I have scoured the list of 450-ish beers that Washington brewers intend to pour at this weekend’s Washington Brewers Festival. Below I provide a list of the beers that most piqued my interest. For tickets and complete details about the three-day event, visit the official event website. You can see the complete beer list here, in PDF format. I encourage people to use the Comments section of this post to their own opinions and experiences. I also did a separate post with some important info — know before you go.
The largest annual beer festival in the state takes place this weekend at Marymoor Park in Redmond. In all, nearly 100 breweries will pour about 450 different beers at the Washington Brewers Festival this year. That’s a lot of beer, so I hope to provide at least some help navigating that beautiful sea of beer.
No doubt there are a lot of beers that deserve mention but are not on my list. I did not intend for this to be a “best of” or “must try” list. It’s just the stuff that caught my eye. I only include beers that will pour on all three days of the event.
On the Lighter Side
Here are my picks on the lighter side of things. Lagers and the like.
Interesting that Kolsch is so prevalent at the Washington Brewers Festival this year. Interesting and unexpected, but it makes me happy. Oddly, Kolsch reminds me of my mother. No time to explain that, but here are my picks for lighter brews this year.
20 Corners Brewing – Vagablonde Kolsch. Brewed using all-German malted barley (from Weyermann) and hopped with old-world (presumably European) hops.
Chuckanut Brewery – German-Style Kolsch. This beer earned multiple medals at the world’s most prestigious beer competitions. If you haven’t had it, you should.
Common Language Brewing – Adventure Crew Kolsch. Brewed with barley from Linc Malt (a small, boutique maltster in Eastern WA) and old-world Saaz hops. The third in my Kolsch trifecta.
Postdoc Brewing – Rice Lager. Back in the early 90s, several of the big breweries created “dry beer.” Bud Dry, Coors Dry, Rainier Dry, and so on. Based off the Japanese tradition of using rice as an adjunct grain, these beers were pretty much trash. I know that Postdoc would not make trash, so I am curious to see what they’ve come up with. I’ve always been intrigued by this style, and I enjoy it when it is well executed.
Counterbalance Brewing – Ricenoceros Dry Hopped Rice Lager. Everything I just said about rice lager, and then add dry-hopped to the conversation. Looking forward to seeing what they’ve done with the style.
Wheelie Pop Brewing – Veloce Italian Pilsner. The most recent addition to the Ballard brewery scene, Wheelie Pop brings its version of an Italian Pilsner. Brewed using Francin Bohemian pilsner malt from Skagit Valley Malting and traditional German hop varieties. What makes a pilsner Italian?
Bickersons Brewhouse – Be Lite Summer Lager. Low-ABV, hopped with hops from New Zealand, sure to have some juicy, citrusy character.
Fortside Brewing – Crispy Regazzo. Another Italian-style pilsner. I like this style and I like Fortside. So there!
Loowit Brewing – Loowit Lager. Pretty much just because I so rarely get to drink beer from this lovely brewery in Vancouver.
Let’s Get Hoppin’
Here are my picks for the hoppier stuff.
If you are hunting for hazy IPA this year, you are in luck. The words “haze” and “hazy” appear more than 100 times on the beer list this year – in both beer names and beer descriptions. I’m not going to attempt navigating those hazy waters; instead, I will focus on the not-necessarily-hazy hoppy beers that captured my fancy.
Bale Breaker Brewing, in collaboration with Fremont Brewing – Frenz #3 IPA. For the third Frenz beer, these two esteemed breweries teamed up to make a West Coast IPA, hopped using Mosaic Frozen Fresh Hops. What’s frozen fresh mean? Read this.
Burke-Gilman Brewing – Pondy VIII. In 2020 this brewery won the Alpha King award, which means that whenever they make a hoppy beer, it’s worthy of your attention. Burke-Gilman is pouring a few different IPAs at the festival this year. Read about the Alpha King award here.
Fringe Brewing – Jam IPA. The beer description includes the words says “piney/resinous finish.” Ah, that sounds good to me. The beer is also described as “clear.” How novel.
Kulshan Brewing – Heliotrope IPA. “…fusion of classic West Coast IPA characteristics, and new-school fruity, juicy hop flavor.” Yes, please.
Ladd and Lass Brewing – Fractal Sunset Double IPA. Whether you know it or not, you are familiar with the flavors created when Citra and Mosaic hops are combined in a beer. But this one uses Cryo Citra and Cryo Mosaic. Why is that cool? What are Cryo Hops? read this.
