This past weekend I was able to stop by the Seattle International Beer Festival that took place in Fisher Pavilion and Lawn at the Seattle Center. This festival runs for 3 days in July from Friday through Sunday. There were many a tasty brew to try that were both local and international. Highlighting the different styles were several Belgian, German, Czech, and American brews. These ranged from Pilsner to Ales to IPA and everything in between.
I found myself trying different styles from local brewers that had their hand in different styles from around the world. There were barleywines, India Pale Ales, Stouts, and Belgian Dark Ales that were ripe for the trying. Brewers such as Three Magnets, Rogue, Crux Fermentation, and Unibroue all had their own take on these worldly styles that were quite tasty. The best of which was the Grande Reserve 17 from Unibroue.
During my visit, I met with others who had been going to the festival for the previous several years. They had it all planned out and even shared a tip about sitting at the table closest to the exit so that those leaving my drop off a ticket or two that they weren’t able to use. We talked about their visits to the beer festivals of the past and I learned that there is always a large bottle opening that is the highlight of the festival. This year’s bottle was the aforementioned Unibroue Grande Reserve 17.
The best thing about this beer is it’s malty complexity. It has a thick sweetness with hints of molasses, chocolate, dried fruits, and spice. Being aged in oak, this beer has taken on some of that characteristic, though it is more subtle than you would expect. The pour is caramel with a creamy head that settled out fairly quickly (though that could be because I had been using this glass for other beers previously). I would definitely recommend this to others, as it was a great drink and I am hoping I can find it at a bottle shop.
The other best in class beers I tried came from Crux Fermentation. Their Better Off Red and Freakcake were excellent, but were also overpriced as they required 6 tickets (i.e. $6) for a 4 oz. pour. While I don’t mind spending extra for a great beer, and I did at this event, I do like to make sure I have enough tickets for the whole event and found myself starting to ration them after seeing this. I’d still recommend these beers if you see them as the Freakcake is probably one of the best sour beers I have had so far. The Better off Red is a tasty way to try someone else’s take on a “Red” beer that isn’t an ale.
Look out for an update next week as we’re likely going to be swinging by the Heathen Patio Preview this weekend in Vancouver, and possibly a few other places.