Friday, July 13, 2012

Seattle International Beerfest


Blown Glass Tree/Space Needle

Over 210 unique beers from 15 countries – that’s Seattle International Beerfest which ran July 6 – 8, 2012. We made the decision earlier that week to partake in this festival and thus, booked a cheap hotel room, grabbed our Nexus passes and made arrangements for the fabulous parental units to watch the dogs.


Friday's Crowd - 2pm

Admission for the weekend was $25 online/$30 at the gate and included ten tokens. Additional tokens cost $1 each and the price for a 4 oz pour ranged between 1 to 7 tokens, depending on the cost/rarity of the beer.

Saturday's Crowd - 5pm

I’m glad we decided to go Fri/Sat rather than Sat/Sun as Saturday was a gong show. The crowds on Friday were large, but they were about half the population that graced the lawns and building at Seattle Centre Fisher Pavilion on Saturday. Additionally, some of the “mystery rotators” and limited quantity beers were not available on Saturday or Sunday. Best to get first crack at them!

Then there was the 10 token beer for 1 oz. That’s right, $10 for 1 oz which also translates to $200 for a pint. Any guesses to what it was? None other than a Samuel Adams 2011 Utopias, which retailed for $150 a bottle upon release. The Utopias are meant to be savored like a fine cognac in a snifter glass but alas, we had ours in the beer festival taster glass. The 2011 vintage has components that have been aged in a variety of wood casks for up to 18 years, just like a fine scotch. The spicy aroma is phenomenal and there is a distinct taste of vanilla, maple and cocoa notes. The sherry casks from Spain and Portugal add nutty oak, toffee and honey notes while the Madeira and port casks bring forth the dark fruit aroma and earthy flavours. It’s a rich ruby colour and is brewed with three varieties of Noble hops – Spalt Spalter, Hallertau Mittelfrueh and Tettnang Tettnanger (now say that fast three times…). Only 53 barrels were brewed of this masterpiece and they’re sold in hand-bottled, numbered, ceramic brew kettle-shaped decanters. $150 a bottle is pretty pricy for this beer geek, but to have a $10 sample of this, just perfect. Plus, at 27% alc., one wouldn’t want to consume much more if they expect to find their hotel that night.

In all, we sampled 32 unique beers - some of our favourites were:
  • Mad Viking – the debut of this Denmark beauty; loved the Stingray DIPA and Vintage  Cognac IRS
  • Wingman – Operation Crossroads Triple IPA
  • Lost Abbey – Deliverance BA Blend (Serpent & Angel’s Share)
  • Two Beers – Ascension Triple IPA
  • Evil Twin – Freudian Slip Barleywine, Yang (Vintage) Double IPA and Biscotti Break Baltic Porter w/Almonds & Espresso
  • Lagunitas – Waldo’s Special Double IPA and Lucky 13 American Strong Ale
  • Deschutes – Super Jubel 2010 American Dark Strong Ale
  • Rochefort – Trappist “10” Quadruppel
The beers in bottles were housed inside the pavilion and all of the kegs were in the beautiful grassy area. Luckily, we found a nice shady spot to keep the sun at bay. When we left on Friday, there were two rather rosy looking individuals having a nap (perhaps a beer induced nap) on the lawn. I’m guessing Saturday wasn’t pleasant with six layers of aloe vera on their exposed parts.

Bottled Beer Section Indoors (at opening)

Something unique to this beerfest, at least to us, was how dog friendly the venue was and how many people actually brought their dogs. There must have been a 20 to 1 human to dog ratio on Saturday and most of which, were well behaved (the dogs, I mean – humans, maybe not as much). One owner went as far as bringing a blow up pool for her over-heated bull dog named Thurman. Yes, I petted many dogs and played with a couple of puppies. It was mandatory.

The food vendors were pretty good and offered a selection from Dante’s Inferno Dogs to tacos, pizza, kebabs and more. Live music played all weekend on a stage near the building.

One beerfest fail, in my opinion, was the “beer garden” $3 pints they were selling – Blue Moon and Pilsner Urquell. Really people? You come to a beer festival that has over 200 beers and you drink a $3 pint that you could get anywhere? Lower your head in shame. Yeah, you. Do it. The people drinking the pints were also ones sporting beer shirts like Pabst, Rainier, Bud and Dos Equis. Mind you, the Dos guy is the most interesting man in the world. The best t-shirt we saw was the I’d Tap That shirt. Classic.

One other weird alliance was that there was a cat shelter there looking for donations and showing off their cute kittens. You want people who have just spent the day drinking beer to take home a kitten? Can you say impulse shopping… and no, I didn’t bring one home although I thought about puppyknapping this adorable 10 week old golden retriever.

We didn’t have much time to hit the great Seattle breweries, but did manage to go to Elysian Brewing’s Capitol Hill Brewpub for dinner and a pint. Great food to go along with their amazing brews!

This beer festival is one of the more expensive ones we’ve been to as we didn’t stick to the $1 or $2 pours too often but as we tried many new and fabulous beers, we’ll be back in 2013. We had a great extended weekend and once again, Seattle, you didn’t disappoint!

Of course, we can't leave the USA without a trip to a beer store and although we should have stopped at one of the great ones in Seattle (99 Bottles, Full Throttle, Super Deli Mart...), we chose to check out Elizabeth Station in Bellingham. They have four taps, serve food and have a deli/snack section as well as many fine beers. They have plans to extend the cooler section another 25 feet which means, MORE GREAT BEERS! We'll be sure to stop in again on our next trip south.

Elizabeth Station - Bellingham
Take Home Care Package


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