Award-winning brewers from the Puget Sound area will be pouring samples of their finest brews for attendees in the Uptown Gig Harbor Pavilion at the sixth annual Gig Harbor Beer Festival from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday (May 20).
“We wouldn’t miss the Gig Harbor Beer Festival,” said John Fosberg, operator the festival who also owns Gig Harbor Brewing Co. “Gig Harbor Beer Festival is a smaller size and you can spend more time with attendees and actually talk with them about what they like to drink and what they’d like to see us make.”
Gig Harbor Brewing Co. joins the Gig Harbor Beer Festival brewery lineup for a third time since it was founded in 2015 and came about after Fosberg’s love of small craft breweries popping up all over the Northwest.
“We brew traditional-style ales that are very close to style — not Cinnamon-Toast-Crunch beer,” said Fosberg. “Our head brewer, Mike O’Hara, has 15-plus years of commercial brewing experience. We’re very lucky to have him here.”
The small brewery scene has become a strong community in Gig Harbor and the greater Puget Sound area.
“The people you meet is the best part … and the beer,” said Fosberg.
This year the beer festival boasts having more than 25 brewers, including other Gig Harbor locals such as Wet Coast Brewing Co. and Fox Island Brewing, and 50 craft beers on tap.
A showcase of live local music by Sounds Like Dolores, Cottonwood Cutups and Kristen Marlo can also be enjoyed at what Fosberg describes “the unofficial start of summer” in the harbor.
For the past four years the Gig Harbor Beer Festival has functioned as a fundraiser benefiting the Gig Harbor Kiwanis Foundation, an organization focused on serving the children of the world.
“We became involved by being in the right place at the right time,” Gig Harbor Kiwanis president Jeni Mallory said.
A member of the Kiwanis happened to get in a conversation with Fosberg, who mentioned he was looking for a nonprofit organization to partner with for the Gig Harbor Beer Festival. And the rest is history.
Each year Gig Harbor Kiwanis raises funds and plans a variety of service projects aimed at improving life across the Gig Harbor community.
“The proceeds from the beer festival support our foundation including our signature Gear Up for School project that supplies new clothing, shoes and school supplies to a large number of children in need in the Peninsula School District,” said Mallory.
The proceeds also support Camp Beausite, a camp for people with special needs.
“Not only do we offer financial support to a camper who might not otherwise be able to attend camp,” said Mallory, “but we offer support for the camp’s building fund, and skills and labor.”
The sense of community of the beer festival is just one aspect of what make the event so successful and why Mallory has enjoyed the Kiwanis involvement with the event over the past four years.
“For beer connoisseurs, the festival offers a large variety of beers to taste,” said Mallory. “Further, it is a fun atmosphere where even non-beer drinkers have a good time with friends and new acquaintances. Live music, beer samples, and a taste of spirits, makes a good combination for an enjoyable experience.”
Tickets for the event are still on sale online at gigharborbeerfestival.com for $30 or at the gate for the same price. The cost includes admission, a five-ounce festival pilsner cup, eight taster tokens and programs while they last.
Camille Lemke is a Parkland-based freelance writer and a member of MediaLab at Pacific Lutheran University. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.