Come on, get hoppy

Gig Harbor Beer Festival takes over the Uptown pavilion last Saturday

Staff writerMay 14, 2014 

Terry Wimmer, at her second Gig Harbor Beer Festival, set up a camping chair next to Rob Anderson, in his third year at the event. Bags of pretzels and cheese crackers were carted along.

Wimmer’s husband and Anderson’s wife were out and about in Uptown, sampling from 21 different breweries.

Wimmer and Anderson were serving as the designated drivers for their spouses, so they camped out in the shade on the sunny Saturday afternoon. Wimmer said the Gig Harbor Beer Festival is a great event. She and her husband drove down from Bremerton.

The line winding through the Uptown parking lot formed at about 11:30 a.m., a half-hour before gates opened.

About 100 tickets were available at the door, culled from local businesses and restaurants that hadn’t sold out of tickets. The rest of the presale was sold out.

It was an in-state celebration, as all the breweries hail from Washington.

“If we’re from Washington State, we should be drinking Washington beer,” said Colin Harvin, brewmaster for Tacoma’s Wingman Brewery.

Everybody’s Brewery felt the Washington State love at the festival. Only an hour outside Portland, in Vancouver, Pat Velten of the brewery said home staters are always welcome to Everybody’s. The brewery poured its Local Logger Lager.

Being near Portland means a market with lots of Oregon brews, so Velten appreciated that Everybody’s could “get Washington love up here.”

While Everybody’s Brewing had the longest commute, Gig Harbor’s 7 Seas had the shortest. A festival at home means a lot because the brewery pours for travellers and hometown fans alike. The brewery will celebrate five years in July.

“We’re literally like two miles away,” said Rob Brunsman, who does sales and events for 7 Seas. “So this is the fan base that helped get us where we’re at.”

Brunsman wasn’t pouring alone; self-proclaimed “beer-ista” Brittany Johnson helped out on taps that included Depthfinder IPA and Cascadia Dark Ale.

Steven Edbrooke drove down from Poulsbo with Sound Brewing. Slippery Pig Brewing, also of Poulsbo, set up a tent nearby. “We decided to congregate together,” Edbrooke said.

The event, as always, is a tasting that doubles as a fundraiser for a local charity. This year, the Kiwanis Club benefitted.

“I think it’s a great venue for people to come and take advantage of all the business opportunities here and taste the local beer,” said Jeni Mallory, fundraising chair for the Kiwanis Club. It’s also a chance for the Kiwanis Club to share its community service work with visitors.

India Pale Ale, or IPA, is a standby of all Northwest beer celebrations. “Everybody’s got to have one,” said Dan Wyatt of Dabob Bay Brewery.

There was one tent pouring something other than beer. Heritage Distilling set up a tent near the entrance to taste whiskey, vodka and gin.

“In hindsight, we should have been here last year,” said Matt Rockness, who handles sales for Heritage.

“Any locally branded product at an event like this does well,” Rockness said. “It’s fun to do an event in our back yard.

Narrows Brewing, located in the Narrows Marina in Tacoma, debuted at this year’s festival. Two of the brewery’s owners, Thair and Pat Jorgenson, helped pour suds with brewer Joe Walts.

So what’s the best part of the festival?

“The beer, of course,” said organizer John Fosberg. “And the brewers and the attendees.”

Volunteer coordinator John Kwasny said that about 20 people signed up to work the festival. That group plus 30 Kiwanis volunteers helped the event go off without a hitch. Kwasny likes working the festival because it’s local.

“Just the fact that people can come here and try so many great Northwest beers,” Kwasny said.

The attendees voted on the best brew, and Rainy Daze Brewing’s Mind Funk took the prize. Rainy Daze is based in Silverdale.

In all, 1400 attended Saturday’s event, with one special attendee: Fosberg’s mom.

Karen Miller: 253-358-4155 Twitter: @gateway_karen

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