Seattle is one of my favorite beer cities in America and though they don’t have as many brewpubs as Portland, the bars they are world class in terms of the beers they serve. One thing you are always assured of is finding good Belgian beer in Seattle whether at Uber Tavern or Brouwers Cafe, two of the top beer bars in the US. So now they have this festival of international beers, so this should be pretty damn special.
This festival is one that has eluded for 2 years in a row, but not 2010. This year I made it to Seattle Centre for what many Seattle deem one of the best festivals of the year. Seattle International Beer Festival is the same as Portland International Beer Festival but they are held in different cities. The location of Seattle Centre is near the famous space needle, and the location of the ‘Seattle Supersonics’ that no longer exist.
We arrived at around 430 in the afternoon on what seemed to the first hot day of summer, and with the Mariners away in Detroit, the only other thing to do instead of sit in a cramped apartment was hit a beer festival. Entering the arena as we shall call it was was a small amount of space for what I assumed to be one of the premier festivals. There were massive lineups of 30-40 people at most booths, but after a while I seemed to pick which ones.
The festival costs $20-25 to enter and you get given 10 tickets. Some beers at this festival were 1 ticket, and others 2 or 3 tickets. Without doubt I wasn’t worried about how many tickets beer cost as i knew there were (meant to be) special beers being poured. My aim was to try as many strange ‘international’ beers as i could. Mikeller from Denmark, Nogne from Norway and even some Japanese microbreweries. The aim was there, but the strategy wasn’t. I had known that Dogfish Head 120 minute 20% IPA was on tap, and Walking Man Jaywalker Imperial, but not much else. To be honest most names didn’t mean anything to me from overseas. Yeah i know I should know more!
Instead of rabbiting on about some of the great beers at this festival, and there were many, I think the organizers got greedy and should have limited the numbers in the area for which beers were served. Had we come on the Friday we could have had some of the rare beers, but by Saturday they were pretty much gone, even some of the rare US beers were tapped. The beers were strong with most hitting anywhere from 10-13%, served in 4 ounce glasses, so by the end of the festival you are pretty well going.
Our highlight was yes ‘leaving’ and not having to wait 25 minutes to get a pour. We instead hit up Brouwers that had the Pliny on Tap. Like most beer lovers we can appreciate Pliny in the bottle, but when on tap it’s a pretty special experience. Not only did they have Pliny but North Coast old Rasputin which is one of my favorite beers
Giving credit where its due the SIB festival had some special beers that I obviously would not be able to taste otherwise. Deschutes were pouring their Mirror Mirror & Jubel, Great Divide had line ups for the Chocolate Yeti, and trying Flyers Uber Wine was pretty special. So in terms of trying some of the rare overseas, I was either too late, or too frustrated at having to line up for half an hour. That is the down side of this festival in that feeling like you need to line up to get the right to get some beer.
Seattle has some great festivals and maybe in a new location, with greater coordination of numbers this event could be a special one. But I will not be back next year, I will leave it to those that love crowds and long lines. I was not the only one off to the sides a bit annoyed to have traveled for this overcrowded event.