Thursday, October 7, 2010

Nothing but Washington Beer for 10 Days

Around here, two things in life are certain when it comes to beer. Washington loves delicious craft beer and Washington produces delicious craft beer. Events taking place this weekend, and over the next ten days, confirm these two self-evident truths. So do the numbers. In the greater Seattle-Tacoma area 24 percent of the beer we consume is craft beer. In the United States, only Portland, Oregon has us beat at 29.9 percent. San Francisco is the only other city to reach the 20 percent mark. Most cities aren’t even close.

Last weekend there was a statewide party in Washington. In Tacoma they celebrated the second annual Tacoma Craft Beer Festival (Friday and Saturday). In Yakima they enjoyed another outstanding Fresh Hop Ale Festival. Enumclaw got in the game, hosting a big Oktoberfest party which will featured a lot of locally brewed beer. Up in Blaine, Semiahmoo Resort held a very special Brewmasters Dinner featuring the beers of Bellingham’s venerable Boundary Bay Brewery.

From one end of the state to the other, last weekend people celebrated beer. However, for two of Washington’s better beer bars, last weekend marked the kickoff of a celebration not only of beer, but a celebration of Washington-brewed beer exclusively. For 10 days (Oct. 1st through 11th) the Parkway Tavern and the Red Hot will serve nothing but Washington-brewed beers.

Both the Parkway Tavern and the Red Hot are located in Tacoma and the kickoff of “Tacoma Drinks Washington Beer Week” intentionally coincided with the Tacoma Craft Beer Festival. All of the taps will pour nothing but beers brewed right here in The Evergreen State. The Parkway offers 34 beers on tap and the Red Hot another baker’s dozen. Two bars pouring nearly 50 Washington beers. That’s impressive.

Busily servicing the thirsty hordes, the craft beer industry is booming in Washington these days. In the past two months 21 new microbreweries have applied for licenses with the Liquor Control Board. It is hard to keep exact count, but currently Washington has approximately 130 microbreweries licensed to brew beer.

You might think that the market is overcrowded, but most breweries tell us that they are brewing beer at capacity and are trying to find ways to make more beer to meet the growing demand. For a brewery, increasing capacity most frequently means investing more money into the business—a particularly tough challenge in the current economy.

To read the complete story on the Washington Beer Blog, click here.

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