Port Townsend Brewing assistant head brewer Chris Weir draws a specific gravity sample to test sugar levels in a new beer developed for this weekend’s Strange Brewfest. (Jeannie McMacken/for Peninsula Daily News)

Port Townsend Brewing assistant head brewer Chris Weir draws a specific gravity sample to test sugar levels in a new beer developed for this weekend’s Strange Brewfest. (Jeannie McMacken/for Peninsula Daily News)

Port Townsend celebrates creative craft brews at Strange Brewfest this weekend

PORT TOWNSEND — Chris Weir, assistant head brewer at Port Townsend Brewing, has been staying very busy the past few weeks preparing for the 14th Strange Brewfest.

“This is every brewer’s favorite festival because you get to go crazy,” Weir said.

“It’s not like other events where you take your highest-priced or best-selling product and put your best foot forward. This is all about having fun and making really strange stuff. ”

The adult beverage festival runs from 5 p.m. to midnight today and from 1 p.m. to midnight Saturday at the American Legion Hall, 209 Monroe St.

Tickets are $30 for both days and include four tasting tokens and a special souvenir tasting glass. They can be purchased online at http://strangebrewfestpt.com/or at the door.

Nina Law, Mark Burr and Janet Emery, are co-hosts of this year’s event. Law said it’s a special weekend getaway celebration during the middle of winter.

“We offer a fun, safe environment that’s a good thing for the community. We’re here for our locals,” she said.

“We fill up all the hotels, the ferry is booked and restaurants are busy. This event does a lot for the Port Townsend economy.

“It’s definitely non-traditional and it’s lots of fun. We have many returning patrons who have been coming since the beginning. It’s a once-a-year gathering for many of them, a big get-together.”

Up to 3,000 beer lovers are expected to sample offerings from 34 Washington breweries. That’s at least 75 different varieties, with something for everyone.

Law said Strange Brewfest isn’t just about tasting the brews.

“We’ll have live regional bands and food vendors. Chain saw carvers Pat McVoy and Steve Backus will be working to create some awesome art. And there’s nighttime entertainment — fire dancers.”

Back at Port Townsend Brewery, Weir, together with head brewer Carter Camp, has had a good time crafting odd, but surprisingly delicious beer concoctions.

Weir said the duo has been brewing three different flavors: Pineapple-Coconut IPA (“strange, but tastes really good”), Baked Bean Scotch (“my idea because of the western theme — baked beans and whiskey. It’s surprisingly good,” he chuckled), and Camp’s experiment, a Chocolate Bourbon Spiced Imperial Porter (“something really different, infused with lots of spice”).

Port Townsend Brewing will have three half-barrel kegs on tap.

“That’s about 45 gallons of deliciousness,” Weir said. “And we always sell out.”

He’s personally looking forward to sampling many of the oddities available.

“There’s pretty much anything you can think of — chicken waffle beer, cotton candy beer, red hot cider. It seems to get crazier and crazier every year.”

Some of the brewed concoctions that were hits at the event have an afterlife in the tasting room.

“Yoda’s Green Tea Golden Ale was originally a Strange Brewfest invention and now it’s on tap here all year-round. People love it, ” Weir said.

For more information, see http://strangebrew festpt.com/.


Jeannie McMacken is a freelance writer and photographer living in Port Townsend.

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