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It's all about the art of brewing: Bremerton Summer BrewFest this weekend | Kitsap Week
This weekend, don't expect to see keg-stands at the first-ever Bremerton Summer BrewFest. Nor should you expect scenes out of the movie “Animal House.”
“This is not a frat party, but rather a connoisseur’s event,” said organizer Eric Radovich, executive director for the Washington Beer Commission.
The BrewFest will showcase 23 Washington breweries and more than 60 different beers. Kitsap County breweries will be well represented, with eight breweries on the docket.
Because of the nature of the event, this is for the 21 and older crowd and no one younger will be permitted. Admission will get you a tasting glass (about one-third the size of a traditional pint), and five tokens good for filling up your glass at the breweries of your choice. Additional tokens may be purchased as well. And of course, safety is paramount. Designated drivers will be admitted at the gate at a discounted rate and will be treated to free soft drinks and water.
The Washington Beer Commission was formed in 2006 with the purpose of promoting Washington-made beer. The commission puts on festivals across the state and the Bremerton event will be its first on the Kitsap Peninsula. Carlos Jara with the Downtown Bremerton Association is thrilled about the exposure the BrewFest will give the city of Bremerton.
Jara helped woo the commission to choose Bremerton for the BrewFest venue. Bremerton competed against Everett, but Everett was deemed too close to Seattle, which already hosts Washington Beer Commission festivals.
Jara hopes first-time Bremerton visitors will enjoy the restaurants and shops the city has to offer. Because the focus of the festival is on the brews, besides Popcorn Chef with its gourmet flavors, there will not be any food vendors on the premises. Instead, festival-goers are encouraged to patron a local restaurant.
“There are dozens of great places to eat within walking distance,” Radovich said. “We will print an area map in the program with suggestions for where people can eat.”
Jara knew the event would have a summer focus and the commission tried to pick a date with the best chance for dry weather. On average, Bremerton receives about 14 more inches of rain a year than Seattle. The end of July was chosen for the date, as historically it can be drier.
“But it could still rain,” Jara said.
Radovich expects the breweries pouring at the event will serve refreshing “summer” beers, which aren't as heavy as winter beers.
“Despite the fact the beer looks a little different in color and is darker than mass-produced beers, they aren't heavy. They are just more flavorful,” he said.
Radovich said there already has been quite a buzz about the BrewFest and he anticipates it will become an annual event in Bremerton. He expects it could eventually expand into a multi-day affair. In Washington, the craft beer industry has grown remarkably over the past five years, he said. The number of small-craft breweries in the state has surpassed 150.
“We consider these brewers to be artisans,” Radovich said. “They have a definite skill and talent.”
Kitsap resident Mike Hale and owner of Hale’s Ale said “Every time you turn around there is a small brewery opening up. Competition is very stiff, but it’s still a friendly competition.”
If you leave the Bremerton BrewFest thirsty for more, you may want to try your hand with home brewing.
Many local breweries got their start with the help from Olympic Brewing in Bremerton. Owner Bill Sproules has seen remarkable growth in the home-brewing business since he first opened up shop in 1994.
Catering to the home brewer, Olympic Brewing offers supplies, recipes and classes.
Sproules compares brewing to baking. Much like a first-time baker might rely on a boxed cake mix, first-time brewers have kits to help ease them into beer making.
And unlike canning your own vegetables, you don’t have to worry about botulism. “There is no pathogen that can survive in beer because of the alcohol content,” Sproules said. “Beer has been around forever —it’s been around so long because it was safer to drink than most water supplies.”
Bremerton Summer BrewFest Details:
July 23 from noon to 9 p.m. in downtown Bremerton.
You must be 21 or older to attend this event. Proof of age required at the gate.
Live music featuring New Old Stock, Lutes & Liars and Tumbledown.
Advance tickets are $15 or $20 at the door (military discount tickets are $15 at the door.)
Entry includes a tasting cup and five tokens good for 5.5- ounce tastes ; additional tokens may be purchased for $1.50 each, or four for $5.
Designated driver admission is $5.
Tickets are available at www.brownpapertickets.com.
More information at www.washingtonbeer.com.
SHOWCASING KITSAP SUDS
More than one-third of the breweries attending BrewFest are from Kitsap—way to make a showing! Because of deadline, and much to my dismay, I was unable to visit the breweries in person. The breweries took the time to answer my phone calls and emails, and provided this pertinent information. But oh, how much more fun this would have been over a pint.
