Back to Features

Second annual (that's right!) Tacoma Craft Beer Festival

More beer. More space. More fun.

TACOMA CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL: At last year's inaugural event, our photographer got drunk. Photo by Bobble Tiki

Recommend Article
Total Recommendations (0)
Clip Article Email Article Print Article Share Article

Here, in a nutshell, is the conversation that created the Tacoma Craft Beer Festival:

"We should put on a beer festival here in Tacoma," said Red Hot proprietor Chris Miller.

"Why?" asked his cohorts, Bennett Thurmon and Roxanne Wolfe.

"Because there isn't one."

At least, that's how it was told to me, over a few beers - what else? - on Monday night. And as it turns out, Miller was right. There wasn't a craft beer festival in Tacoma, and thus someone needed to start one.

Tacoma responded to a degree described by the organizers as simply "overwhelming." 2009's first festival ultimately sold out, and repeatedly hit maximum allowed capacity of the Foss Waterway Seaport, leaving the line of Tacomans waiting for entry wrapped around the building.

The second annual (now that it's a proven success, they can call it annual with confidence) festival, running Oct. 1 and 2, boasts 50 breweries and more than 100 beers, along with bands, games and food.

This year, lessons have been learned, and steps have been taken. "I don't want to wait in line for beer. Do you?" muses Thurmon.

Foremost among the changes is an expansion into Friday evening, designed for the core die-hard patrons. Fewer tickets sold for Friday means a more relaxed environment for beer enjoyment, while Saturday will host a more typical festival atmosphere, full of music and activities.

Friday night, focusing on the seasoned beer lover, also features 12 additional beers from a selection of local breweries, served up in firkins (a particular small size of keg) in classical cask style-fresh from the brewery, still fermenting, neither refrigerated nor carbonated.

Saturday responds with the opposite experience: a handful of a new breed - craft brews in cans - providing a longer and larger alternative to the five-ounce samples provided by the 50 breweries wielding conventional kegs.

To further alleviate lines, the organizers have expanded the festival's borders. Aided by a spectacular early fall forecast - high 60s and sunny all weekend - the fenced-off outdoor food area of the festival will be enlarged to accommodate both more patrons and two additional food vendors, providing representation to all the standard beer food groups: burritos, burgers, barbecue, pizza and Asian.

OK, so Asian might not be considered a "standard" beer pairing. At least not until you're drunk with your friends one night and craving nothing more than Chinese take-out.

Another major concern of 2009 was parking. Numerous potential attendees complained that a lack of open parking spaces within walking distance, combined with the sight of the epic entry line, led them to drive straight on by. Enter the shuttle bus from downtown, linking the festival to a myriad of new parking and public transit options.

The habitual over-indulger may be disappointed to learn that the festival will be providing five-ounce souvenir tasting mugs. Last year's decision to use 12-ounce mugs and rely upon the brewers to regulate their servings to a third of that led to more than a few over-pours, particularly as the evening wore on and brewers began to dread carrying full kegs back to the truck.

Fun for some, certainly, but not for a grumpy liquor control board, or a team of three organizers and a handful of volunteers trying to oversee thousands of increasingly drunken patrons.

Proceeds generated by this year's festival will go to support Tacoma's Emergency Food Network. Festival details and a full brewery list are available on the web at

Tacoma Craft Beer Festival

Oct. 1-2, 5-9 p.m. Friday, noon-8 p.m. Saturday, 21+, $18 advance, $25 day of
Foss Waterway Seaport, 705 Dock St., Tacoma

Read next close


One hell of a fun night

comments powered by Disqus

Site Search