With more than 80 beverage options flowing from 40 breweries and cideries, food trucks, a misting station and the sounds of Honey Business, as well as Haley Young and the Bossame, performing in the background, the Spokane Arena parking lot felt more like a block party as the Spokane Brewers Festival kicked off Friday.
The festival continues 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday.
Now in its second year, the festival brings together breweries and cideries from Spokane and beyond to share their wares.
Breweries include 7 Seas Brewing Co., Iron Goat Brewing Co., Badass Backyard Brewing, Top Frog Brewery and Young Buck Brewing, while cideries like Jester & Judge Hard Cider, One Tree Hard Cider and Whiskey Barrel Cider Co. are all on hand.
Food from Azar’s Deep Fried Haven, Ben & Jerry’s, Fat Daddy’s, One Night Stand Barbecue, Tacos Tumbras and Thai Lunch Box is also available for purchase.
On Saturday, the music starts with Sulfur Banks at 1 p.m. The Holy Broke (2:30 p.m.), River City Roots Band (4 p.m.) and The Dapper Devils (5:30 p.m.) follow, with KALÄJ closing the night at 7 p.m.
Tammy Everts volunteered with vendor customer service earlier in the day but was enjoying an IPA after the festival was underway.
“There’s a good variety – fruity, dark, amber, IPA,” she said. “There’s something for everyone.”
Everts said that events like the Spokane Brewers Festival were just as exciting for brewers as they were for beer fans, because it gives those in the close-knit craft beer community another opportunity to support one another.
“I think the biggest thing people love is they can talk to brewers,” Everts said. “That’s why people like to go on brewery tours. It’s also a chance for small brewers to meet with their fans.”
Though she appreciated the volunteers who poured last year, the opportunity to be behind the taps and talk to attendees was something brewer Rachel Nalley, with Spokane’s Orlison Brewing Co., was looking forward to.
At the Orlison table, attendees can grab a pour of Orangelicious Golden Ale, which uses orange zest and vanilla bean and is modeled after orange Creamsicles, and the Boulder Garden Brown, an English-style brown ale.
On Saturday, attendees can also sample a Pineapple Gose.
“For a second-year event, this is a super strong turnout,” Nalley said.
Greg Marquina, with Yakima’s Tieton Cider Works, felt like traffic was good as he offered attendees a taste of Rambling Route, a semidry cider, and cherry cider, with hints of clove and cinnamon.
“There’s cider, there’s beer, there’s food, there’s music, and it’s all local, local,” he said.
As he was pouring samples of Blackberry Kettle Stout and Imperial Alligator Oatmeal Stout, from Spokane’s Waddell’s Brewing Co., Bryan Utigard said he also felt the event was off to a good start.
“We have quite a few beer events in Spokane, mainly the Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival in September, but I wasn’t expecting this to be so big,” he said.
As the evening went on, the smoke that drifted into the area made things a little hazy, but Brett Radi, with Great Northern Brewing Co. of Whitefish, Montana, didn’t think that would deter people from coming out.
“It’s been hot up here for a long time, so people are ready to get out,” he said, offering attendees samples of his Jorts Helles Lager and Wild Huckleberry Lager, which uses real huckleberry juice from Montana.
Gage Stromberg, with Spokane’s River City Brewing, was pouring the newly launched Gose-Way and the Riverkeeper IPA, which raises funds for Spokane Riverkeeper.
He said events like the Spokane Brewers Festival draw people in because they are a one-stop shop, a sentiment attendees Michael Green and Mike Magee echoed.
“There are plenty of breweries I haven’t been to before,” Magee said.
“It’s fun to try several different beers in one place that aren’t necessarily available in Spokane,” Green added.
Reflecting on the festival’s impact, Radi, with Great Northern Brewing Co., said Feeding Washington – the organization the festival supports – isn’t the only group that benefits from the event.
“It’s exposure for the brewery,” he said. “A lot of people, when they go to the grocery store, they either pick something they’re familiar with or they randomly pick something. At this event, they can try different things and find favorites and new things they didn’t know they liked.”