by Kendall Jones - Washington Beer Blog
First off, given all that has happened over the past couple of years with the closing of the Water Street Pub and Brewery, it was awesome to find that Strange Brewfest is alive, kicking ass, and doing better than ever.
We wondered how many brewers would show up and how enthusiastically strange their creations would be. Well, I counted 22 breweries (I heard 24, but counted 22). There were literally too many beers. You could not try them all without sharing with friends.
Below: Nut Warmer - Peanut Butter Winter Warmer from Big Al Brewing
We wondered if the crowd would return. What were we thinking? Of course they did. This has turned into a very, very popular festival. From what we could tell, there were no rooms available in Port Townsend on Saturday night. The entire town was crawling with beer geeks.
Strange Brewfest Axiom 1
I'm not going to say that all of the beers were delicious. There were beers that I adored, beers that I tolerated, and beers that I dumped. You cannot make an omelet without breaking some eggs. This is a Strange Brewfest axiom: creative success is built on the shoulders of creative failure.
In Seattle, the old Deja Vu (a strip club on Denny Way) had a sign that said, "50 Beautiful Girls, and 3 Ugly Ones?" That sign beckoned us to remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Strange Brewfest makes me think of that sign.
This is another Strange Brewfest axiom: beauty is in the hand of the beer holder. You will dump beers that other people adore. They will dump beers that you adore.
The beers were not only creative and strange, but they were delicious. The first time I attended this festival, several years ago, I was very impressed with the "strange factor," but less impressed with the "good factor." I have nothing against a beer being strange, or even down-right odd, but I really do prefer it to be good. This year, the beers were delicious. Creative, strange, and yummy.
Below: So many people have asked, this is now posted on the front door of what used to be the Water Street Pub and Brewery.
My Beer Sandwich
There are too many favorites for me to name. I have an idea. Here's a mythical sandwich I created out of just a few of my favorite beers.
To start with, you'll need two slices of Redhook's smokey-rye beer, which they referred to as Ham on Rye. Next, add some 7 Bloody Seas from 7 Seas Brewing. This spicy, tomato-infused beer simulated a Bloody Mary magnificently. What sandwich would be complete without meat? Add some of Anacortes' Grand Salami: a beer that made me laugh out loud when I first drank it because it actually did taste like Salami. Awesome.
Maybe next year someone will make a beer with Gouda or Gruyere. I can hope.
For dessert, I suggest an Almond Roca Brown Ale from Flyers Brewery.
Other beers that impressed the heck out of me included Big Al's Nut Warmer (Winter Warmer with peanut butter); the Naked City Sour Patch Citra Ass Down IPA; the Silver City Imperial Pepper Stout; and the Chocolate Orange Degenerator from Port Townsend.
So many more. If you were there, help me out. What were your favorites?
Oh the Humanity!
Okay, I would be irresponsible if I didn't talk about the crowd. Some people were annoyed, some were frightened, others simply melted comfortably into the swarming mass of humanity that was Strange Brewfest 2011. This was the first year at this venue and I am sure the festival organizers learned a lot.
It was packed. No denying that. I did not find it intolerable at all. Just crowded. Though navigating the crowd was a bit challenging at times, I rarely had to wait for a beer. Let's stay focused on what's important.
The music was amazing. All day and into the night, one outstanding band followed another. I like the band that kicked things off on Saturday, though the name escaped me. They had a cool Tom Waits vibe going on. I also really dug Tuba Luba: an all-brass funk band which performed later in the day on Saturday. No Bootsy Collins on bass guitar, just some fella blowing his mind out on a tuba.
The event staff did an amazing job. Seriously, it was a turbulent sea of humanity but the people in the red shirts never let things degenerate into a maelstrom. They kept things under control. It was busy, but it ran like clockwork. For the most part, anyway.
We had a blast. As usual, we were too busy having fun to take many good pictures. Perhaps we were having too much fun to take pictures well. Anyway, here are some pictures.
Below: Don Spencer (Big Daddy) of Silver City Brewery leads a group toast at Sirens Pub. That's how we kicked things off at Strange Brewfest this year.
Below: Packed house at the American Legion.
The outside portion of the festival was packed as well.
Below: Mike Runion (7 Seas Brewing) sports a had made from 7 Seas cans.
Below: Fellow blogger, Mike Besser (www.brewdad.com).
Below: I wish these were loons. They're cormorants. I just like the picture, taken Saturday morning before the doors opened.
Below: Saturday morning, before the doors opened, the Big Al Brewing "time share condo" was parked across the street. Good thing they weren't drinking or serving any beer out there. That would be wrong.