Here we are, smack in the middle of the Winter beer season. That means Stouts – big, bold, rich Stouts. I can enjoy a good Stout any time of year but, each February, Fort George Brewing Company out of Astoria, Oregon really brings the hits. Are you ready for this year’s Festival of Dark Arts and Stout Month?
As an added bonus, with this being a leap year, Stout month is a day longer this year. Fort George is taking advantage of that extra day and releasing more Stouts during Stout Month this year than ever before. Festival of Dark Arts tickets sold out in record time this year, so if you were fortunate enough to get one, I’m a bit envious. I’ll have to settle for drinking the Fort George Stouts that will make their way up to Seattle.
Here is some more information about Stout Month, Festival of Dark Arts and the releases coming your way in February from Fort George Brewing Company:
Fort George Engulfed in 29 Days of Darkness
Astoria, Ore. — February on the Oregon Coast just got a whole lot darker. Stout Month at Fort George lasts a full 29 days in 2020, thanks to the leap year. Stout lovers will have an extra 24 hours to taste an array of unusual stouts, immerse in dark arts, and revel in the release of barrel-aged Matryoshkas.
“I started Stout Month because as a new brewer I loved making stout,” said Jack Harris, co-owner of Fort George. “It just seemed like a style with endless amounts of opportunity to put different spins on it.”
Brewers looked to the darkest corners of their recipe books to prepare for this year’s Stout Month. They selected cacao nibs and coffees, cardamom and sea salt for their inky creations. The resulting stouts will be on tap throughout the Fort George block in downtown Astoria every day in February, with new releases coming out every Saturday. On the heels of the sold-out Festival of Dark Arts, stout lovers will gather for The Aftermath on February 16. There, six new Matryoshka variants aged in Westward Whiskey and Bourbon barrels will debut. Matryoshka Vertical Week deepens the darkness February 22–29.
Harris started his first Stout Month in 1992 at Cornelius Pass Roadhouse, while working for McMenamins. “I carried it with me to The Lighthouse Brewpub in Lincoln City and then to Boulder, Colorado,” he said. “I also imposed Stout Month on Bill’s Tavern in Cannon Beach for nine years before bringing it up here to Astoria.”
Blind taster trays let visitors try a variety of stouts with their senses fully engaged. “Stout takes a lot of the visual cues out of the beer,” according to Harris. “It makes you rely on your nose and taste buds to explore it without preconceptions your eyes dictate.”
He adds that you can learn from looking at a stout—how dark it is, how thick it is, how tiny the bubbles are—but mostly, “You get to let your mouth tell you what the beer is.”
This year, Fort George will release more stouts than ever before. Playing on the brewery’s spidery Cavatica theme, releases range from Itsy Bitsy—a light and dry Irish Stout—to an imposing Wolf Spider aged in Laphroaig Scotch Whiskey and Buffalo Trace Bourbon Barrels. A smoked maple stout goes by the moniker Book of Shadows. Ice cream lovers will gravitate to Spumoni Stout, complete with pistachios and cherries. Staff are available to help stout lovers make selections or dive right into a blind taster.
