Another Great Year at the Washington Cask Fest

April 12th, 2011 · No Comments · Beer Reviews, Washington Breweries

Photo thanks to Russell Lo. Click to see the rest of his set.

As I’ve mentioned previously, the Washington Cask Festival is probably my favorite beer festival held in the state of Washington. The early session on Saturday confirmed those feelings yet again. There were more interesting Washington beers on hand than I could hope to try, and the atmosphere was as friendly and welcoming as ever. A few thoughts:

  • Fisher Pavilion really is the perfect spot for this festival. It’s not too big, and not too small. The room is crowded, without being prohibitive for moving around. There were few long lines to negotiate, with Fremont Brewing being the exception during the first session.
  • Fremont Kentucky Dark Star Bourbon Barrel-aged Imperial Oatmeal Stout with coffee took 1st place in the People’s Choice awards for the 1st session, and it was absolutely my favorite beer of the day. Robust, full-flavored, and complex, this is one I’d love to see Fremont do a special bottle release of.
  • Big Al’s Sourlicious took a worthy 2nd place in the voting. This dark sour beer has become a staple at some local festivals, and it is a great example of how some WA breweries continue to develop their sour beer skills.
  • Coming in at 3rd place was the Sound Brewery Monk’s Indiscretion. This was one of the best surprises of the festival for me, and several in our group voted for this as their favorite. At 9.9% ABV, this complex Belgian Triple had a unique hoppy profile that really worked well. I’m impressed with what I’ve tried from the young Sound Brewery so far.
  • The Naked City Spark in the Dark Smoked Porter was even more outstanding than I recall. The smoke flavor was pretty strong, but the base beer was big enough to hold up to it. Valholl Brewing also had a beer brewed with smoked beachwood. I enjoyed that one, but the base beer just couldn’t hold up to the smoke as well.
  • There were a ton of Black IPAs/CDAs at the fest. My favorites (that I tried) were probably Big Al’s Hop Villain and the Fish Swordfish CDA.
  • The Diamond Knot Chocolate Raspberry Vanilla Brown Ale qualified for the beer name with the most descriptors included award. It sounded interesting, but with the potential to be a bit of a mess. For me, the beer worked nicely. The chocolate and raspberry came through well. While it was sweet, I could see enjoying a bit of this with dessert.
  • It was great to see Drew Cluley pouring for both Pike Brewing, which he just left, and Big Time Brewery, where he is now head brewer. The booths were next to each other, and he wore a custom tailored shirt representing half of each brewery. The Big Time Perspective IPA was one of my favorite IPAs of the day.
  • Other worthy beers I sampled: Port Townsend Glasskisser, Anacortes Ten IPA, Airways Nonstop to Maui, American Brewing Chocolate Mint Stout, Maritime Jollygator, Redhook Bourbon Barrel Eisbock 28 (BIG beer; half a glass was good).
  • 2nd session winners: 1st Place: Diamond Knot Apple Cinnamon ESB, 2nd Place: Big Al Sourlicious, 3rd Place: Black Raven Belgian IPA.

Click to see the rest of Russell Lo's photos from the 2011 Cask Fest


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