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Brew Five Three

Tacoma's block party is all grown up

Great beer, food and music will draw a large crowd to Tacoma’s Beer & Blues Festival downtown Tacoma, Saturday. Photo credit: Benjamin Toombs

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The Broadway Avenue block party known as Brew Five Three (a play on Tacoma's area code - duh) may have only reached its fifth birthday, but it grew so fast it's already reached full maturity. Maybe that's one reason why you must be 21 or older to gain admission.

Of course, the main reason is all over the event's name, not to mention the fact that its subtitle is "Tacoma's Beer & Blues Festival." Yes, it really does help if you love beer, blues or both. Over 40 Washington State breweries and cideries will be on-hand slingin' suds, and the headliner is Stephanie Anne Johnson, the beloved Tacoman blues-jazz singer who earned Cee-Lo's endorsement and placed third in season five of NBC's The Voice. She takes the stage at 6:30 p.m., preceded by Little Bill and the Blue Notes Trio at 1:30 p.m., The Rusty Cleavers at 3 p.m. and Junkyard Jane with Randy Oxford at 5 p.m. The original Blue Notes hit the pop charts in 1959 and have been mastering rhythm and blues ever since. The Cleavers are a Gritty City outfit that merges bluegrass and punk. Junkyard Jane is a Tacoma "swampabilly" band - their term, not ours - which made the finals of the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

But even for hip-hop aficionados who've sworn off the cold stuff, Brew Five Three is a block party of epic proportions. That means plenty to keep even the teetotaling likes of you entertained. Enjoy terrific food? Of course you do. Brew Five Three offers one-stop, food truck paradise. Vendors already scheduled to be on-hand include 1950s-style burgers from Arnold's Happy Days, Hellenic fare from Athena's, sandwiches from Budha Bear Bagels, Great Northwest Popcorn, Josefina's Mexican, crave-worthy crunchables from Lumpia World and the impeccably dubbed Viet Nom Nom.

If you love craft beers or ciders, then this party cranks up till 8 p.m. Tap into flavors from 7 Seas Brewing, Elysian, Engine House No. 9, Harmon, Odd Otter, Silver City and Wingman among dozens of others. (Seriously, the list would fill this entire space.) Tickets are $33 the week before the event and $36 the day of the event, and they entitle the bearer to six tasting tokens and a souvenir glass. Designated drivers get in for $13 but do not, of course, receive glasses or tokens. (Prices include Broadway Center's $3 box-office fee.) Adds Mariesa Bus, the center's associate communications director, "It's best to buy tickets early to ... avoid waiting in line. Also, you can add 10 tokens to your order if you buy over the phone."

Brew Five Three is sponsored by glassybaby, Nisqually Red Wind Casino, Mary Mart and Navy Federal Credit Union, with Immanuel Presbyterian Church Blues Vespers, KNKX and The Red Hot serving as community partners. If you have anything better to do that Saturday afternoon, then let's just say you lead a blessed life. "Little monsters" should consider hopping the free Light Link train to the Tacoma Dome for Lady Gaga's performance that night. Trains will be running for extended hours, with the last leaving Tacoma Dome Station for the Broadway district at 11:48 p.m.

Brew Five Three, 1-8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 5, Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, 901 Broadway, Tacoma, $13-$36, 253.591.5894,

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