'Strange Brewfest' in Port Townsend tests taste buds with new, creative beers
Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Rich Dirk, left, of Elk Head Brewery of Buckley pours a beer for Don Lawe of Carnation at 2013's Strange Brewfest. Beer enthusiasts from around the region will converge on Port Townsend this weekend to imbibe a variety of craft brews.
By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“This is the premiere winter brewfest west of Seattle,” said American Legion Post Commander Joe Carey.
“It is the place where 35 brewers and over 1,500 people get together to enjoy beer, bands and Port Townsend.”
The brewfest began Friday night and continues from 1 p.m. to midnight today (Saturday) at the American Legion Hall, 209 Monroe St.
Tickets are available at the door.
Tickets were on sale in advance for both days at $30 per person. Each ticket included a souvenir tasting glass, four tasting tokens and a wristband to get the ticket-holder in for both days.
Additional tasting tokens are $1.50.
The vendors, which hail from across the region, will offer tastes within the Legion Hall and inside two large tents outside.
Good weather expected
Water Street between the Northwest Maritime Center, 431 Water St., and Madison Street will be closed for the festival, and good weather is expected, Carey said.
This is the fourth year the Legion has hosted the festival. It took it over from Water Street Brewing, which closed in 2010.
Former Water Street Brewing owners Nina Law and Mark Burr are involved as consultants, but the event belongs to the Legion, Carey said.
Profits from the event are used to support the Legion's activities, which include the winter shelter and other civic projects.
Carey said there will be no Budweiser at the event and few Budweiser drinkers.
The attendees are more adventurous, and each year sees a different crop of creative brewers.
New brewery on tap
One new arrival this year is Propolis Brewing, an emerging Port Townsend company that brews its handcrafted beers on a seasonal basis, offering two new beers a month tied to the time of year.
These herbal brews include fruit beers in the summer, pumpkin in the fall and a special Valentine's Day brew of chocolate and rose to be sold in February on a limited basis.
“We do strange brews all the time,” said Robert Horner, who owns and operates Propolis with his fiancee, Piper Corbett.
“The people who come here for Strange Brewfest are adventurous and curious about what is new in the beer world,” Horner said.
“They want to see what is out there, and these are the people that we want to talk to about our product.”
If the word gets around, it could generate enough sales and publicity for Propolis to expand its orchards and open a tasting room.
“We have people calling us all the time saying they want to visit us and try our beers,” Corbett said.
“Having a tasting room would allow us to bring people into town, and they will support other merchants.”
Propolis' organic brew is unique, Corbett said, and healthy.
'Integrity is important'
“The level of integrity is important,” she said.
“You are not just bringing this beer into your house; you are putting it into your body.
“There has to be love in the beer; otherwise, it doesn't taste good.”
Strange Brewfest offers a kinetic learning experience for participants.
Celebrate the moment
“It's where different brewers get to celebrate the moment with no strings attached,” Horner said.
“There is a lot of innovation and creativity, and no one wants to come back every year and do the same thing, although some of the beers are godawful.”
Carey agrees, saying it resembles “a chile cookoff where you have a bite of something and then spit it out, but the bad ones all disappear.”
Said Corbett: “It's relaxed, enjoyable and playful and people have a damn fine time.
“Without Strange Brewfest, we'd be drinking the same beer we always have.
“It changes the perception of beer. “
For more information, visit www.strangebrewfestpt.com.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: January 25. 2014 7:44AM