(Seattle, WA) Today marks the start of the Fourth of July (aka Independence Day) weekend and so far for the city of Seattle its going to be a rough one. The fire trucks are answering daily calls sometimes two and three times a day, Gas Works park will be so claustrophobic that even those who aren’t afraid of tight spaces might be paranoid, and the Seattle Center is hosting SIB.
The Seattle International Beer Festival can be described as a craft beer hedonists dream when compared to other festivals in the area. Each year the event draws more and more people with each year some limited edition beer manages to get wiped out faster than anticipated. Last year some of the highlights were Lost Abbey Angel’s Share, a strong ale that is aged in bourbon / brandy barrels and Mikeller Black which was a 17.50% ABV monster. Both items went for six tickets for a four ounce pour and were well worth it.
This year’s line-up of both local, national, and international beers looks to be awe inspiring once again. I have decided to break some of my choices into three categories, out of state, out of the country, and vintage so that you can decide which beers suggested are worth seeking out. I have additionally marked the strong beers with a red indicator so that you don’t rush out to these as your first samples.
Keep in mind a couple of things, this is my thoughts on with it come the usual caveats that I am not the final answer and drink responsibly. I repeat these are still only suggestions and it is not mandatory to have all that are listed.
Out of State, ‘must haves’
- Old Lompoc Brewery. A relative newcomer to the state of Washington the brewery was originally sponsored by Jim Parker who is now an assistant brewer at Chuckanut. If you find yourself in Portland and happened down near 23rd you should check out the brewery.
- Cascade Brewery. Known also as Raccoon Lodge, this brewery has created itself a bit of bother since people are starting to notice the barrel aged beers that give the medal winners a run for their money. The “Jelly Roll” and the Gold Yeller should not be missed and if you are in the Portland area, you need to stop in and check out the facility.
- Ninkasi Vanilla Oatis. Based out of Eugene and a fixture on draft handles the regular brewed batch Oatis can often be found on the shelves or in bars around the city. The Vanilla Oatis shouldn’t be ignored if for anything a chance to say you had it. Want to know more about Ninkasi, come to Beveridge Place on the last Thursday of July to see Jamie and the gang.
- Rogue John-John Hazelnut. John-John which get’s its name from the collaboration of head brewer John Maier and Head Distiller John Couchot. Hazelnut is more commonly known as the Hazelnut Brown Nectar with the lovable glassy eyed man on the bottle. Aged in Rum Barrels previously used to make Rogue’s Hazelnut Rum this beer is sure to be interesting. If you are in Portland and stop into one of the public houses, you might try the John-John Dead Guy made from maturing Dead Guy in Dead Guy Whiskey Barrels.
Out of the Country
Germany / New York state
- Schneider & Brooklyner Hopfen-Weisse. Technically this is both an out of state and out of the country beer. A collaborative effort between Brooklyn New York’s Brooklyn Brewing and recognized German Brewery Scheider, this beer is a sipper but pours beautifully and is a rare treat in the state of Washington.
- J.W. Lee’s Harvest Ales (Lagavulin & Calavados). These beers are will not be available until 2:00 PM and when its gone they are gone. The Lagaluvlin is continually aged in single malt oak barrel while the Calavados was aged inside an Apple Brandy oak barrel. Not to be missed and will no doubt drain you of your precious tickets.
- Allagash Fluxus 2008 / 2009. I had the pleasure of having this beer last year when Allagash Owner and Brewer Rob Todd was in town. This beer should be looked as the afternoon / evening equivalent of a night cap and not to be consumed in multiples. On a trivia note, the Interlude was previously featured in Cask and Draft forms during Brouwer’s Sour Beer fest in case you had it there.
San Diego, California
- Stone Vertical Epic 08.08.08. Bottle #6 of Stone’s Twelve year ambition to produce one beer that will age in your cellar until December 12th, 2012 this is a rare find on draft. 2008’s batch is listed as a Belgian Strong Pale Ale and might be an odd treat during these bright sunny days when we all want a little shade to hide in.
- Stone Double Bastard 2007. Introduced way back in the early days of Stone, this is a Strong Ale in the most forceful possible way. Aged in the bottle since it was released to the wild, this beer should experience softening of the alcohol and strong bitterness. Worth a shot if again to say that you had a vintage beer that can’t be found on draft anywhere.
As for me, I am staying out of the hustle and bustle of it all until tomorrow when my wife and I take the bus down to the event. Look for me and my wife enjoying our journey to sample the rare, the refreshing, and the memorable beers of Seattle International Beer Festival.