Leave the tie on the rack

Get dad beer festival tickets this year

By Steve Dunkelberger on June 14, 2007

You likely remember those word-association games we all had to take in high school during those seemingly endless barrages of standardized tests. Here is a flash back of those days. Washington is to beer what California is to wine. So an event this weekend is therefore a blue-collar version of a pinky-extending wine tasting found in the Golden state.

Yes, beer baby. A beer festival the likes of which true men could only dream about just a few years ago. And on Father’s Day, in fact.

Washington is known as the home of some of the most crafted and artistically blended beers the country has to offer. Now is a chance to sample many of them, including some of the small batch brews that only a select gaggle of bottle bums were otherwise allowed to drink.

Representatives from most of the more than 80 microbreweries in the state will be on tap to serve up not only their standard brews but a few sample batches of bubbled beers that might find their way into larger production if the festival test bed proves successful.

The second annual Washington Brewers Festival is simply all about beer and the beer culture in the Pacific Northwest. Brewers have been challenged to bring their best beers to showcase their talent, craftsmanship and creativity. Miller Genuine Draft, Bud and anything with “Ice” in its name should just stay home this weekend. This is a festival for big beer dogs, those watered down brews should stay under the porch.

There will be all sorts of beer and brew styles, from IPA and pale ales to flavored concoctions and novelty brews. There will be everything from smooth and crisp lagers to refreshing Hefeweizens, spicy pale ales, hoppy IPAs and dark, robust stouts. If you want to drink it, it will be served. Beer explorers can also expect to see some hard-to-find beers and special versions of their favorites — vintage, dry-hopped and cask-conditioned.

All the big names in craft brewing will be there, including the South Sound’s own Fish Brewing Co., which will be showcasing its Fish Tale Organic IPA, Leavenworth Blind Pig  Dunkelweizen, and Spire Mountain Pear Cider. Tacoma’s Harmon Pub & Brewery will bring JT Memorial Kolsch and the ever-tasty Puget Sound Vanilla Porter. The Ram Restaurant and Brewery chain will be trucking in kegs of its Belgian White, Face Down Brown Ale, Berry White and 71 Pale Ale.

Prepare those pallets before hand to make sure they are limber and ready for action. They will get a work out this weekend. Washington Beer Washington Brewers Guild will not disappoint.

Although this festival celebrates all things beer, the festival itself has activities for the whole family. Yes, it will truly be an all-ages event and still celebrate beer.

Sure, this year’s festival will feature nearly 200 beers from over 60 breweries from the Pacific Northwest. But there will also be music and activities, such as the keg toss, where muscle heads can show off the muscles and keg-maneuvering skills they developed from years of hard work. Each contestant will toss an empty pony keg toward three kiddy pools full of water, and points will be awarded for landing the keg in the pools.

Children’s activities include inflatable toys, coasters and mirror-making for last minute Father’s Day gifts. There will also be a root beer and soda garden where children and tee-totalers can chug down craft sodas.

And of course there will be music, from the Roy Kay Trio and Mark Dufresne to the Strange Tones and Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne.

[Saint Edward State Park in Kenmore, June 16-17, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., $15-$20 includes a tasting cup and six tastes, additional tastes are $1.50 each, designated driver admission is $8, Tickets are available on line or at 99 Bottles in Federal Way and Harmon Pub & Brewery in Tacoma, www.washingtonbeer.com]