Each year, the Washington Beer Commission puts on several different festivals to celebrate the diversity and excellence of Washington craft beer. These festivals are a great way to discover new Washington breweries and to explore different craft styles that you may not be as familiar with.
It may still be a full month away, but tickets are already on sale for one of my favorite Washington Beer Commission hosted festivals: Belgian Fest 2017. Set for 2 sessions on Saturday, January 28th, Belgian Fest 2017 will feature well over 100 different Belgian style beers from over 40 different Washington State breweries. Featured beer styles include Tripels, Dubbels, Saisons, Wits, Abbeys and Lambics. In keeping with this unique style, all of the beers are brewed with Belgian yeast.
It’s really pouring out there, but I’m not talking about the weather. It’s raining craft beer events; enough to keep your liver plenty busy between now and the arrival of Spring. Get you calendar out, because I’m going to tell you about 8 local craft beer festivals and other events coming your way between now and March 20; the first day of Spring, 2016.
Most of these upcoming events are free to attend. The amount you’ll spend only depends on how many beers and how much food you decide to purchase. The other two are ticketed events, where you’ll want to get your ticket(s) in advance to make sure you can attend.
(Please note – this is not a comprehensive list of ALL local events happening between now and March 20th. I’m merely highlighting some of the events I think my readers would be most interested in.)
Craft beer has been growing in popularity for years. Bit by bit, many beer drinkers across the nation and the World are slowly abandoning bland, tasteless, corporate-controlled, mass-produced lagers like Bud and Miller and are welcoming all the varying styles of craft beer to their palates instead. It’s helped the number of craft breweries in the U.S. reach an all time high (as of December 2015, there are 4144 breweries in the U.S. according to the Brewer’s Association), while sales of mass-produced lagers continue to decline.
While this is a great thing, to be sure, it seems that a number of the newer craft beer ‘converts’ out there don’t stray too far away from IPAs, Pale Ales and a few other styles like Red/Amber Ale, and a few Stouts or Porters. If you fall into this category, it may be time for you to expand your horizons even further and start looking at the wonderful and varied Belgian styles of beer available from local breweries.
Belgianfest 2015 took place just two weeks ago in Seattle (January 31st at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center at Pier 66). It was one of the first places this year (and every year), that you can try Black Raven Brewing Company‘s annual release of Bourbon Barrel Aged La Petite Mort. This Belgian Strong Dark Ale is delicious on its own but when it’s bourbon barrel aged, it gets even better.
I had to laugh just a bit when the crowds were let in to this year’s Belgianfest too because people, literally, started running towards a few different breweries, particularly Black Raven. Calm down, people, there’s enough for everyone! Well, honestly, that’s not always the case. I can recall a few years back when Black Raven actually ran out of La Petite Mort only halfway through the first session of Belgianfest. It was that popular. I guess those running for their booth were determined that, this year, they were going to have some.
There’s never a shortage of craft beer festivals here in great Northwest. The Washington Beer Commission hosts several different craft beer festivals throughout the year in various locations around the Sound and one of my favorites, Belgianfest, is right around the corner. I love a good Belgian beer, but often don’t seem to get enough of them. Dubbles, Triples, Abbey Style, Saisons, Lambics, etc., I love them all and Belgianfest is a great way to sample a wide variety of locally-brewed Belgian style beers all in one place.
Set for next Saturday, January 31st at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center (Pier 66), Belgianfest will be held in two sessions: noon – 4 PM and 5:30 PM – 9:30 PM. Tickets will run you $35 in advance or $40 at the door – separate tickets are required for each session. I don’t suggest taking your chances with buying your tickets at the door, however, since Belgianfest usually sells out before the doors open. Tickets have been on sale since mid November, but the festival isn’t sold out quite yet. Don’t delay.
“Beer in Belgium dates back to the age of the first crusades, long before Belgium became an independent country. Under Catholic church permission, local French and Flemish abbeys brewed and distributed beer as a fund raising method. The relatively low-alcohol beer of that time was preferred as a sanitary option to available drinking water. What are now traditional, artisanal brewing methods evolved, under abbey supervision, during the next seven centuries. The Trappist monasteries that now brew beer in Belgium were occupied in the late 18th century primarily by monks fleeing the French Revolution. However, the first Trappist brewery in Belgium (Westmalle) did not start operation until 10 December 1836, almost 50 years after the Revolution. That beer was exclusively for the monks and is described as “dark and sweet.” The first recorded sale of beer (a brown beer) was on 1 June 1861.” (*Source)