Now This Is Really Strange


Day one of the Port Townsend 2014 Strange Brewfest was indeed strange. Good. But Strange. My two favorite “odd” beers were Stranger Manger from Elysian Brewing in Seattle, a gold-colored concoction with myrrh and frankincense, and Hippy Sweat from Triplehorn Brewery in Woodinville, made with sage and patchouli on a pale ale base. I immediately had flashbacks from 1969 and 1969 and walking along The Ave by the UW.

Day two featured an abundant array of tastings, some noteworthy and some not worth mentioning. Funny thing about strange brews. You either like them or hate them. And many are surprising – in both extremes. Beers you think sound good, aren’t. Well, they are to some people, just not to me. I heard people raving about one beer and I could hardly choke down the first sip. Others I liked a lot, got mixed to bad reviews from my fellow revelers.

That said, here are a few of the inventions I liked at this year’s festival.

Crabby Stout – Dungeness Brewery, Port Angeles, WA – They drop three Dungeness crabs into the boil of their famous stout. I liked it. Got the crab flavors and the good stout tastes. Others said it tasted like a stout brewed with seawater. They actually eat the crab meat at the brewery when the cooking is done. Yum.

7 Bloody Seas – 7 Seas Brewing – Port Orchard, WA – It’s your basic Bloody Mary with beer and spices and a green bean. Great hair of the dog beer. Not too hot. Just a tingle.

Smokey the Pear – an interesting pear cider – which are not usually on my list of things to try, but this one was very nice.

Black Berlinerweiss – This Swartzbier from NW Peaks came with or without a spritz of raspberry syrup. I tried it both ways and liked them both – maybe with raspberry a little more, because I was in that kind of mood at the time.

Mayan Cave Bear – Sound Brewery, Poulsbo, WA – A take on their Ursa series of Belgian style ales – with some interesting peppers and spices added.

The theme seemed to be adding herbs to beers, and/or a variety of hot chili peppers. Thankfully there also were several Gose styled beers that helped beat the heat.

This is one festival you should definitely add to your list if you are not already a regular. Many festivals let you sample a variety of styles from different brewers, say, five different IPAs. And you can debate why you think one is better than the others. This festival is for the adventurous who think beer is an art form as well as a consumable food product.

Note: if you are looking for pictures from Friday night, my regrets – the micro SD card says it is unreadable and may be damaged. Oh well, thank goodness for Saturday.

Bob Shoemaker

Grew up in Renton, WA. Writer. Photographer. Homebrewer. Woodworker. Beer lover. UW grad. - 14 years in Marketing and Advertising communications - 16 years in technical product support, quality, loyalty, support analyst - 12 years as communications business owner