A hot concrete parking lot in the middle of a shopping center might not sound like the greatest place to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon.
Add 18 brewers, though, pouring samples of the Pacific Northwest’s finest craft beers, and you’d be surprised what a difference it makes.
More than 1,200 people crowded into the fenced-off “beer garden” in uptown Gig Harbor on Saturday for the second annual Gig Harbor Beer Festival.
Three hours in, about the time the local band Perry Acker turned on its amps at 3 p.m., it was a high-octane party, fueled by hundreds of shouted conversations, skimpy sundresses and a heady aroma of hops.
“I think it’s great,” said John Brock, a railroad track inspector from Puyallup, shouting to be heard over the din. “It’s just a lot of people who want to have a good time and enjoy beer.”
John Fosberg, the festival’s organizer, was at the gate at 1:30 p.m., shaking his head and turning people away.
“We’re sold out,” he said over and over. “I’m sorry. Come back next year.”
Fosberg is still living down last year’s festival, which also was a big draw, but which ran out of beer an hour before the scheduled closing time at 7 p.m.
This year, he added seven more breweries, with 36 different kegs to sample. The price of admission ($20 online and $25 at the gate) included a 5.5-ounce cup and tokens for eight tastings.
Just to be safe, Fosberg said, he also moved closing time up an hour – to 6 p.m.
“”We sold over twice as many online tickets this year,” Fosberg said. “We only had 250 cash tickets left and they were gone in about an hour and a half.”
The festival is a fund-raiser. This year’s beneficiary was the Gig Harbor/Peninsula FISH Food Bank. Last year it was the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation.
Brad Robinson, who goes by the title “Pacific Northwest Overlord” at Seattle’s Odin Brewing Co., was handing out samples of Odin’s Gift, an amber ale, almost as fast as he could pull the tap handle.
“This is a nice pleasant event,” he said. “There’s not a lot of people who insist on talking to the brewer and holding up the line. They just want to enjoy the beer.”
Rob Carson: 253-597-8693