Lake Stevens Brewing – Altered Mental Status IPA. One beer, three of my favorite hop varieties: Azzaca, Mosaic, and Strata. Each of those hops is an “either you love ‘em or you hate ‘em” kind of thing. I love ‘em. Put ‘em together and what can go wrong?
Logan Brewing – Metagame V5 IPA. Located in Burien, maybe the best brewery in Washington that you don’t know anything about yet. Seriously. Drink this beer. It is damn good. Period. The fifth version of this beer and each is better than the last.
Resonate Brewery – The Atomic Punk IPA. Named after an ass-kickin’ Van Halen song, this one hits you hard and fast like one of Eddie’s flame-throwing guitar solos. It’s a go-to IPA that you probably aren’t familiar with. Loud and proud, one of Resonate’s flagships.
Join Me on the Dark Side
Here are my picks for stouts, porters, and barrel-aged stuff.
Note that some breweries bring their darkest, boldest creations to the festival in limited supply and only serve them on particular days. Keep an eye out for those, but know that my list only includes beers scheduled to be on tap for the entire festival.
Black Raven Brewing – Rum Barrel Coco Jones. By now, you should be familiar with Coco Jones Porter. If not, shame on you! This version of Black Raven’s beloved beauty is aged in rum barrels. It cannot be bad.
Counterbalance Brewing – Kushetka Imperial Stout – A pretty straightforward Imperial Stout, but one that has earned a couple impressive awards from Sip Magazine over the years.
Crucible Brewing – Putin Out Russian Imperial Stout. This one is aged in Port Whiskey barrels from Woodinville Whiskey. Take a sip and imagine a safer world after Putin is out.
Heathen Brewing – When In Stout, Add Peanut Butter Pastry Stout. I’m not typically drawn to beers that use the word “pastry” in the name or description, but I must confess that this one intrigues me. Peanut flour, cocoa nibs, vanilla, and cinnamon.
Iron Goat Brewing – Barrel-Aged Goatnik. A Russian Imperial Stout aged in Wheat Whiskey Barrels from Dry Fly Distilling.
Triplehorn Brewing – BBA Sherry Baby Barrel-Aged Stout. They blend a milk stout and a robust porter and then age it for 12 months in whiskey barrels. Yep. I’m in.
Lake Stevens Brewing – Shameless Girth Maple Bar Imperial Oatmeal Stout. Damn it! I am not supposed to find these kinds of beers attractive. “Maple bars added to a smooth oatmeal stout,” kind of sounds too good to resist.
Logan Brewing – Mind on Midnight. A Cascadian dark ale that is very tasty and happens to be a favorite of Mrs. Beerblog. I like it too, but she really digs it. The recipe includes some cold brew coffee. Won a silver medal at last year’s WA Beer Awards.
Take Me Down to Funky Town
Here are my picks for the funkier stuff.
Not just sour, but funky in any way. Beers that challenge our understanding of “normal beer flavor,” whatever that means these days. Remember what I said earlier about limited supply and certain days? You won’t find those here; only beers pouring all weekend.
Beardslee Public House – Julius Fruit and Spice Beer. Some descriptors suggest things like creamsickle and Orang Julius.
Twin Sisters Brewing – Strawberry Zwickelbier. It’s a zwickel (unfiltered lager, basically) that won a GABF gold medal but they added 550 lbs of strawberries.
Bickersons Brewhouse – Brett Barrel-Aged Blackberry Sour. Mixed fermentation, aged for 15 months in red wine barrels with blackberries.
Dirty Couch Brewing – Rampant Sour Red. A Flanders-style red ale. Dirty Couch does this stuff very well and I do love me a Flanders red.
Dru Bru – Blackberry Sour. A lacto-soured wheat beer. Brewed with blackberries, which is different than aged on blackberries.
Flying Bike Brewing – Margarita Gose. I am very familiar with both those things: margarita and gose. Put them together in a beer and let’s see what happens. The flavor combo seems to make sense to me.
Riverport Brewing – 5/5 Pepper Beer. An English pale ale infused with Jalapeno and Serrano peppers. Wait, Mexico was never an English colony, right?
Jellyfish Brewing – Beer Salad. It’s a French-style saison but they add a salad to it. Cucumber, grilled lemon, basil, and peppercorn. Said to have an aroma of a fresh green salad.
Bosk Brew Works – Barrel Aged Krampus Spice Bock. It’s an amber-colored bock described as liquid gingerbread. Star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, allspice, orange peel, and cloves. Lots goin’ on.
ENJOY THE FESTIVAL, WHATEVER YOU DRINK! Use the comments section below to share anything you find particularly noteworthy. Have fun, drink beer.