Thanks to my better half for buying tickets to Fort George's Festival of the Dark Arts on a [inebriated] whim, I'm no longer a #FoDA virgin. We're not very good about planning vacations or even weekend getaways but having secured tickets early was all that it took to follow through with getting a place to stay and before I knew it, it was time to hit the road to Astoria.
Going out a day early gave us the opportunity to take the short trip at a leisurely pace with an impromptu stop at Seaside Brewing along the way. We bellied up for a couple of beers and a plate of some of the best nachos I've had in a long time (the nachos being a decision based 100% on seeing another couple at the bar enjoying some when we arrived). Mag chose their Lockup IPA; I went for my second choice, the Stormcrow Imperial Stout. I "won" in this round, enjoying a glass of roasty, creamy goodness while Mag struggled through his pint of decidedly Belgiany IPA. Before we got too comfortable we shoved off and finished the drive to Astoria.
Once there we did a little sightseeing, checking out the Columbia River Maritime Museum and adjacent Lightship Columbia boat, did a little sea lion watching and eventually checked into our B&B before hitting Buoy Brewing. We lucked out that the inner bar was full, "forcing" us out to the main bar where we snagged seats that allowed us to watch the ships float by. Our bar food nibbling continued with an outstanding hummus plate where it was clear there was as much care put into it as there has been into their beers. There was of course also the glass-floored area where we could peek in on the sea lions napping below. We kept it tame knowing there was plenty of beer ahead the next day.
Saturday, after putting down a good drinking base with breakfast at the B&B, we waited for the drizzle to subside and the big show to begin. Once in the door opened I grabbed my first beer in the Lovell Brewery and then raced to catch up with the group up the spiral staircase in the Pizza Joint. While the Truffle Shuffle wasn't super special, it was a solid stout and a great start to the fest. As the day progressed, the venue filled and we made our way from one area to the other. No festival can provide a lineup of 100% awesome beers but you take the good with the not so good and at least for me there weren't any drain pours and more than a couple that I really enjoyed, including Mill City Brew Werks Tripwire, Bear Republic Brandy Barrel Aged Grizz and Buoy Raspberry Chocolate Stout.
Not only is the Dark Arts a beer festival but there's entertainment in the form of live music, ice sculpture carving, belly dancing, fire dancing and more. I would have enjoyed sticking around for the fire dancing but that didn't start until over five hours in and while I did a decent job of pacing myself, by that time my endurance had run out. No worries, though, there's always next year, right? Because as much as I have enjoyed Zwickelmania in past years, Fort George makes a strong case to choose their festivities over Oregon's beer open house. If you haven't been I'd highly recommend it as it is one of the best festivals around.
Thanks to my buddy, Baker, for snapping a pic of us, part of the large contingent of Portland usual suspects that attended.