Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Craft Beer Did You Say? BELGIAN FEST Review! 1/27/18

The 9th Annual Belgian Fest

Fisher Pavilion - Seattle Center

Seattle, WA



The 9th Annual Belgian Fest took place this past Saturday at the Fisher Pavilion at the Seattle Center. Split into two sessions the event was the Washington Beer kick off festival for 2018.

I attended the first session (which was sold out). As I arrived at the Fisher Pavilion, the normal lines out the door and the white noise from inside the venue welcomed me to another Washington beer festival.

I've been to many beer festivals but this was my first time attending Belgian Fest. I know initially when the festival first started I was hesitant, as I didn't believe many brewers could brew what I would consider true Belgian beers. The ones I had had at different breweries and festivals, while not bad, weren't necessarily hitting the mark for Belgian beers.

Much time has passed - well nine years - and I was very excited to see what the Washington brewers had to show me on Saturday.

Instead of going for the beers from the booklet that stood out to me, I decided to try and sample beers from a few of the breweries that I had not been to before or only once.

I knew Farmstrong was putting out good beer up north so I decided to give them my first token. It was a smart decision. The Goldenshine barrel-aged Golden Ale was a very complex yet refreshing beer. I actually enjoyed it enough that I was considering going back for another round but decided to use my tokens at other breweries. Great beer guys!

I tried a few tripels from Illuminati and Optimism. Both were really well done beers, too. Now some people can drink Belgians all day - well, maybe not all day, but close to it. I like to drink Belgians with food or as a beer at night to finish the day. Both of the tripels I had would have served either purpose if I were at home. Good stuff.

Oh how I love a good Belgian quadruple. I had a great beer from Flying Lion two years ago at the Washington Brewers Fest (I believe it was the yam or sweet potato porter) so I decided to go quad with them on Saturday. Whoa - it was a big beer like it should be. Rich and complex, with flavors of dark fruits throughout, I would love to see that beer bottled and aged for a bit.

I also stopped by old friend Dirty Bucket to try their Dirty Confessions quad. Another beer that I would like to try aged. I know Steve and Amy are bottling it so I may have to grab one at some point and cellar that sucker.

I stayed away from the sours on Saturday. I love a good sour but I wasn't feeling the sours for whatever reason. Next year.

I had a dubbel from Rooftop Brewing that was a nice introduction to their brewery.

It is rare that I can go to a beer festival and not hit a dud or even a partial dud from at least one brewery. Not this go around. All the samples I had were either good or great. That's saying something. Belgian Fest proved that we have some skilled brewers in Washington that know how to handle a Belgian beer correctly.

I would love to see someone locally tackle the Rochefort lineup (6, 8, 10). Maybe call it the 206, 208, 210 or something similar. Who has the skill out there?

Miscellaneous notes from the festival: Fisher Pavilion gets cramped in there. They also blocked off the staircases on either end so folks couldn't sit down on the steps like I'm used to doing (maybe it was a safety issue).

I think the Exhibition Center is bigger than Fisher Pavilion, or at least seems like it. If it is, and the money makes sense, I would love to see the Belgian Fest move there next year to give everyone more space.

Oh - and ditch the glasses please. I said this in my Winter Brew Festival review and I'll say it again here. The "ohhhhhh's" when a hipster (or anyone) drops their glass is beyond played out - not to mention messy. Beer snobs like myself can get our beer in glass at home and at our favorite breweries and bottle shops. At a festival, I used to like the glass idea as it fit the craft beer geek mentality. All these years later I'm more than fine with plastic tasters. Sue me.

Overall - another fine time showcasing why Washington breweries are some of the best in the world. A great time was had by all!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Special Thanks: Matt for the credentials - I really appreciate it!

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