Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Experience At The Seattle International Beer Festival 2012

Last weekend, I attended the Seattle International Beer Festival at Seattle Center.  This annual event gives beer enthusiasts the opportunity to taste some unique and rare beers from around the World.  This year's fest had over 200 different beers from 16 different countries. 

I attended two days of this year's festival.  First, on Saturday, I attended as a volunteer.  From 6:30PM until the beer stopped flowing at 9:45PM, I was manning a tap handle for Mad Viking Brewing out of Denmark.  I was pouring their Belgian Golden Strong and their, very popular at this year's fest, Stingray Double IPA. 

As a volunteer, I was unable to taste any of the beers on Saturday.  Volunteers cannot sample the beers they are serving.  The benefit, however, is that volunteers get free admission to the festival and 10 drink tickets at the conclusion of their shift.  Since my shift went until closing on Saturday, I came back on Sunday to partake as a festival attendee and sample some of the wide ranging selections. 

Amazingly, looking over the beer list for the festival, I found that I'd already had (at least once) quite a few of the beers on the list.  So, I tried to concentrate on sampling the beers I'd never had before.  This included the beers from Mad Viking that I'd been pouring the day before.  I managed to try their Belgian Golden Strong, their Stingray Double IPA and their Imperial Russian Stout (IRS), aged on Cognac casks.  They were all quite good, and it's got me wondering if I can find Mad Viking beers in any of my local bottle shops.  I have yet to find out.  They used the term 'IRS' on their stouts, which stands for 'Imperial Russian Stout'.  This was a bit unusual, as we're more used to seeing RIS (Russian Imperial Stout), but no big deal. 

Mad Viking aslo had another verion of their IRS at the fest, this one aged on Bourbon barrels, but it must have been quite popular, becuase it was gone before I even started my volunteer shift on Saturday.  Wow. 

The only other real standouts for me at the festival were beers I'd had before.  Lost Abbey Angel's Share was excellent as always, as was Mort Subite Wit - a Belgian style wit that has a great, refreshing, and slightly citrusy flavor I really enjoy.  For me, it's nearly the perfect summer beer (besides IPAs). 

The festival was setup so that each 4oz taste cost between 1 and 7 tickets.  Your $30 admission to the fest included a wrist band, a logo 4oz taster glass and 10 tickets.  Additional tickets were available for purchase for $1 each. 

Most beers were in the 1-3 ticket range and only a couple were the wildly expensive 7-ticket beers (thats basically $7 for a 4oz taste).  One of these was Fremont Brewing's Kentucky Dark Star (out of the bottle).  For reasons I can't explain, however, this particular beer took more tickets (7-tickets) when poured out of the bottle rather than on draft (5-tickets, I believe).  It's the same beer, so I'm not sure what the logic was here.  Since you only get 10 tickets with your $30 admission, it can be difficult to decide to spend more than a couple of tickets on any one 4oz pour.  Most of the beers I had at the fest were 2-ticket beers, but a few were 3-ticket.  I did wind up having to purchase a few extra tickets in order to taste everything I wanted. 

Next year, I'll have to try to get an ealier volunteer shift - hopefuly on Friday, so I can come back as a festival attendee sooner and not miss out on a few of the beers the didn't last.  Another benefit to attending this festival on the first day is that your wrist band and taster glass get you free admission for the whole festival - you just have to spend a bit on extra drink tickets after exhausting your first 10.  I also heard word of an online deal that got you admission and 30 drink tickets (instead of 10) for $45.  Not bad.  I'll be back for next year's fest. 

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there. 


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