Battenkill Brewing Co.
Established: April 2011.
Signature beers: Harvest Moon Amber Ale; Old Tractor IPA and Summer Rain Pale Ale.
Favorite food pairing: Summer Rain goes well with locally caught Dungeness crab.
Seasonal beers: Produced a Maibock for an event in Seattle that was a hit and will become a spring regular. In the works for the fall is a Cherry wood smoked, India Black Ale.
Barrels produced annually: Too early to tell, but the brewery is currently on track to produce 50 barrels this year.
Brewmaster: Steve Roering, owner, brewer, marketer and distributor. “Hopefully I'll get to the point where I can hire some help,” Roering wrote.
Tasting room: Not yet, but in the works.
Distribution: Battenkill is on tap at seven local Kitsap restaurants, with more to be soon added.
What makes your beer unique? “My goal has always been to brew beers that people want to drink,” Roering wrote. “I've been told that my beers are ‘very approachable.’”
Serving at BrewFest: Harvest Moon Amber, Old Tractor IPA and Summer Rain Pale Ale.
Contact information: www.battenkillbrewingcompany.com.
Tasting room: Restaurant located at 1100 Perry Ave., Bremerton.
Serving at BrewFest: Brewer's choice.
Contact information: (360) 377-2344.
Hale’s Ales Brewery
Established: 1983 in Seattle, opened Hale's Alehouse in 2010 in Silverdale.
Signature beers: Hale's Pale Ale, Mongoose India IPA, which is a bigger and “hoppier” Pale Ale. According to Mike Hale, IPA’s were brewed in England for their troops. The hops helped preserve the beer and the troops got used to a beer that was hoppier. Hale’s also make a Super Goose I.P.A. which is uses even more hops. their troops stationed in India. The hops helped preserve the beer and the troops got used to a beer that was “hoppier.” Hale’s also makes a Super Goose IPA which uses even more hops.
Favorite food pairing: Hale’s Pale Ale is great with hamburgers. “The beer cuts the fat flavors so you can refresh your palate with each sip,” Hale said.
Seasonal beers: According to Hale, seasonal beers are a terrific excuse to “exercise your creative juices and come up with something special.” Currently, the brewery is featuring Kolsch, a German-style ale.
Barrels produced annually: About 10,000.
Brewmaster: Hale was the original brewmaster. He studied in England back in the day when Europe was known for having the best beer. “Nowadays, the best beers are in America,” Hale said. “American beer is really held in high esteem. We have tourists come from Europe to taste our beers.”
Tasting room: Restaurant located at the Kitsap Mall in Silverdale.
Distribution: Throughout the state as well as select locations in Idaho and Oregon.
What makes your beer unique? “We’ve been at it quite a while and got it well figured out,” Hale said. He recommended visiting a number of booths and “try ‘em all. Get exposed to different styles.”
Serving at BrewFest: Kolsch, Super Goose and perhaps one surprise beer.
Contact information: www.halesbrewery.com.
Hood Canal Brewery
Established: 1996, moved to its bigger location in 2003.
Signature beers: Dosewalips Special Ale, Dabob Bay IPA, Agate Pass Amber. Interestingly, owner Don Wyatt said he sells more ales in Kitsap, while the amber is more popular in Seattle.
Favorite food pairings: Dosewalips goes well with seafood and pasta.
Seasonal beers: Southpoint Porter.
Barrels produced annually: 690 barrels.
Brewmaster: Don Wyatt.
Tasting room: 26499 Bond Road, NE, Kingston.
Distribution: Can be found as far south as Union and as far east as Bellevue. Available locally at area restaurants and markets.
What makes your beer unique? Wyatt makes his beers the way he likes them, “I like body,” he said. He said his mixture of grain, hops and yeast is unique. “We are consistent and people get what they expect.” When Wyatt moved his brewery from his home to his new location, he worried the water would be different enough to cause a noticeable change in the beer. “I tasted it before I even moved to where I am,” he said. “I had been brewing from home for six and a half years and I didn’t want the beers to change.”
Serving at BrewFest: Dosewalips, Dabob Bay IPA and a wheat beer.
Contact information: www.hoodcanalbrewery.com.
Silver City Brewery
Signature beers: Ridge Top Red (accounts for 60 percent of its production).
Favorite food pairings: “Ridge Top Red is really everybody’s beer,” said Silver City spokesperson Kurt Larson. “It’s every food’s beer too. It goes along well with anything along the dinner spectrum.”
