Sunday, May 10th, 2015

Words and photos from Gig Harbor Beer Festival

Ron Swarner

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Saturday, May 9, a sold-out crowd packed a giant beer garden at The Gig Harbor Uptown Pavilion, 4701 Point Fosdick Dr., to enjoy suds and sunshine (fourth year in a row) at the fourth annual Gig Harbor Beer Festival. John Fosberg, festival organizer and founder of soon-to-open-Gig Harbor Brewing Company, wasn’t on site due to a family member’s college graduation many miles away, but the staff was on it, handling the capacity crowd and keeping the beer cold. Gig Harbor Brewing Company head brewer Bethany Carlsen donned a pretzel necklace and festival three-ounce shot glass, with news her budding brewery will beginning brewing in two weeks.

I did my best to suck down as many of the 50+ brews from 23 breweries around Washington state as I could. There were quite a few great beers out there, with Downpour, Odd Otter, Slaughter County, Top Rung and Elysian making their GHBF debut. Harmon Brewing Co. brought its tasty Mother’s Day IPA brewed with rose hips, chamomile, hibiscus and lavender flowers. Narrows Brewing poured its delicious Diver Down IPA, which was brewed exclusively for the new Whole Foods Market in University Place. Small batch brewer Downpour brought its Brown Velvet Brown Ale beauty. Pacific Brewing’s new Simcarillo IPA — Simcoe, Amarillo and Citra hops — was one of my favorites, with papaya, mango and cantaloupe rising from the taster glass.

It quickly became obvious that trying every beer at the festival would be an impossible quest. Instead, I prowled the asphalt, looking for new beers, and snapping photos of happy people.