove Brewing Herbert’s Legendary Cask Ale is a sunshiny orange tribute to Bert Grant. Every year a different brewery hosts a brewery session to brew “Herbert’s Legendary Cask Ale” based on a recipe that has been passed down with personal tweaks added each time to serve at the Washington Cask Beer Festival. Sometimes it is a pale ale, an IPA or even called an amber, I am saying it is closest to an IPA and delicious this year. Others agreed giving it the first place Peoples’ Choice Award evening session.
Silver City Tropic Haze IPA takes you away on a tropical vacation no matter what the weather is. You may be used to your IPAs icy cold and no doubt that is a thirst quenching brew, but you miss out on the really rich aromas and flavors of tropical fruits and citrus of the cask conditioned Tropic Haze vs the frosty can. It just can’t be compared.
Cask Conditioned Refreshing Beers
7 Seas Brewing Cucumber & Dill Hefeweizen was incredibly delicious and refreshing. Too many times a dash of dill becomes a deluge of dill, especially for someone who barely tolerates it, but this was just right. A taste of this Washington Hefeweizen brought crisp cold cucumber to mind in the most delightful way, drawing rave reviews from our crew.
Postdoc Brewing Mojito Blonde is just the right combination of a Washington blonde ale and a Mojito. This cask beer never forgets it is a beer yet it is still packed with thirst quenching lime juice and mint. This was Jeannie’s favorite beer and I certainly hope it is available by the growler come summertime.
Triplehorn Brewing Strawberry Basil Saison is another beer that I want to buy by the growler this summer. Not cloudy pink, this looks and tastes like a beer first with strawberries in the middle and a hint of basil at the finish. It isn’t kool-aid for adults but a nice relaxing and refreshing beer with delicious fruit and herbal notes.
Cask Conditioned Dark Beers
Bale Breaker Brewing Wood & Wire Imperial Stout is robust with toasted coconut and just this side of too much vanilla. With Bale Breaker’s reputation, it is no surprise that it clocks in at 80 IBUs but the hops and malts are well balanced in this Imperial Stout, giving you both the mid-mouth malty sweetness and the pleasant bitter finish that you expect. This was Ed’s favorite cask beer of the day
Cloudburst Brewing Electric Body is a cask conditioned Imperial Coffee Milk Stout with Cocoa and Vanilla beans. Imagine your favorite stout with hot cocoa that isn’t hot anymore and you have Electric Body. Actually that isn’t descriptive enough, because that doesn’t include the part about wanting to lick your lips afterwards!
Flying Lion Rye Stout is a lighter bodied stout but full flavored with the sharper and spicier accents of rye. The cocoa nibs replicate the bittersweet elements of this beer like a cascading mirror.
Hellbent Brewing Bourbon Barrel Aged Moon Tower Stout is a big deep dark full bodied stout. Boozy from its time in a bourbon barrel and slightly sweet from barrel aged maple syrup, there is a lot going on in this glass and it is all good.
Mollusk Mole Mild is mild indeed but still flavorful. It is spicy not with heat but with variety and definitely leaning towards the sweet. Jonathan didn’t care for it but Ed and I found it pleasant. Nachos anyone?
Postdoc Brewing Mexican Chocolate Porter really showcases the beauty of serving a complex beer at cellar temperature. Served too cold, you would miss all the layers of flavors of the cocoa and chili peppers in this beer. You would still get the basic Mexican hot chocolate notes but there is so much more to explore.
Cask Conditioned Fruit Beers
Crucible Brewing Wild Berry Big Booty Blonde is bursting with ripe berry flavors in this very low alcohol (4.8%) beer. It reminded me of tayberries, loganberries, and ripe raspberries.
Jellyfish Brewing Colonel Jelly’s Chutney tastes like it sounds and that is not a bad thing! A chutney beer sounds like something I would see at Strangefest, not Cask Beer Fest but I really liked the intense mango and Ginger flavors in this amber ale. The tamarind and curry were less distinct but added to the complexity of this Washington cask beer. The flavors may be too intense to drink this beer all evening long but I would sure want to buy a bottle of it.
Peoples’ Choice Awards
The Washington Cask Beer Festival is a fundraiser for the Washington Brewers Guild. The Washington Brewers Guild is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the interests of Washington craft brewers while strengthening the Washington craft brewing community. We unite brewers from all over Washington State to advocate for laws and policies that will keep the craft beer industry thriving and ensure quality and choice for Washington beer lovers.