It’s a new era for suds at this weekend’s Strange Brewfest
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American Legion Post Cmdr. Joe Carey displays the Mayan-themed poster and souvenir tasting glass each Strange Brewfest attendee will receive with his or her admission. -- Photo by Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND –– The ninth annual Strange Brewfest begins Friday, and organizers are hoping it signals the beginning of a new era of beer-based enlightenment.

“Welcome to the beer age,” said Mark Burr, one of the organizers, adding that the end of the Mayan calendar in December “wasn’t the end of the world, just the start of a new world dedicated to beer.”

Burr and Nina Law have been throwing Strange Brewfest to celebrate small-batch brews since the first event at the now-closed Water Street Brewery and Ale House in 2005.

The bash celebrates creative development in new brews, with 36 brewers participating this year.

“You put that in there and this in there, and try to come up with a great new flavor,” Burr said.

The beer will flow inside the American Legion Hall, 209 Monroe St., from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and from 1 p.m. to
6 p.m. Sunday.

For the $25 admission fee, participants will get a wristband good for entrance to the weekend’s full slate of events, an 8-ounce souvenir tasting glass and four sample tokens.

Additional tokens can be purchased for $1.50 each.

Tickets are available at the door, cash only, at the American Legion Hall.

Last year’s event attracted some 1,400 beer-lovers to the three-day event.

This year’s event features 36 brewers from Washington and Oregon, each of which will bring at least two brews cooked up special with unique ingredients for participants to sample.

“But we have a strict no-beard-hair policy in the beer,” Burr said, noting that one Northwest brewery has been reportedly experimenting with just such a concoction.

The competition culminates with an awards ceremony at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Crafters receive stained-glass medals based on attendees’ ranking of their brews.

Law noted that Elkhead Brewing of Buckley is the “Mark Spitz” of Strange Brewfest, taking home neckfuls of medals from previous showings.

Admission also provides revelers access to a full weekend of beer-fueled music.

Music begins Friday, with PT jam band LoWire and The Better Half.

Special $10 tickets are available for Friday’s night’s music.

Saturday’s slate opens with funksters Eldridge Gravy and The Court Supreme, followed by the dance-invoking Yogoman Burning Band and the kaleidoscopic sound stylings of Polyrhythmics.

Portland, Ore., six-piece Americana band Tapwater plays Sunday afternoon.

Chain-saw carvers Steve Backus and Pat McVay will turn logs into luxurious creations.

Also planned are fire dancing, belly dancing, juggling and hula hooping.

“Our stilt walker just canceled, but I think we’ll be all right,” Burr said.

Vendors will offer up a wide variety of food offerings outside the Legion Hall.

While most of the beer offerings will be served up inside the Legion Hall, organizers this year also have permission to block off Water Street for a special outdoor venue.

Law noted that special Strange Brewfest hoodie sweatshirts will be on sale for the outdoor crowd.

In exchange for giving the brewfest a venue, proceeds from the event are used to benefit the American Legion.

Post Cmdr. Joe Carey said Strange Brewfest brings a range of benefits to Port Townsend.

“The impact this event has on our sales taxes at this slow time is tremendous,” he said.

Carey did, though, point out a downside.

“The plumbing takes an absolute beating,” he said.

Organizers of Strange Brewfest plan to buy stacks of pizza for guests of the winter shelter in the Legion’s basement.

The Legion’s Relay For Life team also will be on hand, selling pretzel necklaces to the festival’s thirsty denizens.

More information is available at


Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at

Last modified: January 22. 2013 5:57PM
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