Dionysus — god of wine, inspirer of ritual madness and ecstasy, also known as Bacchus and the Liberator — was a huge presence Jan. 29 during Day One of the Strange Brewfest Port Townsend. The inspirer of ritual madness and ecstasy was invited to attend the 12th version of the annual beer festival as this year’s theme was “Greek Gods” and to “party like Greek gods and goddesses” at this “Mount Olympus of beer festivals.” Dionysus was seen photo-bombing people as they took selfies holding deliciously strange liquid. He boogied to the LoWire band in the American Legion to which housed the celebration of unusual takes on craft beer. His divine mission was to roam the brewery vendor booths, shaking hands and talking to the craftspeople. Despite his easygoing vibe, he got intense when we talked about his father, Zeus, and we suggested the 26 or so Washington state breweries and cideries present brew better beer than the swill being served on Mount Olympus.
PEAKS AND PINTS: How did the people treat you tonight?
DIONYSUS: Decent, especially since I’m better known as the god who created wine and spread the art of viticulture. But, I do represent ecstasy, personal delivery from the daily world through physical or spiritual intoxication, and initiation into secret rites. Those wearing horns, donning leaf crowns and that one human in the blue pants painted with beer bottles spent the whole night trying to nestle up to me with small photographic devices. I got along swell with the humans at Port Townsend’s Propolis Brewing. Their Old World-inspired, healthful ales are the lighting bolts.
PEAKS AND PINTS: I see you are alone tonight.
DIONYSUS: Some quick background on me. My father is Zeus. In Baldwin terms, he’s Alec. It was no picnic living in the shadow of an angry dude. He drove me to drink. While he was up on Mount Olympus hurling thunderbolts and playing Duck Duck Goose (god, how he loved that sinister game), I spent 80 percent of my time wandering the Earth teaching men the culture of the vine and bine. Did you try Paella House’s giant vat of goodness in the festival’s outside white tent? Divine.
PEAKS AND PINTS: As you know, the breweries and cideries served ‘strange’ versions of their beers and ciders, including special one-offs. What beers did you enjoy the most?
DIONYSUS: Where do I begin? Boundary Bay’s oatmeal stout and scotch ale blend Asalt With A Caramel Weapon was a caramel delight. Bainbridge Island Brewing’s Beeritos with pale malt and Cool Ranch Doritos was a delicious hoot. I dated a granola chick so Rainy Daze’s granola Girl with toasted oats and coconut brought back marvelous memories. The cream cheese really holds well in Wingman Brewers’ Carrot Cake Red. Dug the grassy hops, funk and herbal characters in Pike Brewing’s Monk’s Uncle Tripel. Silver City Brewing’s Adobo Brown Ale was like a bowl of spicy chili. The added Northwest-grown blueberries to 7 Seas Brewing’s Ballz Deep Double IPA was brilliant. Of course, Odd Otter Brewing lives and breathes strange beers, but even I was impressed with their Fungus Amongus beer with subtle cremini mushrooms.
PEAKS AND PINTS: Did you try Fish Brewing’s Oreo Porter?
DIONYSUS: I like cookies just fine; I’m no monster. My kingdom for a bag of Oreos to dunk in the Olympia brewery’s porter. I thought it worked well.
PEAKS AND PINTS: How about Slippery Pig’s take on chicken and waffles?
DIONYSUS: By far the most photographed beer of the night, with the waffle square as a garnish. It was a wise choice to go the chicken herb box route rather than a salt lick chicken bouillon cube. I drank two.
PEAKS AND PINTS: We had a tough time with Brickyard Brewing’s Lava Lounge blonde ale with ghost and scorpion peppers, plus 9 Million Scoville Pepper Extract.
DIONYSUS: I have not tasted such a fire since the time I almost had Greece’s great capitol within my grasp — were in not for Athena, that meddling tramp. That city, of course, is now called Athens so you can deduce how that worked out for me. I had to destroy a wagonload of “Dionysusville” signs.
PEAKS AND PINTS: A little Finnriver Kome Cider with brown Basmati rice and organic cane sugar helped soothe our tongue.
DIONYSUS: Funny, my mother always sought hard cider to reach calm. Though the daughter of a king, my mother was not a god. I’ve never lived that down up at Olympus. Also, Mom could put quite the damper on a good debauchery-filled party. Mom would have enjoyed The Bushel & Barrel’s Sushi Cider with wasabi and ginger as it wasn’t a scorcher.
PEAKS AND PINTS: Strange Brewfest continues today from 1 p.m. to midnight. Will we see you?
DIONYSUS: No, I have a little daytrip planned. Since Port Townsend is fairly close to the Sol Duc Hot Springs I thought I’d meet up with Uncle Poseidon for a soak.
For more information on Strange Brewfest Port Townsend 2016, visit http://strangebrewfestpt.com.