Now in its fifth year, the Tacoma Craft Beer Festival has increased its footprint so much, it has had to relocate to a much bigger venue.
The beer festival featuring 75 breweries will be held from noon-9 p.m. Saturday at Cheney Stadium.
In the past, the festival attracted 3,000-4,000 people to its venue on the Thea Foss Waterway. Organizers expect to double the crowd this year, which is why they will have 20 more breweries than last year. Each brewery will serve as many as three beers.
The move to Cheney Stadium means a few improvements for attendees.
The facility that is home to the Tacoma Rainiers baseball team is comfortable and built for crowds, with plenty of bathrooms, seating and room to roam, and the stadium's vendors will serve food, just like they do at Rainiers games. There also will be live music all day.
The list of brewers includes some of the best and biggest in the state's craft beer industry. Tacoma-area brewers also get strong representation. Pouring will be the Harmon, 7 Seas, Wingman, Duo, Puyallup River Brewing, Tacoma Brewing Co., Engine House No. 9 and a handful of other South Sound brewers. The tap list reads something like the what's what of must-drink beer.
(Visit the TNT Diner blog to see what local brewers are tapping.)
Considering the scale of this year's event, how should attendees navigate it? I asked two beer veterans, owners of local bottle shops, for their advice:
Barry Watson, co-owner with his wife, Renee, of Pint Defiance, a beer store in Fircrest:
Go early: "Fewer people equals shorter lines and more time to talk to brewers and brewery reps. Popular beers tend to run out first. Limited releases from hot breweries don't last long. Fremont, Duo, Boneyard, Airways & Propolis (just to name a few) will all have special limited-release kegs."
Start simple: "I like to start with lighter styles first. Once you have sampled a couple of bigger, hoppier beers, your palate is less likely to pick up the subtle nuances of a Bohemian Pilsner or Belgian Wit."
Tiffany Adamowski, co-owner with her husband, Craig, of 99 Bottles, a beer store in Federal Way:
Stay hydrated: "That means going from beer to water to beer to water. It's not unusual for me to drink 3 or 4 pints of water at a beer festival. Sipping water between beer also cleanses the palate so you can better taste the next beer, and it helps prevent you from getting a major hangover."
How to remember your favorite beer: "I use untappd.com to log my beers, making brief notes. This helps me better seek out those beers I enjoyed most at a later date, and keep track of where I can get them after the festival is over."
Eat: "Also, if people plan ahead, a food necklace is a must-have. ... Pretzels are common, but I've seen string cheese, pepperoni sticks, cookies, dried fruit and other things included."
And both bottle shop owners gave this important piece of advice: Bring a designated driver, or get a ride home. Don't drive.
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Sue Kidd: 253-597-8270
Tacoma Craft Beer Festival
When: Noon-9 p.m. Saturday
Where: Cheney Stadium, Tacoma
Cost: $36.50 at the gate, includes admission and 10 tasting tokens
Discounted tickets: $30 at Pint Defiance, 99 Bottles, The Beer Essentials, Mash, Parkway Tavern, The Swiss, Amocat, 7 Seas or the Cheney Stadium box office. $25 for active duty military with ID.
Must be: 21 or older to attend
On tap: 75 breweries, 5 cideries and 1 winery represented. For a complete list and other details, go to tacomacraftbeerfest.com.
Also happening: Food provided by the stadium's food vendors and live music