Seasonal beers: Currently featuring Ziggy Zoggy Summer Lager; Oktoberfest beer is next in line.
Barrels produced annually: Estimated at around 5,000.
Brewmaster: Don “Big Daddy” Spencer.
Tasting room: Restaurant at 2799 Myhre Road in Silverdale. The company also hopes to open a tasting room at the new production facility in Bremerton.
Distribution: As far west as La Push, and as far east as Redmond; in Kitsap at area markets as well as the restaurant.
What makes your beer unique? A combination of supportive owners and the brewmaster, Larson said.
Serving at BrewFest: Ridge Top Red, Ziggy Zoggy Summer Lager, Whoop Pass Double IPA and an experimental beer.
Contact information: www.silvercitybrewery.com.
Slippery Pig Brewery
Established: January 2011.
Signature beers: Rhubarb IPA, Hogsbreath Hefe, Dandelion Bitter and Stinging Nettle Pale Ale; Slippery Pig brews whatever sounds good at the time, with an emphasis on local ingredients.
Seasonal beers: Almost all its beer is seasonal. “We brew like farmers,” wrote owner Dave Lambert. “If an ingredient isn’t available, we don’t brew that beer.”
Barrels produced annually: It’s too early to tell.
Brewmaster: Lambert and his wife, Shawna. She recently brewed her first batch.
Tasting room: Located outside on their property in Poulsbo. “We are working on a plan that would allow us to be a year-round outdoor tasting room,” Lambert wrote. “We don’t want to lose the rural, natural outside experience, but November wind really isn’t very pleasant.”
Distribution: On tap at some local eateries.
What makes your beer unique? “I’m not sure anything we do is ‘normal,’” Lambert wrote. “Our beers are unique to the modern beer market.” On site, Slippery Pig serves its beer at cellar temperatures out of a century-old root cellar (the way beer was stored prior to refrigeration.) “One of our friends has given us the moniker ‘Awesomely odd.’ I quite like it,” Lambert wrote.
Serving at BrewFest: Stinging Nettle Pale Ale and Hogsbreath Hefe (which is lemon verbena and honey American-style wheat beer.)
Contact information: (360) 394-1686.
Established: Summer 2010.
Signature beers: “We did not start a brewery with the intention of having a signature beer,” wrote J. Mark Hood of Sound Brewery. “We decided early on that the market would decide, and that we would brew the beers that we think are either underrepresented here in the area, or that we can do substantially better.” That being said, Hood added that the brewery is probably best known for its American-Belgian hybrid called Monk’s Indiscretion.
Favorite food pairings: This is serious business at Sound Brewery and the brewery has done three events with area restaurants, showcasing its beer and the restaurant’s food. “My favorite pairing so far was probably Dubbel Entendre with Mousaka at Tizley’s Europub,” Hood wrote.
Seasonal beers: Hard to say since they’ve only been brewing a short time. Hood speculates the Kristallweizen will end up being a summer beer for the brewery.
Barrels produced annually? Currently they produce 50 barrels a month. Hood expects to reach 1,200 barrels by the end of this year.
Brewmaster: They haven’t named a brewmaster, as it is more of a team-effort.
Tasting room: Located at 650 NW Bovela Lane in Poulsbo.
Distribution: Currently served at 64 restaurants throughout Puget Sound.
What makes your beer unique? “We use the right ingredients and techniques for the beers,” Hood wrote. “Quality is paramount and we don’t skip.”
Serving at BrewFest: O’Regan’s Revenge Irish Style Red Ale, Reluctant IPA.
Contact information: www.soundbrewery.com.
Valholl Brewing Co.
Established: August 2010.
Signature beers: Crimson Cove Smoked Rye, Stouty Stouterson, Firkin Hammer.
Favorite food pairings: None to report. Brewmaster Jeff Holcomb wrote, “I like all food and beer, so I can’t go wrong.”
Seasonal beers: Currently pouring a Belgian Style Wit and a grapefruit and orange infused dry hopped I.P.A.
Barrels produced annually? About 100 barrels.
Tasting room: 20186 Front St., NE, Suite B, Poulsbo.
Distribution: Can be found at restaurants around Kitsap.
What makes your beer unique? “We do a lot of infusions and adjuncts which a lot of brewers don’t do,” Holcomb wrote.
Serving at BrewFest: Poulsbo Abbey Wit, Single Series Citra IPA.
Contact information: (360) 550-5825.