No matter how many beer festivals we've been to or the abundance of them we are fortunate to have in this area, there are still some that get us excited about what will be poured and we make a point to attend. Here are three that take place in the first quarter of the year that fit that description.
- NW Coffee Beer Invitational - This will be the sixth year of the festival and with the exception of 2017, we have been at every one. Dave Fleming's festival has grown in prominence among beer drinkers but has remained true to its original location - Goose Hollow Inn. This year 20 brewers will be showing off their collaborations made with locally roasted coffee on Saturday, January 26. It has historically been the literal bright spot in one of the darkest times of the year and with any luck, that day will be another sunny one.
- Festival of the Dark Arts - For us this festival is about more than just what one finds in their glass. It's the whole experience of getting out of Portland and making an always overdue trip to Astoria for a long weekend. Besides the festival, and staying at our favorite B&B, we do our best to hit old favorites in Astoria and along the way, as well as anything new that may have popped up since the previous year. The mid-February festival is sold out and overnight accommodations are likely in short supply but there always seems to be a few last minute tickets available for those who look hard.
- Brewstillery - Just a year younger than Coffee Beer and taking place two weeks after Dark Arts, this festival is hosted by StormBreaker Brewing and showcases the delicious flavor combinations that can occur when beer and spirits get together. When we first attended we had little experience with spirits but it has been part of the process that has opened our eyes to a world that we are coming to realize is as vast and complex at beer.
Dovetailing on our anticipation of Brewstillery, we are excited to continue the adventure we started last year creating beer cocktails. So far we've experimented with vodka and rum and we've found ourselves paying more attention to cocktail menus, looking for new sources of inspiration. The year end crush of the holidays threw off our plans for December but we've got a late January date on the calendar to start up anew.
Beer and Food Pairings
Whether attending formal pairings put together by professionals or the happy-go-lucky pairings we dream up (Easter candy, Doritos, Kettle Chips, Girl Scout cookies, even coffee creamers) finding what goes together is a source of delight. Even the missteps we make are palate-educating and we are all on board with learning.
Beyond what we are looking forward to finding in our glass this year is those we will be sharing the experiences with. The craft beer community - from brewers to consumers - is overall incredible. The generosity, the creativity, the willingness to explore is unique and we are thrilled to be part of it.
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Cheers to 2019!