Saturday, February 1st
Itsy Bitsy – Light, dry, Irish Stout. 4.3%
Polish’s Black Walnut Stout – Black. Walnut. Stout. Contains nuts, duh. 6.4%
Cavatica – You know it. 8.8%
S’more Please – Milk Stout with Brown Sugar, Lactose, Cacao Nibs and Vanilla – Inspiration and help from Alyssa Logan with Luke Barrett on the Brew 8.9%
Dark Tunneler – Imperial Caramel Stout with Cocoa Nibs, Macadamia Nuts and Sea Salt 10.6%
Made to Order – Imperial Coffee Stout brewed for the Holiday Ale Festival – 12.5%
Whale Shark – Imperial Chocolate Hazelnut Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels. Collab with 16 Tons Bottle Shop in Eugene. 12.7%
Matryoshka 2020 – Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout – Buffalo Trace Barrels – 12.7%
Malt Gauntlet – Collab with Alesong Bourbon Barrel Aged with Vanilla and Cinnamon. Brewed by Dave Coyne and Matt Van Wyk. Dave illustrated the bottle as well. 15%
Wolf Spider – A blend of Laphroaig Scotch Whiskey and Buffalo Trace Bourbon Barrels – Contains nuts* 12.7%
Saturday, February 8th
Mr. Chocolate Bar – Chocolatey, nutty, and Salty Candy Bar Stout – Inspiration by Vance and Jaime McDermott. Chocolate, almond, vanilla, sea salt. 6.8%
Book of Shadows – Smoked Maple Stout – Recipe by Cameron Pierce and Luke Barrett. 9.7%
Spumoni Stout – Milk Stout with Cherries, Pistachios, Cocoa Nibs and Vanilla. Brewed by Aaron Sundal -Contains Nuts again. And lactose. 6.4%
Sagittarius A* – Barrel Aged Stout with Molasses, Brown Sugar , Cardamom, Almonds by Packy Colemean. 11.4%
Sunday, February 16th – The Aftermath
Nitro Cow Stout – Milk Stout on Nitro – 4.7%
Supper Club – Imperial Milk Stout aged in Kentucky Bourbon Barrels – Brewed by Dave Coyne, Nathan Bowling and Silas Drago. 12.5%
Matryoshka – Westward Vanilla
Matryoshka – Westward Vanilla + Hazelnuts
Matryoshka – Westward Vanilla + Hazelnuts + Blackberry
Matryoshka – Maple Bourbon
Mytroshka – Maple Bourbon + Coffee
Matryoshka – Rye + Cocoa Nibs.
Saturday, February 22nd
Matryoshka Vertical Week!
4 different Matryoshkas from 2017 – 2020 on each tap list. $20 taster tray.
Matryoshka & The Aftermath
The day after Festival of Dark Arts is known as the Aftermath. On this day the Fort George campus will reopen to the public at noon. New Stouts will be released, but Barrel Aged fans will rejoice in the release of Matryoshka – our seasonal barrel aged stout. This year, six variants aged in Westward Whiskey, Bourbon and Rye Whiskey barrels will be released. No tickets or reservations necessary.
– 2020 Matryoshka variants
– Matryoshka – Westward Vanilla
– Matryoshka – Westward Vanilla + Hazelnuts
– Matryoshka – Westward Vanilla + Hazelnuts + Blackberry
– Matryoshka – Maple Bourbon
– Mytroshka – Maple Bourbon + Coffee
– Matryoshka – Rye + Cocoa Nibs.
On Saturday, February 22nd, keep an eye out for 4 different Matryoshkas from 2017 – 2020 on
tap lists around the block. Matryoshka specific Taster Trays will be available.
Festival of Dark Arts
Every year for one dark day, Stout lovers gather at the brewery to enjoy craft, art, entertainment, and dozens of limited-release stouts. Tickets to February 15th’s Festival of Dark Arts 2020 sold out quickly.
But thanks to the leap year, there are still 28 other days of darkness this Stout Month. On any day in February, the tap lists at Fort George will be overflowing with dark and delectable beers.
For those scheduling out next year: Festival of Dark Arts tickets always go on sale on Black Friday, and the Festival is always held on the Saturday of President’s Day Weekend.
Festival of Dark Arts
Saturday, February 15th, 2020
12pm to 10pm
Fort George Brewery Block
1483 Duane Street
Festival of Dark Arts ticket holders can check in and get their festival packets beginning at 9 am
on the 15th.
Stout Month begins on Saturday, February 1st. Bring your loved ones, your beloved growlers, and your love of the dark. Fort George promises you won’t go away light-handed. For more information about Fort George Brewery and Stout Month events, go to fortgeorgebrewery.com.
Fort George Brewery
1483 Duane Street
Astoria, Oregon 97013
Sadly, I never seem to make it down to Astoria for Festival of Dark Arts, but I’d like to change that. I think I’ll start planning early for next year’s festival so, if you’re planning on attending next year, I’ll see you there.
Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.