Northwest Military Blogs: Served blog

August 4, 2014 at 8:29am

Tacoma's Brew Five Three beer festival returns with larger glass pints and awesome blues

There it is! The Brew Five Three glass pint! Photo courtesy of Broadway Center

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For any craft beer enthusiast living in the South Sound, 2014 has been a pretty stellar year. From the inaugural Tacoma Beer Week, opening of Top Rung Brewing in Lacey, expansion of The Red Hot and the soon-to-open Three Magnets, Odd Otter and Pacific Brewing, to good times at Gig Harbor Beer Festival, huge 7 Seas Brewing anniversary party and last weekend's Olympia Brew Fest - plus too many new beer releases to mention - the stream of craft beer-related events seems to be endless. This weekend continues the trend with Broadway Center's second annual Brew Five Three: Tacoma's Beer & Blues Festival next to the Pantages Theater in downtown Tacoma, Saturday, Aug. 9, from 1-9 p.m.

Building upon the success of their first year, the Broadway Center and Brew Five Three organizer Aaron Stevens seek to continue building upon the quality of the first mixture of beer and blues.

"It was so fun last year listening to the brewers talk to each drinker about beer," says Stevens, who is the program manager at Broadway Center. "Our volunteers did an amazing job making it as easy as possible for the brewers to do just that - concentrate on their beers and the beer drinkers. The brewers are proud of their product. The less distractions, the better."

Stevens also gives huge props to Chris Miller of The Red Hot, Tacoma's craft beer and hog dog hangout. Miller, a beer aficionado and veteran of beer festivals, served as an advisor for last year's Brew Five Three, offering advice and tips from behind the scenes, which Stevens calls invaluable. Stevens is thrilled to have Miller back this year.

While the debut of Brew Five Three was a success, Stevens and his team paid close attention to feedback. Improvements sourced from survey results from last year's festivalgoers and brewers include allowing re-entry and larger, pint-sized souvenir GLASSES. Yes, glass. Well-behaved dogs on leash and drinkers off-leash will still be permitted.

"Last year exceeded our expectations," says Stevens. "But, we listened. We received some feedback on our small drinking glasses. Our thought, after talking with brewers, was a small glass allowing for more tasting. This year, we have pint glasses from the very start, instead of pulling them out at the end like we did last year."

It's logical thinking, but maybe people thought it was too much work to refill.

"The Broadway Center strives to serve the community," adds Stevens. "(Executive Director) David Fischer has never taken the approach of being Tacoma's tastemaker, bringing in what he thinks Tacoma needs. He listens to what the community has to say. It's been fun to take the same approach with this beer festival."

The pint glasses have 4-, 8- and 12-ounce marks, or drinkers may fill it all the way to the top. While it seems crazy to limit your tastings with full pours, Stevens witnessed folks who wanted to sip a full pint while watching a band's whole set or kick back at the end of the night with a pint and compare notes with friends.

For the second year, Brew Five Three returns to Broadway, in front of Broadway Center's venues and down the street. The block-party layout will remain the same, with breweries lining the street and the music stage above in the park. But, the date obviously changed. Ignoring this year, June can be a rainy month.

"It rained before and after last year's June Brew Five Three," explains Stevens. "The sky opened up just for the beer drinkers. Still, people felt hunkered down. August makes more sense."

Tents will be erected if needed, but the weather calls for clear skies and temperatures in the mid-80s.

Washington state breweries and cideries are the focus, with more than 30 confirmed to line Broadway, including South Sound breweries 7 Seas Brewing, Dick's Brewing Company, Fish Brewing Company, Harmon Brewing Co., M.T. Head Brewing Co., Narrows Brewing, Puyallup River Brewing, Tacoma Brewing Co. and Wingman Brewers. Also included are Odd Otter Brewing Company and Pacific Brewing & Malting Co., even though the two downtown Tacoma breweries haven't opened their doors.

"I'm really excited Pacific Brewing and Odd Otter are part of Brew Five Three," says Stevens. "It's not really their debut because they have done a great job promoting themselves, but I'm thrilled they'll be on Broadway. They have a lot of energy, focus and have been fun to work with."

The other participating state breweries are an impressive lot; click here to see the list.

"We got great feedback from the brewers last year," says Stevens. "And almost every one of them is coming back. Those brewers who couldn't make it due to vacations or what not have partnered with other breweries to pour at the event. Those certain brewers felt it's important to be at this festival. I love when community happens. The brewing community is a friendly one. And, that's why this is such a fun event to host. (Laughing) I get to have meetings with all the best breweries."

Stevens, lead singer of Tacoma indie rock band Goldfinch, as well as a contributor to many other musician's projects, will be the first to tell you he's not a blues aficionado. He did campaign to have Stephanie Anne Johnson, a longtime Tacoma singer-songwriter and top contender on NBC's The Voice, to headline the festival. No one argued.

Wisely, Stevens solicited the help of Rev. Dave Brown, a beer drinker and producer of Immanuel Presbyterian Church's popular Blues Vespers shows, to book the blues musicians. Brown will bring in the West Coast Women's Blues Revue - a Northwest blues super group of Lady A, Patti Allen, and Teri Anne Wilson - the Mark Riley Trio and swampabilly band Junkyard Jane. Brown went with high-energy blues bands. Good call.

Food vendors include Athena's Food Truck, Auto Pompa Pizzeria, Fish Basket's Mobile Fish Bar, Ice Cream Social, Murph's BBQ, Quack Dogs LLC and Lumpia World.

"Lumpia has its highest-grossing day of the year at the festival," says Stevens.

B Sharp Coffee House down the street will set up a station onsite, serving complimentary coffee.

Although it's easy for craft beer enthusiasts to get excited about Brew Five Three for its beer and blues alone, the event serves as an important fundraiser for The Broadway Center's Education Program, one of the largest arts education programs in Washington state, serving more than 51,000 students, teachers and parents each year.

Advance tickets to Brew Five Three are on sale now.Tickets are $30, $25 for military personnel for 10 tastings. Designated drivers may purchase a ticket for $10 to enjoy live music, a variety of food vendors and a festive outdoor atmosphere. To purchase tickets call the Broadway Center Box Office at 253.591.5894, toll-free 1.800.291.7593, visit in person at 901 Broadway in Tacoma's Theater District or online at, or visit The Red Hotor The Beer Essentials. Additional tokens may be purchased at $1.50 per token, or 10 for $10. An ATM will be onsite.

With so many craft beer events dotting the calendar in the South Sound, Stevens and his team feel that Brew Five Three further builds upon the events throughout the year, adding a different flavor and context that enthusiasts will enjoy.

"I believe it complements everything else that's going on in the South Sound as far as beer festivals and beer events," he said. "It completes the puzzle with quality Washington-centric beers and great blues music."

BREW FIVE THREE: TACOMA'S BEER & BLUES FESTIVAL, 1-9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 9, block party on Broadway between Ninth and 11th streets, Tacoma, $10-$30,

Filed under: New Beer Column Tacoma
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Served, a blog by the Weekly Volcano, is the region’s feedbag of fresh chow daily, local restaurant news, New Beer Column, bar and restaurant openings and closings, breaking culinary news and breaking culinary ground - all brought to the table with a dollop of Internet frivolity on top.

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